The Rooftop by JG at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills offers expansive views of Beverly Hills and beyond. // © 2017 Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
Feature image (above): See the Hollywood Sign from the new 22nd-floor Filifera. // © 2017 Proper Hospitality
Los Angeles County is made up of multiple cities, dotted with palm trees and intersected by highways. Its enormity is difficult to truly grasp on-ground, which is why some folks prefer a bird’s-eye view of L.A.’s sundry landscape.
Locals and visitors alike are in luck — there are plenty of excellent establishments positioned high enough to provide a lofty vantage point. Add year-round alfresco weather, drinks and food to the equation, and a good time is certain.
Besides regular rooftop standbys such as Perch in downtown Los Angeles and High Rooftop Lounge in Venice, there have been a wave of newcomers breaking into Los Angeles’ rooftop bar scene. Here are five of my favorites.
Catch LA (West Hollywood)
Following its September 2016 opening, Catch LA has become a darling especially among West Hollywood’s (WeHo) in-crowd, and for good reason. Located in the neighborhood’s design district, the upscale Catch is seriously stunning: After an elevator ride up, guests walk through a lush, open-air corridor thickly adorned with greenery, flowers and twinkle lights before being seated. The grandeur extends throughout the sprawling 12,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor restaurant, with plush rugs, hanging flora, exposed brick walls and even a retractable roof.
Expect a variety of seating options, from communal tables and bar seating to more intimate options. My recommendation is to snag an alfresco patio spot situated along the restaurant’s edge. Here, striking views of WeHo are guaranteed. (Tip: Try to locate the Los Angeles Basin.)
What to Order: Catch is, above all, a restaurant, and a fantastic one at that. But before diving into the seafood-heavy menu, indulge in an expertly fashioned cocktail (or two). I’ll admit that my first Detox Retox cocktail was so good that I requested another — it features the odd-but-totally-works combo of tequila with matcha tea, as well as fresh cucumber, mint and lime. My friend still voices her support of the Meatpacking Manhattan (Bulleit Rye whiskey, Santa Teresa 1796 rum, dry curacao, Cynars bitter liqueur, cherry and Lillet Blanc aperitif wine).
And since seafood is Catch’s specialty, don’t skimp on ordering fishy treats such as the MRC Roll with seared tuna, shrimp and ponzu butter; the Catch ceviche (Alaskan king crab, Maine lobster, shrimp, scallop, mango and blood-orange ponzu); and crispy shrimp with spicy mayo.
Note: Vegans, rejoice — there’s a special plant-based menu that touts dishes such as crispy cauliflower with a spicy vegan mayo and a fish-free roll with king oyster mushrooms, cashew and spicy miso.
Ambiance: Attire is smart casual, though patrons are often dressed to the nines. (Just try not to be conspicuous when scoping the vicinity for Hollywood stars.)
Hours: Open for brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; for dinner, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., daily
Takes Reservations: Yes, by phone or online (highly recommended)
The crown of Hollywood Proper Residences is new rooftop bar Filifera. Tucked into the building’s 22nd floor — making it the highest rooftop bar in Hollywood — the sophisticated indoor-outdoor bar and lounge just hit the scene in May and is already wowing guests with its California-cool style and panoramic views of Hollywood, including the Capitol Records Building, Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Sign.
There’s also a pool and private cabanas exclusive to Hollywood Proper Residences guests or attendees at private events, though they surely add to Filifera’s elegant aesthetic — one carefully crafted by interior design expert Kelly Wearstler.
What to Order: Cocktails, wines, beer and snacks are on offer at Filifera. You can’t go wrong with the Passion Fruit Fizz, a house specialty consisting of Maker’s Mark bourbon, passion fruit, lemon, pastis (anise-flavored aperitif), wild fennel flower and aquafaba; or the Hibiscus Gin & Tonic, which has an ingredient list of Beefeater Gin, tonic water and hibiscus flowers, served “a la Espana” over ice.
To soak up all that booze, opt for a charcuterie board — served with charcoal crackers — or house pickles (cucumber, celery, baby squash, cauliflower, fennel and carrots).
Ambiance: Since Filifera is still relatively new, people here are in-the-know types and, unsurprisingly, quite chic. Dress code is smart casual.
Hours: Open for drinks and snacks, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays
Takes Reservations: Required, by email (entry is guest list only)
Mama Shelter Rooftop Bar (Hollywood)
French-based boutique hotel chain Mama Shelter is known for its playful and ridiculously hip style. Open since April 2016, the rooftop deck atop its Los Angeles location — smack-dab in the heart of Hollywood — is no different, with decor that embraces loud, bright colors and clashing patterns.
The trendy locale gets packed early as it’s a popular spot for weekend brunch and day drinking. During peak hours, food and drink service may be slow, but guests can kick back on comfy, oversize day beds while they wait. (Be aware that there’s little to no shade provided.) And if enjoying another’s company isn’t enough, there are games such as foosball to play and sweeping views of Hollywood, including the famous Hollywood Sign, to admire.
What to Order: It’s better to go here for the drinks. Rose Wine Sangria — a blend of rhubarb, vodka, mint, strawberries and lemon — hits the spot on a sunny day in L.A. Or, pick your poison from the Mama’s Mule Bar selection, which ranges from a Mexican Mule made with tequila to a bourbon-spiked Kentucky Mule.
Ambiance: Lots of 20-somethings frequent this Hollywood hot spot; it’s a place to see and be seen. Dress is casual. Although the overall vibes are laid-back, Mama Shelter can get loud when it’s busy.
Hours: Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; for drinks, 11 a.m. to midnight, daily
Takes Reservations: No
Spire 73 (Downtown Los Angeles)
With its June grand opening, Spire 73 is still new to the downtown L.A. circuit but has already made an impression. Set on the 73rd floor of the also-new InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown (within the Wilshire Grand building), the modern rooftop lounge flaunts the designation of “tallest open-air bar in the Western hemisphere.” Indeed, views here are spectacular — patrons can even see the helipads atop some of downtown L.A.’s highest buildings.
Wraparound glass at Spire 73 protects patrons from wind, though it still can get chilly. There are plenty of seats on benches, within “caged” cabanas, at two-top and four-top tables and below quirkily shaped umbrellas. Fridays and Saturdays are extra-busy at this sleek hideaway, so arrive early to beat the inevitable line downstairs.
Enter through the hotel to take an elevator to the 71st floor — where the sights of downtown are arguably even better than those of the rooftop lounge — before boarding a second elevator to Spire 73.
What to Order: Spire 73 offers small plates only, and each dish is presented beautifully with intricate details. The Diver Scallop, for example, arrives in its shell dressed with yuzu marmalade, daikon sprouts and iced and crystalized ginger. Be prepared for an eye-catching smoke show upon its delivery. Also superb are the Hot Rock Kobe — served with shishito peppers, Shimeji mushrooms, red pearl onions and ponzu sauce, all set in a small cast-iron dish — and the Roasted Bone Marrow, which pairs deliciously with crusty bread, roasted garlic and pickled vegetables.
Called The Name of the Rose, my drink of choice was a potent but appetizing mixture of Bombay Sapphire gin, Lillet Rose aperitif wine, Campari liqueur, lemon, sparkling rose and grapefruit twist, topped with an orchid flower. Two other popular cocktails include the Julep 73 2017 (Maker’s Mark bourbon, espresso, honey and mint) and the 1100 Feet (Glenmorangie scotch, Benedictine liqueur, Lillet Blanc aperitif wine, creole bitters and dried apricot).
Ambiance: Patrons eat and drink among InterContinental DLTA hotel guests in addition to outside visitors. Dress code is smart casual, and the dining/drinking experience feels relaxed yet intimate.
Hours: Open 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., daily
Takes Reservations: Yes, by phone or online
The Rooftop by JG at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills)
At the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten heads up The Rooftop by JG in addition to the more formal Jean-Georges Beverly Hills downstairs. But the latter doesn’t come with the rooftop restaurant’s jaw-dropping 360-degree views, which are a definite plus.
Along with the hotel, the rooftop lounge only opened in June, and it’s already a favored locale for sky-high visibility. As expected with any Waldorf Astoria-branded establishment, The Rooftop by JG is elegant and charms onlookers with its expertly curated color palette of green hues, tropical print accents and live foliage.
What to Order: Hands down, get the Kumquat Mojito, which is a yummy concoction of Ron Matusalem Platino Rum, mint, Fever-Tree soda water and, of course, kumquat. Plus, all these ingredients make for an attractive drink that — when placed against a background of the surrounding city — is worthy of an Instagram snap.
The food menu features a medley of flavors and ingredients, from Latin America and Southeast Asia to New York and California, and everything comes out of the kitchen light, fresh and delectable.
My group decided go with The Rooftop by JG’s most popular items, including the watermelon and goat cheese with olive oil and cracked white pepper; the spring pea guacamole with warm tortilla chips; and the tuna tartare with avocado, radish and ginger marinade. (We agreed in unison that it was a decision well-made.) For a main dish, the lobster burger (dressed with a green chili sauce, yuzu pickles and Gruyere cheese) is a showstopper.
Ambiance: Expect an elevated ambiance and corresponding crowd, due in part to the five-star hotel as well as the Beverly Hills location. Dress code is smart casual.
Hours: Open for food and drinks, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily
Takes Reservations: Yes, by phone or online