Best rooftop bars in San Francisco
This Dogpatch complex is designed for events—but not the stuffy sort; like its neighborhood, The Pearl is 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 Bay, and the Oakland hills beyond. Adorned with Italian porcelain tile and glowing with string lights and heat lamps, this spot feels like a European getaway without leaving the city.
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, bypassing the giant copper stills, and emerge onto the idyllic indoor-outdoor patio. 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.
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.
The cozy, backyard-vibe of Oeste's rooftop bar elevates this neighborhood cafe to a warm-weather destination. But don't expecting a "scene;" Oeste cultivates 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.
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.
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 (7 miles by 7 miles), drinks are divvied up into 7 categories, with 7 Instagramable 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.
the drinks are crafted by Josh Harris and Morgan Schtick of Trick Dog fame (formerly called the Bon Vivants, now going by BVHospitality.)
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.
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—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 wine and cocktails, and $3 beers.
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 lush space is decked out with flowers, succulents, and a central fountain and offers sweeping views of the downtown skyline, as well as Jewish Museum Plaza and St. Patrick’s Church. For groups, there are plenty of large tables—as well as pitchers of beer and sangria. Drinks incorporate ingredients like lavender and cinnamon bitters and pair well with comfort food like burgers, truffle fries, and mac and cheese. Come for the $1 oysters, stay for the view.
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.
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 and rather clubby, 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. 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 can work their way through the Boilermakers: whiskey and beer pairings.
If the downstairs area of the new Virgin Hotel's Commons Club is any indication, their upcoming rooftop section, opening in March 2019, is going to be impressive;impressive enough to make our list of the city's best rooftop bars sight-unseen. Along with excellent views of downtown and beyond, the bar will be serving up classy cocktails and a menu of California fare with an international angle including oysters with finger lime, corriander and horseradish and caviar bites with brioche, cauliflower and Meyer lemon.