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Orange counter high chairs next to a transparent railing overlooking the San Diego Bay.
Rooftop bar with a view at Garibaldi.
Diana Rose

13 Enticing Rooftops for Eating and Drinking in San Diego

Brunch under the sun or sip under the stars

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Rooftop bar with a view at Garibaldi.
| Diana Rose

The sun is out. You know what to do next, San Diego. Head to your nearest or dearest rooftop and let the summer partying begin.

At these elevated dining rooms and bars, the troubles of the day might feel like miles away. And the hardest question you’ll have to answer is what kind of drink would best match your brunch-with-a-view: mule, mai tai, or margarita? Some places we’ve selected for this map are swanky, some are super casual, and all bring together the best of what San Diego has to offer to its diners: sunshine, insane vistas, and fresh, seasonal dining.

Note: map points are listed north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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The Rooftop Bar

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Set above the Mission Pacific hotel in downtown Oceanside, this chill hotspot is a new hangout for coastal North County. Diners can enjoy Baja-inspired bites, craft cocktails, and bottle service, along with views of the beach and ocean beyond. What goes well with a rooftop cocktail? A rooftop dip. Non-hotel guests can access the pool with a day pass (which can be bought at ResortPass).

Umbrellas, landscaping and lounge seating at Oceanside’s Rooftop Bar.
Rooftop Bar.
Rooftop Bar

George's at the Cove

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Anniversaries, birthdays, engagements. George’s multi-level dining establishment has long been a go-to spot for celebrations. But the upstairs terrace is especially suited for impromptu cocktails with the girls or drinks with the dudes. The best time to visit the Ocean Terrace is, of course, sunset. But every other time is a close second.

A packed rooftop bar at Georges, with people in the foreground and views of the Pacific Ocean and palm trees in the distance.
Ocean Terrace at George’s.
George’s at the Cove

Catania

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Like so many places in coastal Italy, where beautiful people eating delicious food can spy the sun setting over the sea, Catania excells at merging a pristine rooftop setting with high-caliber dining. Selections from the recently updated seasonal menu: a bright crudo appetizer, with local tuna, kumquat, capers, and a spring onion citrius agromato, and a richer pasta dish: sunchoke agnolotti with roasted mushrooms, shallot sofrito, truffle oil, and pecorino.

A street facing bar of the rooftop terrace at Catania.
Catania’s So Cal views set the scene for its Southern Italy inspired dining.
Diana Rose Photography

Cannonball

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At this rooftop cocktail and sushi bar above the boardwalk, diners can choose from the traditional and the adventurous. There’s sake and creative craft cocktails. Simple nigiri and inventive rolls. Two of their cocktail offerings: the Sunny & 75, with gin, guava, elderflower and sparkling wine, and the sweetly spicy Midway Margarita. Whatever you order, rest assured it comes with an amazing ocean view.

Kairoa Brewing Company

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This peppy, two-story brewery serves housemade beers, wine cocktails, hard seltzers, and mimoas — plus an array of quality small plates, larger shareable dishes and entrees —in the heart of food forward University Heights. The terrace has a few sections (shaded, sunny, fire pits, lounge seating and more), so diners can get whatever kind of experience and vibe they’re craving. (As long as there’s space or one is willing to wait for a table. That wait, by the way, is worth it!)

The top story bar at Kairoa, with the University Heights sign in the background.  The sun is setting and dusk has settled. In the foreground, people drink cocktails.
The top story bar at Kairoa.
Kairoa Brewing Company

Starlite

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The rooftop patio and bar at this local gem has been a favorite outdoor dining spot for the entirety of its 15 years. Whether you’re pairing a cocktail with its standout burgers or a seasonal dish, Starlite offers an open-air setting that manages to still feel cozy.

Rooftop patio at Starlite bar. Starlite

Mister A's

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The 12th floor views from this legendary Bankers Hill establishment are Instagram (and postcard) worthy. Recently sold to its longtime operations director, the iconic restaurant may be getting some updates to its design and menu but the skyline views will definitely remain.

Pali Wine Co.

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This Santa Barbara winery opened its San Diego tasting room a few years ago, and the location, just a few blocks removed from the action-packed center of Little Italy, on a slightly quieter stretch of India Street, is the ideal, peaceful perch for watching planes come in. Dining and drinking options are plentiful, from their Santa Rita and Sonoma sourced wines to brunch fare (including a smoked salmon Bennie bowl and churro French toast with a spiced orange sauce). A second location is in the works for Hillcrest, this time with a broad patio rather than rooftop seating.

Kettner Exchange

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This show-stopping two-level restaurant continues to be one of Little Italy’s anchor spots, with its vast rooftop dining area and bar proving to be equally popular with the brunching crowd and nightlife seekers.

Rooftop patio at Kettner Exchange. Kettner Exchange

Born and Raised

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You could say this standard setting steakhouse has two personalities: downstairs, the main dining room is packed with glamour, whle the rooftop terrace is breezy and fun. Both ooze with Art Deco elegance from ceiling to floor.

The rooftop patio at night with columns made to look like trees with twinkling lights and a black and white striped floor. Zack Benson

Garibaldi

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This rooftop restaurant serves inventive Italian meals and classic San Diego views. In the works: A Mother’s Day brunch with options including an “Italian Momelet” (omelet with asparagus, cipollini onion, pancetta, spring pea, and mint pesto), a chestnut flour crepe, and bottomless Aperol Spritz and Prosecco. The standard menu has a variety of handmade pastas, local seafood, wild game, and herbs grown in their own sunkissed garden. 

Orange bar chairs on the balcony of Garibaldi overlooking the San Diego Bay. Diana Rose Photo

The Nolen

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Some restaurants also have a rooftop component. Not The Nolen. This place is 100 percent rooftop. What you’ll find at this towering 14th floor East Village restaurant and bar: views for miles, and food and cocktails that announce: Summer! Like the Damnit Janet, with vodka and flavors of watermelon, lychee and rose water. Happy hour is Monday to Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons.

A rooftop bar at dusk. The Nolen

This Gaslamp Quarter perch spans 5,000-square-feet of rooftop revelry, with the colorful outdoor space serving as the setting for a menu from celebrity chef Akira Back comprised of fresh seafood, from sushi to ceviche, prepared with Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and techniques.

The Rooftop Bar

Umbrellas, landscaping and lounge seating at Oceanside’s Rooftop Bar.
Rooftop Bar.
Rooftop Bar

Set above the Mission Pacific hotel in downtown Oceanside, this chill hotspot is a new hangout for coastal North County. Diners can enjoy Baja-inspired bites, craft cocktails, and bottle service, along with views of the beach and ocean beyond. What goes well with a rooftop cocktail? A rooftop dip. Non-hotel guests can access the pool with a day pass (which can be bought at ResortPass).

Umbrellas, landscaping and lounge seating at Oceanside’s Rooftop Bar.
Rooftop Bar.
Rooftop Bar

George's at the Cove

A packed rooftop bar at Georges, with people in the foreground and views of the Pacific Ocean and palm trees in the distance.
Ocean Terrace at George’s.
George’s at the Cove

Anniversaries, birthdays, engagements. George’s multi-level dining establishment has long been a go-to spot for celebrations. But the upstairs terrace is especially suited for impromptu cocktails with the girls or drinks with the dudes. The best time to visit the Ocean Terrace is, of course, sunset. But every other time is a close second.

A packed rooftop bar at Georges, with people in the foreground and views of the Pacific Ocean and palm trees in the distance.
Ocean Terrace at George’s.
George’s at the Cove

Catania

A street facing bar of the rooftop terrace at Catania.
Catania’s So Cal views set the scene for its Southern Italy inspired dining.
Diana Rose Photography

Like so many places in coastal Italy, where beautiful people eating delicious food can spy the sun setting over the sea, Catania excells at merging a pristine rooftop setting with high-caliber dining. Selections from the recently updated seasonal menu: a bright crudo appetizer, with local tuna, kumquat, capers, and a spring onion citrius agromato, and a richer pasta dish: sunchoke agnolotti with roasted mushrooms, shallot sofrito, truffle oil, and pecorino.

A street facing bar of the rooftop terrace at Catania.
Catania’s So Cal views set the scene for its Southern Italy inspired dining.
Diana Rose Photography

Cannonball

At this rooftop cocktail and sushi bar above the boardwalk, diners can choose from the traditional and the adventurous. There’s sake and creative craft cocktails. Simple nigiri and inventive rolls. Two of their cocktail offerings: the Sunny & 75, with gin, guava, elderflower and sparkling wine, and the sweetly spicy Midway Margarita. Whatever you order, rest assured it comes with an amazing ocean view.

Kairoa Brewing Company

The top story bar at Kairoa, with the University Heights sign in the background.  The sun is setting and dusk has settled. In the foreground, people drink cocktails.
The top story bar at Kairoa.
Kairoa Brewing Company

This peppy, two-story brewery serves housemade beers, wine cocktails, hard seltzers, and mimoas — plus an array of quality small plates, larger shareable dishes and entrees —in the heart of food forward University Heights. The terrace has a few sections (shaded, sunny, fire pits, lounge seating and more), so diners can get whatever kind of experience and vibe they’re craving. (As long as there’s space or one is willing to wait for a table. That wait, by the way, is worth it!)

The top story bar at Kairoa, with the University Heights sign in the background.  The sun is setting and dusk has settled. In the foreground, people drink cocktails.
The top story bar at Kairoa.
Kairoa Brewing Company

Starlite

Rooftop patio at Starlite bar. Starlite

The rooftop patio and bar at this local gem has been a favorite outdoor dining spot for the entirety of its 15 years. Whether you’re pairing a cocktail with its standout burgers or a seasonal dish, Starlite offers an open-air setting that manages to still feel cozy.

Rooftop patio at Starlite bar. Starlite

Mister A's

The 12th floor views from this legendary Bankers Hill establishment are Instagram (and postcard) worthy. Recently sold to its longtime operations director, the iconic restaurant may be getting some updates to its design and menu but the skyline views will definitely remain.

Pali Wine Co.

This Santa Barbara winery opened its San Diego tasting room a few years ago, and the location, just a few blocks removed from the action-packed center of Little Italy, on a slightly quieter stretch of India Street, is the ideal, peaceful perch for watching planes come in. Dining and drinking options are plentiful, from their Santa Rita and Sonoma sourced wines to brunch fare (including a smoked salmon Bennie bowl and churro French toast with a spiced orange sauce). A second location is in the works for Hillcrest, this time with a broad patio rather than rooftop seating.

Kettner Exchange

Rooftop patio at Kettner Exchange. Kettner Exchange

This show-stopping two-level restaurant continues to be one of Little Italy’s anchor spots, with its vast rooftop dining area and bar proving to be equally popular with the brunching crowd and nightlife seekers.

Rooftop patio at Kettner Exchange. Kettner Exchange

Born and Raised

The rooftop patio at night with columns made to look like trees with twinkling lights and a black and white striped floor. Zack Benson

You could say this standard setting steakhouse has two personalities: downstairs, the main dining room is packed with glamour, whle the rooftop terrace is breezy and fun. Both ooze with Art Deco elegance from ceiling to floor.

The rooftop patio at night with columns made to look like trees with twinkling lights and a black and white striped floor. Zack Benson

Garibaldi

Orange bar chairs on the balcony of Garibaldi overlooking the San Diego Bay. Diana Rose Photo

This rooftop restaurant serves inventive Italian meals and classic San Diego views. In the works: A Mother’s Day brunch with options including an “Italian Momelet” (omelet with asparagus, cipollini onion, pancetta, spring pea, and mint pesto), a chestnut flour crepe, and bottomless Aperol Spritz and Prosecco. The standard menu has a variety of handmade pastas, local seafood, wild game, and herbs grown in their own sunkissed garden. 

Orange bar chairs on the balcony of Garibaldi overlooking the San Diego Bay. Diana Rose Photo

The Nolen

A rooftop bar at dusk. The Nolen

Some restaurants also have a rooftop component. Not The Nolen. This place is 100 percent rooftop. What you’ll find at this towering 14th floor East Village restaurant and bar: views for miles, and food and cocktails that announce: Summer! Like the Damnit Janet, with vodka and flavors of watermelon, lychee and rose water. Happy hour is Monday to Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons.

A rooftop bar at dusk. The Nolen

Lumi

This Gaslamp Quarter perch spans 5,000-square-feet of rooftop revelry, with the colorful outdoor space serving as the setting for a menu from celebrity chef Akira Back comprised of fresh seafood, from sushi to ceviche, prepared with Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and techniques.

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