When it comes to happening happy hour spots in San Francisco, there are countless options from classic speakeasies to bustling wine bars. However, rooftop happy hours are far and few in between — thanks to Karl the Fog and the generally cooler year-round temperature, there aren’t too many rooftop bars. But when the sun does come out, as it has been for the past couple of glorious days, you can find us at one of the following places sipping Rosé and enjoying the view.
1 El Techo de Lolinda
Literally translated to mean the roof of Lolinda, El Techo is just that: a fabulous little rooftop bar on the top of the Mission’s Argentine-style steakhouse, Lolinda. El Techo specializes in Latin American street food: savory beef empanadas, grilled yellow corn with spicy crema and cotija, chorizo bread with chimichurri, and mix and match fire-grilled meat skewers. Although it’s a kitschy and cliche drink, El Techo’s creamy frothy piña colada is one of the best we’ve ever had. Pitchers of the fruity red wine sangria are ideal for a leisurely afternoon on the roof deck, which over looks the Mission and most of the city, and if you want something a little more potent, the margaritas and palomas are also available by the pitcher.
2518 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110
In the Financial District, you can’t beat the rooftop patio at Sens Restaurant. Located on the top floor of Embarcadero Center 4, Sens has a large indoor/outdoor room with a long bar and chic patio that looks out onto Embarcadero Street, the Ferry Building, the Bay Bridge and the shimmering bay. The Mediterranean-style patio is a prime spot for company functions, so if you’re planning on happy houring with a crew, call ahead to make sure that it is open. When it’s not closed for a private party, it’s one of the most fun happy hours around. The professional crowd is a mix of stylish marketing gals, tech savvy entrepreneurs, and suit-clad finance gents. A glass of Rosé is the cocktail of choice and if hunger strikes, order the single-serving of paella. With crispy saffron rice, Spanish chorizo, mussels, chicken, and prawns, it’s wildly delicious and incredibly authentic.
4 Embarcadero Center San Francisco, CA 94111
3 Dirty Habit
On the fifth floor of the Hotel Zelos is Dirty Habit, a sleek dark bar with a sexy secluded patio. There are intimate dining tables, a high bar-like communal table, and the hautest spot to see and be seen: a lounge-like area with couches and low coffee tables interspersed with glowing fires. Dirty Habit is run by chef David Bazirgan and bar manger Brian Means. The dynamic duo have created an execptional menu of upscale bar snacks and elevated cocktails. Think steamed buns with fried lamb belly, chicken wings with sweet soy sauce, and asparagus with chorizo and smoked egg. On the libation side of things, there’s barrel aged white Manhattans, daiquiris to share, and Oaxacan negronis.
12 4th Street San Francisco, CA 94103
4 Starlight Room
When the weather is sunny, but it’s not actually warm out, the Starlight Room is the ideal rooftop happy hour because it’s not actually outside. Located on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake, the Starlight Room has floor to ceiling windows and a spectacular 360-degree views of the city twinkling below. For the past 20 years, the Starlight Room has been the home to many of the city’s most illustrious bartenders. Thus, the 25-page cocktail menu features signature libations from bar stars like Tony-Abou Ganim, Marco Dionysos, and Jacques Bezuidenhout. The snacks are perfect happy hour food: frites with four dips, deviled eggs with bacon, and spicy tuna with wonton chips.
450 Powell Street San Francisco, CA 94102
Jones is a large indoor/outdoor restaurant and rooftop bar just a few blocks away from Union Square. It has a nightclub sort of vibe and is unlike any other bar in San Francisco - it feels more like a bar that would be in New York or Las Vegas in the best kind of way. On a sunny day, the wooden patio is packed with people sipping Dark and Stormys and Moscow Mules while nibbling on mac and cheese croquettes and white wine mussels. There is plenty of greenery and plants, so there is a lush living-roof quality that enhances the experience.
620 Jones Street San Francisco, CA 94102