Up on a Roof in Hell’s Kitchen
“Nowhere to go but up” seems to be a motto in Hell’s Kitchen, where a number of businesses and organizations make the most of their rooftop real estate. As well as bars with Instagram-worthy views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, there are a few unlikely projects, including a farm atop a church and an ecosystem on top of Javits Center that is home to 27 bird species and several honeybee hives.
605 West 48th Street (between 11th and 12th Avenues)
Colorful chairs, brightly patterned throw pillows, and a plethora of plants give Cantina Rooftop a block-party vibe, one that is only enhanced on a sunny day or a moonlit night. Though this Mexican restaurant and bar is on a rooftop, it has a retractable roof to permit year-round drinking and dining. Sipping a frozen margarita, sangria, or a tamarind Jarrito (a popular Mexican soda) up here while admiring the Manhattan skyline is not quite the same as imbibing on the beach at Playa del Carmen—those who eschew sand and surf will find it even better! Weekend brunch is a special treat, with options such as tres leches French toast and a version of eggs Benedict with pork carnitas hash and avocado.
410 West 40th Street (between Ninth and Dyer Avenues)
The rooftop of the Metro Baptist Church, across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, might seem an unlikely place for a community farm. Since 2010, however, beans, blueberries, kale, potatoes, and other produce have been grown up here, in 52 kiddie pools that serve as raised beds. Volunteers tend to the gardens and harvest the yield, which is donated to the Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries Food Pantry. You can get your hands dirty, figuratively and literally, during the open farm days on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., sign up for a group tour, or simply stop up for a visit when you need to stroll among greenery.
346 West 40th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)
Located on the 37th floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Times Square West, the appropriately named High Bar offers panoramic views that encompass the Empire State Building, the Hudson River, and even the Statue of Liberty. You can savor the views not only from the open terrace but also from the enclosed lounge area, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar offering includes specialty cocktails such as I Like You a Latte (Absolut vanilla, Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua, and chocolate syrup), and you can nibble on small plates such as shrimp-and-cilantro spring rolls and lamb gyro flatbreads while admiring the star-studded night sky.
621 West 46th Street (between 11th and 12th Avenues)
When you are not dancing to a deejay set at Hudson Terrace, you can look out over the Hudson River and the U.S.S. Intrepid. The retractable roof enables the party to continue year-round; there is also a second, enclosed dance area and bar on the floor below. If you are the type to plan ahead, consider booking a VIP bottle-service package for you and your friends so that you can stake claim to a table.
655 West 34th Street (at 11th Avenue)
Encompassing six city blocks and 760,000 square feet of exhibition space, Javits Center claims to be the country’s busiest convention center. While throngs of attendees walk the floors of various expos and trade shows, however, its 6.75-acre “green roof” is a bastion of serenity and sustainability. The roof was planted with beds of sedum. This flowering ground crop not only absorbs storm water and helps keep the mammoth building cool in the summer but also serves as a habitat for 27 bird and 5 bat species. The center also installed three beehives in 2017 and harvests the honey, which has been incorporated into a salad dressing served at its second-floor bistro. If you would like to see the green roof for yourself, you can book a free tour or check out the live cam at the Javits Center website.
783 Eighth Avenue (between West 47th and 48th Streets)
The fourth-floor roof deck is just one of four levels that make up this bar and restaurant, but if it is alfresco drinks and light bites you want, this is the space to head for. While gazing down at Eighth Avenue you can tuck into sliders, salads, quesadillas, spring rolls, and fried macaroni and cheese while sipping your choice of beverages, including house cocktails such as the Prim & Proper (Grey Goose pear-flavored vodka, prosecco, and fresh lemon juice). You can also enjoy a full dinner at the first-floor restaurant, shoot pool or lounge by the fireplace on the second floor, and relax among the quiet ambience of the third floor’s “executive lounge.”
653 11th Avenue (at West 48th Street)
Located in a former printing factory, the Ink48 hotel is home to farm-to-table restaurant Print and, on the 17th floor, the Press Lounge. The lounge features a terrace with bucket-style wicker seating, banquettes, and stovelike heaters for chilly evenings, but you can also relish the skyline views from a sumptuous leather sofa inside a space consisting of glass walls topped with a glass ceiling. House cocktails include the nonalcoholic Onyx (made with distilled Seedlip Spice 94 and fresh mint-cucumber syrup) and the definitely alcoholic Chancery (Belvedere vodka, raspberry puree, elderflower liqueur, and prosecco). If you dine at Print you can visit the Press Lounge afterward without waiting on line. If, however, you do not want a full meal, the Press Lounge offers bar snacks including house-made hummus and a warm house-made pretzel served with mustard or pimento cheese spread.
570 10th Avenue (at West 42nd Street)
Also known as Social Drink & Food, the Terrace is on the fourth floor of the Yotel hotel. While it is one of the city’s largest rooftop bars, with modern picnic tables, well-cushioned banquettes and ottomans, and lush shrubbery, there is a heated indoor area as well, whose string lights and hanging lanterns give it a backyard-luau vibe. In the summer the outdoor space hosts movie screenings; check Yotel’s website for the upcoming schedule.