Drinking a mimosa next to a chimney on the roof or your pre-war building can be nice. But you’re not going to get panoramic views of the city from the comfort of an egg-shaped loveseat up there. And since you were probably one year younger the last time you drank a $19 vodka cranberry on top of a proper rooftop bar, you might need some help figuring out where to go in 2021. Fortunately, the 19 places on this guide have all reopened for the summer, and have a much lower chance of ruining your relationship with your landlord.
The Ready Rooftop Bar
The team behind places like Magic Hour and Tao Downtown opened this new East Village rooftop bar in spring 2021. The new year-round rooftop has retractable glass walls and ceilings, panoramic views of lower Manhattan, and coolers full of beer and wine cans you can order to keep a big group happy. If you get hungry, snack on some beef brisket barbacoa tacos or fresh churros.
Much like Citi Field or a three-story Crate & Barrel, this outdoor bar in Bushwick has multiple levels of seating. But unlike those city institutions, this multi-floor spot with several terraces has a diner that serves Happy Hour specials from 6-8pm on weekdays, weekly yoga sessions, and brunch service on weekends. You can check out their schedule and reserve a spot here.
If Make Believe and Mr. Purple are the rooftop equivalents of 22-year-olds who just learned that fabric softener isn’t the same thing as detergent, Jimmy at the Modernhaus Hotel is a 30-year-old who separates whites and colors. This rooftop at the Modernhaus Soho hotel has a big indoor area with a fireplace, hardwood floors, and modular sofas. There’s also a patio with a view of lower Manhattan and a pool that could fit roughly one pick-up truck. Reservations are available, and, yes, you can actually swim in the pool.
Serra by Birreria
Eataly Flatiron’s rooftop restaurant Serra by Birreria is not actually outdoors at all. It’s really more like a greenhouse-style dining room on the 14th floor of a gourmet market with tons of fake flowers overhead. But once you get past this technicality, Serra is a great place to hang out with a group and share a meat and cheese plate or some bread with very soft butter. It won’t exactly feel like you’re at a rager, but there are some great cocktails here (including a few frozen ones) and a solid selection of Italian beers. We’ve found that Serra will only seat you if you have a reservation, but it’s usually pretty easy to find a table online.
There are plenty of rooftops where you can party in NYC, but Honey’s is the only one we know of that involves dancing in an urban garden above a micro-meadery. This taproom and restaurant in the middle of industrial Bushwick feels like a suitable option for people who have outgrown Mood Ring but still want to have a fun night out. And while you could always stop by for a casual drink with a view here during the week, Honey’s rooftop really comes alive on weekends. Head up the big metal staircase to the rooftop garden after 10pm on a Saturday and you’ll probably find a DJ booth, and a small bar area with people swaying side-to-side between several rows of plant beds.
This Gramercy rooftop bar reopened at the beginning of April 2020, and we especially like it because it doesn’t feel like a nightclub. Instead, walking into Broken Shaker is sort of like entering a 1960s tropical-themed lounge that happens to be on top of a building (in the Freehand Hotel). There’s a big indoor space filled with potted plants and wicker furniture, as well as a wraparound patio with lots of tables. The only catch to the whole not-being-a-nightclub thing is that you might have to wait to get in, so we’d recommend making a reservation first.
The rooftop patio at this cocktail bar is one of our long-standing favorite outdoor drinking options in Williamsburg. If drinking several margaritas under a galaxy of string lights sounds nice, make Night of Joy your go-to place for getting drinks with friends in the neighborhood. There are usually a few big groups celebrating something up on the roof, so it tends to get a little rowdy after 9pm. But on the first floor of the bar, you’ll find a few paisley-printed loveseats, a fireplace that looks like it’s been there since the 1930, and several quiet corners for when you need to hear yourself think.
The Greens is the newest addition to Pier 17 at the Seaport District. The rooftop bar is made up of 32 individual mini-lawns that each have umbrellas, love seats, and enough lounge chairs to accommodate up to eight people. Along with food and drinks from R17, they also have a 32-feet wide screen that streams major sporting events. You can reserve a mini-lawn through their website.
This tropical-themed cocktail bar on the 7th floor of the Sixty LES hotel has reopened its two outdoor terraces. So if you’re in the mood to sit in a pink booth with a sake cocktail and explain why you think Watchmen is the best show on television, be our guest. You can stop by in-person, or book a reservation online so you won’t have to wait in line.
While the roof at Elsewhere is usually an open air dancefloor, it’s now one of the few spots in Bushwick where you can sip a daiquiri and take in views of Manhattan. There are tons of socially-distant tables that you can reserve for free on the bar’s website, but if you’re allergic to planning ahead, they’re also taking walk-ins. Elsewhere opens at 5pm Thursday through Saturday, and opens at 2pm on Sunday, but you can check out their Instagram for weather updates. This Bushwick spot is also doing a virtual DJ series called Sunstreams that you can watch here every Friday night. 100% of the proceeds are being donated to organizations like The Okra Project and The Emergency Release Fund.
If you’re looking for a rooftop with a live salsa band, plenty of socially distant tables, and more life-size props than a Disney ride, head to Zona De Cuba in The Bronx. This huge Caribbean restaurant has a colorful dance floor, gaudy chandeliers you’d find at an estate sale, a booth made from the back of an old-school Chevy, and individual igloos you can reserve for private groups. They’re taking reservations for dinner and weekend brunch right now, and you can book a table on their website.
A vineyard, but on a roof. That’s essentially what you’ll find at this rooftop wine bar in Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has rows of grape vines you’ll want to touch. It’s also one of the most unique rooftop experiences you can have in the city. To drink wine at a picnic table, on a bench swing, or in a hammock at Rooftop Reds, you’ll have to make a reservation. They also serve beer, just in case you’re inviting someone who considers wine a sedative.
Westlight is on the top floor of The William Vale hotel, and the view here makes most other rooftops feel like subway stops that sit above ground. It’s the perfect place to celebrate a birthday or the fact that your summer no longer involves explaining the difference between East, West, and Greenwich Village to an out-of-towner. Just make sure to book a table in advance. You aren’t the only one who enjoys sitting on a couch while staring at the Manhattan skyline.
If there’s anything to know about the infamous Mr. Purple, it’s that this LES rooftop restaurant typically gets extremely crowded. But these days, it’s much easier to find a table here. It’s a staple for the LES party scene, but it’s also on the roof of a nice hotel. You can eat brunch at a table, drink a cold brew martini on a couch, or jump into the pool if you need to cool off. They’re open seven days a week and you can make a reservation online.
Sushi Lab, the hotel restaurant in Midtown with a relatively affordable omakase, isn’t new. But, Sushi Lab, the rooftop restaurant with a la carte options and omakase sets, is new and looks like a great place to bring someone you don’t plan on ghosting anytime soon. Before you make any big plans, you’ll need to reserve one of the socially distanced outdoor tables, or a few seats at the chef’s counter, on the restaurant’s website.
The Soho location of Arlo Roof Top (or A.R.T. for short) has string lights, graffiti art, and a decent view of the Hudson River. Plus, the patio here is huge, and it doesn’t get quite as busy as some other rooftops downtown. So if you want to sip a frozen drink and listen to loud electronic music without having to wait in a line to do it, this place is a great option. A.R.T. Soho is taking walk-ins, but you can also book a table online.
A.R.T Nomad is a laid back rooftop near Midtown that has some nice city views and a few couches where you can sit and drink a decent cocktail. Since the weather is nice, this is actually one of the better bar options in the area. You’ll need to book a reservation before you visit, and since A.R.T Nomad tends to get busy, there is a 90-minute limit on all tables.
We understand that an upscale rooftop with bottle service, a circus theme, and a mini-golf course isn’t going to work for everyone. But if you’re looking for a fun place to get socially-distant drinks with a view, you can try this spot on top of the Moxy Hotel in Times Square. Magic Hour also offers rooftop brunch on weekends, and while you don’t need to make a reservation to enjoy it, it’s probably a good idea.
If you didn’t know that Restoration Hardware (yes, the luxury furniture store) opened a massive rooftop restaurant in the Meatpacking District, surprise - this is it. RH Rooftop is a huge restaurant full of chandeliers, shrubbery, and pricey American food where you’d usually have to wait a while for a table. Call to make a reservation in advance, so you won’t need to pass the time on a couch that costs as much as a new car.