High Cuisine

A search for Minneapolis's best rooftop dining

Across the street, the glass-encased fifth-floor lounge at the Chambers looks like a spaceship landed on top of the hotel. Its wraparound balcony offers a panoramic view of the Hennepin Avenue strip: the Orpheum's bright lights, the Powerball, the hunky foursome on the side of the Saloon, a peek inside the YMCA swimming pool. Despite having the best scenery of any roof deck we'd seen, I was surprised how few people were enjoying it. Inside, too, just two couples took advantage of the dance floor.

The lounge has shortened its hours since the hotel opened a couple of years ago—it's only open Thursday through Saturday, after 9 p.m.—and the crowds have died down since the early days. Sitting at the bar, snacking on a plate of orange-infused ribs, I couldn't help but wonder what else people wanted, between the pretty surroundings and the mouthwatering snacks from Jean George's kitchen—chicken samosas, Vietnamese spring rolls—washed down, perhaps, with a pineapple mojito. I suppose that's the hazard of trendiness: The fickle crowds move on as quickly as they thronged the place. Too bad, I thought, as I popped a bite of the Ovaltine kulfi. The chocolaty caramel-like dessert, cutely topped with a piece of caramel popcorn, would remain one of the city's best-kept secrets—as the most appetizing way to spend a dollar.

After hiking up four flights of stairs, we found where the cool crowd had migrated to: the new rooftop lounge above the R. Norman and 7 Sushi complex up the street. The deck is so large that even with half of it closed for a private party, it still seemed luxuriously spacious. We parked ourselves on one of the cushy red couches, between a large group and a few canoodling couples.

Brit's Pub's lawn-bowling green? Great. Drinks? Wonderful. Food? Uh, how about that bowling green!
Jana Freiband
Brit's Pub's lawn-bowling green? Great. Drinks? Wonderful. Food? Uh, how about that bowling green!

Location Info


Joe's Garage

1610 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)


1608 Harmon Pl., Minneapolis
612.904.1163; www.joes-garage.com

1110 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
612.332.3908; www.britspub.com

900 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
612.338.0062; www.solera-restaurant.com

901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
P 612.767.6900; www.chambersminneapolis.com

700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
612.238.7770; www.rnormans.com

The staff takes service seriously, using headsets and walkie-talkies to manage the crowd as professionally as event coordinators. Except for the guy in man-sandals and a visor, whom we thought we'd ditched back at Solera, the crowd tends to dress sharp and with a little flair. While food may be ordered from the full steak and sushi menus, most people stick to snacks, like pork dumplings or onion rings. And the drink list features fancy martinis mixed with things like ginger or sake that seem far too luxurious for their plastic glassware.

As the sky grew dark, seemingly everyone around us began lighting up cigars, as if congratulating themselves for discovering the best roof deck in town. A silver fox rested a confident hand on his ladyfriend's thigh. Another woman reclined on a section of the couch, extending her legs as if it were a beach chair. They would stay as long as the staff would let them. Or until an even cooler roof deck opened up.

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