The Best Rooftops In Seattle
photo credit: Nate Watters
There's almost nothing bad about summer in Seattle, except the uptick in visitors making the coffee shop lines long, or the occasional hazardous wildfire ash raining from the sky. But if you want to get away from the tourists at least, there’s always the option of fleeing to a roof. Sure, some of these get pretty crowded (especially on weekends), but once you grab a drink and feel a breeze that doesn’t smell like a stranger’s cold brew breath, these rooftops should bring out the optimist in all of us.
Captain Blacks is barely two stories tall, but ask any architect and they’ll say that yes, it counts as a roof. The only real difference between a skyscraper and this place is that the people below you look like G.I Joe action figures instead of ants. Even though the view isn’t exactly the most 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 double-fisting frozen cocktails and phenomenal slices of pizza from Good Shape.
Rooftop bars get all the love and attention, but we’re here to declare this second-story bakery one of the best in town. The Flora Bakehouse is not just a great place to grab a cheddar-chive scone, pink-frosted fudgy vegan brownie, or soft serve pumped directly into a croissant. This Beacon Hill spot also happens to have a fantastic u-shaped rooftop that’s perfect for an afternoon work session al fresco. And by work session, we hope you know that we mean leisurely iced cardamom rose latte on a picnic table in the sun while doodling in the Moleskine journal you purchased with your company card.
If you’re looking for a calm place to day drink, you’re in good hands at Rooftop Brewing, which if you didn’t already gather, is a brewery located on a roof. Take in the view of Queen Anne homes, at least one small sliver of Lake Union, and/or a giant boat. Don’t miss the Tropical Staycation, and be sure to show up on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday—that's when you'll catch the incredible smashburgers from Smash That Burger Co.
The Nest has everything that you probably want—especially aesthetically—in a swanky rooftop bar: comfortable sofas that sink when you sit on them, waterfront views with the perfect angle for watching the ferris wheel spin, and 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 silly for it.
If you told someone that you went to the Mountaineering Club, they’d probably think that you embarked upon a sweaty wilderness hike to read a compass and wrestle off grizzlies with your bare hands (and ultimately be impressed). In reality, you're coming here to take an elevator up to the roof of a hotel, drink a fancied-up long island iced tea topped with blackberry gummies, and eat a bacon sandwich. We love the inside because it feels like Smokey Bear ordered a few too many things from a West Elm catalog, but the patio is the best seat in the house, where you can see the entire skyline. Sit out here with your drink and some oysters.
There’s nothing like getting a gnarly sunburn to remind you that hanging out on a rooftop positions you closer to the sun. At Terra Plata, their upstairs herb garden makes paying $16 for manchego biscuits and chorizo gravy not frustrating at all. They take reservations, so it becomes a pretty easy morning party to throw together. And if early evening cocktail-drinking is 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—called Patio Cielo—is one of the most fun places to be on a Friday night. This is mainly because the entire area is 21+, 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 sangria among long picnic tables, a more loungey area toward the edge of the roof, and a taco trailer that someone managed to haul up there. Stop by the trailer for some chips and guacamole, and repeat until summer is over.
The roof at M Bar is like the communal patio of an 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 inside this Middle Eastern restaurant/lounge, but you’ll certainly want to after taking the dramatically suspenseful elevator ride up top to sit among the string lights, swings, fire pits, and Space Needle views. Sip fizzy pisco spritzes and snack on Middle Eastern mezze like green pea falafel, baba ganoush, or harra frites with earthy za’atar mayo.
Monsoon is a Vietnamese restaurant with a roof that seems ironic for most of the drizzly year—especially for an establishment whose name literally refers to a wind-fueled rainstorm. But for the few months when it’s nice out, the rooftop at Monsoon is a real place where people eat stir-fry and bò lá lốt outside. And if you ever tried to imagine what it might be like to eat crackly imperial rolls while practically perched in a tree, you don’t really have to wonder about that anymore.
If you really want some peace and quiet, the only option is the very secret rooftop at Empire. All you have to do is grab a cold brew with homemade date cashew milk and head up three flights of stairs—past the record store and the restroom with the galaxy cat shower curtain. At the very top, you'll find a small patio with a great breeze, fast WiFi, and complete silence. That is, besides bird chirps, fire truck sirens, and ice cubes clanking around in your cup.