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The Green Room bar in Castaway Burbank
Photograph: Courtesy Castaway & the Green Room

20 L.A. restaurants with astounding views of the city

Dine atop a DTLA skyscraper, on a Malibu beachfront or among the Topanga treetops at these picture-perfect restaurants.

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Written by
Michael Juliano
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Whether hiking or driving, Angelenos are willing to put in the work for a memorable view—and the same goes for eating—though with a little less cardio required. In a city spread between the ocean and the mountains, it’s no surprise that restaurants with spectacular views, whether on the beach or a rooftop, are in no short supply.

But restaurants can’t rely only on their vantage points (at least, not the good ones), and plenty simply aren’t worth the scenery tax (we’re looking at you, basically every spot on the Sunset Strip). On the flip side, we can think of dozens of charming patios in canyons and beach communities that are plopped in picturesque areas but without a view of anything but some twinkly string lights.

So with all those rules out of the way, we think these 20 restaurants below manage to offer just the right mix of picture-perfect views with menus that hold their own.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

This Santa Monica terrace offers a postcard-worthy panorama of the palm-tree–lined beachfront without the clubby vibes that overrun some of the spots closer to the ocean. The breezy rooftop feels like a chic living room—just one that happens to serve cacio e pepe pizza and squid ink and crab gemelli.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Downtown Financial District
  • price 3 of 4

This skyscraper-topping restaurant easily could’ve coasted on its views alone. But 71Above—you guessed it, it’s 71 floors up in the U.S. Bank Tower—backs up its height with a tasty prix-fixe feast of poached oysters, agnolotti, steak tartare and scallops. Try the bar for a sunset-facing seat, and look out for a pair of tables pushed right up to the edge of the windows.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

This Hollywood boutique hotel’s main restaurant sits on the ground floor, but if you’re meeting someone at Mama Shelter it’s probably for the first-come, first-served rooftop. Hollywood is overstuffed with hotel-topping hangouts at this point, but none is as colorful and laid-back as Mama—and those vibes translate into its menu of comfort food, like adobo wings, zucchini blossom arancini and the Le Royale Burger on a Hawaiian bun.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Malibu
  • price 4 of 4

Perfect sunset scenery and superlative sushi make chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s romantic beachfront restaurant a must. The interior is elegant, too, but the on-the-water patio is the prime location for mini tacos and tiradito. The only unpalatable part: Expect to spend in the triple digits per person.

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  • Restaurants
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

If you can’t quite swing a meal at Nobu, make your way down the street and onto Malibu Pier instead for beachside bites from Malibu Farm. You’ll fine a pair of options: the casual cafe with scrambles and seafood sandwiches at the end of the pier, or California fare at the sit-down patio restaurant near the entrance.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Burbank

Valley views are significantly underrated, and this hillside Burbank eatery easily boasts the best of them. A recent renovation swapped a country club atmosphere for something a bit more fresh, with steaks, whole roast fish and impressive charcuterie boards. The patio, with a clear shot of the entire SFV, is the place to be, as is the adjacent subject-to-availability bar, the Green Room.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

To unpack this Melrose location’s name: E.P. is the interior restaurant, which recently switched from an Asian fusion menu to modern American, while L.P. is the first-come, first-served rooftop bar. And what a rooftop it is, with string lights and grasses gracing a perfect vista of the Hollywood Hills (one we honestly prefer to any of the exorbitant rooftops on the Sunset Strip). You’ll find burgers, tacos and seafood starters paired with craft and frozen cocktails (look out for a boba one, too) available by the pitcher. If you’re looking for dinner and a movie, try the adjoining Melrose Rooftop Theatre.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 3 of 4
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While many patio pop-ups have spilled over into the street, the Beverly Hilton’s latest has headed to the roof. Israeli and Mediterranean restaurant Sant’olina’s views are unreal, with a panoramic perspective of the Santa Monica Mountains on one side and the cluster of Century City office towers on the other. Put in an order of hummus and fired-to-order laffa, or hit it up during brunch for babka French toast.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 3 of 4

For ages, Perch was somehow the only rooftop restaurant and bar in DTLA. There may be plenty more now, but this one—draped in greenery and warm decor—is still the prettiest. Spread across two floors, the lower one features a romantic interior and a slim patio to feast on steak frites and bread pudding, while the open-air rooftop carries over the same menu along with a happy hour on weekdays (4–6pm; temporarily suspended). Pretty much every seat has a perfect view of the skyscrapers surrounding Pershing Square, as well as an eye-level perspective of the gothic crown of the Title Guarantee Building.

  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

This mountain palace (its literal translation) was built to house a private art collection a century ago, but these days it’s best known for framing gallery-worthy views of Hollywood. For a while Yamashiro was only worth a visit if you could nab a window seat, but its Japanese-leaning fusion menu has stepped it up in recent years. Adjoining cafe Kensho offers a superior snacking experience, but it trades sweeping vistas for a parking lot-facing patio with only a glimpse of the surrounding hilltops.

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  • Restaurants
  • Downtown Financial District

The skyline-topping Wilshire Grand Center has both a steakhouse and conveyor belt sushi joint tucked into the top floors of the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. But skip those for the 73rd-floor lounge—the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. On the one hand, the bottle service-y hotel bar vibes are strong and the prawns, steaks and burgers are just competent, but sitting outside next to a fire pit nearly 1,000 feet above L.A. makes up for all of it.

  • Restaurants
  • CafĂ©s
  • Topanga
  • price 1 of 4

The “scenic route” street sign bolted onto the wall here isn’t lying: This Americana café offers organic takes on diner classics literally in the treetops in Topanga, with a leafy platform that looks out onto the surrounding Santa Monica Mountains peaks.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Manhattan Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Manhattan Beach’s steep oceanfront hills means huffing and puffing as you walk around town, but it also affords this mainstay an elevated view of the pier and beach. Sit on the small salt air patio, if you can, over some black truffle risotto and scallops or stuffed French toast during weekend brunch. It’s not cheap, but what else would you expect from a top-notch meal a block away from the beach in one of the South Bay’s ritziest hoods.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown

Tropical cocktails, street-food-inspired dishes and colorful, seaside shack flair combine to transport vacation ambience to DTLA’s most easygoing rooftop. Pull up one of the mismatched chairs at the Freehand Hotel’s restaurant and bar and slurp down a frozen cocktail day or night against the skyline. Just a heads up, though, that the seating area is barely bigger than the pool.

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  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

Alright, L.A.’s most famous music venue isn’t really a restaurant. But the Hollywood Hills amphitheater is a spectacular setting for a meal during the third of the year when it’s hosting shows (with picnic opportunities even when it isn’t). Here’s how we see it: The picnic boxes and menu offerings put together each summer by Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne are shockingly good for such a massive venue, and you can either wine and dine at a proper table in a swanky box or opt for the cheap seats with even better views of the hills and (if you’re particularly high up) the Hollywood Sign.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Downtown Fashion District
  • price 2 of 4

The skyline profile from the Hoxton’s chic, deliciously seafood-forward restaurant don’t differ too much from DTLA’s nearby rooftops. But if we can get really specific about the setting, Pilot sits on the sole crooked block of Broadway, so the bar side of the rooftop stares straight down the street’s canyon of glowing theater marquees.

  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates
  • price 3 of 4

Palos Verdes’ sumptuous resort Terranea boasts more than a half-dozen outdoor dining options, but Mar’sel is the go-to for an impress-your-date (or parents) kind of place. Its peninsula-topping patio looks out toward the rugged PV coast and Catalina Island; it’s the kind of privileged setting that simply won’t want to give up when you’re done. Dinners quickly climb into the triple digits, so consider the three-course Sunday brunch for (a still expensive) $75 to keep things in check.

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Westside

You’re probably taking the 405 and the tram uphill to the Getty for the Impressionist masterpieces and French furniture, not the food. But don’t pass up the dining options at the Sepulveda Pass museum: The sit-down Restaurant offers modern American fare with travertine-trimmed views of the Santa Monica Mountains, while you can pick up a simple sandwich or wrap from the Garden Terrace Café and eat it overlooking the museum’s sloping lawn, central garden and a city-meets-the-ocean vista.

  • Things to do
  • Angeles National Forest

Sure, you can find better hot dogs and bowls of chili elsewhere—but we’re pretty sure this is the only spot in L.A. County where you can enjoy them a mile above the ground. This seasonal cafe atop Mt. Wilson takes some dedication to get to (about a half-hour very winding drive up Angeles Crest Highway), but you’ll be rewarded with the entire basin below you (and sometimes even the clouds). It’s only open on weekends (Apr–Nov 10am–5pm), and we’d also suggest coming later in the day and sticking around for sunset.

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