At street level, you can trip over garbage, fall into an open manhole, or wind up having to take a picture of some tourists holding Starbucks shopping bags. So any chance you get, you should head to a rooftop - where you can enjoy all the benefits of a regular outdoor patio without having to fight a squirrel for the privilege of finishing your food or drink.
Some of these get pretty packed (especially on weekends), but once you get a drink and feel a breeze that doesn’t smell like a stranger’s cold brew breath, you might even see the crowds as a positive. These are the best rooftops in Seattle.
THE OUTDOOR SPOTS
Captain Blacks is barely two stories tall, but ask any architect and they’ll say yes, it counts as a roof. The only real difference between a skyscraper and a two-story building is that the people below you look like G.I Joe action figures instead of ants. Even though the view isn’t breathtaking, you’ll want to check this Capitol Hill staple off of your summer to-do list immediately. The whole space is busier than Rattlesnake Ledge on a Saturday afternoon, and it’s a great choice for drinking Tito’s and lemonade while eating solid fried chicken and waffles.
If you’re looking for a chill place to day drink, you’re in good hands at Rooftop Brewing, which if you didn’t read the context clues here, is a brewery located on a roof. Take in the view of Queen Anne warehouse-looking buildings and the tiny sliver of Lake Union which might include a giant boat. As for the beer, don’t miss the Glorious Basker, which doubles as a blood orange wheat and the name of your alter-ego for the summer.
The Nest has everything. Comfortable sofas that sink when you sit on them. Waterfront views with the perfect angle for watching the ferris wheel spin. Overpriced-but-refreshing cocktails served in metallic flamingo mugs. And most importantly, you can give your Patagonia ensemble the night off - this is where to dress up, drink outside, and not feel stupid about it.
If you told someone that you went to the Mountaineering Club, they’d probably think that you embarked into the wilderness to read a compass and wrestle off grizzlies with your bare hands. Joke’s on them. In reality, you took an elevator up to the roof of a hotel, drank a chocolatey-but-nuanced cocktail called Banana Pancakes, and ate a bacon sandwich. We love the interior of The Mountaineering Club because it feels like Smokey The Bear ordered a little too many things from a West Elm catalogue, but the patio is the best seat in the house, where you can see the entire skyline. Sit out here with your camping-themed drink and a bag of Tim’s chips.
A lot of hotel bars are the same - not very fun, unless you make the fun yourself. That’s Frolik in a nutshell. It shapeshifts to the kind of place you need based on who you bring with you, and in that case we’d recommend a small group of friends. Play some ping pong, drink prosecco with popsicles shoved in the glass, and eat snacks like lumpia and salt and pepper fries. When it gets dark and cold and the intense table tennis competition soured the entire night, the giant firepit heals all. Watch out for the neighborhood seagull who will swallow your food if you leave it unattended.
There’s nothing like getting sunburnt to remind you that sitting on a rooftop positions you closer to the sun than not sitting on a rooftop. At Terra Plata, you’ll pay $16 for an egg sandwich, but it’s a $16 we’ll gladly shell out to be here among the herbs and fresh air (and it helps that the food is good). They take reservations and honor requests to sit out there, so if you plan in advance, this is an ideal summer brunch spot. Everything’s great here, but you should order something involving their manchego biscuits. And if early evening cocktails are more your speed, Terra Plata is ideal for watching the sunset, and eating their homemade waffle-cut truffle chips by the fistful.
The rooftop at Mezcaleria Oaxaca is one of the most fun places to spend a Friday night. This is mainly because the entire area is 21 and over only, so you don’t have to worry about strangers’ children throwing wet crayons across the room. Instead, you’ll find grown adults drinking margaritas and pina coladas among long picnic tables, a more lounge-y area toward the edge of the roof, and a taco trailer that someone somehow managed to get up there. Stop by the trailer for some tasty buvette steak and guacamole, and repeat until summer is over.
The roof at M Bar is like the communal patio of a newly-constructed apartment building that’s designed to lure prospective renters into signing a lease (and grilling kabobs) immediately. We’d never expect less from a rhombus-shaped building in the heart of South Lake Union. You probably can’t actually live in a Middle Eastern restaurant-lounge hybrid, but you’ll certainly want to after taking the dramatically suspenseful elevator ride up top to sit around string lights, swings, and Space Needle views. Get a fizzy Campari cocktail, or something frozen if it’s available, and snack on Middle Eastern small plates like falafel with beet labneh or grilled halloumi.
Monsoon is a Vietnamese restaurant with a roof that seems ironic for most of the year while rain is falling from the sky. But for the few months when it’s nice out, the rooftop at Monsoon isn’t a sick joke, but a real place where people eat noodles and stir-fry outside. And if you ever tried to imagine what it might be like to eat imperial rolls while perched in a tree, you don’t really have to wonder about that anymore.