If you live in Seattle, you’re much like an Eskimo. As with the Inuit people, who have approximately 50 words for snow, Seattleites are forced to develop a whole nomenclature for rain to describe all the different ways to get wet. It’s a drizzly, misty, dank, bucketing, irriguous, clammy, soggy town where you can always spot a tourist by their umbrella. Real residents know that for convenience, a good hat and a quick step is all you need to stay dry. The locals have gotten so cocky about the deluge that bombards The Emerald City, they’ve even begun opening bars atop their roofs, just so that drinkers can look out across the miles of rooftop gardens and think about sustainability while they imbibe.
We can’t help but respect this level of brazen disregard for the weather, so we’re celebrating the 14 coolest rooftop bars in Seattle to wet your whistle, your scalp, your shoes, and get an icy trickle down your back.
Location: 1501 Melrose Ave
The sodas and sangria are both made in-house and can be enjoyed sitting amongst the lush garden from whence come many of the offerings on the menu. Naturally, there’s local beer available, so you won’t be forced to drink imported swill or anything that claims to be from the rockies.
Location: 422 E Pine St
Mezcal drinks along with loads of Mexican drafts complement the wide street food menu at Oaxaca. There’s a couple of locations, both bearing the same sexy menu, but only the Capitol Hill joint will give you the topside experience. Get a fruity margarita and some enfrijoladas, then enjoy.
Location: 1415 5th Ave
Open early and late, there’s never a bad time to hit Frolik. You can cuddle up beside the fire if you just flew in from a warmer, drier climate, or burn a few calories playing shuffleboard and ping-pong. The environment is perpetually revelrous, so come correct and prepped for a rolicking good time.
Location: 2218 1st Ave
Rather than a restaurant with a bit of bar action, Tia Lou is a smashing nightclub hotspot that bears a rooftop bar and waterfall. Get sweaty and steamy inside on the dance floor, then head out to refresh and cool down under the cloudy night sky. Drinks are served inside and out, though you’ll need to get in line early, since Tia fills up with a quickness.
Hard Rock Café
Location: 116 Pike St
While it might sound like a punchline, the Hard Rock Seattle is serious business. Deep in the hubbub of downtown, there’s loads of Nirvana and Cobain swag to keep your eyes interested, and a plentiful package of smoked meat sandwiches and frosty beers from near and far for your palette. Scant blocks from the Showbox, here’s your pre-concert, pre-party stop.
Location: 615 19th Ave E
The dim sum brunch is an exotic divergence from normal omelette fare, and the ever-shifting menu gives you a fresh experience whether eating or drinking your dinner. The bartenders like to go seasonal and get creative, so expect something miles from ordinary whenever you set to sipping.
Rooftop Brewing Company
Location: 1220 W Nickerson St
Here’s another choice where you need to get the right location to experience the rooftop enjoyment. Stuck in the wonderful Queen Anne segment of the city, the view is the Fremont Cut and Salmon Bay, while the drinks are loads of wonderful IPA’s, porters, and some alternative pales that beer snobs require.
Location: 722 E Pike St
Though the endless changes that happen on Pike will probably cannibalize this wonder, it’s worth putting in your calendar to visit. Named after Ken Griffey Jr.’s famous play at home, Mariners fans will be welcomed with open taps, as will any 12th man looking for a serious sports bar. Dynamite chicken & waffles with camaraderie to spare.
Bastille Café & Bar
Location: 5307 Ballard Ave NW
This is an odd choice, as the rooftop is generally reserved for the garden that serves the café, but we count it because you can take a tour of the roof which includes a cocktail, or reserve a rooftop table to add a little romance and isolation with your meal.
Location: 425 Queen Anne Ave N
A delightful spot to kick back with a bottle of wine and soak in the evening, the rooftop patio offers a tremendous view of the Space Needle with a quaint, casual, lounge atmosphere, complete with massive umbrellas to save you from those spring showers. Though there’s no bar located on the roof, it’s a simple thing to order up a local bordeaux and turn it into one.
Location: 129 Belmont Ave E
The nautical theme is executed subtly, so you won’t feel like any badly-dressed waiters are going to pop out and scream “Arrgh!” at you with a plush parrot on their shoulder. Rich, fried foods adorn the menu, making it a respite from the sometimes gentle, holistic, natural foods common on the Seattle scene. To go with them is plenty of stout beers, basic cocktails, and shots to reinforce you.
Duke’s Chowder House
Location: 2516 Alki Ave SW
At any Duke’s location you’re going to find seafood that’s wriggling fresh, but only if you hit the Alki Ave spot will you also get a chance to look out at the city or the choppy waters. The staff will put you right at home, and the flavors are sufficiently delightful that you might forego a drink, though you’d be failing if you did. Get a Bloody Bloody Mary. It’s got vitamins, after all.
The Pink Door
Location: 1919 Post Alley
The Pink Door is a diamond hidden behind quite a bit of rough. Heading through the tacky pink door, you’ll feel your expectations plummet, until you set foot on the patio. A bottle of red to go with your pasta is about as good as it gets, until you notice the schedule of cabaret performances and weekly burlesque evenings each Sunday.
Location: Pike Place Market, 81 Pike St
True, it’s a deck rather than a rooftop, though we challenge you to find many roofs that have as spectacular a view of the hills and sea. French food with a naturalized flair, it’s settled right at the Southern end of Pike Place Market, giving you the best of Seattle within walking distance.