15 Quiet Patios Because This Is All Still A Bit Much
photo credit: Krescent Carasso
SF is open and down to party, and it's all very exciting. But that said, maybe you want to take things slow. After all, you just spent the past few years in relative solitude, and the idea of hanging out in a packed bar and chatting with people you haven’t seen since 2019 is borderline social whiplash. Not to worry. Just head to one of these 15 San Francisco patios that offer quiet, comfortable settings where you can eat and drink outside. In peace.
photo credit: Erin Ng
The breezy rooftop at Good Good Culture Club in the Mission has leafy palms and teal-colored booths. It's where you want to be to enjoy their eclectic menu of dishes influenced by Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, and more. There's a Lao sausage with a scoop of spicy pasilla pepper jaew, adobo-glazed chicken wings stuffed with garlic sticky rice, and crying tiger shrimp that gets an unexpected crunch from fried butter beans and red cabbage. You’ll want to hang out on the rooftop for hours—especially since there's plenty of natural wine and cocktails made with li hing mui preserved lemons and shiso liqueur.
Note: Piccino is temporarily closed and will reopen in August 2022.
There’s no shortage of Californian Italian spots in San Francisco, and one we love—especially if we’re in an effortless kind of mood—is Piccino. The restaurant is housed in a yellow Victorian cottage and has a roomy deck and sidewalk tables. The best part is you won’t have to raise your voice to have a conversation here. And, getting a reservation is always easy. Once you do, turn to their well-executed thin-crust pizzas and seasonal pastas.
If digging into a face-sized, egg yolk-filled raviolo on a candlelit parklet is your ideal way to spend a night, book a table at Cotogna. The Italian restaurant is located on a quiet section in the Financial District, and the parklet—complete with hardwood floors, a roof, and potted olive trees—will make you think you’re sitting in a rustic Tuscan cottage. Get the prosciutto with gnocco fritto, the agnolotti del plin, a glass of wine, and call it a night.
photo credit: Melissa Zink
Rintaro is serene. The tiled, string light-filled courtyard at this Mission izakaya is surrounded by plants and somehow lowers our heart rates every time we walk in. But it’s not just the patio that keeps us coming back—the food is also incredible. The tsukune is perfectly charred, the impossibly creamy soft tofu is drizzled with shiitake shoyu, and juicy pork gyoza are leveled up with gorgeous lacy skirts. And the little details are on point every time—chances are high you’ll still be thinking about the precisely stacked tower of sunomono, and the freshly grated wasabi days after dinner.
It’s a pretty known fact that the small Italian restaurant in Noe Valley does excellent Sardinian seafood dishes like baby octopus stew and spaghetti with spicy oil and cured fish roe. But one thing you’ve probably overlooked is their patio. The string light-lit space is hidden in the back of the restaurant, completely secluded from traffic or honking cars—and they also have ample heaters to keep you warm while you eat.
photo credit: Emma Shepler
When it comes to great, low-key Noe Valley drinking spots, all roads lead to Valley Tavern. Aside from having a huge beer selection and really friendly service, this bar is also outfitted with a beautiful garden patio that’s miraculously never really overcrowded. It’s split between multiple levels and is one of the city's most chill backyards with plenty of heat lamps, picnic tables, and TVs to watch a game on.
If you want to dine in one of the best and most romantic patios in the city, head to Fable. The casual Castro restaurant for pork chops, burgers, and wine (and a great pork cheek, kale, and apple salad appetizer) reminds us of a secret Mediterranean garden. Potted plants, palms, and birds of paradise are everywhere, and tea lights and string lighting give this place a warm, cozy feel that’s perfectly suited for date nights or catch ups with friends.
photo credit: Thorough Bread and Pastry
The next time you’re in the mood for breakfast but would rather attempt to scale Coit Tower than brave the bottomless brunch crowds, Thorough Bread and Pastry in the Castro is here for you. We stop by this bake shop for an almond croissant, a sticky bun, and a cup of tea, and then make our way to the patio. It's nicely spaced out and teeming with flowers.
The patio at Zazie in Cole Valley is always a go-to spot to chill with some friends and a plate of absurdly good french toast. And if you’re also looking for a nice spot that won’t send you into sensory overload, this place fits the bill. Another big plus is that Zazie allows dogs to hang out outside on Monday nights, which includes $10 off bottles of wine.
Foreign Cinema is a San Francisco gem—and their romantic patio is a big reason for that. It’s got high white walls, twinkling string lights, and movies that get projected on the back wall at night. Once you sit down, forget you have plans for the rest of the day, and stay until closing. The Mission spot does a fantastic brunch, or head over for dinner and kick back with glasses of wine, oysters, and the peppercorn duck breast or some seasonal pastas.
photo credit: Sarah Felker
Prubechu is one of the livelier patios on this list. But even with loud music playing and its island party energy, we’d still recommend this spot (if you really want mellow, go for lunch when it's less packed). The patio is in a parking lot, although it doesn’t seem like it—there are picnic tables, heat lamps, and colorful tablecloths. And of course, there's incredible food, like crispy empanadas, fried egg-topped tamales, lemon-marinated chicken wrapped in coconut flatbread, and the plumpest chicken wings coated in a secret blend of spices you’ll want to order again before you’ve even finished.
One of the quieter back patio situations on this list is at Ragazza. They have a beautiful backyard with lots of plants and trees. Throw in really good small plates like burrata or meatballs, thin-crust pizzas, and all the wine, and you have yourself a casual night. For an even more intimate dining experience, reserve one of their private gazebos.
photo credit: Sarah Felker
Blue Plate is a cozy Bernal Heights meet-up spot. The multiple dining rooms look like the inside of someone's house and the flower-filled backyard is intimate. Soak in the patio while you get into deviled eggs, smoked trout, meatloaf, fried chicken, and, really, anything from the Mediterranean-influenced American menu.
To get to the hidden garden at Del Popolo in Lower Nob Hill, walk through the restaurant, past the kitchen, and down a flight of stairs. You'll settle into a cozy, plant-filled deck. It's the ideal setting to order a bunch of their excellent wood-fired pizzas topped with things like garlicky mushrooms or sausage. They also have great Italian small plates, like candied bacon and blistered shishito peppers, and a short wine and beer list.
photo credit: 620 Jones
The spacious patio at this Lower Nob Hill cocktail bar has a lot going for it—there are lots of plants, and it's more relaxed than one of those loud, over-hyped rooftop spots blasting 2003 pop remixes. The only thing missing here is a view (it's surrounded by buildings on three sides). While you’re hanging out, you can also order everything from pizza and smoked-seared salmon to small plates like buffalo wings and crispy-fried adobo pork ribs.