The Most Jaw-Dropping Rooftop Bars in San Francisco
Take in the Bay views at these stunning rooftop escapes.
We never thought this day would come, but slowly and surely, against all odds (and by “odds” we mean “relentless fog and bone-chilling wind”), San Francisco is becoming a rooftop town. And thanks to our love of puffy jackets and space heater technology (a technology this town really put to the test during the pandemic), the rooftop bars are no longer only for those three days a year when the sun is shining and there’s nary a marine layer in sight. Finally, we can enjoy a rooftop cocktail, which, let’s just be real: always tastes better than a non-rooftop cocktail, year-round. And that is something we highly recommend you do, specifically at these nine spots which take rooftop drinking enjoyment to amazing new heights in SF. When you're done, also check out best bars in SF if you're looking to grab a drink al fresco or not.
We’ve always been a big fan of the fresh and colorful Peruvian Nikkei cuisine featured at Cow Hollow’s Kaiyō, so you can imagine our excitement when we learned the team was opening up a rooftop bar and restaurant on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel. The spinoff has tropical vacation vibes—with vibrant colors and lush greenery and palm trees throughout. The oversized bar is a stunning centerpiece with curved arches, emerald green tiles, and hanging woven lanterns. But there’s truly not a bad seat in the house, helped out by the fact that the restaurant wraps around the building, so there are magnificent views from the Bay Bridge all the way to Sutro Tower. The food—highlights include the tiraditos, cebiches, and sushi rolls—is all meant to be shared and is designed to go with the Nikkei-inspired cocktails (go with a group so you can take advantage of the large-format options). There are plenty of heat lamps (plus more permanent and even warmer solutions en route), but you’ll still want to wear your jacket. How to enjoy: Reservations are available on Yelp.
The Sunset location of this popular pizza and pasta restaurant is by far our favorite, and it’s not just because it’s the only location with a full bar (though that’s obviously a huge draw). It’s that we can also sip those tasty cocktails (created by veteran bar director Candice Meierdirk whose drinks you’ve hopefully enjoyed at Evil Eye, Lolinda, and Macondray) on the somewhat secret rooftop deck that is perfectly designed for SF and the at times relentless Inner Sunset fog, with a black-and-white striped retractable awning, an abundance of heaters, and just the right amount of charm in the form of hanging plants and strings of twinkling lights. Oh, and did we mention it’s also the only one of the three Fiorella locations to serve weekend brunch? Because that also somehow feels very, very important.
Good Good Culture Club
The team behind Liholiho Yacht Club never fails to impress us and we’re not just saying that because their latest, more casual venture—a tropical oasis inspired by cuisines across the Asian diaspora—has a massive, colorful, and plant-filled rooftop deck with a mix of high-tops and turquoise booths, slatted awnings for shade, and plenty of heat lamps. The drinks will at least metaphorically whisk you far away—all fun and bright with names like Pink Flamingos, The Poolboy, and Point Break and “vacation” drink ingredients like coconut, pineapple, and passionfruit. (Unlike “vacation” drinks, however, these are made with the proper amount of booze, so tread carefully.)
How to enjoy: Please note: Rooftop seating is a highly popular request and is NOT guaranteed, but don’t stress if you don’t get it because the indoor space is equally as cool and even livelier. Reserve a table (again, it might be indoors) on Resy (they open consecutively 14 days prior at 10 pm) or take your chance walking in—these tips and tricks should help.
This rooftop bar is one of the most popular in SF for a few reasons. First, it’s in the Mission (atop sister restaurant Lolinda), which means there’s often sunshine even when half of the city is awash in fog. Second, there are some pretty expansive city views, meaning you can bask in the aforementioned sunshine while pointing and laughing at all of the neighborhoods soaked in by that aforementioned fog. Third, there are really delicious cocktails (a bunch of which come by the pitcher) and Latin American street food (ceviche, empanadas, fish tacos, etc.) that’s perfect for sharing, making it ideal for groups of friends (or dates, for that matter). Fourth, there’s weekend brunch and a weekday happy hour from 4 pm to 6 pm. And last but definitely not least, El Techo's rooftop has windscreens, heat lamps, and a retractable roof that comes out when necessary, so the rooftop is open rain or shine.
How to enjoy: Walk-ins only for happy hour and dinner, but you can make reservations for brunch on Yelp.
620 Jones is home to SF’s biggest rooftop bar and lounge, which means there’s a better chance you and your group will be able to snag a table. Just keep in mind that even though the outdoor area is technically on a rooftop, it’s more of a patio one-story above street level in a pretty dense part of town, so you’re not getting incredible city views, although it is beautifully landscaped with lots of hummingbirds to admire. In the days of yore, Jones was a hot spot for people looking to grab a drink after a long day at the office, which meant it could be hard to snag a table. But since most everyone works from home now, you can actually enjoy the weekday happy hour (4 pm to 6 pm) somewhat stress- and crowd-free, which is what happy hour is all about! There’s also a popular weekend brunch with pitchers of mimosas and a breakfast martini, which is a real choice, but one we enjoy making.
How to enjoy: Walk-ins only for small groups. Groups of six or more can reserve a table online. Making plans for a big group the day of? Call 415-845-2257.
To find this hidden oasis, you’ll need to walk into Hotel Zelos and take the elevator to the fifth floor. There, you’ll walk through the dark and dramatic inside dining area to the fully-heated patio, where you will choose between a table (best for a complete meal) or a cozy couch in the lounge area (ideal for drinks and snacks). Like some other rooftop spots on this list, Dirty Habit is technically on a roof but is surrounded by taller buildings, so it’s not about the views but rather about being outside beneath the (hopefully) blue sky enjoying the fresh air. The cocktail list is a mix of exotic and classic drinks with a couple of boilermaker options for when that seems like a good idea, which, lately, is often. The food menu is predominately “snackable” dishes to share, like oysters, thick-cut fries, and caviar, but there are also heartier dishes if you’re looking for a full meal. Whichever way you go, just don’t skip the chicken wings. Trust us.
If you prefer your rooftop bar to be in a Russian bathhouse, then that is very specific, but you’re also in luck. Archimedes Banya is SF’s only authentic Russian bathhouse, where you wander (with clothing or without) among pools, the cold plunge, and saunas to steam and sweat before heading off to the full-service spa where you can get scrubbed and massaged. But this isn’t about spa treatments; it’s about places you can drink on roofs, which is totally something you can also do here. This place has an outdoor rooftop lounge called Zteamer’s with views of SF, the Bay Bridge, and Mount Diablo, lots of sunshine (because: Bayview), wine, beer, and a food menu with caviar, perogies, and borsch. We should probably note that you’ll need to wear a robe at the cafe.
How to enjoy: The full price of admission is required to get in ($47 to $75 depending on how long you want to stay), so it’s probably not worth it unless you’re taking advantage of all of the services. You can walk in to enjoy the facilities, but a reservation is required for packages and services.
The only thing that feels truly “San Francisco” about Charmaine’s is the stunning city views. And we say that in a good way. Because though we love our local drinking scene, it’s hard to find a bar that’s unapologetically decadent, stylish, and sexy. And Charmaine’s, which is perched 120 feet in the sky atop The Proper Hotel, is all of that. The quirky and colorful interior bar is absolutely charming, but the Euro-meets-LA outdoor lounge with a wraparound terrace is why you’re there. The comfortable seating and copious amounts of fire pits create a “settle in and stay for a while,” vibe which is easy to do once you start sipping the tasty cocktails from the guys behind Bon Vivants and Trick Dog. Just beware: Charmaine’s is a hotel bar, and with a hotel bar comes hotel bar prices. Luckily, the sticker shock is worth it.
El Techo is usually everyone’s go-to rooftop bar, but this under-the-radar spot with sunshine and frozen drinks should not be neglected. Rooftop 25 at 25 Lusk sits 50 feet above street level and is casual and spacious with communal tables and glass windscreens, as well as heaters and string lights for when the sun drops below the horizon (it’s in SoMa, so there’s genuinely a very good chance the sun will make an appearance during the day). Show up hungry because, while the drinks are excellent and also very drinkable (you’ve been warned), the food, most of which comes out of the woodfired oven, is top-notch. Spicy passion fruit margarita, caviar and blinis, and Neapolitan-style pizza? Sounds like the perfect afternoon or evening to us.
How to enjoy: Walk-ins welcome. Reservations are only required for parties of 5-8 and can be made via Yelp.