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 most 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.
2550 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
This is a true San Diego landmark. The city is unique in that planes must fly almost through downtown to land at Lindbergh Field. And Mister A’s is perched on Banker’s Hill—which has an eye-level view of the flight path. You’re literally having a drink (or that Yukon gold gnocchi with béarnaise sauce) and looking into jumbo jets as they land, with a view of the bay and the sunset over the Point Loma hills. Go during happy hour and sit on the patio.
Top of the Hyatt
1 Market Pl, San Diego, CA 92101
As locals, we’re required by city charter to visit this 40th-floor bar and restaurant at least once a year, usually on someone’s birthday or major life event. Top of the Hayatt underwent a multimillion-dollar revamp in 2015, adding sofas and swivel chairs next to the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook San Diego Bay. It is, without a doubt, the best view of the water (and Mexico off in the horizon) in the city.
Ocean Terrace at George’s at the Cove
1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Ocean Terrace at George’s at the Cove's 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 years. Foshee holds court mostly in the fine-dining room, California Modern, but up top is the casual, al fresco Ocean Terrace where you can try his acclaimed fish taco and gander at the seals and tourists below in the Cove.
7863 Girard Ave #301, La Jolla, CA 92037
Whisknladle Hospitality is one of San Diego’s premier restaurant groups, and Catania is their southern Italian concept. While most everyone clamors for the ocean views along Prospect Street, Catania’s rooftop is unique in that it’s receded. Below, you can see the hustle and bustle of La Jolla, and in the distance the sun sets behind the historic Grand Colonial Hotel. An electric shade screen is automatically drawn at sunset every night, and everyone on the patio raises a glass.
1835 Columbia St, San Diego, CA 92101
The hottest spot in San Diego right now for food, drinks, architecture, and post-work revelry is Little Italy. And the birds-eye view of the action is the Glass Door restaurant/bar atop the Porto Vista Hotel. Little Italy is technically a hill, which slopes a handful of blocks towards the water and the world-famous sunset. And the Glass Door, decked out with an impressive number of vintage lamps, is atop that hill looking west. Get a glass of wine, some meat, some cheese, and enjoy your moment of bliss in one of the high-back chairs that line the al-fresco viewing area.
453 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
With six-foot glass railings surrounding the 14th-floor rooftop bar, The Nolen experience is like being part of the world’s greatest zoo exhibit, with cocktails. From the vantage point atop the Courtyard Marriott San Diego Gaslamp, you can see the Coronado Bridge, the bay, Petco Park, and the evolving hipsterdom of East Village while sitting 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 Pacific Coast Highway you’ve got the bay, teeming with speed boats and paddle boarders. On the other you’ve got the Belmont Park roller coaster, carnival rides and games, and the boardwalk. Cannonball is situated directly above the boardwalk, serving drinks and sushi and that million-dollar sunset.
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