Best rooftop restaurants and bars in Los Angeles
From downtown skyscrapers to the Hollywood Hills and Pacific Ocean, you can't beat these sights. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Don't you love the way L.A. looks from the sky? Peer downtown and you’ll spy City Hall and the U.S. Bank Tower. Head toward Hollywood and you’ll glimpse its rolling, mansion-dotted hills and its eponymous sign tucked between them. Keep going west and you’ll eventually spot the Pacific coastline with its jutting piers, foaming shores and jagged cliffs. And there are countless more neighborhoods between those horizons that boast their own spectacles.
As for where to soak in the sights, you have a slew of options. There's the reward of hiking to the top of a trail, but as summer approaches, L.A.'s rooftop restaurants and bars prove more tempting, offering incomparable vistas alongside sparkling pools, creative cocktails, prime people-watching and, of late, memorable meals. While delicious food can be a bit of an anomaly for rooftops, where the focus is often on socializing and drinking, several newcomers stand out with worthwhile culinary programs in addition to remarkable views.
For the record:
9:33 a.m. May 26, 2023A previous version of this article listed the Roof at West Hollywood Edition on the 29th floor and Bar Lis on the 10th floor. In fact, the Roof at West Hollywood Edition is on the 14th floor and Bar Lis in on the 11th floor. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.
Chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne of A.O.C. launched Cara Cara on the 15th-floor rooftop of the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel in late 2021, quickly emerging as a local favorite, not just for uninterrupted views of downtown skyscrapers but also for a seasonal menu that rivals the pair's ground-floor, Iberian-inspired Caldo Verde restaurant that opened at the same time.
"I just thought, ‘What would I want to eat if I was sitting on this rooftop, looking out over all of L.A.?’" Goin reflected.
Cara Cara makes magic out of a tiny upstairs kitchen and opts for an all-day menu that allows chefs to prep certain items in Caldo Verde's downstairs kitchen and run plates up the elevator throughout the day.
"The rooftop is tough competition for Caldo Verde," Goin explained. "This way, we’re able to offer a great breakfast and brunch downstairs and operate two different experiences at the same time."
Feeling thirsty? Here are the 10 best places around Los Angeles for drinks.
Perched in these uplifted environments, it's hard not to be enveloped by a sense of optimism. It's similar to looking out the window on a descending flight home, silently naming landmarks as they come into view and chuckling at the blinking brake lights on the zigzag of freeways below. With a distanced and wider perspective, you’re reminded of all the reasons you love this city.
We get a little loose with the definition of rooftop for this guide, including a century-old pagoda nestled in the Hollywood Hills and a farm-to-table restaurant at the edge of Malibu Pier, but we promise you’ll be grateful for these liberties once you take in the panoramas. Some are perfect for a dinner date, while others are great for catching up with friends over drinks and a few are best suited for dancing after dark. Here are 49 of the best rooftop restaurants and bars, overlooking Disneyland resort, Laguna Beach, downtown L.A., Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice and beyond, ranked by height. — Danielle Dorsey