Talk about taking it to a higher level. While Chicago is no stranger to rooftop terraces, these latest four show there’s no limit to how high some venues are willing to go to stand above the rest. Here’s the scoop on where to go to get a taste of the great outdoors this spring and summer.
The Terrace at GreenRiver
It’s a good thing GreenRiver is attached to a Northwestern Memorial medical building because people might faint when they see the incredible views from its 18th-floor rooftop terrace that overlooks a lush downtown display in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. GreenRiver is a partnership of two New York City kingpins, Union Square Events (run by Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame) and The Best Bar in the World consulting firm. This is their first Chicago location—and it’s a stunner.
“The Terrace at GreenRiver boasts amazing lake and south-facing city views giving guests new perspectives on Chicago landmarks such as the Tribune Tower and the Willis Tower,” says Pamela Swisher, director of catering, noting there is an outdoor bar and mix of table and lounge seating for up to 100 people. A portion of the terrace is included for events that reserve the South Lobby of the attached private event space called Gallery at Green River. Food and beverage packages—with cocktails stirred up by alums of The Aviary—can be customized. The space has previously been used for business meetings, company happy hours and private dinners.
Now the all-you-can-eat fare at this modern steakhouse—known for delectable chef carvings of Moroccan chicken, hangar steak and crisp pork belly served tableside—is matched by an all-you-can-take-in view from a recently renovated rooftop. “The floor space on the deck has been redesigned to be more open and includes an added mix of comfortable lounge furniture and high-top communal tables with fun pops of bright color and pattern throughout,” says General Manager Sarah Munoz, also noting that the ever-popular cabanas and fireplace lounge areashave too been refreshed making for a temperate environment when the temperature starts to drop (the rooftop is closed for winter).
ZED451’s rooftop offers an expansive 2,500 square feet of space atop Chicago’s sprawling River North hub. It can accommodate up to 115 guests and can be reserved for private events from wedding ceremonies to corporate functions to full lunch buyouts during the week. Says Munoz, “We have the flexibility to rearrange furniture and create a custom space that works best for any group’s event.”
Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Standing out in a crowded hotel space was one of Renaissance’s objectives when revamping its marquee downtown hotel—and considering its brand-new rooftop terrace bar alone (slated to open in March), it’s mission accomplished. While most new top-deck venues are often located on the highest floor possible, Renaissance instead opted to utilize its third floor for the outdoor bar, making guests feel as if they are immersed in the heart of the city and without skyscraper obstruction.
“This allows individuals to participate in the street’s energy,” affirms General Manager Hassan el Neklawy, noting that the terrace is visible from the street and is also one of just a few directly overlooking the Chicago River. It offers a sleek, urban garden design matching the greenery with materials such as iron, glass, reclaimed wood, brick and concrete finishes. Outdoor fire pits and two VIP cloches also provide comfortable seating options for both intimate and large groups up to 160 people. An adjoining room, called Urban Blue, offers 1,200 square feet of added indoor space.
Morgan’s on Fulton
When it comes to the West Loop’s final permissible rooftop space, apparently the best was saved for last. Morgan’s on Fulton—a new multilevel event space—has the only rooftop in Chicago’s meatpacking district, and “there’s nothing like [it] currently in the city,” says owner James Geier. “We try and provide as many amenities as possible to make it as easy as possible on whoever is planning their next event with us.”
That includes a dynamic attached Penthouse assembled from locally sourced materials with a full-service bar, full surround sound system that’s built into the deck for easy plug-andplay and a wealth of specialty lighting. The open floor plan makes it a flexible space “for a cocktail gathering of 250 or intimate skyline dinners,” says Geier, noting there’s a range of fully furnished private cabanas for even more intimacy. Overall, the industrial-style building offers 16,000 square feet of space on all levels combined, which includes a studio, an art gallery space and a second-floor suite for corporate and culinary events. Since opening last fall, it’s been utilized for liquor release parties, weddings, corporate product presentations, dinners/cocktails, food-focused forums and nonprofit functions.