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Top 10 Unpretentious Rooftop Bars in Manhattan

By DNAinfo Staff on April 5, 2011 7:33pm  | Updated on April 6, 2011 6:27am

By Elizabeth Ladzinski, Ben Fractenberg and Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — If drinking with Manhattan at your feet is your style, but dress codes, bottle service and $75 cocktails aren't, don't worry. DNAinfo's got you covered.

You might not find Hollywood starlets running amok at these sky-high eateries, but you can still enjoy a Dutch Chocolate Razzitini in the shadow of the Empire State building.

Whether you're looking to breathe the city air in the comfort of a velvet Snuggie at 230 Fifth, or recover from a pasta gorge fest at Eataly's hotly-anticipated Italian beer garden, our "Top 10 Unpretentious Rooftop Bars" will be your guide.

La Quinta Inn/Me Bar, 17 West 32nd St. (Koreatown)

Stroll through the bright lights of Koreatown and into the down-market lobby of La Quinta Inn on West 32nd Street to find a rooftop gem with unparalleled views of the Empire State building.

Judging by the crowd on a recent Friday evening, the cat is definitely out of the bag about the venue, called Me Bar, but a bottle of Bud is still just $5 and the Empire State Building looms close enough for King Kong to swat planes onto the bar's roof deck.

The crowd is relaxed and affable, with an equal mix of jeans and khaki pants. Get there when the bar opens at 5:30 p.m. to snag a table outside on the weekend or go during the week, when the crowds are less intense.

The Delancey, 168 Delancey St. (Lower East Side)

While The Delancey's rooftop doesn't offer much in the way of city views, it is a top-notch spot to relax while surrounded by palm trees and greenery. The rooftop is heated and covered so its open year-round. Managers occasionally open the top cover, weather permitting.

Be sure to check out the bar's website before heading out, as everything from burlesque to live music can be found on lower floors.

Worth a sip is the Delancey's spring cocktail, available through June, called "The Firefly." The elixir is made from vodka, grapefruit juice and grenadine with a cherry garnish, and it's only $4 Sunday through Thursday, after 8 p.m.

The Heights Bar & Grill, 2867 Broadway (Morningside Heights)

The rooftop at The Heights Bar & Grill is the perfect solution for Upper West Siders looking to bask on the top floor without having to trek downtown.

While typically crowded with Columbia students late at night, a laid-back after-work scene tends to gather for happy hour, which lasts from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, offering frozen margaritas, drafts and glasses of wine for $4.

The rooftop can be enjoyed year-round, as the bar's glass roof is retractable and the space is heated. Be sure to stop by for brunch on the weekends, where mimosas, frozens, drafts, bloody Mary's and champagne are all $3 each with your brunch order. But come early — the roof tends to fill up quickly with stroller-toting families looking to snag a bite.

Novotel/Broadway Bar and Sky Deck, 226 West 52nd St. (Midtown West)

The bar off the lobby of Novotel has all the atmosphere of a corporate event space, but step outside to the Sky Deck to enjoy panoramic views of Times Square.

Domestic beers will run you $8 — actually, $8.71 with tax — while specialty cocktails like Pomegranate Martinis go for $14.

Come with a group of friends and you should have no trouble snagging a table outside. There will be a bar and table service on the deck in the summer. In the meantime, you can just get a drink at the bar and then meander outside.

Bar 13, 35 East 13th St. (Union Square)

Though a high fence blocks off city views, the stars will still shine over you at this Union Square rooftop, open year round, weather permitting.

Weekly parties are hosted here, including salsa, LGBT, hip-hop, latin, poetry and reggae nights. So suffice it to say, the crowd is ever-changing, but watch out as the bridge-and-tunnel crowd tends to huddle here on weekends.

The bar offers a no fuss cocktail menu and prices are standard for Manhattan, with most drinks running between $6 and $8.

Sutton Place, 1115 Second Ave. (Upper East Side/Midtown East)

Sutton Place looks like a big sports bar upon entrance — lots of flatscreen TVs and the techno version of all your favorite Top 40 songs. But head up a couple floors and you have a spacious roof deck with cheap drinks.

Happy hour runs daily from 5-8 p.m. and includes $5 well drinks and $3 Buds and Bud Lights. Appetizers are also half price.

The rooftop is enclosed and heated during the colder months, though part of the deck looking over Second Avenue is left open, in case you want to sneak outside. Wait until May and you can drink outside into the wee hours or nurse your hangover with a weekend brunch.

Rare View, 303 Lexington Ave. (Murray Hill) or 152 West 26th St. (Chelsea)

Whether you're in Chelsea or Murray Hill, look to Rare View Rooftops for an unpretentious escape from the city streets. Creative lighting gives an intimate feel to the comfortable and spacious decks, and both locations offer exceptional views.

Beers cost $8 across the board, or enjoy one of their creative cocktails, like the Massala Spice Trail (aviόn reposado, Indian bay leaf and cayenne rim), for $14.

Local Café, 1 Penn Plaza (Midtown West)

Drive Midtown paper pushers mad with jealousy or wind-down after a Knicks game at Local Café. This brightly colored roof deck, located across the street from Madison Square Garden, offers a distinctly unpretentious atmosphere with respectable pub food and $6 beers.

The heated rooftop is open on temperate evenings throughout the year and all-day during the summer months.

Eataly's La Birreria, 200 Fifth Ave. (Flatiron District)

Mario Batali's oasis of Italian cuisine will soon be home to a sprawling rooftop restaurant and beer garden, called La Birreria. While an official opening date has not been nailed down, an Eataly spokeswoman said beer lovers could mark their calendars for Spring 2011.

Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware and two Italian craft brewers, Teo Musso and Leonardo di Vincenzo, will provide signature suds to satisfy beer-o-philes.

A retractable roof will allow the restaurant and brewery to stay open year-round.

230 Fifth, 230 Fifth Ave. (Flatiron District)

If only the best view of the city skyline will do, the creme-de-la-creme of Manhattan rooftop bars — as voted by NBC, AOL and CitySearch — is 230 Fifth.

From the well-heated rooftop bar on the 20th floor of this swanky Fifth Avenue building, one can soak in views of many of New York's impressive skyscrapers.

But the breathtaking cityscape doesn't come cheap. While there's no cover charge, alcoholic drinks start at $9, with most cocktails at $14 or more. For those who chill easily, an assortment of warm ciders including apple, pear and raspberry ($12) will perk you up, and the bar offers complimentary velvet Snuggies to be worn on the roof.

Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday throughout year.