The struggle is real when you’re trying to find an open rooftop bar or lounge that isn’t jam-packed with bodies. And since many bars in NYC still don’t offer online reservations, you never know if you’ll be greeted by long lines and long wait times to match.
So if you’re looking to avoid the crowds at mainstream spots like Skyline, Monarch, and Moxy, then rest assured, you won’t find tourist any tourist traps here. This list features the most popular neighborhood spots where locals go to hang out and gawk at the city sights.
You can set your expectations high, because these rooftops each have a unique charm, trendy decor, and great views. Oh, and of course they also great craft cocktails to enjoy those amazing views with.
All images are original and courtesy of my fellow Yelp Elite community.
3 Stars on Yelp
Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen
Online Reservations: Yes, with limited availability
What Makes This Rooftop Bar Unique? It’s one of the very few rooftops that offer a Bottomless Brunch!
If you’re looking for a rooftop with Mexican cuisine and bottomless boozy brunch, then Cantina is your spot. Nestled in Hell’s Kitchen, near the Hudson River, you won’t be staring at the Empire State Building, but you have a great view of the neighborhood. Drinks here start at $15, but you get here on a weekend you’ve got to do the bottomless brunch deal for a meager $27 add-on, which includes sangrias and mimosas (recently suspended).
This is one of the few rooftops that are accept online reservations, and the slots fill up quickly. When I tried to make reservation on Opentable it said there were no tables available. However, it worked on Yelp, go figure. Either way, try to book at least a week ahead if you’re shooting for the brunch or happy hour prime times.
Plenty of Space For Social Distancing
By the way, Cantina Rooftop has a ton of space on their outdoor deck so if you are still into a little social distancing you should be able to find some room there.
Castell Rooftop Lounge
In the mood to stare at the Empire State Building? Well then Castell has got the eyeball candy for you. Besides the excellent views of midtown Manhattan, they have this very cool garden like decor with lounge chairs on their outdoor patio where you can drink your froze while you nibble on overpriced fruit bowls. Hey, it is midtown.
And if you look hard enough you can get a glimpse of the tip of the Empire State Building! Yeah, just the tip (wink, wink). That alone was worth the $18 drink right?
Touchless Menus and Social Distancing
Fortunately, this spot still isn’t on many people’s radars yet so you should be able to do a walk-in and things work out. But, I still recommend that you make online reservations, particularly if you have a big group.
The Crown Rooftop
Crown Rooftop by far one of my favorites. It is a bit off the beaten path, nestled down in the bowels of Chinatown on top of the Bowery Hotel. However, it offers spectacular views of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn bridge! It’s an excellent spot to take your boo or a few friends for drinks and wicked selfies.
This venue is spacious, has modern artsy decor, and the drinks are reasonably priced compared to other upscale rooftops of this calibre. And when the nightlife returns, they have some awesome parties and great DJs here. I highly recommend it.
Prepaid Entry Requirement
Crown rooftop currently requires a $50 prepaid minimum spend for guests at the door, unless you reserve a table for bottle service with a minimum. Given the times, this is an understandable move to limit the crowd to customers who want to spend and not suck up valuable space as they fawn over the views.
Not that this strictly a cocktail bar, so there is no food available. But $50 bucks for a few drinks, a great view, and a huge outdoor deck to kick your feet up ain’t a bad deal in NYC.
Broken Shaker at Freehand New York
3 Stars on Yelp
Neighborhood: Flatiron District
Reservations: Limited Online Reservations
What Makes This Rooftop Bar Unique? The graffiti mural of Patrick from Spongebob. Nuff’ said.
If you love graffiti street art, Spongebob and handcrafted cocktails with pictures of 80’s actors on them then head over to Broken Shaker. And they have a $17 menu that includes any craft cocktail which is a rarity in the area.
Broken Shaker is situated on the top of Freehand hotel, and while the space isn’t huge, but it more than makes up for it with character (cartoon characters, get it….). However, the decor makes me think of grandma’s living room if she were a retired interior decorator in the caribbean. Don’t ask me why, just see for yourself.
Social Distancing is Still In Place
Broken shaker still has some social distancing rules in place. But since this spot has 3 bars, two outdoor bars and one indoor bar, you have plenty of space to maneuver around.
However, this place does tend to get busy so try to get there early. The word around town is that you have to throw the hostess/host a few bucks at the door if you want to skip the line. But that’s kind of always been the case pretty much everywhere in the world when a bar is in high demand.
The good thing is that their servers are awesome so you won’t get treated like you’re not welcome unless you drop a grand on a bottle like clubs want you to do now.
230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
Just when you thought you had to write off the rooftops when fall and winter comes around, 230 Fifth Rooftop comes through in the clutch. Not only does this rooftop have a great view of the Flatiron district and the Empire State Building, but they also have outdoor seating with an igloo bar!
Whether this was a power move to cope with the whole social distancing thing, or just a way to offer a unique experience, who knows. The gimmick works! Whatever the reason is, it is a great touch to set them aside from the other rooftops in the area. These heated igloos are available for reservation online, or you can walk-in and grab one if any are available.
The inner penthouse decor is also very classy, and is well known for being a prime party spot for a young crowd.
Since they offer hot drinks, appetizers, entrées, and cocktails you are sure to be able to keep the party going from brunch ’till dawn. It’s the kind of spot that you won’t get bored with quickly. Overall, 230 Fifth Rooftop covers all the bases
Inwood Bar and Grill
3 Stars on Yelp
Neighborhood: Fort George
Reservations: Limited Online Reservations
What Makes This Rooftop Bar Unique? Not a rooftop, but it has an elevated outdoor patio and Bottomless Brunch!
If you’re looking for great weekly happy hour specials and don’t need those towering views of the city, then Linwood Bar and Grill is a great option. This bar has a massive outdoor patio, partially elevated, and is way out of the tourist areas in Fort George neighborhood, just a block away from the 207th Street train station on the A line. Here you’ll find a predominantly Hispanic demographic, and thus some of the best Latin American cuisine in the city.
The outdoor patio area has both upper and lower levels. Since it isn’t a tall building, the views are limited to the neighborhood and the deck. But the fun and colorful decor makes up for it, especially at night, if you are looking for a change of pace from watching the city skyline.
You absolutely must try their special entrées like their meat platters and deals like their $11 cocktail menu. And if you want a real bargain, then go on Sunday, before 2 pm, to grab their $30 bottomless brunch deal! Not only does it include 2 hours of unlimited drinks, but it also comes with an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert!
Also, if you’re into popping bottles like I am, they do bottle service and hookah! Paaaartay!!
Safety Precautions and Seating Limitations
Their outdoor section is huge! So yeah, they are good to go with social distancing between tables. And since there’s so much space, you may feel the urge to frolic a little. If so, just be sure to wear your mask because their on top of that.
I highly advise that you make reservations online because the waits can be pretty long if you try to walk-in. This is a very popular neighborhood spot.
I hope that you’ll enjoy my picks, and if this article was useful please share it. The more love I get on these articles the more I’ll write!
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