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Chicago Rooftop Bars for Socially Distanced Summer Fun

Chicago is steadily reopening outdoor dining, but feasting street side can be noisy and a little too close to traffic for comfort. Instead, locals are turning to rooftop spots for a breath of fresh air and a chance to cheers with friends.Discover the Best Rooftop Spots in ChicagoHere are a few of Chicago’s favorite rooftops reopening this summer for socially distanced libations.
(Luis Boucault/Shutterstock)

Tucked away on a corner in Ravenswood, Fountainhead is taking the idea of the neighborhood pub to the next level. This cozy spot is a beer lovers paradise. The list of craft and artisanal brews looks like a family photo album its so packed full of options. Beyond beer, they’re also serving up a dizzying array of whiskeys from around the world, hard seltzers, wine, and canned cocktails. The food menu is packed with creative takes on classic pub fare and the ingredients are often locally sourced. The masala aubergine sandwich (crispy eggplant, tikka masala on a toasted roll with charred scallion aioli) is not to be missed. Fountainhead is also offering its rooftop guests the chance to give back to the community by donating to the “I Am Your Neighbor” campaign with Community Pantry. Reservations are available through Resy.

(Courtesy Z Bar)

The Peninsula Hotel and its rooftop lounge, Z Bar, will be reopening to the public on July 23rd and dining reservations are available from that day forward. This glitzy lounge offers sweeping views of downtown Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The cocktail menu is a sensible mix of beloved classics and house recipes with unexpected ingredients. For instance, the “officer’s quarters” is a delightful, spirit-forward gin cocktail that comes with its own mermaid and a dollop of caviar. The food menu leans towards Asian-inspired dishes including savory pork belly buns, Malaysian chicken satays, and Vietnamese spring rolls. Guests with a sense of whimsical fun can try an elevated version of the classic children’s snack “ants on a log.” Instead of peanut butter and raisins, Z Bar has anointed celery sticks with creme fraiche and caviar. 

(Courtesy Cindy's Rooftop)

Atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Cindy's is slated to reopen with adjusted hours on July 25th. The open-air, rooftop terrace has panoramic views of Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, and the gorgeous surrounding area. The beverage menu is incredibly thoughtful and specifically focuses on high-sustainability products and female vignerons. Giving back to the community is important at Cindy’s and that’s why $2 of every old fashioned or “Effective Immediately” mocktail purchase is donated to “My Block My Hood My City,” a small business relief fund benefiting Black communities. The food menu centers around refreshing flavor profiles for summer including shrimp aguachile, soft polenta with pepper jam and local chevre, and a summer berry crisp for dessert.

(Courtesy Homestead on the Roof)

This West Town spot doesn’t offer panoramic views of the surrounding area. Instead, guests are treated to the inward view of the 1,000 square-foot rooftop garden, 2 vertical hanging gardens, and a fireplace. Homestead’s rustic patio space is complemented by the homey menu that features Mexican comfort foods, especially those the chefs enjoyed as children or were inspired by their parents’ upbringing. Shrimp tostadas, Mexican street corn, skin-on pork belly, and tacos are just a few of the available options. The corn tortillas for each taco are handmade to order and stuffed with classic fillings like lime marinated chicken thighs or creative alternatives like mushroom rajas. Even the cocktail menu features produce from the rooftop garden. The “Verdant Virtue” compliments vodka with sugar snap peas and poblano peppers. Homestead will be reopening to the public on July 26th and reservations are available through Open Table.

(Courtesy Hotel Lincoln)

The J. Parker, on the 13th floor of the Hotel Lincoln, offers unobstructed views of sparkling Lake Michigan. Rooftop visitors can pair the spectacular views with cocktails to beat the heat. There are 2 frozen options (a frozen sangria or a piña colada) as well as mojitos, mules, and even a banana matcha gimlet. The food menu is abbreviated at this time, but still has a selection of finger foods including buffalo cauliflower, truffle fries, and crispy brussel sprouts. Those feeling a bit hungrier can nosh on a classic burger, the J. Parker burger with horseradish aioli and grilled onions, or sourdough grilled cheese.