“I’m not ready for traffic to get back to normal,” I announced to my husband a couple of months ago, but my wish was already too late. Cars, vans, trucks and motorbikes are back on our freeways in full force. Stuck in bottleneck traffic on the 110 the other day, I felt my shoulders tightening in that old familiar way. I looked up at the buildings and imagined myself perched on top of one of them, high above the hustle and bustle I’m still not ready to fully embrace.
Luckily for us, for all its clogged arteries and air, L.A. offers a bevy of lovely rooftop escapes. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Perched high in DTLA
I love how, on its website, Perch, a fine-dining restaurant in Downtown L.A., has a photo that captures the surrounding buildings, as well as the one it sits atop – the Pershing Square Building – in black and white. In the middle of this silvertone setting is a ring of vibrant green shrubs circling the outdoor dining. Perch’s tagline, “an elevated resting place,” is perfect. From this glamorous rooftop enjoy French small plates, handcrafted cocktails and bird’s eye views of the city. Address: 448 S Hill St., L.A.
I discovered the Rooftop Cinema Club in El Segundo from writer Jill Carter, who found out about it on the Instagram account @secret.losangeles. While El Segundo isn’t far from our home, it’s never been on our radar for date nights…until now. The rooftop cinema sits atop an unassuming building in a quiet neighborhood.
Free self-parking is available in the parking structure on the third floor. Parking for physically disabled people is available on the fourth floor.
On the top floor, be transformed from the mundanity of a concrete parking lot to a lush and beautiful landscape full of Instagram-worthy backdrops that give off a flowery, bohemian feel, a full bar, games and the cinema area. Choose tickets for a single lounge seat for one or a double-width love seat for two. Bring your own blankets for cooler nights.
Enjoy a simple but delicious hibachi (“fire bowl”) meal — chicken, steak or shrimp — from Hibachi Broz. If it’s traditional concessions you want, there’s plenty of that, too. Whatever movie you watch — cult, classic or new release — you’ll be able to enjoy it without background noise, thanks to the wireless headphones the cinema doles out. The theme here is “Love, Peace and Great Film,” and it will certainly leave you with good vibes as you descend the stairs to return to your life below. Address: 1310 E. Franklin Ave., El Segundo
Mama and shelter go together
There’s something comforting about staying or dining in a place called Mama Shelter, and whether dining inside the restaurant here or on the rooftop, you’re sure to get a belly as full as your mama would want it. “With Mama, you’re in good hands,” this company, which boasts locations in Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Prague, London and more, assures on its website. With a hotel and restaurant on its lower floors, the rooftop is a lovely place to watch the sunset in the center of Hollywood.
If you’re not dieting, gobble up “Mama’s Mad Cottage Fries,” a piping-hot mess of yumminess: parsley, truffle, pecorino and Mama’s gravy. And even if you are dieting, when has Mama ever listened to you? You can get a hearty burger, a house-made biscuit and maple honey with a bucket of fried chicken, summer-inspired gnocchi and even lighter green options, too. Tip: If you want the rooftop, get there early. Mama Shelter’s does not take reservations for that area. First come, first serve. All’s fair in Mama’s house. Address: 6500 Selma Ave., L.A.