Eating/Drinking

The Laurel Room Is Chicago’s Hottest Rooftop Bar of the Season

Photo by Anjali Pinto/Courtesy of the Laurel Room

As reliably as pumpkin spice lattes in September, Chicago always gets one big, new rooftop bar each summer, one that commands endless crowds and takes over Instagram feeds. A few years ago, the trend really caught fire with Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association, and in subsequent years we’ve seen hordes flock to such spots as Noyane, Aba, and LH Rooftop. This summer, it’s all about the Laurel Room. Courtesy of one of the most acclaimed restaurant teams in Chicago, the award magnets behind Pacific Standard Time, here’s everything you need to know about this River North destination.

Photo by Anjali Pinto/Courtesy of the Laurel Room

The Space: The Laurel Room is perched eight stories directly above Pacific Standard Time in the heart of River North. A seasonal concept (meaning it only operates in the warmer months, until mid-October-ish), the bar applies a California influence in its decor and architecture, sporting lots of lush planters and industrial black beams in an airy, soaring space that captures the feel of a warm garden party—with unobstructed views of the surrounding skyline no less. Much more intimate than PST on the ground floor, there are 78 seats total divvied among sleek tables, lounge chairs, and barstools. Thanks to its covered roof, the Laurel Room operates rain or shine.

Photo by Anjali Pinto/Courtesy of the Laurel Room

The Food: Right in step with Pacific Standard Time’s food stylings, the Laurel Room features a distinctly Left Coast collection of small plates, seafood bites, and tacos. These include oysters with tomato mignonette, seafood cocktails, tempura fried rockfish tacos, fried peanuts, and kanpachi aguachile. Save room for sweets, because Americana-themed summery desserts like rainbow sherbet and bourbon-peanut drumsticks are on deck, courtesy of Natalie Saben.

Photo by Anjali Pinto/Courtesy of the Laurel Room

The Drinks: Agave is the bar star here, with most of the drink list rooted in mezcal and tequila. It ties in nicely with that SoCal ethos, both in proximity to Mexico and in terms of a quenching refreshment. Scott Stroemer designed the cocktail menu, which runs the gamut from hibiscus margaritas and cucumber-laced spritzes to agua frescas, Palomas, mezcal old-fashioneds, and boozy slushies (a yerba maté mai tai, hello!). Beyond mixed drinks, look for a tight selection of wines curated by Zach Jones, focusing on 25 options hailing from central and Southern California, Spain, and Portugal.

Photo by Anjali Pinto/Courtesy of the Laurel Room

The Deets: The Laurel Room’s hours are Monday–Thursday, 3–10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday 3–11 p.m.; and Sunday, 3–10 p.m. Guests can access the roof via the main lobby on the ground floor, and then be guided to the elevator.