It’s hard to believe in this city of skyscrapers, but there was a very recent time when it was nearly impossible to find a restaurant crowning any of the tall towers that define the landscape of New York City. The top floors of the city’s monumental towers were simply just that: rooftops.
But something has changed in the last few years. Restaurants are firing up their burners thousands of feet in the sky, offering stunning views of the Big Apple. The problem, though, is that historically rooftop restaurants often don’t serve food that matches the view.
Not in this case. The 12 restaurants below sit cozily thousands of feet in the sky and serve up some fabulous food too.
The chefs behind celebrated French-Canadian restaurant Chez Ma Tante are in the kitchen at this sky-high spot in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. Sitting across the East River in Brooklyn means rooftop revelers here get a great view of the Manhattan skyline, including the United Nations.
The food, though, is the star of the show. Saffron rice with blood sausage and a fried egg on top and the salsa verde-spiked seared scallops are standout dishes.
One of the city’s newest additions, The Crown sits 21 floors up where Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side meet.
There’s a long list of classic and specialty cocktails to go with your view of this bustling part of town. And the food menu nods to Chinatown with chicken dumplings and shrimp dumplings, shishito peppers, and a great pastrami steamed bun.
In addition to the nicely crafted cocktails—including a section of the menu dedicated to Big Apple-inspired cocktails—the menu is loaded with bites good enough to match the view of the surrounding skyscraper spires. Think wagyu sliders, crispy wild mushroom croquettes, and rock shrimp tempura. It’s elevated escapism at its best.
This Seaport District spot opened up during peak pandemic times. The Greens is a unique rooftop spot in that it is made up of 32 individual lawns, complete with lawn chairs, umbrellas, and loveseats. Each lawn can accommodate up to eight people.
Edible offerings include poutine, grilled cheese spiked with a black truffle aioli, and buttermilk fried chicken.
This lounge in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood is a stunner with amazing views of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers.
Sitting on the 10th floor atop 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the 4,000-square-foot space has indoor and outdoor seating. For the latter, there are fire pits for the cold-weather months. The menu includes sushi, steak frites, and an excellent lobster bao.
Located in the Modernhaus hotel in SoHo, Jimmy is located 18 floors above the cast-iron building-flanked streets of this historic neighborhood. In every direction there are iconic landmarks: from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State Building to One World Trade Center to the Hudson River.
Plant yourself on one of the vintage chairs and sip a cocktail—the Negroni and spiced-apple Moscow mule are top notch here—while grazing on excellent grass-fed cheeseburger sliders, chicken tacos, and tomato-basil flatbread.
Despite the name, Mr. Purple is not an homage to Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson, aka the “Purple One.” But this Lower East Side rooftop bar and restaurant has killer views of the historic neighborhood. Pair your dirty martini with a heaping plate of nachos, short rib empanadas, or tempura baby zucchini.
There aren’t a lot of reasons to go to Roosevelt Island, that long, narrow land mass in middle of the East River. But the Panorama Room, located atop the Graduate Hotel, is one of them.
The view of Midtown Manhattan on one side and Long Island City on the other is spectacular. Plus, a seafood-heavy menu of caviar nachos, tuna crudo, and a luscious seafood tower add to sensual delights.
Peak opened up just when the pandemic was introducing itself to New York City, but it hasn’t lost much momentum. It’s hard to stick a fork into something much loftier, as the restaurant is set on the 101st floor in the new Hudson Yards. The food rivals the view with caviar-laced Atlantic scallops, truffle-spiked bucatini pasta, and a tender lamb loin laced with dates and walnuts.
Saishin started out a pop-up spot located atop the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Locals loved it so much it became permanent in February 2022.
Translated as “something new” in Japanese, Saishin serves up classic sushi on high—both omakase and a la carte menu items.
Serra by Birreria
The rooftop at Eataly in the Flatiron District has had a few different incarnations since it first opened in 2010. The current version on this leafy rooftop might be the best.
The food menu changes with the season, but expect fresh pasta dishes, some of which will be sprinkled with truffles, creamy burrata, and tender roasted lamb.
Set high atop the Sanctuary Hotel in Midtown, Sushi Lab offers a garden-like setting in which to indulge in some of the best raw fish in Midtown. Diners can opt for the 10- or 16-course omakase or select rolls, sushi, and sashimi a la carte.
David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes here and here.