Food & Drink

The 13 Best Rooftop Brunches in Chicago

Published On 08/05/2015 Published On 08/05/2015
Courtesy of I/O

Because eating weekend breakfast indoors is just gauche, take your al fresco game to a higher level (in some cases, many levels) with a Chicago rooftop brunch. We have more than enough skyscrapers in the city, you might as well utilize them for your own screwdriver-fueled gain. These 13 rooftop restaurants will give you brunch with a view.

Courtesy of Roof @ The Wit

Roof at the Wit

River North
If you missed your chances to party Friday and Saturday and can’t get on a jet to Ibiza, Roof has you covered. Sundays here are an institution of debauchery. Expect go-go dancers on top of tables along with a fashion show or other assorted entertainment. The bottle service options exceed the ones on the food menu, but there are some sushi rolls, flatbreads, and shared bites to be had to keep you moving.

Courtesy of NoMi


River North
Around happy hour on a nice day, NoMI is typically full of hotel guests and Gold Coast socialites. But stop by on a weekend for brunch and it will feel like your own private rooftop restaurant. Splurge on the cheese and charcuterie board to share with friends, or try the Wagyu beef meatball. Even the chopped salad stands out as perfect hot weather fare, plus the place makes a mean gin martini.

Courtesy of I/O

I/O Urban Roofscape

River North
With the restaurant's grand square footage, I/O’s booths have plenty of leg room to enjoy as you tackle items like lobster Benedict, smoked salmon salad, and brioche French toast with maple syrup and caramelized bananas. There’s also nothing stopping you from ordering prime beef sliders with bacon jam once you’re a few bellinis deep.

Courtesy of Cindy's


The Loop
The newest entry to the Chicago rooftop scene, brunch at Cindy’s atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is primed to become a sought-after reservation. Communal tables are ideal for getting the gang together with a menu built for sharing. It doesn’t get much better than the view from the terrace either, as you can see Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, and sailboats throughout the harbor. It even has fire pits to keep the revelry going as it cools down.

Courtesy of Gene's

Gene's Sausage Shop

Lincoln Square
Don’t expect Benedicts and waffles at this European grocer, instead think Oktoberfest year-round. This Lincoln Square rooftop beer garden is charming and has some serious encased meat credibility. Where else are you going to get an al fresco schnitzel platter and six kinds of pierogi?

Courtesy of J Parker

The J. Parker

Lincoln Park
On weekends at The J. Parker, it can seem like the whole neighborhood gathers on the roof for copious cocktails with a spectacular view of Lincoln Park. The menu comes from Paul Virant from Perennial Virant (just downstairs) with solid offerings like roasted asparagus which pairs quite nicely with a Bloody Mary. 

Courtesy of Fig & Olive

Fig & Olive

Gold Coast
This Oak Street outpost of perennially popular Fig & Olive has an extensive brunch menu and as one of the few rooftops in the Gold Coast, you might as well be feeling the breeze from the Mediterranean when sampling Chef Reyes’ dishes. For brunch, the French omelet is tops, but the branzino is perfect any time of day.

Courtesy of Shanghai Terrace (Peninsula)

Shanghai Terrace

River North
Quietly exuding elegance from the fourth floor of the Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai Terrace is ideal for a quiet dim sum brunch on the weekend. It doesn’t take reservations, but you won’t have a problem finding a comfy lounge seat to call home for a few hours as you sample pork buns and almond lemon shrimp balls. Not bad for a spot that’s an ice skating rink the rest of the year.

Courtesy of Twisted Spoke

Twisted Spoke

Near West Side
Not a spot to bring grandma (unless she’s in a biker gang), Twisted Spoke has a laid-back rooftop vibe with some of the best Bloody Marys around. The ode to Spain, the Bloody Franco, adds sherry and chorizo with green onions and peppers to the tomatoes and vodka. You’ll need some nourishment for the marathon that is liquid-brunching here, so might we suggest the fried egg sandwich or building a burger to your exacting standards.

Courtesy of Terzo Piano

Terzo Piano

Atop the modern wing of the Art Institute you’ll find an ideal spot for a sophisticated brunch that’s exclusively on Sundays. With decidedly modern décor and views of the gardens in Millennium Park, it’s a perfect spot to sip a cava or rosé. The fare is pretty traditional, with French toast and pancakes alongside flatbreads and salads, but they're perfect al fresco summer dishes.


River North
Sure it offers three variations on the typical mimosa, but Tanta proves weekends can be much more interesting with a flight of infused piscos or the famous El Chingon made with jalapeño Tanteo tequila, Fidencio mezcal, lime, and cilantro. Brunch dishes like the lomito saltado, a beef stir-fry with fried egg, all have Chef Acurio’s Peruvian flair. And you can enjoy them all on the stunning roof terrace.

Courtesy of Parlor

Parlor Pizza Bar

West Loop
This spot is approachable, affordable, and most importantly, delicious. Grab a table on the roof, pick out a nice red like the Nebbiolo, and dig into a brunch pizza like the Burrata Be Killing Me or the Cheesus, Mary and Joseph. Brunch is served until 4pm in case you missed half the day but don’t want to miss out on the fun. 


River North
Zed recently unveiled its revamped rooftop which is much friendlier for relaxed dining and drinking. While downstairs is a much bigger operation, the roof offers an easy a la carte menu for those afraid of commitment. Get a booth along the South wall and settle in to enjoy the farm eggs with duck potatoes and béarnaise and pair it with a nice white for a perfect weekend meal on a quiet corner in River North.

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1. Roof on the Wit 201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601 (Loop)

Do you like models, bottle service, and DJs? If so, theWit's rooftop lounge is for you. More than just a glitzy bar, the 27th-floor hotspot features a retractable roof (it's open year-round, after all), a 3D video-mapping wall, and a sleek bar that turns into a runway. The food and drink menu is equally fit for a glam squad, serving up flatbreads, seafood towers, fancy craft cocktails, and punch bowls.

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2. NoMI Kitchen 800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Back in action after its renovation-induced slumber, the new NoMI's ditched white tablecloths in favor of a livelier vibe, with an open kitchen, cheese cave, and raw bar providing a view of the action, and a retooled menu featuring handmade tagliolini (ov

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3. IO Urban Roofscape 127 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

This seriously sleek rooftop spot is perfect for our 100 days of Summer. A lounge with swanky drinks and serious eats, this is the place to be when the weather's nice.

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4. The Rooftop at Gene's Sausage Shop 4750 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

This sunny roof-deck atop the Lincoln Square delicatessen pairs a rotating selection of brews with pierogi, beef-stuffed cabbage rolls and their house-made sausage creations, ranging from Polish to jalapeño bratwurst. Plus, they've got a killer brunch.

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5. J. Parker 1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

This rooftop bar atop the Hotel Lincoln features an impressive cocktail list, views of the park/lake shore/skyline, and small bites so good you'll hang around for a dangerously long time--no big deal.

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6. Fig & Olive 104 E Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611 (Gold Coast)

This perennially popular spot has an extensive brunch menu and is one of the few rooftops in the Gold Coast. Get the French omelet for brunch, and the branzino every other time of day.

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7. Twisted Spoke 501 N Ogden Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (West Town)

In case the exterior motorcycle art and bike handlebars on the front door didn't tip you off, Twisted Spoke is a biker bar. The West Town hangout is beloved by Chicagoans of all stripes thanks to a massive selection of whiskey and beer, legendary Bloody Mary menu, rooftop garden, and sinister bites like barbecue nachos and fried jalapeño poppers. Of all the things that make Twisted Spoke stand out though, it's the weekly Saturday night "Smut and Eggs," when you can order breakfast food and watch porn. Um.

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8. Terzo Piano 159 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

Located in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, Terzo Piano is Chef Tony Mantuano's greatest work of art. The food is fresh, local, organic, and sustainably produced. You can expect healthful Italian dishes like an olive oil poached salmon sandwich, clams flatbread, and a grilled beef burger.

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9. Tanta 118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60612 (River North)

Tanta celebrates Peru’s diverse culture by injecting Japanese and Spanish flare into an otherwise Peruvian street-food-centric menu. In addition to traditional street anticuchos (skewers), there's a selection of ceviche, nigiri, and causitas, or whipped potatoes fused with seafood. The restaurant's lively atmosphere -- and creative menu -- tempts you to indulge in fruity, colorful cocktails made with pisco brandy made in the wine regions of Peru.

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10. Parlor Pizza Bar 108 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Parlor flaunts a rooftop beer garden, an expansive ground-level patio, and a sweeping indoor dining space. Whet your appetite with “craziest bread” (house beer bread with garlic, shallots, Parmesan, pepperoni, mozzarella, and scallion cream), then try a “pork-Q-pie” (cherry peppers, BBQ pork, pineapple, and smoked and fresh mozz) and any of 75+ beers.

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11. ZED451 739 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

Housed in a mammoth, blonde-wooded former churrascaria, ZED's a "contemporary steakhouse" that swipes Brazil's shining achievement: tableside all-you-can-eat rotisserie.

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12. Shanghai Terrace 108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

Shanghai Terrace, located inside the Peninsula Hotel, is an upscale Chinese restaurant, meant to evoke a 1930's Shanghai supper club vibe. This spot has swanky '30's decor inside and a chic outdoor terrace with spectacular skyline views of the city and the Water Tower. On the menu, you can expect traditional Cantonese dishes along with re-vamped classics, plus wonderful specialty cocktails.

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13. Cindy's 12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

Cindy’s is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the Loop with views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, but underneath its glass dome ceiling atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel it doesn’t simply rely on its looks. Cindy’s has a host of gifted bartenders who whip up unexpected “potions” like the Alsatian Rustbelt (made with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Wolfberger Amer Fleur de Joie, lagunitas, and lime) that complement its upscale, seafood-forward menu. At brunch the egg dishes, like the cast iron-made quiche with chard, leeks, and gooey emmental, are buttery and light, and at dinner the shellfish platter and the grilled salmon with horseradish crème fraîche are both rich but pleasantly light ... but the late night fried cheese curds might be the sexiest thing on the menu.



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