DC’s 10 Best Rooftop Bars, Just in Time for Summer

There's no shortage of excellent spots throughout the city

skyline at sunset, round table on terrace

Ciel Social Club 3

By William Goodman

The Drifters said it best — “On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be, and there the world below can’t bother me.” There are truly few finer things than hitting a rooftop bar for some scenic views and even better drinks and food. Thanks to zoning ordinances, DCs rooftop scene is a little better off than some other metro areas, where buildings are tall, sure, but not obscenely so that there are really only one or two worthwhile options in town. No, DC’s best rooftop bars come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether you want to have a swanky date night with your partner or a rager with the squad, there’s no shortage of options. These, however, are our favorites. 

Jack Rose Terrace
Shauna Alexander

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Adams Morgan

Just on the edge of Adams Morgan, Jack Rose has always stood out as an option for those looking to have a more elevated night out — both literally and metaphorically. Their rooftop area is one of the few places in town where it’s generally acceptable to have a cigar alongside a delicious cocktail. The wood furnishings make it feel like you’re stepping into a swanky cocktail lounge of sorts but with plenty of fresh air. Busy without being overwhelming, consider it a place to start or end the night, as you’ll walk away feeling great about the decision. 

2007 18th ST NW

Moonraker

The Wharf

There’s no direct evidence to suggest that Moonraker, a rooftop bar located inside the Pendry Hotel on The Wharf, is tied to James Bond in any capacity outside of sharing a name. However, the space inside befits Bond’s swanky lifestyle. With staggeringly beautiful views from the full floor-to-ceiling windows, the space alone is an absolute head-turner. And the Japanese-inspired menu will leave you feeling like you’ve had an out-of-this-world experience. 

655 Water St SW #14th

Ciel Social Club

Mount Vernon Triangle

With fancy views and fancier food and cocktails, Ciel Social Club provides some of the best views in NW, thanks to its placement atop of the AC Hotel. The club often rotates different seasonal themes — in the winter, it functioned as a ritzy ski lodge, and recently, it took on a Cherry Blossom theme for spring, complete with plenty of highballs. The only thing better than the vibes is how stunning the space looks when the doors are open as the last bit of sunlight flirts and dances through the doors. 

601 K St NW

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Colada Shop

14th St.

While there are plenty of great Colada Shop locations around DC, if you’re looking for a rooftop, the T Street location just off of the main 14th Street drag is a must-visit. The rooftop area includes a lot of great seating, and because it’s open late (by cafe standards at least) on Friday and the weekends, it’s a great place to snag a snack or cocktail to kickstart an evening out. 

1405 T St NW

Hi-Lawn

Union Market

It’s hard to find good rooftops in general — ergo, this list —  let alone ones with as much space as Hi-Lawn. Considering the popularity of Union Market on the weekends, it’s a bustling area, to be sure, but the Hi-Lawn has plenty of real estate for you and a group to post up and have a night out without having to worry too much.

1309 5th St NE

Baby Shank
Baby Shank

Baby Shank

U Street

Storied U Street patrons will remember Baby Shank as the former Local 16 space and likely can recount the amount of time they spent hanging in its beloved rooftop area. The same can be said for Baby Shank, which swaps the party vibes for a French bistro without missing a bit of the energy of the old space. With tasty bites for dinner, happy hour and even brunch, there are plenty of excuses to go and see what’s what for yourself. 

1602 U St NW

Top of the Gate

Foggy Bottom

If we had to pick an absolute favorite on this list, it would most likely be Top of the Gate. Oriented at the top of the Watergate Hotel with staggeringly beautiful views of the Key Bridge and the Potamic, Top of the Gate is impressive, made even better by great drinks and light bites. It’s a can’t-miss. 

2650 Virginia Ave NW

Salazar

14th Street

What’s old is new again — the former El Centro rooftop was a fixture of any good night out on 14th Street, and while that specific taqueria doesn’t exist anymore, the roof and spirit still do, thanks to Salazar. Definitely the place to go if you’re looking for an atmosphere that’s more party than it is about taking in the views, it’s tremendously engaging all the same. 

1819 14th St NW

Rooftop Kitchen
Rooftop Kitchen

Rooftop Kitchen

Tenleytown

Michael Mina’s newest restaurant is well worth including on this list. Formerly a members only space, it’s now open to the public at large, boasting staggering views of the National Cathedral in addition to being one of the only rooftop dining options in the surrounding Tenleytown area. Patrons will find tasty pizza and plenty of drinks, including their excellent Old Fashioned. 

14 Ridge Square NW Penthouse Level

Upstairs at The Morrow

Noma

Based inside The Morrow hotel in Noma, Upstairs at The Morrow takes the cake for some of the best views of the city. The plush lounge-style couches are accented with heaters and fireplaces to make it a worthwhile destination year-round, with the food from Chef Nicholas Stefanelli playing on typical French flavors in new ways, like duck confit taquitos. The drinks are predictably tasty, too, full of bright plays on old favorites like a blood orange Marg.

222 M St NE

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