NYC rooftops with views: Where to eat and drink
It's pretty cool to eat and drink on a sidewalk or in a backyard garden, but isn't a rooftop just that much better? As Carrie Bradshaw once famously said on the terrace of Wade's parents' apartment: "It's like it's different air up here!"
Yes, it is.
And so, on day 1 of our week-long countdown to summer, here are the best rooftops on which to imbibe and dine.
Monarch Rooftop Lounge
New this summer, Monarch's Scandinavian-chic lounge radiates glamour. Its picturesque views of the Empire State Building are almost enough to distract you from your $16 specialty cocktail. Weekends host "Fly Sundays" which feature boozy snow cones starting at 3pm. 71 W 35th Street, addisongroupnyc.com/venues/monarch (Credit: Monarch)
JIMMY at the James
This luxe rooftop bar is 18 stories tall, on top of Soho's Jimmy Hotel. The seasonal cocktail menu, designed by mixologist Johnny Swet, features fresh- squeezed juices, syrups and bitters made in-house, along with garnishes and herbs from the hotel’s own organic garden. Poolside snacks include Kobe pigs in a blanket and tuna taretare tacos. 15 Thompson Street, http://www.jimmysoho.com (Credit: JIMMY )
This rooftop is about as close as you can get to a tropical hideaway in Manhattan. Slatted boardwalk-style floors, lush palm fronds and greenery and cozy beach lounges make The Delancey feel like a vacation spot. Almost every night brings a live performance, with low, or no cover. 168 Delancey Street, http://thedelancey.com (Credit: The Delancey)
Located on the roof of the Meatpacking District building (the McKittrick Hotel) that is also home to the experiential theater show "Sleep No More," Gallow Green is a mystical place. There are herbs and plantings all around, whisps of fabric blowing in the wind, twinkly lights in trees that define each corner of the space and people seemingly in an elevated state of bliss. The first time I visited Gallow Green, it was a little chilly, and blankets were given to everyone. It was a communal experience.
Oh, and the views. There's the High Line, the river and Manhattan for as far as the eye can see. But this is not really an urban experience, it's more a natural oasis.
As far as food and drink, that's another highlight at Gallow Green. Go with a group for bottomless brunch on Sunday, or for an evening of revelry over shared punch bowls. Try the namesake Gallow Green, with Pernod absinthe, Delord armagnac, sparkling mineral water and lemon oleo (oil). There are also cocktails, beer and wine. They have small bites: try the fried green tomatoes with pepper jelly aioli, crispy smashed potatoes with curry mayonnaise and the pickle pot.
542 W. 27th St., mckittrickhotel.com/gallowgreen, 212-564-1662(Credit: Loren Wohl)
Sunsets at The Jane
The historic Jane Hotel opens its rooftop to the public for the very first time this summer with "Sunsets at The Jane." The classic design of the bar and small circular party room, along with the patio's breathtaking views of the Hudson River make this a romantic and pleasant spot to toil away a summer's eve. And don't miss the cocktails. If the Hemingway Daiquiri, with Starr African rum, Luxardo Cherry liqueur, grapefruit and lime juice doesn't sound refreshing and potent, I don't know what does.
Just make sure you plan ahead. There's only room for 70 people, and so the rooftop is reservation only. Anyone can get one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
113 Jane St., thejanenyc.com, 212-924-6700(Credit: The Jane Hotel)
Pod 39 Rooftop
Hanging out on the Pod 39 Rooftop Hotel can feel very transformative. You're up high amidst all the buildings of Midtown, but surrounded by Grecian-style columns. This is a great place to go and lose yourself over a couple of cocktails.
Speaking of cocktails, there are lots of refreshing and delicious ones at Pod 39. Look for inventive takes on classics like margaritas. And if you're hungry, just downstairs is April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's Salvation Taco.
145 E. 39th St., thepodhotel.com, 212-865-5700(Credit: FLICKR/ Carlos Mejia Greene)
Looking for a bistro vibe on a roof? Look no further than Juliette, a hidden gem with lots of space for diners both inside and out. The roof is Parisian-inspired, with painted chairs and red umbrellas, and the menu is, too. Try the escargot or the steak tartar and wash it all down with some cold rose. You just might feel like you're in France. (And hey, lots of ex-pats from France live in the neighborhood, so you might hear the language, too.) Bonne chance!
135 N. 5th St., Williamsburg, juliettewilliamsburg.com, 718-388-9222(Credit: FLICKR/ Paolo)
Night of Joy
Night of Joy is located right on the BQE in Williamsburg, but somehow, miraculously, that doesn't detract from the vibe on the large, flower and plant covered roof. In fact, the faint rumbling only adds to the charm. So the views are of a wall in Williamsburg and the BQE, but that's the neighborhood, and it's a great time.
Night of Joy serves classy cocktails like basil and lime gin gimlets and beet dill vodkas as well as rifts on classics like the cilantro Bloody Marys. The space is reminiscent of a Victorian speakeasy, with velvet furniture and a thick, wood bar.
667 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, nightofjoybar.com, 718-388-8693(Credit: Sheila Griffin)
Eataly the marketplace is great for gawking at cheeses and breads and charcuterie, but when it comes to a place to chill with a glass of beer or wine, you can't beat Birreria on the roof. It's the best place in midtown. Yes, it gets very, very crowded, but if you can get there early and snag a table you won't be sorry. (Note: you must dine if you want to sit.) There's a bar area for drinkers only, which is also very nice, but the food is good, too. From the roof you can gaze upon the Empire State Building and the New York Life Insurance Building's gilded pyramidal roof.
542 W. 27th St., eataly.com/nyc-birreria, 212-937-8910(Credit: Virginia Rollison)
Ides at the Wythe Hotel
The Ides is a hotel bar, but it's a hotel bar in Williamsburg, so the clientele is a little bit more hipster artist than hedge fund manager. (Where do the tech start-up dudes hang?) It's located on the roof of the Wythe Hotel, and offers sweeping views of the east side of Manhattan and the East River. If you want to hang out in Williamsburg, but above the fray, this is the place for you. It's well-designed, comfortable and promises lots of alternative (yet upscale) eye candy.
There's no food served at the Ides, but if you want to eat, Reynard on the ground floor of the hotel offers a delicious seasonal menu that changes daily. Look for fresh veggie dishes, and hope for the soft shell crab with asparagus and crispy ham. Cocktails, wine and beer can be enjoyed back at the Ides.
80 Wythe St., Williamsburg, http://wythehotel.com/the-ides, 718-460-8006(Credit: The Wythe Hotel)
Level R at the Empire Hotel Rooftop
If you've ever wanted to class it up for a night, head to the Empire Hotel (you know the neon sign, right? Near Lincoln Center?) to the rooftop bar there. They don't allow guests to wear denim, so get your best slacks pressed. Gaze across to Central Park and sip a cocktail or glass of wine and bask in feeling on top of the world.
The rooftop was just renovated, so to get an early look, head up there soon. Small bites include "Swine Candy": bacon roasted with molasses and spices, and tempura maitake mushrooms, with ponzu dipping sauce. There's also a retractable roof for rainy nights, and a DJ booth, so expect some parties.
44 W. 63rd St., empirehotelnyc.com, 212-265-7400(Credit: FLICKR/ Angela N.)
Alma is well-known to anyone who lives in the surrounding South Brooklyn neighborhoods. Nestled on a corner of Columbia Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, Alma offers, arguably, the best rooftop dining experience in the city. There is a direct view of Lower Manhattan, with nothing between you and the island other than the East River and the Red Hook shipping pier, and the Mexican food is solid and reasonably priced. The sangria is a highlight, as are the fish tacos.
Alma sees a lot of spillover of people who try to wait for Pok Pok, located just up the block, but fail to hang on for the two-hour wait that is common there. We like to think those people may end up happier than if they ate the utterly awesome fish sauce wings at Pok Pok, because Alma is just that perfect. It's a neighborhood restaurant that's been serving the neighborhood since 2002.
187 Columbia St., Columbia Street Waterfront District, almarestaurant.com, 718-643-5400(Credit: FLICKR/ Chris Morgan)
The Top of The Standard
Atop The Standard Hotel, the modish Meatpacking District fixture known for its rather risque floor-to-ceiling windows and its A-list nightlife scene, sits a venue with views as stunning as you'd expect from a building that straddles the High Line.
Hit the Top of The Standard at sunset for the ultimate eye candy with your specialty drinks and tasty small plates, or stop by for brunch in your best cocktail attire. They don't quit brunching until 5 p.m., so you know you're in for a good time.
848 Washington St., standardhotels.com, 212-645-4646