14 Must-Visit Rooftop Restaurants & Bars in San Diego

From poolside restaurants to Downtown lounges, these are the city's best sky-high perches
May 22, 2017
by Darlene Horn

When it comes to enjoying San Diego's awesome year-round weather, there's the beach, of course. But rooftop restaurants and bars have a one-up on the sandy shores: the amazing views — a few even by the ocean — along with top-notch food and drink options. Next time you want to take a break from the beach, here are the 14 hottest rooftop restaurants and bars to check out in San Diego.

The Poolhouse 
Head to the Pendry Hotel Downtown for the city's newest rooftop lounge. During the day the third-floor space is reserved for hotel guests, but from 5–9 PM the general public is invited to the hotel's daily rooftop social, with specials on drinks and light bites.

Must-order: $1 oysters, available at the 5–6 PM happy hour
Insider tip: Come for Pool House Sundays starting May 21, and mingle on the roof starting at 1 PM weekly. 

550 J St.; 619-738-7030

Upper East Bar
This fourth-floor rooftop in East Village was previously known as JSix Lounge and it's been revamped with new beach-luxe furnishings for its new incarnation. Cocktails and menu offerings were also updated with refreshing creations by executive chef Anthony Sinsay. Aside from the name change, it still offers sweeping views of Petco Park and surrounding buildings. 

Must-order: Crab and avocado toast
Insider tip: Every Monday, the bar will host “Veuve Around the Clock” featuring a chilled glass of Veuve Clicquot for $5 at 5 PM, $6 at 6 PM, $7 at 7 PM and $8 at 8 PM.

616 J St.; 619-531-8744

The Nolen
Along with impressive views of the downtown San Diego skyline, this 14-floor rooftop bar and lounge excels in handcrafted cocktails. Consistently ranked among the hottest bars in San Diego, it recently began serving Sunday brunch with a build-your-own mimosa setup and specialty cocktails.

Must-order: Chile-glazed meatballs
Insider tip: Happy hour is offered daily from 4–6 PM, featuring $6 cocktails and bites.

453 6th Ave.; 619-796-6536

Rustic Root
You'll get prime people-watching on the ground floor of this Gaslamp restaurant, but head to the second floor for an elevated view. It's luxuriously appointed with couches and tables spread throughout, plus a dedicated rooftop menu specializing in seasonal American fare.

Must-order: Ahi poke tacos
Insider tip: On the rare rainy day, the covered rooftop patio offers $2 discounts on the restaurant’s popular mac ’n’ cheese.

535 Fifth Ave.; 619-232-1747

Kettner Exchange
The most impressive feature of this two-story Little Italy hub is the rooftop patio bar. Curtained cabanas — each with its own flat-screen TV and wet bar — make it ideal for private parties, but if you’re looking to mingle, head to the dedicated bar and grab a seat by the counter or at one of the many tables.

Must-order: Bigeye tuna “pizza” topped with red onions, ponzu, shiso and truffle oil
Insider tip: Visit neighboring Devil’s Dozen Donuts for executive chef Brad Redzikowski’s take on the fried pastry.

2001 Kettner Blvd.; 619-255-2001

Just when you thought a trip to the beach couldn’t get any better, Cannonball ups the ante with a second-floor dining room open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant, which sits atop the Draft bar and grill, specializes in Asian-inspired dishes with a uniquely Baja spin. If you're dining during the day, bring sunscreen and a pair of shades for unobstructed views of the Mission Beach boardwalk and the Pacific Ocean.

Must-order: Steamed mussels
Insider tip: If you don’t feel like a full-fledged meal, try the adjoining bar and fireside lounge, which has a smaller but similar menu.

3105 Ocean Front Walk; 858-228-9304

This addition to Whisknladle Hospitality Group boasts amazing views of downtown La Jolla from the top of La Plaza center. With a choice of indoor or outdoor seating, the latter is a hands-down winner, allowing diners to enjoy lazy afternoon lunches and leisurely dinners while taking in the sights. Named after the coastal Italian city in Sicily, the restaurant focuses on authentic food from the area, while highlighting seasonal ingredients.

Must-order: Halibut crudo
Insider tip: Visit the restaurant on Mondays for Meatball Madness and a rotating assortment of traditional Italian dishes like chicken Marsala, eggplant Parmesan and, of course, spaghetti and meatballs.

7863 Girard Ave., Suite 301, La Jolla; 858-551-5105

Hello Betty Fish House
This Oceanside restaurant at the edge of San Diego County specializes in beach-worthy fare like seafood boils, shrimp cocktails and steamed clams. Once dinner is over, head to the rooftop lounge for views of Oceanside Pier and the Pacific Ocean while sipping on a selection of cocktails and beers on draft.

Must-order: Fried oyster tacos
Insider tip: Access the roof via the stairwell located near the dune buggy.

211 Mission Ave., Oceanside; 760-722-1008

Bertrand at Mister A’s
While casual diners may consider this iconic Hillcrest a bit too fussy with its strict dress code, the rooftop restaurant is worth a splurge for the view alone. If the panoramic vistas of Downtown, Midtown and Hillcrest won't convince you to visit often, perhaps the cocktail-hour specials, available 2:30–6 PM Monday through Thursday, will.

Must-order: Salted caramel chocolate bar
Insider tip: The dress code — no short shorts, beachwear, gym clothes, baseball caps and flip-flops — is strictly enforced.

2550 Fifth Ave. #406; 619-239-1377

This open-air rooftop attached to the Marriott Hotel is 22 stories closer to the clouds and offers an unfiltered bird's-eye view into Petco Park. During Padres home games, it's filled with fans hoping to catch a glimpse, but on any other night, it's all after-work crowds and tourists enjoying the skyline.

Must-order: Potato "nachos"
Insider tip: The lounge is open daily from 5–2 PM and all-day Sunday.

660 K St.; 619-696-0234

The Roof Top By STK
Perched on the seventh floor of the Andaz Hotel, this sky-high restaurant specializing in New American dishes with a Southern California spin offers views of Downtown. Arrive as early as 6:30 AM for weekend brunch and 11:30 AM on the weekday for an all-day dining menu. 

Must-order: Ricotta gnocchi with foraged mushrooms, sugo and Parmesan 
Insider tip: The "upscale casual" dress code is strictly enforced on the weekends.

600 F St.; 619-849-1234

The Rooftop at Renaissance San Diego
Jutting out from the second floor of Little Italy's Renaissance San Diego is this relaxed bar filled with long couches, curtained-off private seating areas and an eye-catching fire pit with a sculpture of stacked chairs tucked in the center. Much of the view includes buildings adjacent to the hotel, plus bits of the harbor, best taken in with a spread of light bites and drink in hand.

Must-order: The weekly chef's special like ahi tuna sliders
Insider tip: Call ahead to reserve a private cabana.

421 W. B St.; 619-398-3100

Level 4 Pool Deck and Lounge
Free access to the Hotel Palomar’s fourth floor reveals a shimmering pool as the centerpiece with a bar on the side. While taller surrounding buildings make up most of the view, peer over the ledge for a glimpse of the street below. While the pool is open year-round to guests and those looking to do a little sunbathing, the rooftop bar is seasonal and reopens in June until the end of summer.

Must-order: Tacos and other authentic Baja dishes at Curadero downstairs ​
Insider tip: Is that music you’re hearing? The rooftop lounge is next to the House of Blues.

1047 Fifth Ave.; 619-515-3000

Float Rooftop Bar
Hard Rock Hotel’s hip fourth-floor oasis boasts a huge space complete with a pool, fire pits and a bar. Whether you're relaxing in the water or lounging on a couch, the space offers unobstructed views of the surrounding Gaslamp area and convention center across the way. In the evening, the deck transforms into a nightclub scene with a $20 cover change for the 21-and-up crowd.

Must-order: Raspberry mojito
Insider tip: Admission to the bar's weekly pool party is free to hotel guests.

207 Fifth Ave.; 619-764-6924

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