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Best Beergardens in Los Angeles

Sure, L.A. may not have grilled fish on sticks as they famously do in Munich, but the spirit of Oktoberfest is in effect year-round at these rowdy beer gardens and beer bars. Stop in for some suds, some pretzels and maybe a wurst or two to embrace the German way of life. From a beer hall in Pasadena to a lively bar in Santa Monica, we’re raising our glasses to the best beer gardens in the city. Raise a stein and get your fill of wurst and schnitzel at the best beer gardens in Los Angeles. Prost!

Ashland Hill – Santa Monica

Generous pours, unabashed comfort food, and a block from the beach: That’s Ashland Hill, a Santa Monica Cheers in the making. Anchoring the old Wildflour Pizza space on Main Street is a sprawling, pet-friendly back patio. At picnic tables blanketed in twinkling lights, patrons graze on pork belly tacos and crispy truffled cheese curds between sips of international vino and serious high-alcohol brews. The 20-tap lineup at this beer garden-wine bar hybrid includes 9-percent Belgian tripels, Mexican lager and Central Coast wines—plus another 14 bottles of red, white and bubbly. Ample space, friendly servers and plenty of heat lamps to go around make Ashland Hill no-fuss, al fresco boozing at its finest.

Biergarten – Ktown

L.A.-raised Neil Kwon took a cue from the biergartens of Berlin and Munich in bringing craft beer to Koreatown in 2010. His beer hall, Biergarten, views Germany through a Korean prism. Platters of brats are dished up alongside Korean fried chicken, kimchi short rib fried rice and burgers both American and international—try the spicy Chosun with kimchi and pickled daikon or a fried chicken sandwich with grilled pineapple and salsa verde. The beer list combines Old World ales like malty Spaten Optimator with West Coast IPAs like Bear Republic Racer 5, none of which appear in yard-long glasses served at kitschier neighbors. The space also touts flat screens that draw UFC and sports fans.

Red Lion Tavern – Silver Lake

A beer stein-shaped sign greets visitors to the divey street-side bar, but it’s all about the back patio at this Silver Lake institution, a fixture since 1959. Current owner Aidas Mattis and his family still maintain the Bavarian connection with imagery of the Berlin bear and a 3-D mural of old-school, beer-toasting Germans and wall-mounted promotional tins from classic German breweries like Warsteiner and Bitburger, also served on tap. Schnitzel and sausage are series regulars at Red Lion, as are Oktoberfest celebrations that occur throughout the month.

Wurstküche – DTLA

Cousins Tyler Wilson and Joseph Pitruzzelli have the uncanny ability to transform a triangular space into a Wurstküche, contemporary “sausage kitchen,” each one outfitted in industrial, geometric furniture—crafted by Pitruzzelli himself—and a DJ booth. The cousins’ crew will gladly grill sausages like Polish-style Kielbasa or more adventurous Rattlesnake & Rabbit to pair with a “groot” worth of skin-on frites. In case you didn’t know, that amounts to a lot of fries. Wurstküche primarily pours Belgian and German beers from (surprisingly) brand-free tap handles. Try the notoriously tart Duchesse de Bourgogne or sweet Aventinus Eisbock that packs a punch.

Standard Biergarten – Downtown LA

The weekend pool parties are legendary, but the Standard Downtown has managed to carve out a corner of their rooftop for Bavaria’s sake. Pretzels, wursts and strudels are availabe from a wagon that resides at the other end of the Astroturf, and a small bar pours traditional German beers. Fichus trees frame yellow patio furniture but don’t block the prized views of surrounding Downtown. Between bites and sips, try your hand at a couple of the games within the beer garden, like ping pong or foosball.

Wirtshaus – Mid City / Wilshire

Wear your lederhosen to this Mid-City beer garden, where an extensive selection of German brews are served up alongside traditional German fare like schnitzel, sausages and homemade pretzels. Grab a seat at the bar or at a communal table on the dog-friendly patio and sample over 35 beers—if beer isn’t your thing, there’s wine on hand, as well as a ping-pong table and flat screen TV. And, of course, Oktoberfest festivities are an annual occurrence, and include live music, food and drink specials, and a ceremonial first tap.

Dog Haus Biergarten – Pasadena

Though the Dog Haus menu reads like a drunken cookbook of street dogs and Denny’s breakfasts, the plump, flavorful hot dogs show more tact and restraint than their sloppy inspirations, thanks in part to the sweet, soft Hawaiian bread buns. Among the long list of dependably delectable dogs, burgers and brats, the Sooo Cali is the hot dog of choice, with its thick slices of avocado, crispy onions and spicy basil aioli. Out front, the beer garden boasts picnic benches and a communal vibe—a charming alternative to the sports bar-like interior; in either case the delightfully cheesy ’80s touches are inescapable, from the loud soundtrack (think Toto) to the menu (the Abe Froman, Scott Baioli).

Verdugo – Glassel Park

Ryan Sweeney, Brandon Bradford, Cherith Spicer and Kyle Bilowitz set Los Angeles abuzz when they opened Verdugo Bar in the Eastside’s Glassell Park, featuring only a sign that reads “Cocktails” to signal their presence. Their craft beer roster turned Verdugo Bar into a destination. Here, people seek their booths and curved wooden bar. Over the years, they’ve added a back patio that features communal seating and a wall of craft brewery tins. Food trucks often take up residence in the parking lot and game nights and weekend board games are in the weekly lineup. Verdugo holds an annual Oktoberfest party, complete with boot races, stein-holding competitions and prizes.

Rock and Brews – El Segundo

There are more than 10 locations of Rock and Brews around the country, but it all started in El Segundo with the very first rock-centric gastropub opening there in 2012. Diners and drinkers can choose to sit inside or outside—though if you’re here strictly for the beer, embrace the beer garden ambience on the patio (it’s dog-friendly!). The beer menu is a who’s-who of local breweries—Smog City, Ohana, King Harbor and Golden Road all made the cut—along with stellar nationwide brews. Dishes range from burgers to pizza to creamy mac and cheese. You know, comfort food at its finest.

Alpine Village – Torrance

The Alpine Village is home to Torrance’s annual Oktoberfest celebration, but for the rest of the year the Bavarian attraction hosts a restaurant (Alpine Steinhaus), bar and German market. Inside the restaurant, feast on sauerkraut, sausages and more traditional German food while listening to polka music and watching diners take a break from stuffing their bellies with food and beer to break a sweat polka dancing.

Der Wolfskopf – Pasadena

The name of this Pasadena beer hall doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but conversational German is not required for entry here. Brought to you by the same folks as The Surly Goat, Little Bear and the neighboring Blind Donkey, Der Wolfskopf has 15 German beers on tap bearing enough syllables and umlauts to twist your tongue well into the night. There are German-style beers from Oregon and California, as well Pasadena-based Craftsman Brewery. Overwhelmed? The friendly bar staff actually knows its stuff and will guide you in the right direction. Add a food menu with sausages, pretzels and schnitzel and a soon-to-be-opened outdoor beer garden, and this place ticks all the necessary boxes.

 

Best Rooftop Bars in Los Angeles – Hollywood, Beverly Hills, DTLA, Weho

What is it that they say about smog? Oh yeah, beautiful sunsets. Make L.A.’s haze work for you at these cocktail bars and beachside spots, where the views rightfully rival the booze. From Downtown’s bars with a view to seaside cabanas in Malibu and Venice, here are the city’s top (literally) rooftop bars.

Highlight Room – Hollywood

The Highlight Room takes over the rooftop and poolside at the mod hotel, which officially opens tonight with some of the sweetest views in Hollywood. With clear cut vistas looking out to Hollywood and beyond, it’s clearly outfitted to become an evening party space, what with speakers galore, two DJ booths, and bottle service.

The Roof on Wilshire – Central LA

From weekend brunch—tuck into pancake lasagna as you sip on mimosas—to sunset drinks and bites, you’ll find full views paired with staycation cocktails and eats at the Hotel Wilshire’s rooftop restaurant and lounge. As nights get cooler, slip into one of the banquettes that line the pool and warm up with drinks like the Cue Southside, with gin, cucumber and mint; or El Ristocrat, with tequila, agave and bitters.

Perch LA – Downtown LA

This rooftop bistro is one of the prettiest in town with its patterned tile floors, dead-on view of the Central Library and potted trees full of twinkly lights. Downtown locals, plus a few hundred of their closest friends, sit on velour bar stools and plush sofas inside the eclectic boudoir-themed bar or fireside on the outdoor patio. From any seat, you’ll want to sample the wide selection of Kirs that go beyond Crème de Cassis—try a tasty, blackberry-flavored Crème de Mure—and other French by-the-glass pours. The after-work crowd drops in for happy hour, dubbed Apéritif Hour, weekdays from 4 to 6pm, while late-night partygoers can enjoy a live DJ on Tuesdays from 9pm-2am.

Petit Ermitage – West Hollywood

Just off the hustle and bustle of the Sunset Strip, this West Hollywood boutique gem boasts boho-chic rooms with European touches and overwhelming charm. Take in the 360° vistas of Los Angeles from the rooftop (often overlooked by locals as a relaxing hangout spot), complete with outdoor pool, fireplaces, two bars, patio and garden, recognized as a hummingbird and butterfly sanctuary by the National Wildlife Federation.

High Rooftop Lounge – Venice

Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply in L.A., making the Hotel Erwin’s High Rooftop Lounge an in-demand spot for sun-kissed Venice Beach locals. Even if you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to make a reservation. There’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand to get Angelenos buzzing. Getting chilly? Evening bar-goers can stay past sundown wrapped up in one of the bar’s cozy blankets, along with a spiked cocoa or hot root beer float. If you don’t like your drinks sweet, stick to local craft brews to pair with midnight (gourmet) munchies like the mini lobster roll and a bacon, cream cheese, jalapeño hot dog.

E.P. L.P. Rooftop Bar – West Hollywood

There’s a party happening at the intersection of La Cienega and Melrose—and while everyone is invited, not everyone may fit in. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give L.P. Rooftop a try, though. Located above E.P., a restaurant featuring a hodgepodge of Asian cuisine, you’ll find L.P., a rooftop bar with killer views and a swanky clientele. Share a pitcher of spiked bubble tea and Fijian nachos with new friends or industry colleagues as the sun sets on West Hollywood. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get into the super exclusive patch of rooftop known as Frankie’s, a private bar with daybeds.

Standard Downtown – DTLA

Even if you don’t hop in the pool, you can still plunge into the fun on one of the bright red waterbed pods scattered across the roof at the Downtown outpost of Andre Balaz’s hip hotel. Take the elevator up to the top, where mod furnishings give a slightly space-age vibe—the perfect backdrop for a crowd ranging from folks waiting for next year’s Burning Man to hotel guests checking out the scene. Weekend afternoons call for cocktail lounging—try the sweet and sour Hennessy Lemonade—but beware the $20 cover after 7pm, which doesn’t deter the lines that can stretch out into the parking lot.

Mama Shelter – Hollywood

We’re big fans of Mama Shelter as a hotel and a restaurant, but once we saw the rooftop, we decided we just might move in for good. The bright space is splattered with multicolored sofas and chairs where you can lounge while waiting for shawarma to arrive; the Mediterranean-inspired menu also serves falafel, salmon skewers and a few hummus options. Cocktails also pay tribute to the Mediterranean, with drinks like the Za’atar Margarita and Mediterranean Mule. On warm nights, you can dance under the stars while DJs spin an eclectic mix of music, or take in a classic movie on their outdoor screen. There’s also a fusbol table, a yoga studio and sweeping views of Hollywood. Like we said—we’re never leaving.

Upstairs – DTLA

Look good—but not like you’re trying too hard—when visiting Upstairs, a Moroccan oasis perched atop the trendy Ace Hotel. The elevator next to L.A. Chapter is your key to getting inside (or rather, outside) the buzzing, open-air roof deck, swathed in an exotic canopy and scattered with hip Downtowners clutching plastic cups. Perfect for an after-work schmooze or a reunion with old friends, you’ll find two bars to order a drink from (be warned: weekends bring the requisite long lines). Try the Lefty Lucy, a surprisingly easy-to-drink concoction made with chile liqueur, peach liqueur, ginger, lime and yellow chartreuse.

SkyBar – WeHo

The rooftop bar that started it all, the Mondrian’s Skybar still retains its secret Sunset Strip entryway, complete with dress-to-impress entry and nightlife cred—this is one of the rare poolside bars where people really do jump in after a night of cocktails. The all-ages crowd ranges from wide-eyed ingénues to aging Robert Evans types, but no matter where you fall on the spectrum, the Mexican-style oasis of flowering walls and gorgeous nooks will win you over, especially with a mojito in hand.

Above SIXTY Beverly Hills – Beverly Hills

Above SIXTY provides both a name and directions to this exclusive hotel bar. Open to Sixty Beverly Hills guests, members and cabana reservations during the day, this ritzy rooftop lounge is open to the public for a swanky bar crowd at night. The rooftop lounge offers wine, beer and cocktails, like the Strawberry Smash crafted with vodka and fresh muddled strawberries. Appetizers and meals, from kale salads to crab cakes, are also available on the roof of the sleek hotel, as are occasional weekend pool parties. You’ll pay a pretty penny for your libations, but it’s worth it for the view.

The Fonda Theatre – Hollywood

A smoke break doesn’t mean that you’ll miss the show at Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre, where not only is the music hooked up to the rooftop “speakeasy,” but the live on-stage performance is also projected on the exterior wall. Unfortunately, you do have to buy tickets to the gig to gain entrance, but the prime perch—lounge on one of the scattered sofas on the outdoor patio—from the historic Spanish Revival–style building offers an unobstructed view of Hollywood as you listen to indie faves like Alt-J and the Alabama Shakes. Throw back a brewski and gaze down the boulevard as you channel your inner Dracula, performed on the Fonda stage soon after it opened in 1926.

Moonshadows – Malibu

Forget flip-flops and sunscreen—dolphin sightings are de rigueur at this longtime PCH watering hole. With an outdoor lounge area lined with white beds and curtained booths that hang right over the Pacific, you’re practically within blowhole distance of the pods that swim close to shore. Catch afternoon rays at weekend brunch or laze on the sundeck at sunset or after dark, when Malibu locals turn out for margaritas and the salt air mixes with pretty young things.

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801 Hill – The Latest Addition to DTLA Nightlife Scene

Downtown is re-club-ifying at an alarming rate, now that the streets are running green with the neighborhood’s newfound wealth. Bars like Honeycut have been doing wine raves and the 90’s club redux thing for a while now, Soho House is getting its own private partygoing in the Arts District, and newcomers like Precinct are hoping to revive the once-thriving gay bar and club scene in the area.

Next up is 801 Hill, a modestly-named nightclub spot situated in the former home of The Vault. The Hill Street address has been undergoing quite a renovation as of late, with the entire 8th and Hill corner getting a makeover that plans to drop in some retail space and a healthy-eating sweetgreen location.

At 801 Hill, which seems to have just soft-opened over the weekend, the focus is still on bottle service and DJ booths, however. The entire room is outfitted in dark tones and gleaming touches, from satin drapes to chandeliers. The bar is predictably backlit with neon lighting, and (at least for now) the dance floor is littered with a sweaty twentysomething crowd eager to party. Around the edges, circular black booths make bottle service a priority.

801 Hill soft-opened over the weekend with free admission until midnight and $99 bottles on offer, but don’t expect deals like that to last forever. They’ll likely be partying again this weekend though, so head to their Facebook page for details.