World's Hottest Rooftop Restaurants
You step out of the elevator on the 27th floor, and it hits you: a dazzling view of Chicago’s Loop, Lake Michigan, and Millennium Park. You’ve arrived at the Roof at the Wit just in time to snag a table with a built-in fire pit and watch the sun dip slowly behind the city’s architectural landmarks. It’s going to be one memorable dinner.
Better than a room with a view, a roof delivers a prime vantage point for unobstructed panoramas. Savvy restaurant owners know that open-air dining guarantees business, and with outdoor space at a premium in cities, they’re looking skyward. But that doesn’t mean diners have to settle for a mediocre menu. Increasingly, you can find rooftop restaurants where the food rivals the view.
In Brooklyn, four ambitious young guys bought a brownstone with the lofty dream of building a restaurant themselves from scratch—foundation up to roof deck. They enlisted talented chefs to create fresh-from-the-market Mexican dishes like poblano relleno stuffed with braised short ribs and Gouda atop a yellow mole sauce.
When they opened tapas spot Alma on the Columbia waterfront, the area was still under the radar. A decade later it’s one of Brooklyn’s hot spots, and scoring a summertime table facing Manhattan can require a nearly two-hour wait. “We provide more open sky than any restaurant I can think of,” says co-owner Anthony Capone.
Some rooftop restaurants go beyond trendy to become destinations that can rival even the most gleaming skyscraper. Sirocco at the Dome is a 64th-floor space in Bangkok that looks down at a jumble of skyscrapers and Buddhist temples and the Chao Phraya River. Lit up in changing shades of neon, its circular Sky Bar is practically cantilevered onto the city.
Of course, sky-high views beget sky-high boasts. According to Deepak Ohri, CEO of Sirocco’s management company, the place is a “major icon” that “revolutionized the rooftop restaurant.” Regardless, the tasting menu does make a dramatic impression with courses including chilled Alaskan king crab accompanied by osetra caviar, citronelle emulsion, and yuzu.
You can bet that the art of rooftop dining will only continue to climb. After all, there’s nothing quite like drinking in the view from on top. Bottoms up!
Roof on the Wit, Chicago
The View: A bird’s-eye perspective on the city’s famous architectural landmarks, Lake Michigan, and Millennium Park—plus the possibility of spotting celebs like Fergie, Vince Vaughn, and Bon Jovi on the roof itself. Two spaces define the scene: The Patio, a large lounge with counter-height tables beside fire pits, a bar, and a video wall; and The Hangover, popular for its glass-enclosed private table for eight.
The Food: Small plates and a new “chic finger food” menu that includes a platter of oysters, togarashi tuna, and charmoula shrimp with roasted tomato sangria.
Tip: A Sunday brunch party with a DJ and menu twists kicks off May 15 (doors open at 11 a.m.).
Restaurant Les Ombres,Quai Branly, Paris
The View: Designed by Le Musée du Quai Branly’s architect, Jean Nouvel, this restaurant takes its name from the shadows (les ombres) cast by the opposite Eiffel Tower. It’s got the kind of magical view of Paris and the River Seine that will have you humming Edith Piaf.
The Food: More creative than your average museum menu, with sweetbreads alongside truffle croquette and duck with creamy polenta and roasted hazelnuts. Wines skew French and represent all corners: Bordeaux, the Loire, Languedoc, and Alsace.
Tip: Keep it simple—put your trust in the seasonal prix fixe lunch menus (lunch $56; three-course dinner $95).
Luna RooftopTapas Bar, Rosewood San Miguel, Mexico
The View: Get a 360-degree look at the Spanish-colonial historic center—most notable for its floodlit Gothic-style church, Parroquia de San Miguel—from this casually elegant tapas spot decorated with mosaics.
The Food: Classic Mexican dishes like plates of baby squid in garlic mojo sauce and suckling pig tacos with salsa verde. The famed flank steak “taquitos” au gratin can be washed down with a locally brewed San Miguel cerveza or one of many Mexican wines.
Tip: Martinis are $7 on Tuesday nights; show up early to claim one of the built-in banquettes facing the Parroquia de San Miguel.
The View: Sirocco claims its 64th-floor restaurant is the highest and largest in the world. You certainly can’t argue with its dramatic position way above the bustle of Bangkok’s skyscraper-packed downtown and the Chao Phraya River.
The Food: Fresh Mediterranean fare is sourced from local markets. If you’re in the mood to go all out, the tasting menu delivers chilled Alaskan king crab with osetra caviar, citronelle emulsion, and yuzu, and Dover sole “a la plancha” accompanied by Soulard foie gras and piquillo pepper farce ($114).
Tip: Try to nab the end table to the left of the Sky Bar for a good look at the skyline and the live band.
The Rooftop atThe London, West Hollywood, Los Angeles
The View: Chic white furnishings on a manicured green lawn lend an English garden-party vibe to this West Hollywood rooftop. Through plexiglass partitions, you can peer at high-rises stretching into the Hollywood Hills.
The Food: Potty-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay designed the menu, which ranges from bite-size items (sushi, pizzette) to entrées like short rib tacos ($16) and sake-miso-marinated black cod ($18). But for many, the real draw is signature drinks like Pure Pomegranate and Raspberry Mojitos ($16; $60 pitcher).
Tip: Rent a cabana for post-lunch rooftop pool access ($375/six hours on the weekends including a pitcher of an alcoholic beverage and mezzo platter; $350 during the week).
Alma Restaurant, Brooklyn
The View: From this roof deck on the edge of Carroll Gardens—bordering a shipyard and a live poultry market—Lower Manhattan unfolds like a movie set. The Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building are in full view.
The Food: Chef Hans Dannerhoj has won over locals with his fresh-from-the-market Mexican menu. Pollo fajitas ($16) and the poblano relleno stuffed with braised short ribs and Gouda and served atop a yellow mole sauce ($17) can be washed down with house-infused tequilas. On a hot summer day, nothing beats the cucumber margaritas.
Tip: The roof deck is heated in winter, so you can admire the Manhattan skyline even through a cascade of snowflakes.
Circus at theFortyseven Hotel, Rome
The View: As the sun sets, watch Roman monuments light up from this perch overlooking the 2,000-year-old city’s terracotta roofs, cypresses, and ruins in the Roman Forum and beyond.
The Food: A philosophy of “zero km food products” dictates that fruit and vegetables are plucked from the surrounding Lazio countryside and fish are caught in the Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean seas. The delectable results include squid ink farfalle ($24) and tuna flavored with Sant’Ermo extra virgin olive oil ($27).
Tip: The restaurant showcases the works of four emerging artists.
George's OceanTerrace, San Diego
The View: Diners gaze out at Scripps Park and the northern San Diego coastline to the crashing Pacific beyond. Whatever the season, you can hear the squeals of swimmers at La Jolla Beach Cove below.
The Food: Trey Foshee crafts seasonal dishes in line with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s list of sustainable seafood. Favorites include ancho chile shrimp tacos with mango salsa and jalapeño-lime crème fraîche ($13).
Tip: There’s not much to see once darkness falls, so come for brunch or an early dinner. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, and, from January through March, the added treat of migrating whales.
The View: On the third floor of the National Portrait Gallery’s Ondaatje Wing, this restaurant faces Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye complete the postcard-perfect panorama.
The Food: Scotch beef carpaccio and truffle cheese are typical of Swedish-born chef Katarina Todosijevic’s modern British concept. For $25, you’ll get the works: cheese and apricot chutney and poached salmon, dill and caper sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream, lemon ginger biscuit, sponge cake, and a pot of tea.
Tip: It’s lunch only, except for a two-hour window (5:30–7:30 pm) for a pre-theater two-course ($24) or three-course ($30) dinner on Thursdays and Fridays.
French American Brasserie (FAB), Atlanta
The View: This 15,000-square-foot restaurant spans four floors with flourishes like a circular bar, chandeliers, and hand-painted ceilings. Take in downtown Atlanta from the rooftop, not far from Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium.
The Food: French classics—towering platters of crustaceans (oysters, clams, mussels, king crab, shrimp, and lobster) and escargots a la bourguignonne heavy on the garlic-butter—complemented by American steaks and chops.
Tip: The house specialty is a French Grey Goose martini with Chambord and pineapple juice.