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 don’t know if you’ll be greeted by long lines and long wait times to match.
So if you want to avoid the crowds or just a change of pace from the mainstream spots like Skyline, Monarch, and Moxy, then you’re in the right place. This list of neighborhood rooftop bars will fulfill your yearning for trendy decor, chill local crowds, views of the city, and craft cocktails to enjoy it all with.
Since these rooftops aren’t among those well known tourist traps, you shouldn’t have a difficult time getting in and having plenty of elbow room to get your social distancing on. And not only have they implemented a bunch of safety and health protocols, the drink prices are fairly reasonable (by Manhattan’s standards at least).
So read on to discover your new favorite spot among these trendy neighborhood rooftop bars in NYC!
All images are original and courtesy of my fellow Yelp 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 with Bottomless Brunch! (Currently suspended)
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.
Safety Precautions and Seating Limitations
Cantina Rooftop has a ton of space on their outdoor deck so social distancing isn’t a worry. Their safety precautions include limiting its reservations, capacity, and seating duration. At the entrance, they have temperature checks so be prepared for a short wait on line for screening. And inside they’re good to go with 6 feet of separation between tables.
Just remember one thing, you’re limited to 90 minutes for your stay, so make the most of it!
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.
They are spacing out tables by 6ft and have also implemented touchless menus. So leave your flip phone at home because you’ll need to scan barcodes. There future is here!
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 To Limit Capacity
Crown rooftop currently requires a $50 prepaid minimum spend for guests at the door, and there are no reservations available. 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.
Although since it’s strictly a cocktail bar, 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.
Safety Precautions and Capacity Limitations
Didn’t make a reservation? Well you just added more time on your wait because they are doing temperature screenings at the and limiting the capacity.
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 some nearby spots have been doing lately.
Inwood Bar and Grill
If you’re looking for great weekly happy hour specials and don’t need those towering views of the city, then Inwood Bar and Grill is a great option. This bar has a massive outdoor patio 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. Although you won’t have those impressive city views, Inwood Bar makes up for it with special entrees like their meat platters and deals like their $11 cocktail menu.
ToAnd 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 entree, 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!
I’d love to connect and see your cool rooftop views! My instagram is @nezalpha