These Are The Best Rooftop Restaurants In America

Eating on a rooftop just makes you feel special. There's something almost magical about sipping on a cocktail and looking out over the vast expanse of a city that feels a little like Simba at the beginning of "The Lion King," looking out over all that is yours. Of course, on a summer weekend you'll likely be sharing that "king of the world" feeling with about 300 other people but, hey, it's an elevated experience nonetheless.

Nearly every American city with a building more than two stories tall has some kind of rooftop bar or restaurant. But certain ones around the country stand out, either for their spectacular views, inventive food, or, in one case, existing as a sort of landing spot between two worlds. Read on to discover the best rooftop restaurants in America. No matter where you find yourself, you'll know where to eat that'll put you a little bit above the masses.

The Rooftop by JG in Beverly Hills, California

Though The Rooftop by JG is one of the younger entrants on the list, it's hard to look past any restaurant with fabled chef Jean Georges Vongerichten at the helm. This spot atop the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills has it all, including stunning views of the downtown Los Angeles skyline and the Hollywood Hills. It's also got a bar scene packed with beautiful people and delicious cocktails. And, of course, The Rooftop features one of the best menus in Los Angeles, rooftop or not.

What you'll find on The Rooftop by JG's menu is a little lighter than Jean George's usual fare, with offerings like chili garlic marinated chicken and tuna and salmon tartare. But you can still go decadent if you want, stuffing your face with a lobster burger topped with gruyere and green chili dressing or a truffle cheeseburger with brie. It's very much a California take on the master chef's repertoire. Given the grand location, it's also an ideal place to eat to soak in all that's great about Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.

The J. Parker in Chicago, Illinois

For about nine months out of the year, the idea of eating on an outdoor rooftop in Chicago sounds about as appealing as sleeping on a cactus. But for those glorious few months in the middle of the year where Chicago's outdoors become just right, few places capture the true magic of Windy City summers like J. Parker atop the Hotel Lincoln in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Be warned, however: the 140 seats on the rooftop patio are harder to come by than weekend Cubs tickets during the summer. Snagging a spot will take some planning ahead. But you'll be happy for the effort, as each sun-drenched seat in this rooftop bar comes with a panoramic view of the Chicago skyline and the lush greenery of Lincoln Park, with the waters of Lake Michigan in the distance.

If you're thinking about making a reservation for this splash of summer beauty on your next trip to Chicago, don't get your hopes up. J. Parker is first-come, first-served, so you may end up waiting a while to sit outside. The wait is made a little more tolerable by the impressive menu of original cocktails, like the Bubble Around, made with Ceres vodka, lemongrass, elderflower, lemon, and prosecco. J. Parker's food isn't bad either, with an inventive selection of stuff like soy ginger wings and Buffalo cauliflower.

Up on the Roof in Greenville, South Carolina

For years, Charleston, South Carolina got the lion's share of the foodie love in the Palmetto State. But over the last decade, Greenville has made a pretty big name for itself in the food world too, with chefs from the low country coming upstate for lower costs and less competition. Among the signs that this city of 67,000 had arrived as a legitimate culinary destination is Up on the Roof, an elevated downtown spot with drop-your-fork views and ignore-your-phone food.

Sunny Sunday brunches are this restaurant's biggest star, where a large crowd packs the patio for $25 bottomless mimosas and bayou crabcakes. But come for dinner and you'll see why the food here holds its own with any of Greenville's power players on street level. You'll find deliciously Southern creations like rabbit tacos with fennel blue cheese and watermelon salsa, and swamp wings — that is, frog's legs — brined in beer and served with Buffalo sauce. The view looking down at your plate is just as captivating as the one looking off into the hills, making Up on the Roof a must-hit in Greenville.

Juvia in Miami Beach, Florida

It's hard to be anything short of blissful when you're perched at a table high above South Beach's famous Lincoln Road Mall, gazing out at the turquoise waters of the Atlantic from your table at Juvia. This restaurant capping the 1111 parking garage is the odd Miami Beach staple that's popular among both locals and tourists, drawing a chic happy hour crowd and those looking for special occasion dinners all year long.

Though it hasn't notched any culinary honors yet, Juvia was recognized by the James Beard Foundation for its outstanding restaurant design, which you'll surely appreciate, too. The glassed-in interior is flanked by an ocean-facing patio lined with tropical foliage, giving the impression of dining in a sun-drenched rooftop garden. The inside space also has floor-to-ceiling windows for a full panorama of Miami Beach. And on your plate, you'll find a masterful fusion of French, Japanese, and Peruvian cuisine, making Juvia a lot more than just a pretty space to order a drink.

Departure in Portland, Oregon

The boxy white futuristic design at this restaurant is a marked departure from the more often hipster-happy Portland, Oregon. Here, white walls and light wood tables give Departure an unmistakably modern, almost Tokyo-esque feel. The atmosphere fits the menu perfectly, too, where you'll find ethically sourced sushi alongside a selection of meats grilled over binchotan charcoal. The spot is on the top floor of The Nines hotel in the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon, and offers a spacious outdoor deck with panoramic views of the city.

Departure's menu can be daunting, with eye-catching and surprising stuff like mahogany noodles with chili glaze, truffle tofu, and bison rendang curry all competing for your attention. You may want to opt for some picks from the shareable menu if you've got a big group. The restaurant also offers a seasonal, three-course menu for a reasonable $55, making it a relatively affordable option for inventive rooftop dining in the City of Roses.

Camp Trippalindee in Madison, Wisconsin

Remember the fun of summer camp, where you'd spend the day canoeing and running relay races only to end the night singing around a campfire and sleeping in a lakeside cabin? Camp Tripinaldee does too, and so it recaptures that special time with wood tables, red checkered plaid booths, and a menu of hearty, comforting camp-inspired food. The restaurant is part of the Graduate Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, a series of college-themed hotels in university towns around the country. And in Madison's case, it keeps the theme of nostalgia going in the restaurant, too.

Like any good summer camp, Camp Trippalindee sits right next to a lake, so you can catch glimpses of Lake Mendota from the restaurant's sunny seventh-floor patio. You'll also see the Wisconsin state capitol building and University of Wisconsin campus, completing the trifecta of Madison views in one fun space. Perhaps the best thing about Camp Trippalindee is the fact that it's not taking itself too seriously, much like summer camp is primarily concerned with fun.

Vespertine in Los Angeles, California

When Vespertine hit the Los Angeles dining scene in 2017, it was announced by one of the most astronomical restaurant press releases of all time, which Eater described as no less than a "critical theory term paper." They weren't exaggerating. The release described Vespertine as, "a spirit that exists between worlds. A place of shadows and whispers." Though none of that makes much sense, what does make sense are the two Michelin stars Vespertine notched in 2019, as well as accolades from Time and Condé Nast Traveller.

While Vespertine isn't a rooftop restaurant per se, it does offer dining on its rooftop. And we certainly can't hold a space that was described metaphorically as a spaceship with "its own gravity" to anyone else's criteria (via Eater). The stunning two-story, four-level building is the brainchild of architect Eric Owen Moss, with no walls and a glass exterior. Inside, you'll get 18 or more courses from chef Jonathan Khan, none of which fit any definition of cuisine that we know of but are always something you've never had. Dining at Vespertine is an experience, to be certain. And whether you're sitting on the roof or in a place of shadows and whispers, get ready for a ride.

Sushi Lab in Manhattan, New York

One would think when you combine three of the most expensive things in dining — rooftops, omakase, and New York City — you'd have a place where the average check costs more than a Kia. But this lush garden space atop the Sanctuary Hotel on West 47th Street delivers a surprisingly affordable omakase experience that includes ten pieces of chef-selected sushi. It's not bargain dining by any stretch, but a serious deal by Big Apple standards.

But you don't need ten courses to appreciate what Sushi Lab has brought to the NYC dining scene. The tree canopy sushi bar also has a full menu of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, and hand rolls, as well as soups, salads, and rice bowls. It's an ideal place to come on a hot day and cool off with a bottle of sake and some California rolls. It's also raised enough heads around the city to already land itself on TimeOut's list of New York's best rooftop restaurants.

Vaso in Dublin, Ohio

You could put a three Michelin starred restaurant in Dublin, Ohio and it would still be a distant second-most known restaurant from the city. Still, the hometown of Wendy's is also home to one of the most pleasant surprises in America on the rooftop of Dublin's AC Hotel. That's where you'll find Vaso, Restaurant Bar of the Year winner at 2020's Nightclub and Bar Media Group awards. Though its location might not immediately lend itself to rooftop bar superiority, eat at Vaso once and you'll understand why it's several steps above many other rooftop restaurants in much larger cities.

The menu spans cuisines seamlessly, so whether you're ordering Cuban ropa vieja or Thai chicken meatballs, the food is long on flavor and intricacy. It's served on a spacious rooftop with views out over the Ohio countryside, where fire pits warm you in the winter and the warm breeze comforts you in the summer. Those warm nights are an ideal time to sample some of Vaso's tiki drinks, which might not seem an obvious choice for this part of the country. But Vaso is full of things you wouldn't expect in Dublin, and its sweet, rum-based drinks are no exception.

B&B Butchers & Restaurant in Houston, Texas

Trying to pick a great steakhouse in Texas is kind of like trying to find a great slice of pizza in New York City. But it would be hard to argue against a better meal than what you'll have at B&B Butchers & Restaurant, a combination butcher shop and steakhouse whose locations are two of only 29 American restaurants certified by the Kobe Beef Association. The steaks here are all cut in-house, and if you're impressed by the meat and want to try grilling it yourself there's an entire butcher shop on the ground floor for your use.

But this isn't a list of the best ground floor butcher shops in America, and what puts B&B on this list is its spacious rooftop patio. Up here you can enjoy your A5 Wagyu or USDA Prime steak with a perfect view of the Houston skyline, along with a warm Texas wind and house specialty cocktails. While you may or may not find a better steak in Texas, you won't find a better pairing of views and meat than you will at B&B.

Black Sheep in Jacksonville, Florida

A lot of people in Jacksonville are quite possibly more than content to let the world continue making them and the rest of their state the butt of jokes, lest everyone else get in on the secret that this city has some serious gems. Case in point: Black Sheep, the Five Points outpost for chef Jonathan Insetta, whose Orsay in Avondale was a James Beard Award finalist. Though you can enjoy Insetta's modern takes on Southern food from a beautiful ground floor dining room, the best experience will be on the rooftop, where you'll pair all of it with colorful Florida sunsets.

If you're here for happy hour, try one of Black Sheep's original cocktails and then split the pastrami poutine with smoked short rib gravy with a couple of friends. For bigger appetites, try the Certified Angus Beef ribeye or wild Georgia shrimp and grits with tomato gravy and andouille sausage. A meal on Black Sheep's rooftop is guaranteed to have you saying something along the lines of, "Wow, I never knew Jacksonville had anything quite like this." And many of your fellow diners will encourage you to keep that secret.

Ainslie in Brooklyn, New York

Is there anything more relaxing than pizza and beer on a rooftop after a long, hot, Brooklyn summer day? Nothing at all, especially if you're one of the 25 lucky guests to find themselves enjoying said pizza and beer at Ainslie, a rustic Italian restaurant with a downstairs Biergarten and eclectic menu. The menu has more than wood-fired pizzas, sure, but you'd be remiss not to order one from the menu of Italian classics like the diavola, margherita, and saltimbocca pizzas.

This Williamsburg rooftop also boasts a big, boisterous beer hall downstairs, which on weekends turns into a serious neighborhood social hub. But the upstairs has a far more relaxing vibe, and even if you're not jonesing for pizza you can enjoy stuff like house-made lasagna, hanger steak, or Atlantic salmon. Be sure to come for brunch on the weekend, where the all-you-can-drink fun runs from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Serena Rooftop in Miami Beach, Florida

The sparkling new Moxy hotel in South Beach tapped the people behind Coyo Taco, one of Miami's most popular taco spots, to create their restaurants. And they hit a home run with Serena, a rooftop outpost of upscale Mexican food paired with inventive margaritas and a strong tropical breeze. If you came looking for burritos and enchilada platters, this isn't the spot. But look at this as a chance to expand your horizons and try something new, like agauchiles – Mexican takes on ceviche served with rojo and verde salsa, as well as a unique black garlic sauce.

Since this is South Florida, you're also in for some serious seafood, so be sure to go for the seared tuna tostadas with avocado mousse to sample some of the local flavor. You'll also want to try the blue corn huaraches, fluffy corn "sandals” filled with chorizo, cactus, or skirt steak. The food at Serena has already caught the eye of the Miami food scene, landing it among Thrillist's picks for best restaurants in Miami its first month open.

Skyloft in Laguna Beach, California

Orange County's artists' enclave of Laguna Beach is better known for its art galleries and secluded beaches than for its food scene. But much like this little community at the end of Laguna Canyon likes to keep itself a bit of a secret, so does this fantastic rooftop restaurant that boasts the best-elevated ocean views of any place in the OC. While a rooftop restaurant in a small market might be content to use its view as its only draw, Skyloft doesn't abuse its scenic monopoly.

Skyloft's dreamy sunsets are made even better by some of the best barbecue in Orange County, where you'll find slow-smoked brisket, pulled pork, and chicken andouille paired with citrus white rice and cornbread that's not a meal unto itself. If, like many folks in Laguna Beach, your lunch is usually paired with yoga, there's also a stellar kale quinoa salad that won't hamper your tree pose. And don't forget the wonderful selection of wines to sip softly as you listen to the waves crashing into the coast.