San Francisco’s iconic skyline has a new feature: rooftop bars. Bring a jacket and high expectations, as these spaces can be quite cozy with the right heating technology, which we’ve thoroughly detailed below. New hotels have taken the charge on developing convivial rooftop spaces with a view, but other bars and restaurants have turned it into a proper trend. Grab a drink, and maybe a blanket, and take in the spectacular views offered at these rooftop bars.
Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge
More than 100 feet above Market Street on top of the San Francisco Proper sits the excellent Charmaine’s, a bar capturing the full potential of what a rooftop lounge can be. This indoor-outdoor spot has a European terrace vibe with plenty of space, though reservations are essential. The best spot in the house is adjacent to any of the individual fire pits keeping you warm as you soak in the view of San Francisco. Cocktails come by way of BV Hospitality, best known for the award-winning Trick Dog. And while everything on executive chef Jason Fox’s menu is worthwhile, the standout meal is the bar’s Sunday paella celebration.
On the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel is KAIYŌ Rooftop, a SoMa bar blending Japanese culinary practices with Peruvian culture. Lots of plants and jungle-green decor make for a tropical vibe, and while heat lamps work hard to help with that, you’ll still want to dress for cooler weather. The wraparound shape of the bar means San Francisco is on display from every angle. And with a cocktail menu full of cleverly employed Japanese whiskies and Peruvian piscos, a repeat visit is almost guaranteed.
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Rise Over Run
The LINE SF not only brought new accommodations to San Francisco, but the rooftop bar Rise Over Run as well. On the 13th floor of this Tenderloin hotel, guests are treated to incredible views of downtown San Francisco and cocktails from bartender Dannie Louie of Mister Jiu’s fame. Fire pits and heat lamps keep the cold from seeping in while a glassy greenhouse makes for a great indoor way to experience everything this special spot has to offer, minus the weather.
Good Good Culture Club
From the team that brought Liholiho Yacht Club to San Francisco comes Good Good Culture Club, a restaurant in the Mission serving up cuisine from across Asia. Though primarily an indoor experience, the restaurant does offer limited outdoor seating on their rooftop deck, decorated with live greenery, colorful booths and essential heat lamps. While not guaranteed, the best way to snag one of these coveted seats is by requesting outdoor seating when booking a reservation. Fortunately, their playful cocktail selection can be enjoyed from anywhere in the restaurant.
Mission Bay’s newest hotel, LUMA, is already earning accolades: Tripadvisor declared it the hottest new hotel in the country. Part of its appeal is rooftop bar Cavaña, a Latin American-inspired lounge 17 floors up. It has a tropical feel, stunning views of the San Francisco skyline and a cocktail selection featuring ingredients from Central and South America. Heat lamps keep the outdoor space warm, but guests can enjoy the indoor space as well.
One of the original pioneers of San Francisco rooftop bars, El Techo remains a mainstay. Sitting atop sister restaurant Lolinda in the Mission, El Techo is a destination unto itself, with excellent cocktails, Latin American bites and a retractable roof that can adapt to the weather. The views are great, but the vibes are immaculate.
This SoMa hideaway is an extension of 25 Lusk below, a more casual counterpart that makes it a great place to unwind. The specialty cocktail menu at Rooftop 25 is in service of relaxation as well, especially the frozen drinks section. There are ample food options, including wood-fired pizzas and a selection of caviar, and plenty of seating available to make the most of spending time outside in San Francisco.
Above Fifth (San Rafael)
While not technically in San Francisco, it’s clear the restaurateurs across the Bay Area are finally catching on to the benefits of rooftop lounges — with Marin County getting one of their first. This summer, a new Marriott property in San Rafael, the AC Hotel, is opening with Above Fifth, where guests and visitors can enjoy Marin’s typically gorgeous weather. Clever cocktails go hand-in-hand with the bar’s views of nearby Mt. Tamalpais.
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