Rooftop Restaurants Take Dining to New Heights

Restaurants and bars transform elevated decks into a special space for summertime sipping

Posted

Over the years, and especially post-pandemic, the outdoor dining experience has leveled up. The once-standard concrete patios lined with iron tables and chairs and fabric umbrellas have been lent a bit of magic with iridescent igloos and light-filled solariums, converted ski gondolas and open-air lounges. And in the heat of summer, there’s nothing quite like taking in the farm coast views from above with a cocktail in hand. Here are 11 rooftop decks around the East Bay to grab a drink (or two!) and toast to the return of our favorite season.

THE BEEHIVE CAFÉ, BRISTOL

When you think of this popular neighborhood cafe and sister pantry, you likely conjure up images of fresh-brewed coffee, homemade pastries, and breakfast galore. But the Beehive is also home to a modest upstairs deck, with space for a handful of diners to cradle a latte and steal a glimpse of Independence Park and the harbor beyond. Or, come by later for dinner and try out one of their signature cocktails. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: Your boozy brunch wouldn’t be complete without a Beehive signature Beemosa or Bee Bloody, both available to-go in jar form, an adorable offering appropriately nicknamed “Buzz on the Fly”.

 

BENJAMIN’S RAW BAR, NEWPORT

If you’re looking for a more casual, cozy vibe, climb the stairs up to the third floor to discover the Crow’s Nest, an outdoor bar and dining room at Benjamin’s Raw Bar. The real star of this steak and seafood restaurant is the raw bar, which includes the Mother Shucker Platter, an indulgent array of 12 oysters, 12 topnecks, 12 shrimp, and two chilled lobsters. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: The bar’s signature drink happens to be a refreshing seasonal mix that isn’t restricted to brunch: The Oh No Mimosa, made with Stoli vodka, champagne, OJ, and a Grand Marnier float.

 

MIDTOWN OYSTER BAR, NEWPORT

If you’ve ever wandered onto Thames Street in Newport, Midtown Oyster Bar has definitely caught your eye; it’s the lively spot just steps from America’s Cup Ave. The name reveals its primary claim to fame, but alongside a raw bar and seafood-forward selection, it’s known for experiential dining that includes not one, but two, rooftops. One is uncovered and overlooks the bustling historic street, while the other feels like an open-air room strung with bistro lights. The bar menu impresses with a long list of wines, beers, and most interestingly, oyster shooters.

Summer Sip Suggestion: Because of its uniqueness, we have to go with an oyster shooter, so start with the house concoction with vodka and cocktail sauce.

 

THE ROOF DECK AT VANDERBILT, NEWPORT

The Vanderbilt, part of the Auberge Resort Collection, is a well-known hotel with a storied past linked to Newport’s rich and famous. Besides being a luxurious stay for tourists and locals alike, the rooftop bar is a summer destination in itself. Patrons can order from the open-air bar, which features nautical touches like washed wood and a compass rose, and lounge in an Adirondack chair while watching the sun dip behind the Newport Pell Bridge. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: The Rosé Spritzer screams sophistication, an elixir of rosé wine, pamplemousse (grapefruit) liqueur, club soda, and orange.

 

THE ROOFTOP AT BRENTON HOTEL, NEWPORT

The Brenton Hotel is one of the City by the Sea’s newest luxury lodgings that overlooks the harbor, making the rooftop that much more alluring. Located six stories up, the environmentally sensitive green rooftop offers more than just views: Find games like cornhole and ping pong, sofas and fire pits, a veritable jungle of succulents and plants, and modest menu of oysters, cheese and charcuterie, pickled veg, and more. In addition to beer, there are select cocktails and wines by the glass. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: A warm spin on a summer classic, the Reluctant Punch features Thomas Tew Rum, mango, cinnamon, and orgeat.

 

SHOWFISH AT GURNEY’S, NEWPORT

Located on Goat Island and accessed by Gladys Carr Bolhouse Road from America’s Cup Avenue, Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina is a lavish escape complete with top-notch dining, full-service spa, and, you bet, outdoor decks for lounging with libations. The vibe is chill yet contemporary, thanks to streamlined furniture, bistro lights, and glass-enclosed fire pits. Discover the seasonal pop-up Showfish serving elevated seafood (think tuna poke, soy chili calamari, charred octopus), or savor light bites from a special menu at The Firepit. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: Specials rotate weekly, so we recommend keeping your options open, but past show-stealers have included spicy raspberry cocktails and watermelon sunset cocktails. 

 

SIMPATICO JAMESTOWN 

Walking or driving down Narragansett Avenue, you’re bound to stop in your tracks (or slow down the car) for a better look at Simpatico, which resembles some kind of enchanting woodland escape plopped in the middle of a beach town. The multiple rooms and outdoor spaces boast carefully hung greenery, twinkle lights, and even a pergola, for a variety of dining experiences to pick from. However, we’re focused on the upper deck, nicknamed the Jamestown Knot Club + Bar, which offers open-air eating at inset booths and a view of downtown. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: A staff fave, the Simpatico Sweet Peach Sangria is a colorful and juicy combo perfect for summertime sipping.

 

SKIFF BAR, NEWPORT

While not exactly perched on a rooftop, Skiff Bar offers an elevated second-floor deck with unobstructed views of the harbor. The restaurant is the perfect stop for a light lunch while soaking up some rays, and features a streamlined menu of seafood classics, soups, salads, and handhelds. Even though it’s located at the Newport Marriott, you don’t need to be a guest to stop in for a bite. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: What is summer without lemonade? And okay, while this isn’t your paper cup of frozen Del’s, the Blueberry Lemonade is a boozy upgrade with Stoli Blueberry, lemonade, and blueberry garnish. 

 

STONEACRE GARDEN, NEWPORT

As implied by the name, Stoneacre Garden embraces everything lush and green, including its rooftop, which offers a picture-perfect view of the sunset over Newport Harbor where you can indulge in a farm-to-table brunch, lunch, or dinner. A brand-new bar pours everything from sparkling wines to signature cocktails, even a dedicated mocktail list. Plus, the plethora of plant life and tucked-away location will have you forgetting you’re in the middle of a tourist’s playground.

Summer Sip Suggestion: Both sweet and spicy, Dante’s Inferno combines house chili-infused tequila, blood orange, and strawberry.

 

THAMES WATERSIDE BAR & GRILL, BRISTOL

If this restaurant were sitting any closer to Bristol Harbor, it would be in the water. Besides sunsets, Thames Waterside Bar & Grill is known for its food, drinks, and live entertainment on the roof deck each weekend, featuring local artists like their own in-house musician Colby James. Gather around the centerpiece bar, cozy up on a couch, sway to the music, or simply lean against the railing to take in the serene sight of boats bobbing in the harbor below.

Summer Sip Suggestion: Check out the Hunch Punch Moonshine, mixed with lemonade, sprite, and cranberry juice. 

 

TOP OF NEWPORT AT HOTEL VIKING

Located in the heart of Newport, this historic hotel has been a local landmark since it opened in 1926 and recently debuted a massive makeover, including a revamped rooftop bar and kitchen. Lounge chairs and sofas arranged around fire pits and tables create pockets for conversation over cocktails, backdropped by unmatched views of the city. Find a menu of bubbles, beer, and boozy specials, plus lite bites like tartare, deviled eggs, and ceviche. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: A no-brainer due to its name, the Summer Cooler is a thirst-quenching cocktail of Ketel One Cucumber & Mint vodka, St. Germaine, and soda water.

 

THE WHARF TAVERN, WARREN

The Wharf has been a dockside destination since 1955, though its history stretches back even further as a mercantile center and oyster house. Today, the renovated restaurant boasts three event spaces, a dining room, outdoor seating, and as of last summer, a rooftop bar overlooking the Warren River. Echoing the trendy nautical touches from inside, the expansive wood deck is anchored by a center bar surrounded by sofas and fire pits. The rooftop is drinks-only, so all patrons must be over 21, and enjoy live entertainment all weekend long. 

Summer Sip Suggestion: Spice things up with the Spicy Watermelon Margarita shaken with jalapeño-infused tequila, Cointreau, agave, watermelon puree, and fresh lime juice.  

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here