Amp up the romance at these dining spots with the best views from mountains to sea
Written bySunsetJanuary 21, 2016
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1 of19Chris Leschinsky
Altitude Sky Lounge, San Diego, CA
Even if the Padres aren’t your team, there’s something cool about looking down on a game from this bar 22 dizzying stories above San Diego. When the sluggers are away, the place puts on a show: Six-foot screens show music videos or cult classics; in summer, eye-level fireworks after the Summer Pops concerts. The bar menu serves up bites like blackened fish tacos. altitudeskybar.com.
2 of19Henrik Kam
La Costanera, Montara, CA
Gaze at the ocean, sip sangria, and sail through the greatest hits of Peruvian cooking on a bluff overlooking the beach. Try the crisp chicken with rocoto pepper aioli by the flickering firepits on the patio. $$$; lacostanerarestaurant.com.
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3 of19Chris Leschinsky
Sea Chest, Cambria, CA
If one restaurant hits the coastal trifecta of view, food, and wine, it’s the Sea Chest. The Central Coast it calls home may not get as much hype as Northern or Southern California’s, but we think the view is every inch as gorgeous. Settle in for seafood and local-wine pairings such as sweet, briny, plump Morro Bay oysters with a spritz of lemon and a delicate Curran Grenache Blanc. $$$; seachestrestaurant.com.
Andrea M. Gómez
4 of19Andrea M. Gómez
Yamashiro, Hollywood, CA
Dinner at Yamashiro is as much an escape from reality as any Hollywood film. Surrounded by Japanese gardens and built from teak and cedar, the restaurant high above Hollywood Boulevard is an exact handcrafted replica of a palace outside Kyoto. Its rooms are like a series of scenes, each with a different mood, to backdrop the likes of Asian barbecue baby back ribs with ginger black beans. $$$$; yamashirorestaurant.com.
5 of19Chris Leschinsky
Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurants, Morro Bay, CA
At Tognazzini’s, much of the seafood comes from the owner’s own boat and makes its way into super-fresh fish tacos, fried fish, and chowder. Bonus: barbecued oysters, a Morro Rock view, and live music at the Fish Market. $$$; morrobaydockside.com.
6 of19David Zaitz
Nelson’s at Terranea Resort, Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA
Hollywood A-listers, locals, and hotel guests grab drinks or a bite after spa treatments and rounds of golf at this swank resort in the burbs of Los Angeles. And no wonder: Nelson’s sits on a cliff with panoramas of the Pacific, Catalina Island in the distance—and maybe even a dolphin or two. Sunset is the real show, so get there an hour early to nab one of the firepit seats and enjoy a cucumber margarita with orange juice. $$$; terranea.com.
Andrea M. Gómez
7 of19Andrea M. Gómez
Sam’s Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, CA
Weekenders heading along the coast mob the joint for the famous lobster roll, then decide to stay for the live music and ocean breeze. Follow their cue and claim one of the Adirondack chairs on Sam’s patio, then look out toward the boats moored at Pillar Point. $$$; samschowderhouse.com.
8 of19David Fenton
Bottega, Yountville, CA
This is Napa Valley’s outdoor living room, with bright striped couches, firelight, and strings of twinkly lightbulbs overhead. Stake out the sofa in Bottega’s northwest corner late in the afternoon and watch the sun set over Mt. Veeder. As for the best drink to order, it’s a toss-up between the mojito topped with prosecco and the negroni with a shot of Campari. $$$; botteganapavalley.com.
Andrea M. Gómez
9 of19Andrea M. Gómez
Departure, Portland, OR
Mod orange lounge chairs and cushy couches deck the patios, where you can see the rooftops of downtown Portland with glimpses of the Willamette River and Mount St. Helens on a clear day. Your drink of choice: the fiery Tasho Macho, with Thai chile–infused vodka, muddled Thai basil, fresh citrus, and Cock ’n Bull ginger beer. departureportland.com.
10 of19Sean McMenamin
The Rooftop Bar at Hotel Oregon, McMinnville, OR
Five stories up is just right for a 360° panorama of the verdant surrounding wine country. As part of Oregon’s popular McMenamins empire, the bar offers pub fare, housemade ales, and Edgefield Winery wines. Grab a seat inside the tiny glass-roofed bar to watch storms roll across the valley. But when the sun shines, head out to the roof or vie for one of the coveted tables atop the crow’s nest. $; mcmenamins.com.
11 of19David Fenton
Timberline Lodge, Timberline Lodge, OR
WPA-era hand-hewn furniture and unforgettable views converge 6,000 feet up Mt. Hood in the lodge’s Cascade Dining Room. You can’t lose with dishes like salmon coulibiac and the handmade desserts. $$$$; timberlinelodge.com.
12 of19Danny Lund
Canlis, Seattle, WA
This landmark restaurant ditched the sauced fish fillets and chops that made it famous, and recruited a chef from Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Now classics like prawns sautéed in dry vermouth appear alongside more modernist foie gras. The restaurant’s 180° views of Lake Union and the Cascade Range remain, as do traditions that require men to don a jacket
to sit at certain tables. $$$$; canlis.com.
13 of19David Fenton
Gracie’s, Salt Lake City, UT
Downtown office dwellers head to Gracie’s to blow off steam on the second-floor patio. Join them and scan SLC’s ever-climbing skyline and the majestic Wasatch Mountains with one of our favorite local microbrews in hand: a crisp Cutthroat Pale Ale by Uinta Brewing Company. $$; graciesslc.com.
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen, CO
To glimpse Aspen’s best mountaintop views while savoring truly outstanding food, such as truffled scallops and European sea bass with roasted cauliflower, head up Aspen Highlands. For lunch, you ski in from nearby slopes. For dinner at least once a week, Cloud Nine provides snowcat transportation from the mountain’s base. $$$$; Mid-Dec–Apr; aspensnowmass.com.
Courtesy of Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort
15 of19Courtesy of Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort
Different Pointe of View, Phoenix, AZ
The Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort’s 1,800-foot-high perch on a rocky mountain is the place to get perspective on the desert—plus swaying palms, pink oleanders, and showstopping views of downtown Phoenix. Indulge in the classic lobster bisque
or grilled marinated hanger steak. $$$$; tapatiocliffshilton.com.
16 of19Erin Kunkel
Pa‘akai at Turtle Bay Resort, Kahuku, Oahu
The North Shore has ono (“delicious”) shrimp trucks and shave-ice joints, but for a decent sit-down meal, Pa‘akai has beachside open-air seating—the perfect setting to enjoy the renowned ahi poke, Kauai prawns, and sea asparagus. $$$; turtlebayresort.com.
17 of19Erin Kunkel
CanoeHouse at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Kohala Coast, Big Island
This kitchen has launched the careers of many Hawaii regional-cuisine chefs (Alan Wong, for one). The heaping bowl of Kona-raised clams with Hilo corn, piquillo peppers, and fiddlehead ferns from the lush, forested Waipi‘o Valley is a study in sweet-savory balance. $$$$; maunalani.com.
18 of19Erin Kunkel
Town, Kaimuki, Oahu
Chef Ed Kenney is Oahu’s farm-to-table man of the moment: Michelle Obama has tapped him for organic-food luncheons, talks, and tours. Plus, Town turns out modern-rustic dishes like hand-cut pasta with Hawaii octopus, fennel, tomato, and herbs. Look for snout-to-tail specials—Kenney buys and butchers a pig each week—as well as the Ernesto cocktail of Hawaiian rum, lime, grapefruit, and rosemary. $$$; townkaimuki.com.
Andrea M. Gómez
19 of19Andrea M. Gómez
Mama's Fish House, Maui
Sure, Mama’s is a bit more expensive than your average fish joint. But its oceanside setting bordered by swaying palms puts it in the million-dollar-view category, making dinner seem like a bargain. Don’t miss mahimahi sautéed in coconut milk, kalua pig, poi, Molokai purple sweet potatoes, grilled banana, and fresh coconut. $$$$; mamasfishhouse.com.