Plenty of regions have four seasons, but New York City’s seasons are the best you’ll get anywhere: Restaurant Week season, empty-for-the holidays season, semi-annual sale season, and of course, rooftop season. Maybe because the first three actually come twice each year (in winter and summer), rooftop season, which is in full swing right now, might be the best of them all.
NYC Rooftop season begins on the first reasonably warm day of the year, when the first sky-high restaurants and bars start opening their doors, when your upstairs neighbor’s air conditioner starts making those fire escape beers unpalatable or whichever comes first. And a whole host of new rooftops have opened since this time last year. Here’s where you can spread your wings and pretend to fly during this, the most wonderful time of the year.
This spring marks Ampia’s first-and-a-half rooftop season. The 4,500-square-foot space on the third floor of 100 Broad Street first opened last July with capacity limitations. It can presently host 150 people. One of Ampia’s neat and somewhat unique features is that, in lieu of a distant skyline view, its position suspended among the Financial District’s high-rises makes you the view. An Italian menu (gnocchi is the specialty) is available from the adjacent restaurant, as is a full bar.
The Wythe Hotel has a new long-term occupant on its sixth floor by the name of Bar Blondeau. Its lounge-y interior is elegant and abstractly mid-century modern with show-stealing skyline views through large windows. Its terrace skews a little more aesthetically casual. Small seafood plates and a long drink list including wine, beer, cocktails, frozens and no-alcohol options are available inside and out.
Bar Marseille also had a bit of a dress rehearsal when it opened in the Rockaways this past fall. Now, it’s prime rooftop time for beachy vibes, French-inspired menu items, oysters, dry white wine, cocktails and the Atlantic Ocean breeze.
Comfortable cushioned booths semi-separated by trellis-like dividers line the rooftop discreetly located in the Walker Hotel above Cortlandt Alley in Lower Manhattan. Reserve a spot or keep your fingers crossed that there’s enough room at the bar to sip elaborate cocktails like the eponymous Happy Be, made with mezcal, Aperol, green chartreuse, lemon and smoked vanilla foam.
After opening last fall, LLoHi is all warmed up and ready to sprint into spring and summer. Perched above a mixed-use warehouse space, it has sweeping views of East Williamsburg below, abundant seating, casually charming string lights, beer, wine, cocktails and savory/sweet menus including a s’mores bar.
There are plenty of ways to get to Roosevelt Island, but to really set the scene we recommend the ferry or the tram. Take ‘em any other time, and you’ll be spoiled for views for days, but their vistas are merely an amuse-bouche compared to those from the 18th floor of the island’s new Graduate hotel. Even the most postcard-perfect photos scarcely do Panorama Room justice, which is best experienced on the terrace with the wind in your hair and a drink in your hand.
New (since June) to the Ravel Hotel in Long Island City, Perivóli is a poolside Mediterranean restaurant with Midtown views over the East River. It’s a little reminder that a lot of the best views of Manhattan are from off the island.
The Moxy Hotel East’s latest on-site venue is as new as they come, having opened on April 29. Aside from the food and drink one would reasonably expect given Tao Group Hospitality’s involvement, the photogenic sights and local libations like beer from Bronx Brewery, The Ready also has beer pong for a blast from the past. Beer pong!
Of course the Rockaways are a marvelous site for rooftops, which is why Bar Marseille isn’t the only one to open in the area over the past year. The Rooftop has 6,000-square-feet on the sixth floor of The Rockaway Hotel, skyline views, plenty of seafood and—watch out!—a shark bite (cocktail).
Runaway Roof has all the makings of a hoot: frozen drinks, shutter shade decor, film screenings and bocce. After testing the waters with last year’s midsummer opening, and then a bit of a break, Runaway just dove back in on May 1.
The permanent guest of the Hotel Henri’s 18th floor penthouse just opened its doors in April. The Sentry Flatiron can accommodate about 120 people, and starts serving the public come 5pm each day. In addition to small plates (and Impossible sausage rolls), cocktails, wine and beer, the bar here has around 30 whiskey varieties.
Everything old is new again at Serra by Birreria, which changes its conceit a few times each year. This season’s scheme is greenhouse-themed, with a leafy, floral canopy that harks to botanical-forward cocktails and a menu reflective of the massive Eataly market fourteen floors below.
Allowing for some gradation, most NYC rooftops are on a spectrum. On one end, you have venues with broad skyline views in the distance. On the other, more densely situated spaces that blend in with the skyline themselves. Somewhere in Nolita seems to split the difference, and menu items like burgers and lobster rolls makes it a good dinner option, rather than the typical rooftop ‘just drinks’ affair.
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