Sometimes, planning a meal for a big group can feel like a full-time job that requires multiple spreadsheets and approximately 300 open tabs. But it doesn’t have to be this way - especially since there are so many fantastic patios in SF that are perfect for groups. So whether you’re looking for tabletop Korean BBQ or pizzas on a garden deck, sit back, close all those tabs, and use this guide for your next group meal out.
An incredible seafood pancake, tabletop grills filled with sizzling bulgogi and pork belly, and a buzzy, energetic environment - you’ll find all of the above at um.ma’s back patio in the Sunset. Their picnic tables are perfect for groups, and you’ll need to bring a small army with you to take down a few pounds of flawlessly marinated meat, anyway. Plus, the Korean restaurant has beer towers and plenty of soju, which you all should definitely get into.
This Ghirardelli Square dim sum spot makes it easy to get a group together for weekend brunch or an early dinner (they close at 7:30 most nights). It’s super spacious inside and out on their two patios, and has a menu built for splitting and sharing family-style - so just order as many soup dumplings and noodle dishes as will fit on the table and enjoy.
Fable in the Castro is home to one of our favorite garden patios in the city, and coming here is like eating in a Mediterranean glasshouse where you can sit and admire all of the leafy green plants from a cushioned booth. We like to soak in the ambiance around one of their big tables with pork chops and a glass of wine from their pretty extensive list.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
If you’re getting together with a bunch of friends and want to pick a casual, sunny spot where you can all catch up, just head to Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in Bayview-Hunters Point. Their massive outdoor beer garden has tons of picnic tables, and hosts a rotating roster of local vendors, comedians, and food trucks like Al Pastor Papi and Vegan Hood Chefs (check their Instagram for the latest updates on the food options).
The outdoor parklet at Cotogna in the Financial District is one of our favorite parklets in the city. It’s got hardwood floors, olive trees, and string lights, and feels more like the balcony of a cottage in the Italian countryside than a street full of Waymo cars whizzing by. And it’s a great option if you want to share excellent pasta and pizza with a group. Get the gnocco fritto, the agnolotti del plin, and the corn triangoli if it’s in season, plus some pizzas to split.
This Noe Valley spot is an excellent option if you want to drink outside - and they recently started serving Patxi’s Pizza, so you can enjoy a slice of deep dish with your beer, wine, or cocktail. The back patio has tons of picnic tables on multiple levels, and it almost feels like you’re in someone’s cool, semi-private backyard. Just note that groups here are limited to six max.
Liholiho Yacht Club
At Liholiho Yacht Club’s temporary location in the Mission, they have a colorful, airy rooftop deck that we want to hang out at every night. Slide into one of their teal wooden booths with your crew and split things like short rib steam buns, tuna poke, a whole-fried fish, and wash it all down with one of their excellent cocktails. Be sure to save room for dessert - the little pandan ice cream sandwich, made with shortbread cookies and a pistachio-pandan magic shell, is a hit.
We like coming to this Cole Valley spot for brunch and enjoying their great pancakes and French toast on the serene, hidden back patio. But the French bistro is also open for dinner, so heading over for a weeknight catch-up with friends is never a bad idea either. And if you have a friend who physically can’t stop fostering puppies and/or refuses to leave the house without their dog glued to their side, come on a Monday - that’s when Zazie allows dogs on their parklet and in the backyard, and offers $10 off a bottle of wine if you bring one.
Wood-fired pizza is the name of the game at this Richmond spot - and splitting a bunch of pepperoni, burrata, and salsiccia pies on their secluded back patio is an ideal way to spend a night. You can also share some of their fresh, house-made pasta dishes, along with wines by the bottle or glass, or something from their list of mostly-local beers.
When someone says the words “patio” and “San Francisco” in the same sentence, we’re immediately struck with a burning desire to head to Foreign Cinema. More specifically, to head to their stunning patio with high white walls, string lights, and an orange glow at night (we also love coming here for brunch). They take parties of up to eight outside, or you can book their semi-private outdoor dining area for bigger groups. Wherever you end up sitting, get a bunch of oysters, the peppercorn duck breast, and the seasonal pasta, and enjoy it while you watch whatever movie is being projected on the wall that night.
To get to the cozy, plant-filled wooden deck at Del Popolo, you’ll be led downstairs below the restaurant, eventually popping out in their back patio. They have bigger picnic tables outside for larger groups, where you can spread out and dig into Italian small plates and pizzas with bubbly, charred crusts. Also, we never leave a meal here without getting their fior di latte soft serve topped with brown butter crumble, and we suggest you do the same.
On days when the fog decides to take a day off and we feel like drinking strong margaritas with a group of friends, we head to El Techo in the Mission. It’s one of the few rooftop restaurants in the city, and has great views of downtown - which you can admire over some solid fish tacos or a pound of chicharrones. There will be a line at peak times, though, so plan accordingly.
Ragazza is one of the quieter patio situations in the city. The Italian restaurant in NoPa has a beautiful backyard filled with lots of plants and trees, plus a gazebo you can reserve here if your party has six or more people. Throw in some great thin-crust pizzas, pastas, and wine, and enjoy actually being able to hear your friends from across the table without having to shout.
If you ever need to plan a group meal with people who are extremely passionate about boozy slushies, Palm House is here for you. Theirs comes in guava, strawberry, or prickly pear flavors, and is an excellent reason to head to this Cow Hollow spot. Another good reason is the breezy, open-air patio surrounded by lush plants, where you can kick back with Caribbean small plates and tacos.
This Guamanian restaurant in the Mission is our go-to for many situations, from a fun birthday meal to a cute, chill catch-up with friends. In other words, Prubechu rarely misses, and it’ll work great for your next big group dinner, too. Settle into one of the picnic tables on their open air patio and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere with a bunch of Chamorro BBQ plates, perfect ko’ko’ wings, and creamy tinaktak.
The sprawling back patio at this Mission bar has tons of picnic tables for all of your group drinking needs - plus, they recently started hosting live music on Sundays. Zeitgeist never disappoints with their stiff cocktails and beer, and you can also grab a burger, grilled cheese, or brat if you’re hungry.
If you’re in NoPa and in need of a place with ample seating and lots of smoked meat, hit up the covered patio at 4505 Burgers & BBQ on Divisadero. Along with plenty of long picnic tables, they also have some of our favorite barbecue in the city. Get a platter of brisket and smokey ribs, or the excellent cheeseburger, and maybe a root beer float for dessert.
For a casual meal, a cold drink, and excellent waterfront views, you’ll want to bring your group to Red’s Java House on the Embarcadero. Soaking up the sun on their patio while staring out at the Bay Bridge is an excellent way to spend a lazy afternoon - and doing it all with a burger (which comes on a chewy sourdough roll) in hand is even better.