When the streets of New York get hot, the best place to cool down is often up … to a rooftop that is. And while there are plenty of lovely roof lounges that shake a refreshing cocktail, many of them don’t serve food or don’t serve good food. Preempt that hollow feeling by nabbing a seat at one of the city’s best rooftop restaurants. If you can, go at sunset, that magical hour when the colors of the sky change like a mood ring and the electric nature of the city flickers to life. Read on for the eight best rooftop restaurants where both the food and the views are premium.
Perched on top of Mario Batali’s behemoth marketplace Eataly in the Flatiron, the 14th floor La Birreria is an excellent match for summer cravings as it serves up grilled meats, housemade sausages and brewed-on-site cask ales. Open year-round thanks to a retractable glass roof, this unfussy space with utilitarian wood tables and red metal chairs shines during the summer season when the breeze is gentle and the sun is warm. As for view, the Empire State Building peaks over the rooftop, and if a beer cask occasionally blocks the skyline, grilled lamb chops with mint salsa verde and one of those delicious brews should make up for it. La Birreria also earns points as New York’s highest brewery. 200 5th Ave., 212-937-8910, eatalyny.com/eat/birreria
For the ultimate view, sometimes it’s best to leave the city and admire it from afar. Located on the western fringe of Brooklyn‘s Carroll Gardens neighborhood, Alma dishes out fresh Mexican-inspired fare on a third-floor roof deck that showcases Manhattan in all of its skyline glory. From padded wood benches, guests can nosh on pork butt tacos with peach salsa while relishing views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the new One World Trade Center. Tacos and fajitas are served on fresh masa tortillas, and a salsa sampler is an ideal accompaniment to a sunset. It’s open all year, weather permitting, and is heated and covered in winter. Note that this casual spot doesn’t take reservations, so the rooftop is first come, first served. 187 Columbia St., Brooklyn, 718-643-5400, almarestaurant.com
The Grill at La Piscine
Overlooking the High Line in Chelsea, the Grill at La Piscine caps the stylish Hotel Americano from its 10th floor lookout. It shares the rooftop with a pool and lounge spaces, and from it you’ll see a jigsaw puzzle of buildings on the west side, along with landmarks like the Chrysler Building. With a glass-enclosed Alpine grill in winter and Mediterranean grill in summer, the menu here is light and fresh and includes dishes like a Greek salad and grilled lobster with ramp butter and parsley. It’s all the better washed down with options from a Mezcal bar. The furniture, much like the crowd, is sleek and refined. Call ahead to secure a table. 518 West 27th St., 212-525-0000, www.hotel-americano.com
From the 16th floor rooftop of Penthouse 808 in Long Island City, the skyline of Manhattan seems like a glittering movie set. This Asian-influenced, restaurant and lounge, part of the Long Island City’s Ravel Hotel, showcases striking views of the Queensboro Bridge from comfortable couches or wicker chairs and generously sized tables. The flavors of summer come alive in crowd-pleasing dishes such as the grilled pork spare ribs and creative sushi rolls, and it’s open year-round. Reservations are recommended for dinner, or you can try your luck at the bar during the popular happy hour, which draws a dressed-up crowd in comparison to many Queens spots. 8-08 Queens Plaza South, Long Island City, 718-289-6118, penthouse808rooftop.com
Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel
The McKittrick Hotel — site of the interactive theater experience Sleep No More — is also home to Gallow Green, a seasonal rooftop garden with views of Chelsea and beyond. Glowing lanterns and a clever use of hanging plants give the space an intimate rooftop garden party feel and a sense of privacy that doesn’t impede the view. Start with a communal punch bowl or house cocktail before filling the table with seasonal pastas, cheese boards or shared plates like hearty pulled brisket toast. Reservations are recommended for this sensual space; many guests dress to match the stylish reputation. 542 West 27th St., 212-564-1662, mckittrickhotel.com/gallowgreen
Above STK in the Meatpacking District, this fourth floor rooftop temple of meat looks out at the towering Standard Hotel and across Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. A quality dining option in a neighborhood known mostly for its nightlife, this is the place to devour naturally raised meats (helpfully portioned in standard or petit packages for smaller appetites) from beneath the shade of an umbrella on comfy outdoor couches. Though wooden tables and glowing lanterns are on the casual side, the atmosphere fits right into the glitzy neighborhood and you’ll see more heels and starched shirts than flip-flops and Ts. Reservations are recommended. 26 Little West 12th St., 646-624-2444, togrp.com/togrp-stk-rooftop/about
A social space with communal tables and an impressive beer list, the rooftop at Tavern 29 sits on top of an historic 19th century townhouse in the NoMad neighborhood. Admire the street-front Park Avenue views before making new friends at a picnic-style table over refined pub grub whipped up from locally sourced ingredients. Choose from the wide selection of grass fed burgers — the Empire Burger with fried shallots and bourbon BBQ sauce is a hit — and work your way through the beer list, showcasing both the recognizable (Blue Point Toasted Lager) and the obscure (Ayinger Celebrator). There’s no dress code or reservations required for this third-floor roof. 47 East 29th St., 212-685-4422, tavern29.com
The Press Lounge at INK48 Hotel
Find a sense of space in crowded Manhattan at the 16th floor Press Lounge, the sister space to the ground floor PRINT restaurant in the INK48 Hotel in Hell’s Kitchen. Vistas of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline are unobstructed from this rooftop on the west side, which serves light fare and cocktails alongside a small pool with cozy lounge chairs and couches. Nibble on salumi, farmstead cheeses and toasted bread as the stars come out. Reservations are recommended, and “casual elegant” attire is requested. 653 11th Ave., 212-757-2224, thepresslounge.com
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