Top Rooftop Restaurants Around the World
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What a glorious time to be a foodie. Consider the (ahem) rise of gourmet cuisine at rooftop restaurants around the world. While it shouldn’t seem like a groundbreaking trend, until relatively recently you had to choose between chef-driven cuisine and high-altitude panorama. Worse still, a meal at one of these sky-high establishments often cost a pretty penny for sub-par cuisine.
Nowadays, however, there is no shortage of magnificent meals in lofty environments where you can come close to touching stars of both the Michelin and celestial variety. For the finest examples, take the elevator to the top and check out these rooftop restaurants doing it right.
When this modern American masterpiece opened in July 2016 atop the tallest skyscraper in LA, it helped cement downtown’s status as the epicurean epicenter of the West Coast. Sure, you could pay $25 just to check out the observation deck — one story below — or you can skip the fee and enjoy an even better view accompanied by the inventive fare of chef Vartan Abgaryan. The seasonal menu is girded by a handful of staples: oysters with poached uni, tarragon and caviar; diver scallops with chanterelle mushrooms; and a succulent seared octopus with Korean chili paste. To drink, you can choose from one of LA’s most expansive wine lists, or head to the bar — backdropped by the Hollywood Hills — to take on one of the cocktails named after the city’s many notable neighborhoods.
The highest restaurant in all of Bangkok also happens to be its most elegant. On the 65th floor of lebua at State Tower, chef Ryuki Kawasaki approaches French fare with the incomparable execution of his native Japan. Take a seat flanked by the open kitchen over one shoulder and floor-to-ceiling windows over the other and prepare to be wowed. A seven-course food and wine pairing reaches its crescendo with the Niigata Murakami Wagyu Beef A5 — a charcoal-crusted, truffle-seasoned beef medallion so tender that chewing is optional. Ring out a memorable evening in style by ambling to Flûte, a bar which bills itself as the “World’s Highest Champagne Bar.” There are no better views to be had in all of Bangkok.
While it’s not actually on the roof, the Motif Hotel’s fifth floor dining destination does lay claim to Seattle’s largest outdoor patio. That counts for something. As do expansive fire pits surrounding the communal tables, shielding you from the city’s colder, damper evenings. Inside the kitchen, chef Adam Stevenson plates a taste of the Pacific Northwest in the form of seafood-focused arrangements built around locally sourced produce. That means wild king salmon, of course, sitting atop celery root chive pancakes, or an ahi poke re-imagined with Asian pear, quinoa and taro root chips for maximum textural impact. Arrive earlier on weekend afternoons to secure your seat at one of the most advanced brunch outposts in the city.
This arboreal dreamscape is nestled, quite literally, in the canopy overlooking Bali’s verdant jungle. With that as your backdrop you could probably be satisfied eating leaves for dinner. But Forest Bar does not rest on its singular scenic laurels. The lunch-only menu is curiously Caribbean, focusing on the flavors of street cuisine from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Dishes like pernil — a traditional hispanic take on pork neck — discover Southeast Asian sensibility with the addition of a tangy rice vinegar. A mouthful of masterfully-executed jerk chicken might seem highly improbable in a setting like this, but then again, you’re in Bali. In a treetop. Suspended above a forest filled with monkeys. Anything is possible.
As the Windy City’s rooftop dining scene becomes increasingly competitive, LH Rooftop has a handful of key characteristics to keep it on top. For one, executive chef Jacob Verstegen maintains close ties with local farmers to ensure the freshest produce makes it onto the plate. Period. Secondly, the dining area and accompanying outdoor bar occupy a massive footprint over two floors. This comes in handy on weekends and late-nights when the local hotspot gets packed with thirsty patrons. Then there’s that view: directly alongside the Chicago river, near its convergence with Lake Michigan. From here you can marvel at just about every architectural icon this city has to offer. And there are many. Don’t let the view distract you from the food, though: Bison tartare, dry aged duck breast — even the vegan-friendly zucchini is a crowd-pleaser with fresh mint and sunflower milk (yes, that’s a thing).
Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese culture all collide on the 39th floor of 110 Bishopsgate in the heart of London. High above the River Thames, this famed fusion empire assembles an array of artfully-rendered small plates and sushi rolls, with more than enough flavor to stand up to the flair. The interior space is a spectacle in and of itself, with a bamboo ceiling and whimsical tree sculptures splayed out all around. You can even enjoy the view as you’re arriving, thanks to the two glass elevators that shuffle you briskly from ground to sky.
Perched atop the 57th floor of one of the world’s most iconic towers, in the heart of the most decadent playground known to man, with a menu designed by the original celebrity chef, one thing’s for sure: Dinner is not going to suck. What might surprise you, however, is just how serene this classically-appointed dining room feels compared to the melee going on down below. The tranquility benefits immensely from Michelin-starred service and maybe also the whisky selection as exceptional as anything you’ll find on the street. And yet the biggest shock might be the wholly affordable price of their three-course afternoon express set lunch menu. Choose from a handful of the restaurant’s signature dishes — including the big eye tuna tartare cones and grilled Iberico pork — all for under $45 a person.
Chef Amos Watts has made quite the name for himself out West after having opened both Old Major and Acorn, two of Denver’s most notable modern American hotspots. This Autumn, he heads just north of the city to open Corrida, Boulder’s first rooftop dining space with unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountain’s magnificent front range. The menu heads to the Basque region of Spain for inspiration, leaning heavily on meat-laden shared plates, tickled with greened olive oils and Mediterranean spice. To match the munchies, the beverage program is awash in sherry and the eclectic assemblages of Gin Tonic for which this part of Iberia is known.
Featured image courtesy of Sushi Samba. All other photos by the author except where otherwise noted.
What are some of your favorite elevated dining locales? Let us know in the comments below
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