The Best Restaurant Patios In SFOur favorite places to eat and drink outside now.
Nowadays, just about every restaurant has outdoor dining. But if you aren't careful, you might wind up eating mediocre food three feet from rapidly moving traffic. The next time you want to have an impressive meal outside, use this guide. From a hidden garden at a Union Square pizzeria to a Sunset backyard with lots of soju and tabletop grills, here are the best restaurant patios around the city.
The Guamanian restaurant in the Mission is a patio party—one featuring plants, umbrellas, mismatched tables and chairs. Translation: there’s plenty of elbow room to kick back with some phenomenal food and drinks. Prubechu is also one of the best restaurants in the city, so don’t pass on the opportunity to order their plump chicken wings, tender BBQ pork ribs, and, really, anything else on the menu of knockout hits. They also have natural wines and beer, but zero in on the sake and wine cocktails.
Cascading waterfalls and a colossal fountain—no, you’re not at the pearly gates. It’s the patio at Xica in Levi’s Plaza. The entirely gluten-free Mexican spot is feel-good personified. Grab a table in the sun next to an oversized palm, and let the sounds of water evaporate any stress caused by the latest news cycle. You’ll dine on vegetable tacos on dragon fruit-infused tortillas, fried egg-topped chilaquiles, and sizable rice bowls topped with carnitas while listening to upbeat music. Do the right thing and come here with friends, co-workers, and anyone looking for tranquility at dinner or a weekday morning.
San Francisco's burgeoning rooftop scene includes this one in SoMa, located on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place, so expect city views. The scene is somewhat clubby and always packed—you’ll spot plenty of people on first dates and at least six articles of snakeskin-print clothing. Once you’re up high, sip on white miso-spiked cocktails while staring out at the skyline and taking advantage of the prime people-watching. If you get hungry, they also serve great Peruvian-Japanese dishes like empanadas, chicken karaage, and ceviche in a citrus-y leche de tigre that we drink up like soup.
Want to impress your friends with a reservation at a semi-hidden tropical rooftop? Go to Good Good Culture Club in the Mission and sit out on the deck with bright walls and leafy palms everywhere. The booths are perfect for large groups, and dinners up there feel relaxed and unhurried—so take your time eating through the eclectic menu of mostly Asian-influenced dishes like Lao sausages, chicken wings with chicken egg roll stuffing, and crying tiger shrimp with crunchy butter beans and cucumbers.
When someone says "patio" and "San Francisco" in the same sentence, we’re struck with a burning desire to head to Foreign Cinema. More specifically, to head to their striking patio with high white walls, string lights, and an orange glow at night (we also love coming here for brunch). Wherever you end up sitting, get a glass of wine, order a bunch of oysters, and the seasonal pasta, and enjoy it while you watch whatever movie is being projected on the wall.
The courtyard at this Mission izakaya has string lights twinkling, plants everywhere, and is serene—so go here if you want to forget about whatever’s dumpster fire-ing in the world over the best Japanese small plates in the city. We almost always have trouble narrowing down an order because everything on the menu is fantastic. But when in doubt, go with the gorgeously charred tsukune, gyoza dressed up with lacy skirts, and miso cod plated alongside a leaning tower of sunomono.
La Mar looks like a classy sea blue hotel lobby set somewhere on Miami Beach, with two bar areas and a high-ceilinged dining room. But the covered waterfront deck overlooking some piers is exactly where we want to drink never-ending pisco sours and fill up on tangy ceviche, crispy empanadas, grilled scallops over lima bean tacu-tacu, and other Peruvian classics. This small plates spot is always packed with tourists, locals popping in for the 3-5pm weekday Happy Hour, and people in town for some sort of convention, which makes a night here buzzy.
If you’re looking to spend a night drinking soju and getting loud with friends, all roads lead to the patio at this modern Korean restaurant in the Inner Sunset. There are picnic tables and heaters spread throughout the space, and throwback music pumping through the speakers. Throw in crunchy ginger sesame soy chicken wings, and pork belly glazed with citrus gochujang we need weekly, and you'll want to come back for birthdays, and group catch-ups with friends who spontaneously booked a trip to the city for the weekend.
El Techo is where we go whenever cold margaritas with a city view call out to us. This lively yet laidback Mission spot is the ideal rooftop bar: there are umbrellas in case it’s too bright, heaters for when it’s too cold, and also a pretty solid menu of Latin American snacks and larger plates, like some solid fish tacos, chicharrones, and a decent chicken adobo with rice and beans that’s also big enough to share.
At first glance, Tato might seem like another quick-hit counter-service place that’ll spit you out in 25 minutes. But you should actually save this Bayview Mexican spot for extra long lunches on extra sunny days, because their hidden back patio is a gem. It’s got a few picnic tables with floral tablecloths—the ideal spot to photosynthesize on a nice day—plus string lights overhead and enough space to fit a volleyball team and all your closest friends. Order a plate of palm-sized tacos and go to town.
In the back of a nondescript gray Victorian in the Castro is what feels like one of the city's best-kept secrets—the patio at Poesia. Walk through the bustling kitchen of this Calabrian-style Italian restaurant and you’ll meet a tranquil haven of red tables and shrubbery. And here, the Aperol simply never stops flowing. Like a choreographed dance, servers bring out plates of perfectly al-dente tagliatelle and pate crostinis to diners, who are here to eat and live out their southern Italian fantasy.
The back patio at this French bistro is filled with wooden booths, and is a place where you'll see just as many four-legged animals as humans. On Monday nights you get $10 off a bottle of wine if you bring a dog, which is just another reason to head over for comforting French food. They serve brunch and dinner every day—which means whenever the craving for incredible french toast strikes, head straight to this charming Cole Valley spot.
There is no view, but Fiorella Sunset is where to turn for a buzzy dinner on a secluded-ish rooftop deck. The third (and newest) outpost of Fiorella is always slammed with people eating wood-fired thin-crust pizzas, salads, and pastas, like the rich rigatoni bolognese. This spot is ideal for any occasion that calls for getting dressed up and having a great time under twinkle lights.
We go to Del Popolo’s cozy garden for laidback dinners, and to unwind after a long week. You have to walk through the restaurant, past the kitchen, and down a flight of stairs to get here. The wood-fired pizzas are excellent, and the shareable small plates like candied bacon and blistered shishito peppers are great. Drink wine or beer while contemplating whether or not to invest in another houseplant.
If you haven’t guessed at this point, if a restaurant is lush and plant-filled, it's certainly on this guide. Another one is Blue Plate. The casual Bernal Heights spot is a neighborhood staple and has a charming backyard with dim lighting, heaters, and lots of greens. Forget about the rat race going on outside while you dine on comfort food like smoked trout deviled eggs, black truffle risotto, or some of the best fried chicken ever.
When you want to be outside, but not outside-outside (because, San Francisco), go to Horsefeather. The atrium at this NoPa bar and restaurant offers the best seats. It looks like a greenhouse with plants hanging and natural light streaming in. It's also covered and comfortable enough to chill in a t-shirt. We like going here as a first stop on a date or for a drink before heading elsewhere to dinner. If you stick around, they have a better-than-average bar food menu—think poke bowls, pulled pork tacos, and katsu sandwiches.
There’s nothing better than gobbling down smoked meats and juicy burgers outside, so we embrace 4505 Burgers & BBQ. The NoPa spot is turning out tender, beautifully spiced brisket and pork spare ribs, and serving everything on a semi-covered patio overlooking the action on Divisadero Street. Whatever you end up ordering, you'll want to sit at a communal table in the company of a new friend—or cider, soda, or a pitcher of beer.
If you want to dine in one of the best Mediterranean-inspired garden patios in the city, head to Fable, the casual Castro restaurant for citrus and endive salads, classic steakhouse NY strip steaks, mac and cheese, and a plump double cheeseburger with thick, perfectly cooked french fries on the side. Potted plants, palms, and birds of paradise are everywhere, and the view is one best admired while seated in one of their white booths. Better yet, Fable’s patio has plenty of heat lamps and is weather-proof, which definitely comes in handy on colder mornings.
The big draw at Bernal Star is the chill back patio, complete with umbrellas and plenty of heat lamps to keep you warm on chilly Bernal Heights mornings. Another is that this place is dog-friendly, so it's easy to fuel up on eggs benedicts and crispy fish sandwiches before jaunting over to Holly Park for dog-friendly things.