4 Spectacular Rooftop Restaurants
Dining With A View
Story by H.M. Cauley
A delectable dish, a fine vintage, and attentive service are all elements that can turn a lunch or dinner into a memorable meal. Add a dash of romantic ambience, and the dining experience moves into the realm of exquisite.
In many cities, one restaurant captures that combination perfectly because of an unparalleled feature: It sits atop a hotel, an office building or a landmark where the vistas are a key amenity.
Having city lights or natural wonders at your feet may make it tough to tear away from the windows, but pay attention to your plate. The chefs at these eateries are determined to make the menu as taste-bud popping as the view.
Atlanta, Georgia: The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View
Brunch, lunch and dinner are served on the 73rd floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza, where white-linen topped tables sit by floor-to-ceiling windows or in raised, semi-circular banquettes, so, no matter the time of day, diners get a clear view of Atlanta’s landmarks. Among the sights are the Bank of America Plaza, soaring 1,023 feet above the street; the Skyview Ferris wheel; Stone Mountain and Kennesaw Mountain; and the control tower of the world’s busiest airport. But don’t miss the sights on the plates: The chef-driven, farm-to-table seasonal menu features half rack of lamb, cider-brined pork chops, duck breast, filet and more. Along with the dining level, the Sun Dial features bar and observation floors, so plan to arrive before your meal to enjoy a drink and a stroll around to see the city from a bird’s eye view.
Dallas, Texas: Five Sixty
Having a celebrity chef work his magic on the menu makes a landmark even more of an attraction than usual. In Dallas, the celeb is Wolfgang Puck, cookbook author and creative food force, who has added his name to Five Sixty, the revolving restaurant on the 50th floor of Reunion Tower, named for one of the city’s earliest settlements on the banks of the nearby Trinity River. Today, diners can watch those waters roll by and take in the lights that stretch to the horizon, the glittering cluster of downtown skyscrapers and, almost directly down, the infamous Dealey Plaza where John F. Kennedy rode into history. The sleek, circular dining space, approximately 560 feet above street level, is outfitted with plenty of wood and glass, as sleek as the menu of dishes that blend Asian and Southern cuisines: baby back ribs with black bean dust, cilantro and a tamarind glaze; Texas Wagyu brisket pot stickers; and Texas quail with a sweet chili soy sauce and rice sticks. A full sushi bar invites guests to linger over favorite seafood delicacies with a selection of Japanese beers, while the bar menu offers several small-plate versions of entrees.
St. Louis, Missouri: Kemoll’s
Kemoll’s is a name known to locals since 1927 when it opened as a small café and where it remained for 62 years. In 1990, the then fourth-generation restaurant expanded to the first-floor of Metropolitan Square, and 19 years later, grew again, this time taking up residence on the building’s 40th floor. Today, lunch and dinner are served alongside 360-degree views of the famed Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. Just as those attractions have been part of the cityscape for decades, Kemoll’s menu reflects its heritage in the dishes that have been handed down from family members. Start with carciofi fritti, sliced artichoke hearts battered, fried and served with Mrs. Kemoll’s secret dipping sauce. Savor classic lasagna with five cheeses, including a spicy cream cheese, and meat sauce or a veal cutlet sautéed in garlic butter and finished with tomato, basil, artichokes, olives and homemade bread crumbs. Traditional tiramisu shares the dessert menu with fried cheesecake, gelato, Spumoni and Italian cream cake. Earlybirds who order before 6 p.m. can catch the fall sunsets and sample a smaller menu with entrees priced at $30.
Telluride, Colorado: Alred’s Restaurant
Getting to Alred’s is as dramatic as its mountain views. Hop on Telluride’s free gondola, an eight-mile public system that lifts visitors about 1,000 feet up into the San Juan mountains. At its pinnacle, hop off and grab a seat at the bar or in the dining room of this chalet-styled venue, complete with antlered chandeliers and stone fireplaces. Join the crowds of locals who start to arrive at 5 p.m. to watch the sun go down over the snow-capped peaks while the lights of the village begin to glow below. Sip a Moscow mule with the crispy crab ravioli in a Champagne caper cream or a platter of oysters, lobster salad and shrimp. Along with a variety of seafood options, the local specialties vary by season to include Colorado short ribs, rack of lamb, bison ribeye and elk loin. Window seats are at a premium and available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and reservations are highly recommended.