You don't come to San Diego to spend time in the great indoors. The weather, as advertised, is annoyingly perfect. Ceilings and walls are mere formalities. That's why many restaurants opt for roll-up garage doors or focus the action on the roof. Here are seven of San Diego's finest rooftop restaurants and bars, perfect for impressing that special someone.
Ocean Terrace at George's at the Cove
1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
George's at the Cove Executive Chef and partner Trey Foshee is one of the best chefs in the country, and he's been headquartered at this three-level restaurant on La Jolla's famed Prospect Street for more than two decades now. Foshee holds court in the fine-dining room, California Modern, but up top is the casual, open-air Ocean Terrace, where you can try his acclaimed fish tacos and watch the seals and beachgoers below at La Jolla Cove.
535 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
There is nothing more exciting and vibrant than Fifth Avenue in downtown's Gaslamp Quarter at night, and Rustic Root puts you right above the center of all the action. Sip tasty craft cocktails and dine on rustic American cuisine under the stars on the restaurant’s buzzy open-air rooftop. The expansive deck flaunts market-type streetlights and a modern yet whimsical décor. The stylish surroundings are the perfect complement for the stylish scene on street level.
Kairoa Brewing Co.
4601 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
You can’t quite see New Zealand from the rooftop bar at Kairoa Brewing Co., nestled in the heart of University Heights. But you can definitely feel the vibe and taste the flavors of the founders’ faraway home country in Kairoa’s cuisine, which blends SoCal coastal influences with traditional New Zealand comfort food. And in its beer, too: Many of the brews are made with imported Kiwi hops. What you will see from up there is a commanding view of a classic San Diego neighborhood, complete with the signature arch of the University Heights sign. Take in that vista as you sip a Rosey Buggah blonde ale and savor a plate of Chicken Confit Panang Curry – or, for Sunday brunch, a slab of Earl Grey Toad Toast. (Not to worry: The dish is 100% amphibian-free.)
7863 Girard Ave #301, La Jolla, CA 92037
Whisknladle Hospitality is one of San Diego's premier restaurant groups, and Catania is their Coastal Italian concept. While everyone clamors for the ocean views along Prospect Street, Catania's rooftop is unique in that it's receded. Below, you can see shoppers strolling the streets of La Jolla, and the sun sets behind the historic Grande Colonial Hotel in the distance. An electric shade screen is automatically drawn at sunset every night, and everyone on the patio raises a glass.
Born & Raised
1909 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
From the moment you pass through the front door at Born & Raised and witness its glitzy décor and tuxedoed staff, you suspect the place is something special. But when you walk upstairs to the rooftop patio, with its jaw-dropping views of Little Italy, those suspicions are quickly confirmed. This spacious, modern restaurant in the heart of San Diego's dynamic dining neighborhood is the place to go for high-end steaks, classic cocktails and special occasions.
453 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
With its 6-foot glass railings surrounding the 14th-floor rooftop bar, the experience at The Nolen is like being part of the world's greatest zoo exhibit, only with cocktails. From the vantage point atop the Courtyard San Diego Gaslamp/Convention Center, you can see the dramatic San Diego-Coronado Bridge, San Diego Bay, Petco Park and the evolving hipsterdom of downtown's East Village, while relaxing around fire pits and drinking barrel-aged and beer-based cocktails. Enter through a "secret" elevator that goes directly to the bar.
3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109
Mission Beach is the heart and soul of San Diego's beach culture. On one side of Mission Boulevard, the main drag, you’ve got Mission Bay, teeming with kayakers, jet skiers and paddleboarders. On the other, you’ve got Belmont Park, with its historic roller coaster, carnival rides and games, and the beach’s popular boardwalk. Cannonball is situated directly above the boardwalk, serving drinks and sushi and that million-dollar sunset.
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