Looking for anew place to meet after work? Or a romantic treat for your date? From the rocky coastline of Laguna Beach to the nighttime glitter of the San Fernando Valley, several restaurants and bars offer a chance to imbibe spectacular views with your beverage and/or dinner.
Here are ten views from restaurants or cocktail lounges in Southern California:
Castaway, 1250 Harvard Road, Burbank, (818) 848-6691. Journey to this hilltop aerie at dusk and watch the San Fernando Valley transform itself into a carpet of twinkling lights. On clear days, even Downtown Los Angeles joins the show. The lights in the bar area are dim, leaving the panorama below unchallenged. When there's no wind, fire pits will be ablaze on the hilltop patio, so you may want to trade your indoor window seat for one outside. Drinks and appetizers are served on the outdoor patio; all other food is served in the dining room.
Warehouse, 3450 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, (714) 673-4700. Masts frame your view of Newport Harbor's busy basin. Sailboats and yachts travel through the bay in an endless parade against the distant hills. There are two indoor bars with views: one upstairs and one on ground level. Although generally not open in the daytime or on week nights, the upstairs lounge has the best view. When this area isn't in service, you can order beverages downstairs and take them upstairs to enjoy the water view. If you prefer outdoors, ask for seating at tables alongside the dock. It's nice in warm weather, and heaters take off the chill in cooler weather.
Yamashiro, 1999 N. Sycamore Ave., Hollywood, (213) 466-5125. Built more than 60 years ago to house art and antiques from the Far East, Yamashiro rests high in the hills above Hollywood. You can see for miles beyond Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood from this replica of a Japanese mountain palace. A remnant of the 12 acres of gardens that once surrounded Yamashiro flourish across from the restaurant entrance. Oriental waitresses in kimonos add to the intimate atmosphere in the bar, which is lighted by candle at night.
Orange Hill, 6410 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 997-2910. On sparkling, wind-swept days, it seems as though you can see all of Orange County from this hill. Inside, you can enjoy the fireplace and the view at the same time. Though there's no dancing, a pianist plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m. There's also service on the patio outside, between cascades of bougainvillea and the edge of the hill. The fire pits are lighted every night.
Shanghai Red's, 13813 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, (213) 823-4522. Encircled by windows on three sides, much of this bar reaches almost into the marina's main channel. With the harbor entrance in sight, all the boats leaving and returning from the sea pass by. If you're reluctant to leave, relax in one of the seats lining the boardwalk. Or stroll and window-shop next door at colorful Fisherman's Village.
Las Brisas, 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, (714) 497-5434. A profusion of color surrounds you in this restaurant/bar perched on a cliff above the sea. Huge rocks jut out of the water beyond the rose bushes that front the patio bar. To the south, hills form a steep backdrop for your view of Downtown Laguna, a five-minute walk away. To the north, a park filled with benches and wandering paths follow the cliffs adjacent to Las Brisas. The park has a gazebo with a view that is popular for weddings and taking pictures.
Topper's, 1111 2nd St., Santa Monica, (213) 451-9783. For a bird's-eye view of Santa Monica, ride the glass elevator to the top of the Huntley Hotel. Once there, palm trees sway 18 floors beneath you, and the coastline stretches almost to Malibu beneath the nearby mountains.
Gladstone's 4 Fish, 17300 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, (213) 454-3474. You'll find Gladstone's on the beach where Sunset Boulevard reaches the sea. From the outside bar, your gaze curves along the coast south to the Palos Verdes peninsula and north to Malibu. Drinks are served from an old bell buoy, while gulls cry overhead and waves crash on the beach.
Charthouse, 34442 Street of the Green Lantern, Dana Point, (714) 493-1183. Dana Point Harbor spreads out beneath the Charthouse, which is set into a cliff. Protected by low hills, the coast arcs southward to San Diego County. At night, the harbor and hills glow with thousands of pinpoints of light. For a closer view, benches await you outside.
Parker's Lighthouse, 435 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach, (213) 432-6500. First, choose between the outdoor, ground-floor bar and the indoor, circular one that tops the restaurant. Then, wander around until you find just the view you want--of the marina, Downtown Long Beach or the Queen Mary. Parker's is part of Shoreline Village, a cozy gathering of shops and eateries surrounded on three sides by water. For the young at heart, there's even an 80-year-old carrousel.