Al Fresco Dining – The 8 Best Patios and Rooftops to Dine in San Diego

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Summer means we get to enjoy sunny days and warmer evenings while taking advantage of the city’s best al fresco dining destinations. Enjoy happy hour on a gorgeous outdoor patio, soaking up the long summer evenings with your furry friend. Or, head up to a rooftop to take in the skyline view with a cocktail and small plates on the weekend.

Upper East Bar

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The Upper East Bar on the rooftop of the Hotel Solamar brings an oasis to downtown, bathing in sunlight and fresh colors. During the day, enjoy brunch and time by the pool with a glass of Frose. In the evening, the bar scene brings cocktails and small plates with the cool San Diego nights. On both menus, the highlight is the Crab & Avocado Toast with lemon, radish, and sprouts on rustic loaf. This is one an amazing dish to eat in the sunshine! Bright, fresh flavors pop in your mouth, with a perfect balance of texture from the crispy toast, soft avocado, and cool radish.

Looking for some health benefits with your cocktail? Check out their Sip & Savasana yoga series featuring light vinyasa flow yoga class and healthy cocktails.


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JRDN at Tower 23 has always brought their patio A-game but has recently reopened after two months of renovations with an updated look and new indoor/outdoor furnishings. To compliment the beachside patio, try the new Build Your Own Poke Bowl option or sushi from their new sushi kitchen, like the JRDN Two Point “Oh”, with spicy tuna, yellowtail, cucumber, cilantro, serrano pepper, onion, yamagobo, seared tuna, and charred lemon ponzu.


Park 101

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Carlsbad’s Park 101 spacious patios feel more like a plaza than a regular restaurant. Park 101 is very kid and dog friendly on the lower level with turf, games, and family-style tables. For a different vibe, walk upstairs and stretch out on the Tamarack View Deck, a rooftop lounge with fire pits and cozy seating areas. Though they offer dozens of local and international beers on tap as well as wine, they hope to get their full liquor license in the coming months.

The Wine Pub

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Enjoy your wine around a fire pit on their beautiful outdoor, dog-friendly patio, or inside the lovely restaurant. The Wine Pub is SO dog friendly that they even have a special menu just for your pooch! Check out their newest series on their patio, Meet the Baja Winemaker. To share the charm of Baja-made wines without leaving Point Loma, The Wine Pub invites renowned wine experts to share their passion for wine.

Miss B’s Coconut Club

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With a Caribbean-inspired menu and cocktails, cheerful ambiance, delightful service, and incredible patio, Miss B’s has all the right ingredients to become a San Diego mainstay. Fresh fruit cocktails and lively tiki drinks round out the island-inspired drink list, perfect for sitting on the outdoor patio or bar enjoying the San Diego sunshine. For brunch, my top pick is the Ropa Vieja Hash with house potatoes, onions, bell peppers, Jamaican beer cheese, braised beef, pimento olives, and 2 eggs topped with chimicurri. Ready for a serious drink? Havana Good Time is a light and refreshing vodka, pamplemousse, house grapefruit and cordial, and kombucha concoction served in a giant brass flamingo for sharing.

Rustic Root

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Enjoy views of San Diego’s historic and lively Gaslamp Quarter from the only dedicated restaurant rooftop downtown San Diego, Rustic Root. Take in the sun on the rooftop and then continue into the evening with Rustic Root’s incredible craft cocktail program. Rustic Root’s scenic rooftop coupled with fantastic American / global comfort cuisine makes the restaurant one of San Diego’s favorite rooftops.

Mavericks Beach Club

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Check out Garnet Avenue’s newest bar and restaurant concept, Mavericks Beach Club to see how Pacific Beach does patios. Check out the coastal-California décor, round tables for community seating and cozy spots by the fireplace.  In addition to five full bars and menus offering Baja-inspired food for lunch and dinner, Mavericks also has outdoor games, live music, televisions, a dance floor and even a Bike Valet! That’s right – for those arriving on their bikes, Mavericks will have a place for everyone to park who wants to come and drink, dine and play!

Kettner Exchange

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Kettner Exchange’s design pays homage to San Diego founding father William Kettner.  The restaurant boasts two levels of indoor/outdoor drinking and dining, with Little Italy’s only open-air rooftop lounge. Check out their beautiful cabanas that offer craft cocktail decanters, individual classic cocktails and private, self serve beer taps located right inside the cabanas. My favorite cocktail is the KPK (KEX Painkiller) – a heady blend of 7 magnificent rums, pineapple, lime passion fruit and coconut – yum!

Michelle Stansbury is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer. Feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] with story ideas!

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