Rooftop patio season is finally upon us, Atlanta, and unlike football, baseball, and basketball season -- this one won't disappoint. Folks here may call anything a rooftop if it’ll get you to spend money on an outdoor cocktail, but our guide will direct you to only the top tier of the city's elevated establishments for food, drinks, and glorious views of ATL's natural beauty. And hey, at least at these spots, the draft will be good to you.
Miami meets Mexico with cocktails and small plates above the BeltLine
Upstairs at the Parisian-styled market Bazati, Estrella serves up a Latin-American vibe that’s part Miami nightlife and part Yucatan flavors Wednesday through Sunday. The brilliant white interior, with teal floral floor tiling and woven brown chairs, provides a high-energy brightness that complements the skyline sprouting from Atlanta’s tree canopy and pedestrians strolling the Eastside BeltLine trail below. But it’s easy to let your tastebuds escape ATL for a few moments via the tamarind margarita, pisco sour, Hemingway daiquiri, and Cuba Libre, along with tapas like jicama ceviche with pineapple vinaigrette, fancy venison, or tempura-fried oyster tacos.
An elegant rooftop with comfort food and playful drinks
Midtown’s recently opened AC Hotel and Moxy Hotel share the High Note, a bar that fuses both properties via its elegant/sexy communal expanse of covered areas and open-air seating on steel patio couches. In contrast with its glamorous simplicity and convenient 14th Street location just off the interstate exit, the menu leans toward comfort food, so don’t pretend to be too elitist to enjoy a fried-chicken sandwich, Korean BBQ wings, or barbecue shrimp hushpuppies. And the drinks are similarly fun: Have yourself a tiki rum-based TKO cocktail, served in a coconut with an upside-down bottle of Underberg tucked into the ice.
Classic rooftop bars with kitchens serving seafood 'til midnight
Whether you’re ducking traffic on Howell Mill and Northside, or just enjoying the view of Atlanta’s most memorable dead people at Oakland Cemetery, these are two of the city’s premiere spots for rooftop boozing (and brunch boozing as well). The kitchens are open till midnight and serve the likes of lobster rolls, conch fritters, and crawfish boils.
A stone-walled tribute to Ireland with a deep drink menu
Whether you’re in at 7am to catch an obscure soccer match on the other side of the globe, or just lifting a pint in honor of knocking off work early, this Buckhead booze factory is a can't-miss stop thanks to a fantastic view, a deep drink menu, and waitresses who'll charmingly explain that yes, Queens Park Rangers and Rangers are two different things. Get there between 4pm and 7pm for $6 bar snacks like Harp-battered fish tacos, a $5 beer of the month, and $7 premium wines and cocktails.
Plenty of activities, daily specials, and a fire pit
Republic stands out for its daily specials ($9 burger-and-a-beer deals on Wednesdays, $0.65 wings on Mondays from 6-9pm) and special weekly events like freeroll poker and darts on Mondays until 11pm, and Dirty South Trivia on Thursdays at 7pm. Oh, and don’t forget the $15 bottle of bubbly with OJ during weekend brunch from 11am to 2pm.
Big steins and big views for fans of German brews
Drinking beer out of a stein on a beer garden roof in Downtown ATL has many benefits, starting with the buzz that results from all that German beer you’re getting in one vessel. Will you fail at pronouncing the names of many of these Reinheitsgebot-approved brews? Absolutely. Will that be OK? Absolutely.
Small plates, plenty of space and flora, and a view of Midtown
Having existed under several other names over the past few years (most recently as Rooftop 866), The Garden is open from spring to fall, serving small plates from Community Smith’s main menu. The sprawling area, with its flora, fire pit, and fantastic Midtown sightseeing, is much like Drake in 2016 -- it has a chill vibe and offers better than average Views.
All-weather rooftop bar with an infinity pool
The panoramic views of Downtown you can see from high above the W Atlanta Downtown hotel’s lobby is enough to draw crowds, but it’s the addition of amazing DJs, from locals like Ree de la Vega to Samantha Ronson, and the fact that WETBAR is ATL's only all-weather rooftop bar with a zero-edge pool -- which seems like it should be spilling out onto Ivan Allen Blvd -- gives it the ultimate cool status, particularly if you're around during summer months.
The Amazon-owned grocery store has literally raised the bar
We didn’t get Amazon HQ2, but we did get the 500th Whole Foods, which came with a rooftop area called Canopy Court. There on the faux grass you'll be entertained by giant Jenga and other games, as well as a consistent calendar of events that range from chef pop-ups and sunrise yoga to hip-hop Zumba and drag bingo. Hit 14th Street Bar for draft brews, and order yourself a pressed hot honey chicken or fried green tomato sandwich.
Serious discounts on sushi and wine and premium views of the city
The Westside has plenty of views, but O-Ku stands out with remarkably fresh sushi, which you can get for half-price on 5-7pm Mondays and Wednesdays and after 11pm on weekend nights. Plus, wine bottles are also 50% off all night on Sundays. The deck may not be the most decked-out, but when you’re standing on the weathered wood floors under the string lights and steel covering, you’ll know that they treated their rooftop like their sushi -- great taste based on simplicity.
A sprawling rooftop patio with top-tier people-watching
The inside almost completely burned up a few years ago, and that sucked. But then it came back with a rooftop patio situated right in the heart of Little 5 Points. You’re in the center of Atlanta's strangest neighborhood, with a bird's-eye view of purple and pink mohawks attached to bodies wearing matching sneakers. Not a bad place to drink local beer!
Downtown's best view, with live music on the weekends
As long as The Glenn Hotel’s centrally located roof exists, it'll remain in the top tier of ATL’s most scenic building-top bars. It’s hard to get a better view of Downtown and beyond than what’s in your frame of vision on the 11th floor. The drink menu includes three wines by the glass (pinot grigio, chardonnay, and pinot noir) and cocktails like the margarita-esque Smoked Roca, with pineapple and a paprika salt rim. It’s also a great place to catch musical performances during their recurring SkyLounge Live weekend shows.
An adults-only roof with an incredible burger
Grindhouse makes the cut because we’ve seen how awesome Grindhouse has been without a rooftop bar. Now that it has one, and has a solid list of drafts available by pint and pitcher, the burger spot’s robot-toy decorated, horror-movie-styled design will benefit from an uplifted outside area designated as a sports bar (and limited to adults only). Hopefully that means you qualify for being at least 21, and isn’t a way to pass judgment on the way you dress or the type of jokes that come to your mind and make you snort with Beavis-like laughter when you invite your nerdy friends to a place called “Grindhouse.”
Brewpub with an extensive whiskey selection
You never have to worry about getting a watery brew from a kicked keg at 5SW, since they're brewing the suds right there on site and bringing 'em up to you while you look down with empathy (or evil joy) at everybody stuck in traffic below on Howell Mill. Don't let that stop you from ordering one of their dozens of single-malt whiskeys, ryes, bourbons, and hyper-local cocktails like the “Battle of Atlanta,” which mixes sweet tea vodka, Peachtree schnapps, house-made lemonade, and Coca-Cola.
A seasonal, upscale hangout inside a ritzy steakhouse
Sitting above American Cut (go inside and take the elevator up), TRCC is a seasonally open classic cocktail bar for elegant enthusiasts of booze, with chairs shaped like cocktail strainers lining an upper deck overlooking the north side of Peachtree Road. There’s live music or a DJ most of the week, including a recurring lineup of acoustic guitar Wednesday through Saturday.
A beer garden and restaurant complete with a carnival midway
Nine Mile Station, located in a corner slightly separated from the rest of PCM’s rooftop carnival Skyline Park, is more than a beer garden -- it’s a beer garden with low-ABV draft beers, high-gravity stouts (appropriate for your location), three types of Old Fashioneds, a house shot that mixes Campari with Fernet-Branca called the Ferrari, and a cocktail called “3rd Coast Drip” that mixes gin with yellow Chartreuse, lime, mint, and more. You can also buy wine by the glass or bottle and sip enough to completely crush Skyline Park’s games and giant slide as you get back to your skeeball-loving childhood.
A Spainish-themed spot with a drinks and tapas happy hour
This upper-deck intersection of Spanish, Moroccan, and Indian flavors at the Buckhead Atlanta development welcomes you to “Gypsy Hour” every weekday at 4pm for two hours of $5 wine varietals and vintages, and tapas for $5 or less. They’ve also got a late-night menu with chorizo and manchego plates, poutine, and a fried chicken pita all beneath that huge marquee name sign. Be there on Sundays for their new brunch, and stay for Basque in the Sun Sundays through mid-October, where you’ll jam to a live flamenco guitarist, get half-priced bottles of select wine, $6 glasses of rosé, and paella cooked and served right on the patio.
Outstanding wings, BBQ, and cocktails
While you won’t see any Braves games happening just down the street anymore, this Ralph David Abernathy barbecue bar still offers some of Atlanta’s best smoked wings and supreme looks at what used to be Turner Field. The modernist, woodsy design somehow blends in with the historic vibe of the area, so you’ll feel like The Perfect Atlantan when you drink the actual cocktail, made of Crown Royal Apple, agave, Chambord, lime and cranberry juice, or the Hennessy peach tea. Hell, if it’s hot (and it will probably be), get the house special TDH made with Hendrick's gin, cucumbers, lime, and ginger beer.
A beer garden with The Spotted Trotter charcuterie
From the Hop City empire comes Barleygarden, which has brought a beer garden to the Avalon -- and therefore serious beer credibility. There’s a covered patio bar outlined by stools with butcher block seats, where you can sip top-shelf Euro brews, canned local beers, and Pulp Fiction-inspired cocktails like the Fox Force Five with rum, lime, and allspice dram, and the gin-based Vincent Vega with house-made grapefruit and fennel aperitif. If you get hungry, The Spotted Trotter provides charcuterie, sausage, and such, paired especially to your beverage.
A relaxed, storied space with Astroturf and frosé
After a bout of heavy renovations and near-demolitions, Hotel Clermont reopened last summer with a relaxed, well-manicured, Astroturf-covered rooftop space. It's got an identity all its own, with plants growing from painted oil barrels, early-to-mid-century patio furniture, and the restored, neon-red-lettered “HOTEL CLERMONT” radio tower that stood on the top floor for decades and is taller than the actual hotel -- but most importantly, it has a pristine white bar shack from which you can order frosé.
Panoramic views, heated seating, and food inspired by the beer menu
Panoramic Atlanta is what you get from New Realm's rooftop terrace. The BeltLine is its backyard, and the rooftop has heated outdoor and indoor seating for 90, food from Chef Julio Delgado (who previously ran the kitchens at The Ritz-Carlton Downtown and Château Élan Winery & Resort), and beers like Hoplandia American IPA from cofounder Mitch Steele (former Stone Brewing brewmaster).
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