San Francisco's Top 10 Views To Go With A Cocktail

Leith Mahoney-Maver

There is no denying San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Whether it’s the slopping Victorian houses or bay views, city-goers are treated to visual imagery unlike any other. To really capture the breathtaking views, there is no better way than to visit one of these 10 bars below, and enjoy them with a drink in your hand.

Top of the Mark’s view from the top

Top of the Mark

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Hotel Restaurant, American

A jewel perched atop one of the most renowned urban hills in the world, Top of the Mark is the quintessential cocktail lounge with a view, complete with live piano music. Claiming the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the bar boasts sweeping views of the city. Take a cable car ride up California Street to the lounge early in the evening (doors open at 4:30) to secure a prime seat for sunset watching before the crowd rushes in for happy hour.

$$ – Expect a classic Top of the Mark martini to set you back $14, and a Kobe beef slider plate will be $27.

The View Lounge

Cocktail Bar, Bar, American

Waterbar’s heated patio is perfect for people watching
© Brady Coy/Flickr
The recently renovated View Lounge on the top floor of the Marriott Marquis is a slightly lower-priced alternative to Top of the Mark’s signature extravagance. Majestic vistas of the East Bay on one side and the SF skyline on the other are what give The View its name. Even without the gigantic arched windows looking down on the rest of the city 39 floors below, this trendy lounge would still be popular for a delicious–and strong–cocktail menu that’s sure to please even the pickiest of alcohol connoisseurs.

$ – The View’s young, sophisticated atmosphere calls for a trendy yet sophisticated cocktail, like the $15 Moscone Mule, and a mezze plate to share with friends for $9.


Restaurant, Cocktail Bar, Seafood, Contemporary, American

Waterbar is a favorite among San Francisco locals and tourists alike. Nearly every table in the restaurant provides a $5 million view of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island, all for the low price of a $13 rum punch and some oysters on the half shell. Enjoy the heated patio or hunker-down next to the fish tanks indoors for an equally spectacular view. Take advantage of the Waterbar’s leisurely oyster happy hour every Monday-Friday from 11:30-5:30. At $1 per oyster, you can afford to laugh mockingly at everyone stuck at work in the Embarcadero Center towers behind you.

$$ – Signature cocktails start at $9, and if you miss the happy hour, expect to spend $35 on an oyster platter.


Bar, Bistro, Restaurant, Seafood, American

This San Francisco landmark restaurant occupies the lower floor of the Cliff House, nestled within the jagged cliffs of the Pacific coastline. It’s clear as soon as you take your seat next to the floor-to-ceiling windows that Sutro’s staff has been trained to make you feel like a celebrated guest at their restaurant. Yes, Sutro’s is a magnet for tourists, but it’s also a San Francisco landmark with a finely-tuned menu. If you’re not up for the four-star dining experience, the bistro upstairs offers a more casual menu and Giants games on their bar TV.

$$ – The gin and chartreuse Last Word martini for $10.50 would make a nice primer for your Dungeness crab and artichoke ravioli dish for $31. Sutro’s also offers a $55 brunch with unlimited champagne on Sundays.

El Techo de Lolinda

Bar, Restaurant, Steakhouse

Hidden on a street of Mission hotspots is an elevator ride to a view locals like to keep to themselves: El Techo de Lolinda. This casual tapas bar has a rooftop view overlooking the towers and construction cranes of SoMa that will inspire some major real estate envy. Grab a group of friends and enjoy some carne asada and a pitcher of margaritas under the inviting warmth of El Techo’s heat lamps. Or, for the brunch set, try the Bloody Maria: El Techo’s signature take on a brunch staple.

$ – Margaritas start at $13, but savvy drinkers will order a pitcher for $45. An egg benedict brunch will set you back $13.

Seal Rock Inn Restaurant


Forbes Island’s prime spot overlooking Alcatraz and the wharves of SF
© Aaron Anderer/Flickr
If you’re looking for some simple down-home American pancakes and eggs to go with your ocean air and morning mimosa, look no farther west than the Seal Rock Inn Restaurant. Traditional omelets and a humble, no-frills Bloody Mary are served overlooking what Hunter S. Thompson called ‘the western edge of America’. Just be sure to plan on getting your drinking started early: Seal Rock Inn Restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch only.

$ – Seal Rock Inn’s crab and avocado salad is a steal at $10.25, and will pair splendidly with that $5.50 brunch mimosa.

Forbes Island Restaurant

Restaurant, American

Those wanting to stretch their sea legs and go on a nautical adventure should make a reservation at Forbes Island Restaurant. This restaurant is as much a conversation piece as it is a romantic gem in San Francisco’s kitsch-saturated Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood. A ferry picks diners up for the harrowing two-minute ferry ride to the nautical-themed restaurant with complimentary island tour. After enjoying some lamb lollipops and chocolate mousse by the fireplace in the underwater dining area, be sure to take a tour of the lighthouse above sea level. From there you can gaze upon the beauty of Telegraph Hill while the barks sea lions on Pier 39 beckon you back to the mainland.

$$ – A romantic night out on the island calls for a glass or two of $10 sparkling wine. The prix-fixe, four-course menu is $75 per person.

Mission Rock Resort

Restaurant, American, Seafood, Gluten-free

Mission Rock Resort is a popular spot among Potrero Hill residents. With ample seating and a casual gastropub vibe, Mission Rock is a great place to enjoy oyster happy hour and a Bloody Mary laced with bacon. On warm days, take advantage of the deck seating overlooking some behemoth industrial ships taking a break between transatlantic voyages.

$ – Penne puttanesca will set you back $24, and the bacon Bloody Mary will set you back $15.

Greens Restaurant

Restaurant, Bar, European, Vegan, Vegetarian

Shout-out to vegetarians: this one is for you. Don’t worry, your meat-loving friends are going to love this place too. The lack of full bar at this culinary gem is more than made up for by its flourless chocolate cake and front-row seats overlooking the yacht harbor and Golden Gate Bridge. Book a table at sunset and order up a bottle of La Rue Pinot Noir, because you’re going to want to be here for a while. Then enjoy the zen of the locally sourced, organic masterpiece on your plate.

$$ – A glass of prosecco starts at $9, and the butternut squash and sweet potato gratin is $26. A Saturday prix-fixe, four-course menu is an affordable haute-cuisine way to celebrate a special occasion at $58/person.

The Trident

Restaurant, Seafood

For those wanting a view of San Francisco from the outside looking in, a trek across the Golden Gate to Sausalito offers the perfect solution. Aside from stunning views of a quaint Sausalito hillside and the city skyline across the bay, Trident‘s décor is also a sight to behold. The restaurant is an unapologetic mix of under-the-sea adventure meets early 1970s retro. The deck seating on a sunny day is the perfect setting for a hearty cioppino and a habanero-infused Paloma del Fuego cocktail. Far out, man.

$ – A Trident cioppino feast will run $36, and a Paloma de Fuego is $13.
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