Top 10 Unpretentious Rooftop Bars in New York City

By Mathew KatzNikhita Venugopal and Jeanmarie Evelly  on July 20, 2012 7:02am

NEW YORK CITY — Sometimes, a beer on the fire escape just isn't enough.

New York has hundreds of rooftop watering holes, but many of them require hefty covers, have a dress code, or even charge $20 or more for a drink.

Even if you're not wearing a suit or rolling in dough, there are some rooftop bars that will welcome you with open arms. DNAinfo.com New York has assembled a handy guide of some of the top unpretentious rooftop bars in the city.

Beer Authority, 300 West 40th St. (Hell's Kitchen/Midtown)

Lounging on a rooftop across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal may sound like a fume-filled way to pass the time, but the roof deck above the new craft beer bar is a surprising island of tranquility in one of the busiest parts of Midtown.

Far above the crowds, the roof offers a nice view of The New York Times building and the hubbub down below — and it won't empty your wallet. The after-work crowd can flood this place, so get there early if you want a seat.

The patio has an ever-changing rotation of dozens of beers on tap, running roughly $8 a pint, along with a wide variety of canned beers available for $6. Cocktails — not the Beer Authority's specialty, mind you — run about $12. A menu of pub grub is also available.

Pine Bar and Grill, 1634 Eastchester Road (Morris Park, The Bronx)

The sister restaurant to well-known Morris Park eatery F&J Pine, the Pine Bar and Grill on Eastchester Road is tucked inconspicuously among the health centers and laboratories of Montefiore Medical Park (its building is actually attached to a cardiology center). But one step inside reveals a chic, three-floored bar and restaurant — complete with a palm-decked rooftop lounge. 

Though it’s usually reserved for large parties and private events on the weekends, the roof bar opens weekdays at 6 p.m., perfect for an after-work cocktail and a bite to eat. Domestic beers run $5, imported $6, and a glass of wine will cost you $8.

Stop in on a Wednesday for $20 all-you-can-eat BBQ and live music, or enjoy a piping hot pizza made right on the roof in their outdoor oven.

Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel, 145 E. 50th St. (Midtown, Manhattan)

High atop the Kimberly Hotel, Upstairs is a classy rooftop bar with cushy couches, romantic lighting and a gorgeous view of the Chrysler Building.

A bit on the pricey side, the bar usually hosts an after-work clientele on the weekdays, but the weekends bring in a more diverse crowd.

It’s open year-round with a retractable roof, heated flooring and an outdoor patio with its own fireplace.

While Upstairs can seem a bit high-maintenance at first, the soothing ambience and friendly hostesses will soon have you relaxed.

The Heights, 2867 Broadway (Morningside Heights, Manhattan)

The Heights Bar & Grill is the perfect spot for locals looking for a rooftop bar in Morningside Heights. It usually hosts Columbia students and a laid-back after-work crowd for happy hours that run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with $4 drafts and glasses of wine, as well as $5 frozen margaritas.

With its retractable glass roof, the bar is open year-round with heating in the winter months. It's definitely advisable to go during the summer, however — during the school year, the rooftop space fills up fast with co-eds.

The bar also hosts weekend brunch specials with $3 mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, champagne, beer and wine.

The Rock Shop, 249 Fourth Ave. (Gowanus, Brooklyn)

A punk rocker's dream: a music venue below and cheap beer on top. The rooftop patio on the top floor of The Rock Shop is right on the border of both Park Slope and Gowanus, bringing in a fresh assortment of off-duty parents and adventure-seeking twentysomethings.

The view isn't much — you can see traffic whizzing by on Fourth Avenue, and that's about it — but the ambiance on the wood patio is something along the line of an alt-rock friend's luxury apartment, complete with a pool table and dart board.

Drinks here run cheap — cans of Rolling Rock are $3 apiece, pints are typically $6, and there's often a two-for-one special for well drinks.

VU Rooftop Bar at La Quinta Inn, 17 West 32nd St. (Koreatown, Manhattan)

Possibly the strangest place for a bar is at the top of a La Quinta Inn, which is a hotel chain more often seen in the suburbs than Manhattan.

Up until last year, this 14th-floor joint was called Me Bar. The new name and management hasn't changed the bar's rock-bottom prices — the happy hour, until 7 p.m., still offers $2 beers and $3 margaritas.

Outside of happy hour, some cocktails will cost you $10 but nonetheless come in a plastic cup — suiting the bar's somewhat fratty atmosphere. Just like at the old Me Bar, a Budweiser is still only $4.

Night of Joy, 667 Lorimer St. (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Though it feels like a speakeasy on the inside, the rooftop deck of this cocktail-heavy bar is more like a backyard, decorated with patio furniture, string lights and a homemade-looking bar.

The bar has an expansive list of cocktails, including its massive margaritas that are $6 before 6 p.m. If it's not on the menu, the bartenders will likely make anything your heart desires from a staggering array of different liquors, including beet vodka.

Berry Park, 4 Berry St. (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

High above hipster-saturated Williamsburg, on the border of Greenpoint, is Berry Park, where new residents go to drink and take in a stunning view of Manhattan — and eat duck-fat french fries.

Like many other places in the neighborhood, this rooftop can get crowded fast on weekends, particularly with the post-brunch crowd. Its spacious downstairs is typically open for drinking and a visit to the photo booth with friends.

The bar has a nice array of imported draft beers reminicient of a German beer hall — a Radeberger is $6, a Belgian Duvel will cost you $8, and bartenders know how to mix a stiff cocktail without emptying your wallet.

Henry’s Rooftop Bar at the Roger Smith Hotel, 501 Lexington Ave. (Midtown East, Manhattan)

The Roger Smith Hotel opened its roof terrace bar in 2010, named Henry’s after Henry the dog, an adorable Boston terrier that serves as the inn's unofficial mascot.

Offering views of Midtown from 16 floors up, Henry’s is on the snug side — it only sits about 35 people — so get there early when the bar opens at 5 p.m.

Though the roof stopped serving food this year, patrons can enjoy bar snacks like popcorn while sipping an assortment of beer and wine, priced $8 or $9 a glass. The bar’s most popular drink is the caipirinha, a traditional Brazilian cocktail made with rum and citrus juice, which goes for $12.

Metro Grill at Hotel Metro, 45 W. 35th St. (Midtown, Manhattan)

The best thing about the rooftop bar that sits atop Hotel Metro is, undoubtedly, its head-on view of the Empire State Building, which towers just a block away.  Plus, much of the 13th-floor rooftop is covered by awnings — meaning you can still enjoy the perks of drinking outdoors, even if the weather’s not cooperating.

Prices aren’t bad, either: Draft and bottle beers are $8, wine is $9, and cocktails start at $12. The roof is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and offers grub from the restaurant’s appetizer menu.

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