There’s nothing better in Chicago than taking Summer in by rooftop. Sure, we’ve got patios, gardens and parks, but there’s just something truly fabulous about the extra elevation that comes with the cityscape of a rooftop. Dining and imbibing amongst the skyscrapers is a little more glamorous, wouldn’t you agree? The city lights, the playful – or extremely aggressive – breeze (this is Chicago after all), basking in the last rays of a setting sun with a craft cocktail in hand… this is why we live here.
Every year a few, new Chicago rooftop bars make their debut while the favorites from years passed dust off their winter layer and get ready for a Spring awakening. I don’t discriminate and love to visit any rooftop that will feed and wine me. However, some are more ideal for a casual dinner al fresco, while others may be better suited for Chanel and Louboutin. Oui? Oui.
How to know what’s what?
I’ll help you navigate which rooftop is best for what in my Top 5 Chicago Rooftop Bars here! Keep reading on for how to get high in the sky this Summer.
TOP ❺ CHICAGO ROOFTOP BARS
1. The dec rooftop lounge and bar at The Ritz Carlton || isn’t she lovely? The dec has been around for a few years now but is still positively one of the best Chicago rooftop bars around. It’s classic and upscale without being pretentious, stuffy or clubby. It doesn’t attract any one type of crowd and can work for lunch with friends or a date night, alike. Must try’s here include: the Second in Line cocktail and Schnitzel Strips with Anchovy Sriracha Aioli.
2. The J. Parker at the Hotel Lincoln || with unobstructed, panoramic views of Lake Michigan The J. Parker is quite the stunner! From Willis Tower, to Lincoln Park Zoo, to the beaches, it’s all here to take in. Hands down my favorite spot for daytime visits when scenery and vista usurp everything else. While Paul Virant is the Exec Chef on site, the food has never quite bowled me over here. Luckily, the cocktails make a solid showing and the Cruzan rum-based “Lush Life” should be your cocktail of the season.
3. Rooftop at The Dawson || calling the rooftop at The Dawson a “bar” is a massive understatement. Way more parts restaurant than bar, this is my favorite spot for when food reigns supreme. Where else in the city can you devour artisnal cheeses, a grilled duck leg, chicken-fried lobster and steak frites with oxtail jus up on the roof? I’ll tell you where: nowhere. The Dawson’s rooftop may not scrape the sky (it’s only on the second floor) but the food is about as lofty as it gets.
4. I|O Urban Roofscape at The Godfrey Hotel || the fancy one of the bunch! The few times I’ve been to I|O there are always dressy people abound. Day or night, the clientele here love to floss and how! This is the rooftop where you should break out your designer handbag if you have one. Evenings turn into a bit of a club atmosphere here with oontz oontz music and lots of bandage dresses. Great for GNO’s (Girls Night Out) or try brunch for a tamer time. Their Pineapple Smash is a splendid thirst-quencher.
5. Cerise at the Virgin Hotel Chicago || the new kid in town! Cerise just opened this year and to wild fanfare. The Virgin Hotel is the epitome of cool and everyone is clamoring to get on this rooftop, so, take a number! Cerise has great – though limited – views and the real appeal here is a slick space with an edgy crowd. People watching is on point and the drinks are, too. The Beach Betty and Sakura Fizz are islandy and effervescent, respectively. Bites are edited (think: sliders and sashimi) which are pretty much on hand to ensure your pseudo-sobriety.
Now I’m thirsty, how about you? Leave your favorite Chicago rooftop bars in the comments below.
Cheers to a high rise summer!