12 Hottest Rooftop Dining & Drinking Scenes Across the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  May 27, 2014

Our picks for the country's hottest rooftop scenes include places to watch the sunset over the Pacific and bars where you can see the Atlantic surf crashing onto the coast. Some of our rooftop scenes are high-intensity, with velvet ropes and DJs; others are more chilled-out, with nothing more than benches and beer. Read on for our picks for rooftop dining and drinking across the U.S. 

  • Chicago: The J. Parker

    We dare you to be in a bad mood with a cocktail in hand here, overlooking lush views of Lincoln Park. House drinks focus on refreshing flavors, perfect for sitting in the chic fireside lounge area.

    The View: Pick your vista from Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park or the Chicago skyline; the patio offers unobstructed views of all three.

    What to Order: J. Parker Burger, featuring dry-aged beef, butterkase cheese, "belly fire" mayo, lettuce, charred onion and pickles.

    Insider Tip: New to this summer season is Liquid Brunch, a special Sunday brunch served at noon with a “Summer Harvest” cocktail and bar snacks.

    1816 N. Clark St.; 312-254-4747

  • Miami: Juvia

    With its pretty white-and-purple setting and impressive vertical garden, this indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge sits high on the penthouse level of a South Beach parking garage.

    The View: The entire panorama of the city.

    What to Order: Sip on a pineapple martini mixed with Ciroc Peach ($14), then try the cold smoked sea scallop made with Bloody Mary espuma and crispy pancetta ($18).

    Insider Tip: If you're going planning on dinner, be sure to nab a reservation well ahead of time as it's always packed at night.

    1111 Lincoln Rd.; 305-763-8272

  • Houston: Proof Rooftop Lounge

    A posh spot in Houston's Midtown bar scene, Proof's newly renovated rooftop lounge, atop Reef Restaurant, offers bottle service, plenty of seating and an upbeat scene, perfect for rendezvousing with co-workers and friends during the week or on the weekends. Just a few steps away from the expansive outdoor wooden deck is an indoor dance floor and two bars, plus a second-floor area with billiards and arcade games.

    The View: Located above Reef Restaurant, the 4,000-sq.-ft. patio at Proof offers a killer view of the Downtown skyline.

    What to Order: We like the refreshing Proof Punch ($11), highlighted by the smooth taste of gin, and the Texas Tease ($11), a nod to the Lone Star State with a mix of all-Texas liquors including Waterloo Gin, Treaty Oak Rum, Starlite Vodka and Z Tequila. From 4 to 8 PM Thursdays and Fridays, patrons can expect happy-hour drink specials occasionally accompanied by light fare from Reef, Proof's downstairs neighbor.

    Insider Tip: Rent a hookah at the bar for $20.

    2600 Travis St.; 832-767-0513

  • Credit: Scott Suchman

    Washington, DC: DNV Rooftop Lounge at Donovan House

    When you’re up here, you hardly feel like you’re in DC - it feels more like you’ve stepped into a Hollywood movie scene, both laid-back and sophisticated with its pool and a beach-getaway feel.

    The View: Thomas Circle has never looked so charming, plus you can see some monuments in the distance.

    What to Order: Tamarind barbacoa beef tacos with kimchi ($12); pork-belly bao ($10);  Yellow River Old Fashioned ($10); Green Velvet Slipper ($12).

    Insider Tip: The space hosts a “tea time” happy hour from 4-7 PM weekdays, when select cocktails are on special for $6, including the popular Yellow River Old Fashioned.

    1155 14th St. NW; 202-379-4366

  • Credit: Hotel Erwin

    Los Angeles: High at Hotel Erwin

    Watching the Venice Boardwalk from High is a glorious thing. Pun intended. Weekends are jam-packed with beachgoers and locals alike, especially since the bar opens earlier during the warmer months. DJs spin all day and night on the weekends, making sure the party never stops.

    The View: Sand, surf, sunsets, palm trees and the crazy Boardwalk scene down below.

    What to Order: Cocktails like The Front Porch (cucumber-infused gin, thyme sweet tea, fresh lemon) are breezy goodness ($15); wines by the glass start at $10; beef or lamb sliders ($12); pretzel with oozy cheese for dipping ($9); currywurst ($10).

    Insider Tip: Go on the earlier side to get a good couch. If you don’t want to wait for a seat during primetime hours, make a reservation.

    1697 Pacific Ave.; 310-452-1111

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Stratus Lounge

    The drinks are as cool as the crowd is hot at this bar on the top of the Hotel Monaco. It may be smack in the middle of the Historic District, but this mod inside-outside lounge is the most fashionable rooftop in town.

    The View: Though the retrofitted 1907 Beaux Arts building came with a sturdy wall blocking the line of sight to Independence Hall across the street, you can catch a glimpse through the windows of the two endcap pavilions.

    What to Order: Unusually, many of the barrel-aged cocktails here are made with gin or vodka, to great effect. Try the Jazz Baby, with Bols Genever, Spatola Italian vermouth, Pierre Ferrand dry orange curaçao and Averna ($13). Curry popcorn is the snack to get if you want to keep it light and easy ($8).

    Insider Tip: DJs spin in front of the giant angel wing structure on Fridays and Saturdays, so that’s when to go if you’re looking to dance.

    433 Chestnut St.; 215-925-2889

  • Boston: Rooftop @ Revere

    Pretty people flock to the rooftop lounge at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, lured by a glass-enclosed pool area, plush cabanas, fun events like fashion shows, and the chance to nosh on light bites, sip summery cocktails and soak up the sun.

    The View: An expanse of rooftops from the neighboring Bay Village and South End neighborhoods. (Just bring your shades to see; it gets bright.)

    What to Order: We love the pitchers of cocktails and "classy Jell-O shots" served in mini martini glasses, but don't overlook a tasty menu of eats that includes rock-shrimp ceviche ($15) with coconut and a pineapple-jalapeño liqueur from Nantucket's Cisco Brewers.

    Insider Tip: Like the staff's sexy and sporty swimwear? It's Pret-a-Surf, a brand co-founded by the entertainment editor of fashion bible Vogue, and you can buy some of the pieces in the hotel's lobby.

    200 Stuart St.; 617-482-1800

  • Credit: Eric Wolfinger

    San Francisco: El Techo de Lolinda

    There is no rooftop bar in the city quite as hot as El Techo. There's a doorman and swarming crowds, but when you ride that elevator to the top, you're glad you did.

    The View: From a Mission vantage point, this is one of the inspiring urban views in SF, taking in Downtown lights and Twin Peaks hills at a glance.

    What to Order: Alongside solid tequila and pisco cocktails, it's all about the roasted pork shoulder (half-lb. $14, 1 lb. $21, 1.5 lbs $32), which tastes like the real-deal chicharrones de carne we've had roadside in Peru: falling apart, with a crisp exterior dusted in cayenne and sugar. Wrap it up in accompanying tortillas and give it a squeeze of lime.

    Insider Tip: Beat the crowds by getting there just before opening time of 4 PM on weekdays or 11 AM on weekends.

    2518 Mission St.; 415-550-6970

  • New York City: Roof at Park South

    The team behind Boston's O Ya is opening their first NYC eatery on this stunning rooftop at the Park South Hotel. The Mediterranean-influenced menu from chef Tim Cushman features seafood-heavy small places and cocktails from No. 9 Park vet Ted Kilpatrick.

    The View: An unobstructed 360-degree view of the Manhattan skyline that includes the Chrysler Building, the top of the Empire State Building, and the golden top of the NY Life Building.

    What to Order: Any of the crudos, and to drink, a Mint Billy.

    Insider Tip: You can make reservations by calling 212-204-5222. Expect a full-scale restaurant in the same hotel to open within the year.

    125 E. 27th St.; 212-204-5222

  • New York City: Sonny's Soda Shoppe

    This new restaurant/bar atop the Mondrian SoHo bills itself as a "beach resort in the sky" offering up a selection of pizzas from Downtown eatery Isola, gelato (including "gelato floats"), and cocktails like frozen limoncello.

    The View: A 360-degree view of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Empire State Building and Chrysler to the north and New Jersey.

    What to Order: Coppola pizza with Salumeria pepperoni and spicy coppa, tomato and mozzarella; Sonny's blood-orange gelato float with Don Julio anejo, Chartruese, vanilla gelato and blood-orange soda.

    Insider Tip: Reservations are encouraged and helpful for attaining prime seating.

    150 Lafayette St.; 212-389-0000

  • San Diego: ALTITUDE Sky Lounge

    This open-air rooftop attached to the Marriott Hotel is 22 stories closer to the clouds. During Padres home games it's filled up with fans looking for free views into the park. But on any other night it's all after-work crowds and the occasional tourist enjoying the skyline.

    The View: An unfiltered, bird’s eye look into Petco Park and city skyline everywhere.

    What to Order: Ahi sliders.

    Insider Tip: Score free valet parking up to one hour before and after the Padres games when you spend $25 on food and beverage at Soleil @k or Latitude Lounge.

    660 K St.; 619-696-0234

  • Atlanta: Big Sky Buckhead

    Two wide decks on opposite sides of the upstairs bar offer plenty of outdoor space, and the spot bustles on the weekends with a post-college crowd of young drinkers.

    The View: Depending on where you stand, you'll have a nice view of Buckhead high-rises and rooftops, or the leafier parts of the neighborhood.

    What to Order: Chef Hector Santiago consulted on the menu, and his Latin-and-more-inspired bar food is a welcome change from the norm…

    Insider Tip: …but don't be surprised if you're underwhelmed by the lack of zing on the Sriracha wings, for instance. Flavors have had to be toned down for the Buckhead clientele. Ask for extra hot sauce.

    3201 Cains Hill Pl. NW; 404-481-5168