4 Rooftop Bars To Ascend This Season. Raise the roof, raise a glass!
This story was republished with permission of Delta Magazine.
There’s something about a rooftop bar. Ever since the Tower of Babel, humans have been trying to get as close to the clouds as possible. Who can blame us? The views are spectacular and the thin air makes the sips of bourbon go that extra mile. Eating and imbibing on the roof is an unrestrained indulgence. It defies natural limitations the same way a screened porch mocks the plague of mosquitos on an August night in the Delta. A view from the top is something you should consider, and we know just the places.
Showstopping Sunset The Terrace at River Inn
Nestled among a canopy of oaks and cottonwoods, its panorama drifting west across the Mississippi River, resides Memphis’s hidden rooftop gem. The Terrace at the River Inn is a beautiful blend of atmosphere, scenery, food and drink. The River Inn, unlike its bigger sisters, The Peabody and The Madison, is a boutique hotel merely four stories tall in Harbor Town. Yet its size can fool you. The view is tremendous. Lazy northbound river traffic can hold your gaze and sunsets from your perch can make time stand still.
The Terrace was renovated in 2013 to include folding windows — a convertible restaurant if you will — so you can always drop in no matter the weather. Choose your vibe: flirty and energetic at the full bar, or relaxed and introspective at a table along the rail. Go for the rail.
The menu is simple, yet complete, with offerings from a classic filet or rack of lamb to smaller plates to share. Try the Mojo Shrimp, Gulf shrimp with a roasted red pepper sauce. The drink menu offers local beer, cocktails, and wine by the glass or bottle. 2012 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon, anyone? The Southern-inspired cocktail menu hits the right notes, from the ubiquitous Moscow Mule to a selection of refreshing martinis: pomegranate, French and appletini. Get there, with hungry friends, as the sun begins to slide beyond the horizon, order a Mississippi Sunset (vodka, triple sec, strawberry liquor,sweet and sour and lemon) and relax at the best little rooftop in Memphis.
– Jay Adkins
The Terrace at River Inn, 50 Harbor Town Square, Memphis
Natural Retreat Green Roof Lounge
Five floors up, atop the brand new Marriott Hotel in Oxford, is a lush rooftop bar and restaurant, the Green Roof Lounge. This is no slab of tar with some wrought iron chairs. This is a metropolitan rooftop lounge with plush seating, strung Edison bulbs, parquet wood floors, and grounded greenery reminiscent of the High Line in New York City. Green Roof Lounge is proudly curious with their running hashtag: #howdoyousunset
They’re asking because they know the answer. If the spectacular sunset panorama is the reason you go, then the menu by Chef Cameron Bryant is why you should stay. Not merely “bar food,” this is exciting and delicious cuisine. The chilled cucumber and almond soup, topped with arbol chili oil and toasted almonds, is better than any restaurant gazpacho. I absolutely loved the cheese toast, grilled bread covered in fig preserves and warm goat cheese. The pork meatballs are delicious, drizzled with smoky tomato sauce and covered in salty shavings of Grana Padano cheese.
Upon my next visit, I’m trying the Smoked Shrimp Roll and the Steamed Mussels. Their craft cocktail menu is equally adventurous. The Oxford Blues blends blueberry, bourbon, a little citrus, honey and bitters — a beautiful combination of deep bourbon and slightly acidic fruit. There’s also the Clint Eastwood, their take on an Old Fashioned with ancho chili bitters, a stellar example of the 2016’s summer of spicy cocktails. Rebel yellers will be storming the Green Roof Lounge this football season, for they can practically (almost) see Vaught Hemingway.
– John Fincher Bobo
Green Roof Lounge at the Courtyard Mariott, 305 West Jackson Avenue, Oxford
Urban Oasis The Coop
Graduate Oxford has the original rooftop bar of the Velvet Ditch, and it has quickly become a classic venue for happy hours and late nights. This elevated watering hole is an indoor/outdoor experience that’s breezy in the summer and lamp-heated in the winter. A captivating birds-eye view of the historic Oxford courthouse is bolstered by cozy couches and lantern light, and the wrap around bar shows off its prime location. If the Green Roof Lounge is a tropical hideaway, The Coop is the urban hot spot to see who’s in town for the weekend — and maybe also to make an appearance. Not to mention the sweeping panorama of The Square, this is the ultimate people watching venue. If there’s work to be done and agendas to complete, start early in the afternoon with a cup of coffee and a snack downstairs at Cabin 82 cafe. When the clock strikes five, put down the uppers and go up for some downers. The Coop has a full arsenal of drinks and an elaborate assortment of bar food. The extremely satisfying Hell Yeah Damn Right Tots (HYDR, for short) are crispy tater tots that woke up one morning and decided to be nachos. They’ve also got sliders, tacos, and even Mississippi Delta-style tamales.
Oxford folk will be storming the Green Roof Lounge and The Coop this football season. And even though Vaught Hemingway is technically out of view, the most faithful Rebel yellers will continue to look away, look away at dixie land below.
– John Fincher Bobo
The Coop at Graduate Oxford, 400 North Lamar Boulevard, Oxford
Go with the Flow 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill
Mightily beckoning an awe-inspiring bird’s eye view of The River, 10 South serves up the city’s iconic scenery with elevated (ten stories up) Southern cuisine. It’s a local lunchtime hot spot that heats back up late afternoon when signature cocktails are served with a side of citrus-hued skies and a glowing panorama. The sky was the limit for Vicksburg restaurateur and chef Jay Parmegiani when he blew the roof off the culinary scene and built out this perch downtown.
Take in the breathtaking views over a bloody and meet the Civil War history buffs and tourists at the next table. Snap their pic and peruse the small plates: fresh-made guacamole that does not disappoint, hot wings tossed in the house Coca-Cola barbecue sauce — an homage to Vicksburg’s soda fountain history — and the bright and flavorful blackened “Yazoo City” catfish tacos, dressed with sugar cane slaw and cilantro-corn salsa. Lunch at 10 South features hearty sandwiches like the Monte Cristo slathered with preserves from the local farmers’ market, soups and Southern sides, plus fried chicken and waffles and gourmet burgers. In many ways, 10 South has the feel of a backyard barbecue with the family. As Chef Kevin Roberts puts it, “it’s just casual food.” Roberts is to thank for the tasty little seasoned pretzels on the table, and although he’s keeping his recipe a secret, here’s a tip: you can take home a box, mustard included!
Approaching this rooftop restaurant’s magical hour, catch a cool breeze over margaritas with that guac or sip a tropical libation like the Mississippi Sunset. There’s also a wine list and a beer selection with Mississippi craft beers to Abita hailing just across the river in Louisiana. What to order for dinner? That’s when steaks ignite the grill, the chef’s own choice being the Makers Mark whiskey-glazed ribeye. Somebody should save room for the signature mile high peanut butter pie, and go ahead and give in and order a bucket of chocolate-covered bacon for the table. This is Mississippi Delta-style hospitality: the pace is unhurried and no one is leaving without a gracious plenty.
– Melissa Townsend
10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill, 1301 Washington Street, 10th floor, Vicksburg
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