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Kaiyō rooftop bar, San Francisco
Photograph: Courtesy KaiyōKaiyō rooftop bar, San Francisco

The best rooftop bars in San Francisco

Drinking is truly elevated by the best rooftop bars San Francisco has to offer

Written by
Lauren Sheber
&
Shoshi Parks
Contributor
Scott Snowden
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Summer's coming and the Golden City is heating up, which makes our list of the best rooftop bars in San Francisco more important than ever. We recently expanded our list to include some of our favorite Oakland spots, Oeste and Mad Oak so the next time temps hit three digits, head to one of these rooftop spots for a refreshing cocktail and an awe-inspiring vista. Of all the places where you can kick back with a drink in San Francisco (cocktail bars, breweries, speakeasieswine bars), those with the best views always come out on top. 

RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to the best bars in San Francisco

Best rooftop bars in San Francisco

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. 

Mini-olive trees are nestled under a canopy of heat lamps at this elevated outdoor bar at 25 Lusk. Rooftop25's 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. Get there early to catch a great view of the sunset from the west-facing deck.

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Charmaine's, the Proper Hotel's rooftop bar, has a city-inspired cocktail menu crafted by Josh Harris and Morgan Schtick of Trick Dog fame. In a nod to San Francisco’s petite '7x7' size (seven miles by seven miles), drinks are divvied up into seven categories, with seven Instagramable cocktails in each. The roof deck, perched 120ft 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.

The cozy, backyard-vibe of Oeste's rooftop bar elevates this neighborhood cafe to a warm-weather destination, cultivating a relaxed, all-inclusive atmosphere with tasty food and a full bar. Check out their eight-hour-long daily happy hour where beer, wine and draft cocktails like Sauza Signature mango habanero margaritas can be purchased on the cheap. Saturday and Sunday brunch on the patio includes a mix of southern (cheesy shrimp and grits) and latino (chorizo hash) dishes alongside signature drinks that will brighten your morning.

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The location of this extremely popular pizza and pasta restaurant is a big factor in drawing crowds. An impressive bar is also a contributing factor and the delicious cocktails, created by veteran bar director Candice Meierdirk, served on the tastefully designed rooftop deck, are reason enough to make plans to spend whole evenings here. There are now three locations of this awesome eatery dotted around San Francisco, but the Sunset District is our favorite—it's also the only one, currently, that serves that all-important contribution to western civilized society, brunch.

With two levels packed with picnic benches and heat lamps, Mad Oak is the mother of all rooftop bars. Laid back both day and night, weeknight and weekend, this is the perfect spot to catch a game al fresco or play one of your own (our suggestion: cornhole). The Mad Oak kitchen features up-and-coming chefs in six-month pop-ups and, behind the bar, at least two dozen craft beers are always ready to go.

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This exclusive ballpark-adjacent roof deck is 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. On chilly nights, this roof deck is downright cozy, thanks to fire pits, ample heat lamps, and stiff cocktails.

Located on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel in the SOMA district directly next door to the Giants stadium, the Kaiyo Rooftop bar offers stunning view over the San Francisco bay. The spinoff venue from Cow Hollow’s Kaiyō has a distinct tropical vacation vibe with lush greenery, palm trees and vibrant colors throughout. There really isn't a bad seat in the house here and the interior aesthetic, with the large, oversized bar, emerald green tiles, curved arches and hanging woven lanterns completes the experience.

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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 but as 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, the deck is more laid-back (you'll still want to make a reservation, though, the outdoor space usually fills up in advance.) Cocktails by bar manager Raul Ayala are inventive, incorporating tea, spices, and fresh herbs.

Jones is only on 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 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 to the surrounding murals. Happy hour runs from 5pm to 7pm, offering $5 wine and cocktails, and $3 beers.

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