There is no better city in the US to dine and drink al fresco than Los Angeles. Period. With the city’s persistently and consistently lovely weather, it’s just simply no big surprise! Los Angeles might not be everyone’s cup of tea, ask any Northern Californian (I grew Nor Cal so I’m allowed to say that), but there is no denying the fact that this city excels in providing idyllic places in which to enjoy the local scenery under some sunshine or stars. So on that note, I give you the Love & Loathing LA definitive guide to the best patios and rooftops in Los Angeles:
THE NEW SPOTS
If there were a “hottest” rooftop at the moment, Margot would likely claim that title. I explain a bit more in detail in a previous post of mine – The Best New Restaurants In LA – but to break it all down simply, Margot is the latest beauty to open its doors at Platform in Culver City. Located on the rooftop of the complex Margot is a huge indoor/outdoor space with a hip/modern ambiance and of course a setting worth basking in for as long as possible.
*Honorable mention: Roberta’s Pizza right downstairs from Margot! Some of the best pizza in town and I’d say 90% of the restaurant is patio seating!
Another new gem to open up in the heart of Culver City is French inspired cutie Simonette! Simonette is actually located in the courtyard inside the newly opened Pali Hotel, but guests and non-guests alike are welcome to enjoy this beautiful hidden gem as they so please. Whether it’s for a full meal or just cocktails, this is a great low key spot to meet your friends for some relaxed conversation.
The important things to note about Plant Food & Wine: it’s on Abbot Kinney, it’s vegan/plant-based, and they have a totally secret enchanted garden out back. I can appreciate (just about) any type of food when it’s done well, and if all vegan restaurants were like Plant Food & Wine, I’d probably just become vegan by accident because that is how amazing this place is. And did I mention their adorable and gorgeous little patio comlpete with flowers, a garden and twinkling lights?! One might say it’s the best dining patio in Venice.
If there’s a rooftop show stopper on this list, it’s Spire 73. It is “the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere” after all. This place isn’t going to become your local hangout, but it is going to be one of those places you consider for when your friends from out of town come to visit. It is a truly magnificent and one-of-a-kind rooftop. It’s located on the 73rd floor of the Inter Contentinal Hotel and offers unparalleled views of Downtown Los Angeles below and beyond. Like, waaaay beyond.
Disclaimer: I don’t know much about Sorra – YET – but I know it’s about to become a big thing. It’s been relatively quiet on the Western Front, but I do know that as of a week or so ago they are open for business, and the team behind “Hollywood’s hottest new rooftop” is the same team behind the ever incredible and well respected Hinoki and the Bird. I cannot wait to report back soon!
Elephante has limited actual outdoor seating, but with their open floor plan and big sliding glass doors, I’m going to say this one still counts – especially since it’s still a favorite of mine and it basically feels outdoors. Elephante is located in Downtown Santa Monica on the 2nd floor of a building and offers fantastic food and cocktails, as well as sweeping views of the ocean and city below. This is one of those places I would be happy visiting often – so I do!
Dama, located in a trendy new part of the Arts District Downtown, is a complete and total tropical oasis tucked inside a complete and total concrete jungle. Dama is a Latin inspired concept from design, decor, to cuisine and cocktails. It’s got this gorgeous vintage “Havana Nights” vibe to it that makes it PERFECT for enjoying a meal outside on their patio. The restaurant itself borders on open air so the flow of the restaurant is made for warm weather – which thankfully, WE GOT. I could not have better things to say about this place – it feels especially perfect for date night or girls night!
If you’re not getting into Soho House, who even cares when you have Harriet’s! Harriet’s attracts about the same crowd, it’s damn near the same location, it offers almost identical sweeping views from Sunset Blvd, Harriets just happens to be located within the brand new 1 Hotel. Harriets is part of The h.wood Group so expect big crowds, on point decor, and great cocktails.
THE FAVORITE SPOTS
If there’s a true hidden gem in the city, it’s Viviane. Viviane is the restaurant located inside the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills and it is my absolute favorite place in the city to go when I want to sit outside, relax, and not have to worry about a huge wait or big crowds. Viviane is chic, it’s peaceful, the food is fantastic, they make the best Aperol Spritz (second to Terra at least), it’s an absolutely gorgeous and well-decorated space, and most importantly – it’s poolside. It’s like going on vacation in your own city, and it is fabulous.
When quality food and cocktails are just as important as being able to dine outside, you can really have it all at Terra. Terra is located on the rooftop of the beloved Eataly complex in Century City, and it is a little slice of Italian inspired heaven. Terra is part restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating options and part outdoor bar/lounge for those in search of a nice place to sit outside and sip on a Spritz. If you’re a fan of Spritz, this is the place in the city to enjoy one. Italians do it best!
Salazar has got to be one of the coolest places in LA, in every single way. For one, Salazar’s seating is completely outdoors, and somehow they’ve made it totally work and totally desirable. It looks like a total desert oasis, or like something you’d find in Austin Texas, as us Angelenos eat it up. Besides offering the city’s best alfresco ambiance, Salazar actually makes incredible food and cocktails to boot. Their tacos are not to be messed with, and the cocktails are always creative, fun, and perfect for enjoying outdoors.
I think I might just say it. I’m pretty sure Mama Shelter is the best rooftop in Los Angeles at the moment? At least it checks all of my boxes, including “busy but fun”, “great views”, “a plethora of seating”, “optimal for photos”, “great food”. and “great drinks”. Mama Shelter… dare I say it in my most LA voice imaginable… just has a dope vibe. You’ll love it on any day of the week, and your friends visiting will thank you too.
If we’re looking for casual cool DTLA feels, Everson Royce Bar is all that and a bag of chips. Everson Royce Bar is actually in my top 5 favorite restaurants in LA. and it’s probably the one restaurant in the city I’ve been to the most, outside of Gjelina. For one, I am never not thinking about their famous burger, and two I am never not wanting to sit outside on the patio under those twinkling lights. ERB has a really great upbeat and fun way about them, you’ll always see big parties here thanks to their picnic table style seating, it’ll always be pretty packed, and everyone will always be having a good time!
Well if this isn’t one of the most fabulous hotel rooftops you ever did see. The NoMad Hotel is beauty, class, and regality a-la-2019. Yet still fun and cool of course? And their rooftop one of Downtown LA’s best places to soak up the sunshine, sit poolside, and take in those gorgeous city views. It almost has an “NYC” vibe to it, but with more days of sun and fun. The Rooftop at the NoMad offers dining service as well as beverage service, so throw on your cute dress and come and do as you please!
There’s no shortage of fantastic hotel rooftops in LA, but another personal favorite of mine is the Broken Shaker located on top of the Freehand Hotel in DTLA. Broken Shaker is actually a popular bar with locations all over the states including NYC, Miami, and Chicago. Known for their fun and inventive tiki-style cocktails, Broken Shaker is a perfect place to find yourself on a warm day in LA. The area has limited seating/standing so make sure you go early or at an off time to fully appreciate it all! Oh and yes – there’s a pool for your “pretend vacation” needs.
THE CLASSIC SPOTS
Have you really ever been to LA if you haven’t been to Gracias Madre? There is no place I’d rather be on a 72 degree day than on the patio at Gracias Madre between the hours of 3 – 6 pm. That’s Happy Hour time, and that is the best time. Get your $8 Purista Margarita on hunny, and don’t forget the nachos.
I will never forget the first time I dined at Cliff’s Edge. I vividly remember thinking to myself “this is so LA, it’s like we’re in a treehouse!” Cliff’s Edge really is an Eastside classic. Their candlelit, dreamy boho decor is totally transportive – like you could be in another country, one with a lot of tropical plants for example. During the week Cliff’s Edge is only open for dinner, but on weekends they offer brunch – which is arguably what they’re best known for.
If you find yourself out there in the boons of the ‘bu, make time to stop in at Malibu Farm and appreciate all of that quintessential LA beauty. The beach, the weather, the setting, the location and all. Malibu Farm is known for its incredible oceanfront location, but fortunately, they’re more than just beautiful thanks to their awesome locally sourced menu offerings and cocktail menu. This place is a favorite of many, locals and travelers alike. Call me basic, but it’s one of mine too.
Does it get any more classic? It’s the Chateau freakin’ Marmont. It’s mandatory. And thankfully it’s worth it! It’s such a beautiful “Hollywood Glam” setting, and you’ll always see someone you know wink wink.
Michael’s has been open in Santa Monica for 40 years! And to this day they still have one of the best dining patios in the entire city. Located just a short walking distance from the 3rd St Promenade, Micahel’s is the perfect place in the area to stop in for a beautiful meal under the sun or moon. This is a great spot for a date, and an even better spot to take the parents. Write that down!
Honesty time… I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with EP & LP. It always seems overcrowded, at peak hours I find myself generally annoyed, but when you get it at the right time… it’s magical. They really do have some of the best views in the city, and EP & LP at sunset is something everyone deserves to experience! Just, prepare yourself mentally or go early and you’ll love it. I almost promise.
Perch was hands down the most impressive place I’d been to when I first moved to LA 8-9 years ago. I remember thinking that it was the most beautiful, the most jaw-dropping place I’d ever visited, and while I’ve seen and done a lot more around town these days, Perch still holds up. It is still is one of my favorite places in the city, and I would go so far as to say it has my favorite views out of every place listed here. True story.
AOC is another one of my absolute all-time favorite restaurants in LA – as it is many others as well. My mother included. Night after night, year after year, AOC is consistently packed and still absolutely killing it. Definitely in part thanks to their incredible world renown wine list, as well as their fresh, farm-driven, quintessentially California inspired cuisine. But it’s also in part thanks to the beautiful space they’ve created in which to enjoy everything – their cozy patio is one of LA’s most beloved and for good reason.
Nobu Malibu is probably the best place to dine outside – if you can get a table. Nobu Malibu is hands down LA’s most famous restaurants, and being that it’s oceanfront it’s no surprise that everyone and their mother wants to sit on the deck and enjoy that positively perfect view! But, sadly I am here to tell you that not everyone is able to have that moment. I am proof. Should you find yourself lucky enough, however, you’ll never forget it. I wouldn’t personally know but I’d imagine… you’d never forget it. In fact for my sake please never forget it.
I’ve said it time and time again, but Gjelina in Venice is still my favorite restaurant in LA! I’ll be honest I’m not sure if it’s nostalgia or what, but every time I visit I am reminded why I love it so much. For one it’s the mushroom toast, and the fact that they do weekday breakfast, but most importantly I love Gjelina because of the ambiance, and nowhere makes me quite as happy to be there than when I am on the patio at Gjelina. It’s cozy, it offers limited seating, but when you’re able to snag a seat (at 5 pm) it’s like winning the LA lottery.
When I need a vacation in LA I head straight for the Beverly Hills Hotel. And if I’m planning on dining outside, I am dining at the Polo Lounge on their patio! It’s old school, it’s expensive, it’s everything you’d expect at a bougie Beverly Hills establishment but you know what, sometimes it’s just worth it. And the few times I’ve found myself at lunch here, I’ve loved every minute of it. The Beverly Hills Hotel plays a huge role in Los Angeles’s history, and it’s worth embracing every now and then.
[Terra at Eataly]