Best Rooftop Bars in San Francisco
Mini-olive trees nestle under a canopy of heat lamps at this west-facing (read: sunset-viewing) deck. It's open daily from 11:30am-8pm, and the team plans to add flat screen TVs soon for game days. A playful menu offers boozy slushies (we love the Spicy Passionfruit Margarita), bottled piña coladas and wood-fired pizzas like the Pizza #2, loaded with bratwurst sausage, fennel, shaved apple and oregano.
Atop Proper Hotel, the drinks are crafted by Josh Harris and Morgan Schtick of Trick Dog fame (formerly called the Bon Vivants, now going by BVHospitality.) The bar’s city-inspired cocktail menu is a nod to San Francisco’s petite “7x7” size (7 miles by 7 miles): It's divvied up into 7 categories, with 7 Instagram-savvy cocktails in each. The roof deck, perched 120 feet over Market Street, is stylish, but the vibe is laid-back—largely due to its hoodie- and T-shirt-clad tech patrons. Bar snacks come courtesy of James Beard nominee Jason Franey, who heads up Villon, the restaurant below.
This year-old Dogwatch complex is designed for events—but not the stuffy sort. Like its neighborhood, it’s edgy, arty, and industrial. The building encompasses two art-packed floors, a full kitchen, and four bars serving wine, beer, and cocktails. But the best spot to lounge is on the sprawling, 4,655-square-foot rooftop garden, which affords 360 degree views of the Dogpatch, the Bay, and the Oakland hills beyond. Adorned with Italian porcelain tile and aglow in string lights and heat lamps, It feels like a European getaway without leaving the city.
We won’t say we weren’t excited about the June 2017 opening of Hotel Via, but the main lure of the SoMA spot is its exclusive, ballpark-adjacent roof deck. It’s only accessible if you book a room or host an event—luckily, that “event” can number as small as six people. While snagging a reservation can be pricey (starting at around $1,000 for a private cabana), its prime location and stunning views are splurge-worthy. The indoor-outdoor space offers in-the-round views of downtown, the Bay, the Bay Bridge, and the East Bay. This roof deck is downright cozy, thanks to fire pits, ample heat lamps, and stiff cocktails.
Anchor Distilling’s intimate, light strung roof terrace is one of the best kept secrets in the city. From the outside, the unassuming brick building is nondescript. Book a tasting (or a private event) to make it to the top. Check in at the front desk, climb several sets of winding stairs, bypass the giant copper stills, and will emerge onto the idyllic indoor-outdoor roof bar. The adjacent garden terrace is fragrant with edible (and drinkable) plants, including various herbs, fruit and citrus trees, rose geranium, and berries. The guided tasting includes generous pours of the hometown distillery’s six varieties of whiskey, gin, and vodka. Soak up sunset views over FiDi and the Bay.
This Latin American-inspired hotspot is one of the best-equipped rooftop bars in the city—which explains the constant crowds. Arrive before 5pm to avoid a wait; those lucky enough to snag a post-work table tend to linger. The open-air rooftop is bordered by glass walls—a welcome shield from breezes—and outfitted with sun-shading umbrellas and high-powered heat lamps. Happy hour runs from 4pm to 6pm, which includes $4 beers, $5 bar bites (go for the chili-spiced fried plantains), and $7 margaritas. Hot, sunny days call for rum, usually in the form of blended drinks like pina coladas and the Belafonte, made with aged rum, lime, pineapple, banana, cacao, and ginger.
It's only the second story, but trust us, you won’t mind. Enter through the wrought iron gates (they’re easy to miss), scale the stairs, and emerge onto an open-air terrace decked with string lights and palms. This raucous Tenderloin bar is a scene-y happy hour spot, thanks to the ample seating and—count ‘em—three bars. The perch affords views of FiDi, the Transamerica Pyramid, and the TL below. There’s an all-around arty vibe, from the glowing neon signs (“Eye Changed My Mind,” reads one; “Take It Outside” says another) to the surrounding murals. Happy hour runs from 5pm to 7pm, offering $5 glasses of wine, $5 cocktails, and $3 beers.
It may be sandwiched between a Nordstrom Rack and a Trader Joe’s, but this fifth-story hotel bar is surprisingly sexy. Tucked atop the Hotel Zelos, the spot isn’t known for views. Rather, it’s a stylish, upscale destination for craft cocktails. The landscaped terrace is outfitted with gas fireplaces and a range of indoor-outdoor seating, from bar stools to cushy leather sofas. Though the atmosphere inside is moody and rather clubby, the deck is more laid-back. (Make a reservation; the outdoor space usually fills up in advance.) Cocktails by bar manager Raul Ayala are inventive, incorporating tea, spices, and fresh herbs. Try the Formal Agreement, an earthy blend of Gentleman Jack, cognac, porcini mushroom, and oolong tea. Large groups can order large-format punch bowls ($60), while whiskey lovers work their way through the Boilermakers: whiskey and beer pairings.
This Yerba Buena standby strikes the right balance of class and comfort. The roof terrace is fit for a work lunch or a date night, serving seasonal cocktails like the Foxey Lady (Pimm’s No. 1, celery shrub, fresh lemon, and rose) and comfort food like mac and cheese and polenta fries. Located a stroll from the Jewish Museum and SFMOMA, it’s a popular warm-weather spot for a glass or two of wine—there are a dozen varieties on tap, available by the glass, 500 ml, or liter. But it’s an inviting bar even in cooler months, thanks to wind-blocking glass border and generous smattering of heat lamps.
Moscone Center may not seem like the most desirable destination for a drink, but this rooftop terrace overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens turns skeptics into regulars. The deck offers sweeping views of the downtown skyline as well as Jewish Museum Plaza and St. Patrick’s Church. (Come for the $1 oysters, stay for the view.) The lush space is decked out with flowers, succulents, and a central fountain. For groups, there are plenty of large tables—as well as pitchers of beer and sangria. The drinks incorporate ingredients like lavender and cinnamon bitters, paired with comfort food like burgers, truffle fries, and mac and cheese.