When you’re vacationing near the sea, you seek out restaurants that overlook the water. In the mountains, the best spot for dinner is usually atop one of the highest peaks. So, where do urban warriors go when they want to take in the city’s best view while they’re dining?
Up to the roof.
We got out our map and set out to find the best rooftop spots on every continent — all right, every inhabitable continent (sorry, Antarctica). In our search, we found places that serve panoramic views that are as delicious as the food and the cocktails. Cheers.
Every night after sundown, flickering white candles illuminate the bougainvillea, jasmine, and olive and palmyra trees scattered throughout Les Jardins de Bala, a rooftop restaurant on the fourth floor of Les Jardins de la Koutoubia hotel. A thirteenth-century riad (a traditional Moroccan home with a garden inside) in the heart of the medina, the restaurant has a spectacular view, with Koutoubia, Marrakech’s oldest mosque, on one side of the hotel and Djemaa El F’Na square, the heart of the market, on the other. The calls of the muezzin fill the skies five times a day, and on Friday nights, old men sing from nearby rooftops, sounding much like the late Punjabi musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. All of that is in addition to the Indian- and Asian-inspired menu, which features dishes like chicken tikka masala, tandoori prawns, samosas, lamb shish kebab, chicken satay, and Malaysian calamari. For more information: www.lesjardinsdelakoutoubia.com
Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, named after the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, will give diners an adrenaline rush. Perched atop the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel and with low walls, multiple platforms, and lots of stainless steel, the restaurant has an altogether avant-garde aesthetic. And with its panoramic view of the Thai capital, it’s not for those who are squeamish about heights. At night, when the sky goes dark and Vertigo comes alive, the Grand Palace, the Royal Chapel, the Chao Phraya River, the Wat Pho Temple, and the Emerald Buddha glitter below. The restaurant has a dining courtyard, a private lounge, and the Moon Bar, which serves more than a dozen kinds of champagne. Because it is a favorite of the fashionable crowd — and holds only 100 people, with no waiting room — reservations are a must. Book early or you might miss out on the foie gras sampler, the grilled sea bass with citrus salsa and cilantro, or the cardamom-scented oven-roasted rack of lamb. Who knew a former helipad could be so cool? For more information: www.banyantree.com
San Francisco, California
Some things, like a perfect martini, defy trends. During World War II, Pacific-bound servicemen gathered at San Francisco’s Top of the Mark, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco’s 19th-floor glass-walled cocktail lounge, for one last toast before shipping out. Today, the legendary Top, as it’s called, which overlooks the city’s business and shopping districts as well as San Francisco Bay, is still one of the city’s hottest nightspots. After a recently completed, Old-World-meets-contemporary $1.5 million renovation, the Top looks better than ever, with Italian wrought iron handcrafted banisters and sculptured iron chandeliers, European-style plaster walls, and lots of wood for contrast. Comfy chairs and sofas are scattered about, and there’s a raised mahogany dance floor in the center, should you feel moved to twirl. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and for three-course prix fixe dinners on the weekends, the Top’s top billing is still cocktail time, which begins when the five o’clock whistle blows. Grab a charcuterie platter or Salmon Confit with Pequillo Pepper Couscous if you’d like, but first, stop by the bar in the corner, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Lychee martini, anyone? For more information: www.intercontinentalmarkhopkins.com
Perched between Parc Amor and Parc Barranco, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the 11th-floor Observatory Restaurant at Miraflores Park Hotel offers one of the best and most serene views of the pre-Columbian city of Lima. Located in the chic Miraflores district in the westernmost portion of the city, the rooftop restaurant overlooks a sea of blue to the west, where you can watch surfers and paragliders as you sip your first morning coffee, and verdant, lush gardens to the north and south. Just beyond that greenery, the city, with its Spanish colonial architecture and ancient ruins, unfolds. Over a Peruvian breakfast of granadilla (similar to passion fruit), cherimoya (a heart-shaped fruit), tamales, smoked trout, and lomo saltado (stir-fried meat and potatoes), you can ponder the possibilities: a stroll along the beach and into the Barranco area below, which is a favorite of the area’s artists and writers; a visit to the pre-Inca mud-brick temple, Huaca Pucllana; or perhaps a little shopping along La Paz. Or, skip the excursion and head over to the Zest Spa — which is also located on the 11th floor — for an Amazon scrub. Decisions, decisions. For more information: www.miraflorespark.com
Aside from the Coliseum, Pantheon, and Sistine Chapel, there may be no better address in Rome than the famed La Terrazza dell’Eden. Above the Spanish Steps, on the sixth floor of Hotel Eden, this famed eatery allows you to take in all the beauty of the 2,763-year-old city — from Rome’s chic shopping street, Via Condotti, located directly below, and villas Borghese and Medici to the north, to the Trevi Fountain, just south. If you can peel your eyes from the scenery below, you’ll be able to admire the restaurant’s elegant, newly renovated space, featuring walls washed in dove gray with white and gold accents. Chef Adriano Cavagnini works hard to steal the spotlight with mouthwatering dishes like oven-baked sole in a crust of green olives; zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and taleggio cheeses, black olives, and cherry tomatoes; and tagliatelle with scampi, baby spinach, lemon, and cherry tomatoes. Breakfast and lunch are served here, too, but why not do as the locals do and enjoy the intoxicating romance of La Terrazza dell’Eden after the sun goes down? When in Rome, and all of that. For more information: www.starwoodhotels.com
How ’bout a view, mate? A glass wall is all that separates you from postcard-worthy scenes of the city’s biggest headliners at Café Sydney, the restaurant atop Sydney’s landmark Customs House. The azure waters of Sydney Harbour; the largest steel arch bridge in the world, Harbour Bridge; and the Jorn Utzon–designed Opera House are all prominently displayed from your sixth-floor perch. The contemporary interior space features recycled timber from demolished warehouses and area buildings that have been reincarnated as Café Sydney’s tables and floors, evoking a sense of warmth, while stark abstract photos of the Harbour Bridge add a shot of cool. That contrast is much like executive chef Matt Bates’s take on the cuisine here, which synthesizes classic and modern takes with an emphasis on what’s local — seafood, in particular. You really can’t go wrong with selections like tandoori-roasted ocean trout and crumbed crab cake with grilled prawn, cornichon, fennel, and sauce gribiche. Perhaps a crisp Australian chardonnay to help you decide? For more information: www.cafesydney.com