Food & Drink

Celebrate Outdoor Drinking Season at Detroit's Best Rooftop Bars

Published On 05/24/2016 Published On 05/24/2016

Guys: we've made it to another outdoor drinking season! So guess what? We're rounding up some great outdoor drinking spots. For funsies and to mix it up a bit, we're focusing exclusively on rooftop patios with a bird's-eye view, of which Detroit happens to have a couple handfuls. Enjoy these next few months of pleasant Michigan weather while it lasts, and start planning your rooftop happy-hour outings.

Cheli's Chili Bar

Downtown

This is a bar for people who like sports, and for people who like sports bars, and crowds of other people who like sports. This is not a bar for everyone, especially your cranky Midtown neighbor who disparages all those evil sports-loving suburbanites who only come to town for games. This is where those suburbanites hang out when they come into town for said games, and it's right next to Comerica Park for extra convenience. The rooftop bar hangs above the park entrance for those who theoretically want to go to the game, but would rather hang out at a patio bar.

Bookies Bar & Grille | Courtesy of Flickr/Nicole Rupersburg

Bookies Bar & Grille

Downtown

Bookies offers three levels of fun and shenanigans, including a spacious rooftop bar. It isn't necessarily the best spot in Detroit for the views, but that's not why you came here. Whether you're here to catch the shuttle to Comerica Park, watch the game on the big screen, or catch a live band on the third floor, Bookies is definitely a party bar.

The Old Shillelagh | Courtesy of Nicole Rupersburg

3Fifty Terrace

Downtown

Located seven stories up on the rooftop of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, the 3Fifty Terrace's 360-degree view of Downtown overlooks Detroit landmarks like Comerica Park, the Detroit Athletic Club, and the Broderick Tower, with the stoplight-red neon Music Hall sign providing the backlight. It is a nightclub though, so, you know... nightclub stuff is goin' on.

The Old Shillelagh

Greektown

Also a party bar, the Old Shillelagh, possibly the OG of Detroit's still-standing party bars, also has a rooftop bar! It's a delightful trainwreck on St. Patrick's Day, and on any given Saturday, and Friday, and all other days when there's a home game, and most days that end in "y"...

Coors Light Sky Deck

Downtown

The Music Hall isn't the only arts & cultural center in Downtown Detroit taking advantage of its prime rooftop real estate. Not to be outdone, the Detroit Opera House has the Coors Light Sky Deck, with stunning views of the Renaissance Center, One Detroit Center, and the Shepard Fairey mural on One Campus Martius. Much more chill than 3Fifty, Sky Deck is only open to the public on select days (including the Detroit fireworks and many Tigers home games), so check the schedule before you make plans to go there.

Hockeytown Café | Flickr/Jason Helle

Hockeytown Café

Foxtown

Hockeytown Café is a lot like Cheli's Chili in that it’s not exactly a hot spot with the hip Detroit crowd. But it is popular with the sports crowds, and with a name like "Hockeytown Café," well... know your audience. There is much to recommend it as far as sports bars go -- this one is huge, clean, and not frequently overcrowded, and, per the theme of this list, also has a rooftop patio. This one overlooks Woodward Ave and the Comerica parking lot.

Motor City Brewing Works | Flickr/Ted Swedenburg (edited)

Motor City Brewing Works

Midtown

It can be hard to find a spot on the rooftop patio at Motor City Brewing Works during the warm months, but it's well worth it when you do. The vibe is super-laid-back, and it’s a great place for a few beers and a tasty pizza. You can maybe even make it a first or last stop on a Canfield walking beer tour, which is now a thing that you can totally do.

Level Two Bar & Rooftop

Greektown

There is no shortage of places to party in Greektown, but Level Two certainly stakes its claim with its two-level indoor and outdoor bars, which include a spacious, covered rooftop patio bar overlooking the action on Monroe St.

The Alley Deck | Flickr/Courtesy of Nicole Rupersburg

The Alley Deck

Midtown

Above the Garden Bowl and inside the Majestic Complex, the Alley Deck is open during events at Populux (and all day Saturdays and Sundays, plus limited hours otherwise, though if you try to go when there’s a show at Populux, you’re going to have to pay cover). It's perfect for stepping outside and enjoying a drink at the nice big bar away from the crowds.

Exodus Lounge

Greektown

Again, there's no shortage of places to party in Greektown, and the Exodus Lounge, located above the Golden Fleece Restaurant, is one of the city’s hottest nightclubs. Hit up this indoor/outdoor rooftop club for happy hour every day of the week, #TBT every Thursday night, and, of course, festival weekend after parties.

1917 American Bistro

1917 American Bistro

Avenue of Fashion

Detroit's next West Village (which is Detroit's next Corktown) is the Avenue of Fashion, and 1917 American Bistro has been holding it down in this redeveloping neighborhood since 2009, serving fine American cuisine with a European flair. The rooftop patio is a true "urban oasis," making this place a Detroit destination even if you have to drive (or bike?) all the way from *gasp* Corktown.

HopCat Detroit

Midtown

What's better than a beer bar with 130 taps? A beer bar with 130 taps AND a rooftop beer garden.

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Nicole Rupersburg is looking for invites to private parties at the M@@@@@@d!$0N this summer. Hit her up on IG @eatsdrinksandleaves because she will probably ignore all other efforts to contact her via social media, even if she’s friends with you. Actually, she’ll probably ignore you on IG too. You know what, n/m.

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1. Cheli's Chili Bar 47 E Adams Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Cheli's Chili Bar may have a slightly deceptive name -- you may want to go and have a hearty, sit-down meal, but you're more likely going to be on your feet on the rooftop, the parking lot, or in the bar, dancing to live music or cheering on the Tigers.

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2. Bookies Bar & Grille 2208 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Bookies Bar and Grille offers three levels of fun and shenanigans, including a spacious rooftop bar. On the menu, you'll find classic American fare, great daily specials, and amazing happy hour deals. Whether you're here to catch the shuttle to Comerica Park, watch the game on the big screen, or catch a live band on the third floor, Bookies is definitely a party bar.

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3. 3Fifty Terrace 350 Madison St, Detroit, MI 48226

Located seven stories up on the rooftop of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, the 3Fifty Terrace's 360-degree view of Downtown overlooks Detroit landmarks like Comerica Park, the Detroit Athletic Club, and the Broderick Tower, with the stoplight-red neon Music Hall sign providing the backlight. It is a nightclub with tons of new DJs spinning sets so you can dance the night away.

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4. The Old Shillelagh 349 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226 (Greektown)

The Old Shillelagh is an iconic Irish pub in the heart of Detroit's Greektown. It’s old, it’s dingy, but that means you're getting the authentic and time-honored pub drinking experience. Shillelagh's regularly hosts a band on its upper level; downstairs, you'll find your standard order of Guinness, Jameson, and Jager. With a St. Paddy’s Day celebration this unparalleled -- you can't ask for better!

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5. Coors Light Sky Deck 1526 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226

The Music Hall isn't the only arts & cultural center in Downtown Detroit taking advantage of its prime rooftop real estate. Not to be outdone, the Detroit Opera House has the Coors Light Sky Deck, with stunning views of the Renaissance Center, One Detroit Center, and the Shepard Fairey mural on One Campus Martius. Much more relaxed than other swanky rooftop bars, Sky Deck is only open to the public on select days (including the Detroit fireworks and many Tigers home games), so check the schedule before you make plans to go there.

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6. Hockeytown Cafe 2301 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

With its own merch store, Hockeytown Cafe pays homage to the Red Wings with tons of memorabilia, drinks, and bar snacks. And don't worry, even though there's a hockey puck on top of the building, the Tigers are shown equal respect.

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7. Motor City Brewing Works Inc 470 W Canfield St, Detroit, MI 48201 (Midtown)

Detroit's oldest microbrewery, Motor City Brewing Works, has been known as one of the best pizza spots since pretty much the day they put the pizza oven in. It's still true even today, with a lot more brewpubs and pizzas to choose from, and the Mary Did Have, inspired by the Mediterranean flavors so prominent in Metro Detroit food, is a must-have: olive oil, fresh ground lamb roasted with garlic, mint, pine nuts, feta, labneh, tomatoes, cucumber, and za'atar spice.

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8. Level Two Bar & Rooftop 535 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226 (Greektown)

There is no shortage of places to party in Greektown, but Level Two certainly stakes its claim with its two-level indoor and outdoor bars, which include a spacious, covered rooftop patio bar overlooking Monroe Street. This spot has a clubby vibe to it, complete with large screen TV's and a menu offering American fare.

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9. The Alley Deck 4120 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 (Midtown)

Above the Garden Bowl and inside the Majestic Complex, the Alley Deck is open during events at Populux (and all day Saturdays and Sundays, plus limited hours otherwise, though if you try to go when there’s a show at Populux, you’re going to have to pay cover). It's perfect for stepping outside and enjoying a drink at the nice big bar away from the crowds.

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10. Exodus 529 Monroe St, Detroit, MI 48226 (Greektown)

There's no shortage of places to party in Greektown, and the Exodus Lounge, located above the Golden Fleece Restaurant, is one of the city’s hottest nightclubs. Hit up this indoor and outdoor rooftop club for happy hour every day of the week, #TBT every Thursday night and party all night long.

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11. 1917 American Bistro 19416 Livernois Ave, Detroit, MI 48221

Detroit's next Corktown is the Avenue of Fashion, and 1917 American Bistro has been holding it down in this neighborhood since 2009, serving fine American cuisine with a European flair. The rooftop patio is a true "urban oasis," making this place a Detroit destination even if you have to drive (or bike) all the way from Corktown.

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12. HopCat Detroit 4265 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 (Midtown)

This taphouse chain does it big in Detroit, with a 1,200-square-foot space featuring 130 taps and 30 bottles, and a comfortable leather seating area that gives off a sophisticated '70s allure. If you're so inclined, take your brew to the beer garden upstairs, which is heated yearround and features locally-sourced murals and art as eye candy. Oversize is also the theme on the American menu, and you'll find it full of whoppers like the Über burger: a 10oz porter-braised beef patty topped with jalapeño-bacon mac & cheese, haystack onions, beer cheese sauce, and blue-cheese-black-pepper mayo on a jumbo English muffin.

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