I’m a sucker for a good rooftop bar. Always have been, always will be. It’s just one of those things, like an affinity for sparkles, colorful hair and sartorial choices, and leading a “bougie on a budget” lifestyle, that make me me.
Speaking of bougie on a budget, these 5 rooftop bars are the perfect picks for when you feel like emanating the same kind of vibe. Because SF definitely has a way to go when it comes to stepping up its rooftop bar game, but hey, we’re getting there.
Don’t let 620 Jones’ location in the Tenderloin/Lower Nob Hill area fool you. (cough TenderNob cough) It’s one of the OG rooftop bars in the city! Ideal for birthday dinners and get-togethers, this fun little cocktail bar and restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, with plenty of heat lamps for those chilly SF nights. The menu boasts delectable eats and a great selection of playful, seasonal cocktails.
Pro tip: Jones Bar is cash only, so come prepared.
Charmaine’s rooftop bar & lounge
A fairly recent newcomer to the rooftop lounge scene in San Francisco, Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge is my personal favorite on this list. Its popularity certainly leads to long lines on the weekends, but once you’ve nabbed a table on the cozy yet sophisticated outdoor terrace, you’ll be hard pressed not to camp out there for the night. Plus, Charmaine’s gets extra cool points for its location at the San Francisco Proper Hotel, a gloriously renovated, historic flatiron building that has been around since 1909. (And until recent years, had certainly seen better days.)
If you’ve ever been to Trick Dog in the Mission, then you may recognize the unique flavors and combinations on Charmaine’s elevated cocktail list. Makes sense, since it’s by the legendary BVHospitality (the masterminds behind Trick Dog’s seasonal cocktail offerings, as I mentioned, as well as Bon Vivants). Be sure to snap some photos of the “California cool meets Euro-luxe” decor while you’re there!
The View Lounge
Another sophisticated and elegant pick, the View Lounge at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis is an excellent choice for dates, birthday dinners, and bachelorette parties alike. Yes, I said bachelorette parties — because I’ve experienced all of the above while there, and I can’t complain about a thing.
Along with one of the most spectacular views of San Francisco ever, the View Lounge boasts an offering of beautifully presented, hand crafted cocktails; seasonal dishes; small plates; and locally sourced artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. 10/10 would recommend the charcuterie. Because honestly, they had me at #CharcuterieWithAView. (Is that a thing? Because if not, it really should be.)
El Techo de Lolinda
El Techo is another of those famed SF spots that always has a line down the block. That said, I’ll speak from many a great experience here on this one, and point out that this Mission District rooftop bar and lounge is well worth the wait.
Latin American eats, solid brunch staples, weekday happy hour specials, and margarita pitchers all make for some excellent options on El Techo’s menu, regardless of what day of the week it is. When it comes to Friday and Saturday nights, you can be sure to nosh as you start your night on “Lolinda’s roof,” then head to other bars in the area afterwards. Bar hopping in the Mission is always a good time!
Top of the Mark
Tapas, small plates, and breathtaking 360-degree city views abound at the Top of the Mark. Located at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, an excellent selection of cocktails and an upscale environment make this swanky little lounge a quiet and charming spot to grab dinner and drinks.
Just be prepared to shell out the big bucks here! At $16 a pop for drinks, Top of the Mark is definitely a place to splurge.