Suburban restaurants, bars offer dining with a view from their rooftops
First Draft's Grayslake location has quickly become one of the town's favorite hangouts since opening in 2020. The success is owed in no small part to its rooftop deck seating area, which was spearheaded by owner Tom Bystol's appreciation for the importance of a good view.
"When it comes to having a two-story building, there's no sense in just having a roof," Bystol said. "Outdoor space in this part of the country, well, it's great to have it."
Though the deck is currently 21-and-older and only open for drinks, Bystol said that it has remained a popular part of First Draft.
"With as big as this restaurant is, you're never going to fill all that space all the time. But with the outdoor space, you will fill it most of the time," Bystol said.
Bystol explained that running a rooftop space presents its own challenges, particularly with getting food to rooftop space securely, which is why it remains drinks-only during public hours.
"What I've really gotten the most use out of that space for is I've made that a private event (space)," Bystol said. "I have every Saturday and Sunday booked all the way through Oct. 15."
First Draft's rooftop space has seen parties, class reunions and even the occasional wedding, according to Bystol. He says that it's great to see patrons embrace the unique space.
"People love the space," Bystol said. "Friday and Saturday nights upstairs with the outdoors being open and with the pool table and the shuffleboard and the foosball and the darts, all the younger people seem to be coming here."
First Draft's rooftop seating is currently a seasonal addition, but Bystol hopes to change that soon with some planned additions.
"We are looking into making that a four-season room," Bystol said. "Eventually, at some point down the line, we will make that a glass enclosure out there, where the windows will go up and down. So we will be able to use that (in the winter)."
Interested in more suburban rooftop dining options? Check out what we found.
250 Center St., Grayslake, (224) 541-4445, firstdraft grayslake.net/
The self-proclaimed "premiere craft beer house in Grayslake," First Draft earns the title with 64 craft beers on tap. Regular customers should consider joining First Drafts' Beer Club for free beers and shareable appetizers. Accompanying the robust brew options is a fully fleshed-out menu of bar food standards.
Rooftop hours: Opens at 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday for cocktails only. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.
The rooftop deck at Empire Burgers + Brew in Naperville is a great place to have a drink.
- Daily Herald File Photo
Empire Burgers + Brew
48 W. Chicago Ave., Naperville, (630) 355-9000, empire burgerbar.com/
A retractable rooftop deck and a great view of downtown Naperville make the rooftop seating at Empire Burgers + Brew one of northern Illinois' best. The burgers and suds aren't too shabby either. Try the Savannah burger, which is made with feta cheese and grilled caramelized peaches. Empire also hosts a variety of live music offerings throughout the summer.
Rooftop hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Rooftop is 21 and older after 10 p.m.
The Empire burger at Empire Burgers + Brew in Naperville can be enjoyed on the rooftop deck.
- Daily Herald File Photo
RH Rooftop Restaurant
1300 22nd St., Oak Brook, (630) 572-0074, rh.com/oakbrook/restaurant
For an upscale rooftop experience, look no further than RH Rooftop, which offers a year-round restaurant and bar on the top level. The brunch and lunch menu focuses on craft items such as truffled grilled cheese, lobster roll, avocado toast, and bellinis and mimosas, while the dinner menu offers shareables, salads, entrees, sides and a variety of wines and craft beers.
Rooftop hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Rivalry Ale House
945 Main St., Antioch, (847) 603-1124, rivalryalehouse.com/
Enjoy burgers and beer with a view at Antioch's Rivalry Ale House. Its rooftop space hosts many private events, but still caters to walk-ins and also can be reserved online. For those looking to stay indoors, the Ale House features a variety of live music from 8-11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, including Tim Gleason Acoustic on Friday, July 29, and Marlon and The Shakes on Saturday, July 30. And Rivalry even hosts the occasional murder-mystery show; The Dinner Detective is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 17.
Rooftop hours: 4 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to close Sunday
RH Oak Brook, The Gallery at Oakbrook Center, features a year-round rooftop restaurant and bar.
- Daily Herald File Photo, 2021
100 N. Hale, second floor, Wheaton, (630) 682-5900, sognowheaton.com/
Sogno has long been the favored haunt for Wheatonites looking for a meal with a view. Specializing in Italian dishes, Sogno puts a modern spin on traditional items like the avocado bruschetta and meatballs e polenta. A changing menu keeps things fresh, but customers can always rely on the sizable beer and wine options.
Rooftop hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3-8 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.
311 Barrington Ave., Unit D, East Dundee, (815) 345-2676, dccobbs.net/
The second floor seating of D.C. Cobb's in East Dundee provides an excellent view of the downtown area, but your attention might be taken by the restaurant's excellent food. A burger joint at its core, D.C. Cobb's offers 20 creatively-named gourmet burger options, including The Windy City, a burger covered in Italian beef and mozzarella, or the BFM, which pays tribute to Chicago native Bill Murray with a pepper and cajun seasoning-topped sandwich.
Rooftop hours: Noon until the bar closes (normally 1 a.m.) Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Five & Dime
1026 Davis St., upstairs, Evanston, (847) 869-4343, fiveanddimeevanston.com/
According to the Five & Dime website, visitors have likened sitting on its outdoor areas to restaurants in Miami or California. Wherever its excellent food and seating options might take you, the Evanston restaurant is worth a visit. A long list of cocktails offers a good drink with a view. The pomegranate and passion fruit "Yes Please," made with pomegranate and passion fruit, citrus and Ketel One Rose Vodka for $11.95, is a particular highlight. Or consider the Phenomenal New Friend (a blend of Tito's vodka, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, aperol and citrus) or the Frose Rose Slushie (Vinho Rose spiked with Tito's and organic strawberry juice), both for $11.95.
Rooftop hours: Open daily at 11:30 a.m.
Gatto's Italian Restaurant and Bar
8801 W. 143rd St., Orland Park, (708) 349-8700, gattosrestaurant.com/locations/orland-park-il-gattos/
The newest Gatto's is located in Orland Park's Riviera Country Club. Guests can enjoy a casual dining menu on the rooftop seating area overlooking the country club's pool. Gatto's specialty is Italian cuisine first and foremost, but keep an eye out for salads, soups and seafood, too.
Rooftop hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 4-9 p.m. Sunday