13 SF Restaurants We'd Like To Thank For Handing Out Blankets
photo credit: Brit Finnegan
So the weather app lied, and your pleasant outdoor meal has suddenly become f*cking freezing. We’ve all been there. It’s San Francisco, after all, and even a “light jacket” can be a little too light when it’s 57 degrees out and the fog decides to make a surprise appearance. That's where these restaurants come in handy. Each of them provides blankets to protect you from the elements, a gesture more thoughtful than anything your ex ever came up with. Stay warm out there.
The patio at this Italian spot in the Financial District is so manicured it could pass for a staged living room in a rustic Tiburon mansion. Olive trees between tables block out your neighbors’ conversations. There are hardwood floors nicer than the ones in most SF apartments. And, of course, there are the fluffy beige blankets, which are neatly rolled up and tied with a string. They’ll keep you nice and cozy while you cut into a face-sized raviolo filled with ricotta and egg yolk, or build flawless little bites of puffy gnocco fritto, prosciutto, and pickled onions.
Open a rooftop bar in this town, and you better be prepared to protect your patrons from the Three Horsemen of roof-pocalypse (Damp, Wind, and Mist). Rise Over Run on top of The Line hotel near Union Square sure is prepared to protect. The rooftop patio is what you might expect from a new rooftop patio in 2023, with safe design choices, like basket lamps, lots of plants, and plenty of concrete. But wait—perfectly folded wool blankets sit atop the cushioned chairs and benches, like fabric soldiers at the ready. What this means for you is less time focusing on the ominous fog bank approaching from the west, and more time drinking gin-strawberry cocktails out of a Capri Sun plastic pouch around the fire pit.
Plow's pancakes top the to-eat list of any self-respecting breakfast enthusiast. And since the Potrero Hill spot has perpetual lines, especially on weekends, there’s a chance you and your pancakes might end up on the front patio. Throw blankets are on deck, though, so you can stay comfortable while drizzling maple syrup over your lemon ricotta short stack. The staff here also make it a personal mission to keep your coffee cup filled to the brim, which helps with the whole wind chill thing.
When your eyes have all but glazed over from staring at a computer all day and you need to faceplant into a margarita pitcher, get to Uno Dos Tacos. The counter-service Mexican spot in SoMa is primed for the after-work snack-and-drink—there are solid burritos, tacos, and plates with your choice of meat, plus a full tequila bar and a patio with tons of picnic tables looking out onto 2nd Street. And on days when your light jacket isn’t quite cutting it, grab a colorful sarape by the entrance to warm up.
Thick mist pretty much always envelops Outerlands, thanks to its beach-adjacent location. And since foggy days are all too common in the Outer Sunset, the brunchy spot is at the ready with blankets outside. Once you’re sufficiently bundled up, you can save yourself from saying things like “wow, look at how fast the fog is moving,” and instead, dig into their iconic dutch pancake topped with creamy house ricotta and fresh fruit. Don’t leave without ordering the just-sweet-enough sticky bun the size of a bowling ball.
The garden patio at Fable looks like a palm-filled room plucked straight out of the Conservatory of Flowers. It’s also covered and heated, so you probably don’t have to worry too much about your fingers developing mild frostbite as you make your way through a hefty burger (always add bacon). Just in case, though, the Castro spot provides blankets. Snuggle up in one of their white booths and envision what your living room would look like if you could keep a bird of paradise alive.
You’ll find the bulk of Balboa Cafe’s old-school magic inside, where you can perch at the long wooden bar and drink an espresso martini while side-eyeing the couples wearing mink across the dining room. But if you’re doing all that people-watching outside at one of their sidewalk tables, they do offer blankets when it gets cold. Take it as an opportunity to settle in, stay awhile, and soak in the pilates-powered energy of Cow Hollow. Our preferred way to experience this place is to grab a drink and move on—the food is nothing to write home about.
When you go to Pizzetta 211 in the Richmond, there’s a 70% chance you’ll be sitting outside because the parklet has about double the amount of seats as the shoebox-sized dining room. But don’t worry about your teeth chattering while digging into their excellent seasonal pies. Well-worn blankets are aplenty, so snag one and swaddle yourself up. It’ll keep you comfortable enough to stay a little longer and stick around for whatever seasonal dessert is stealing the show that day.
If the wait is too long at Pizzetta 211, Fiorella is a great back-up plan just around the corner. The Italian restaurant in the Richmond is a reliable standby for wood-fired pizza topped with burrata or housemade sausage. And even if you’re not in the mood for cheese and crust, they also have bowls of bolognese and cacio e pepe, plus plenty of wine. Their string light-filled back patio is covered and heated, but if you want another layer besides your requisite puffer, they have blankets handy, too.
Foreign Cinema needs no introduction. This Californian restaurant in the Mission has been at it since 1999, and the central courtyard with string lights, a soft glow, and movies projected on the big walls have a lot to do with its success. But despite all the heaters and the warm atmosphere, sometimes you’re going to be a bit chilly. Luckily enough, they’ve got you covered with blankets available for any time you’re getting nippy.
As far as local, seasonal restaurants go, there aren't many in the Castro worth making a big fuss over. Except for Frances. Everything is done exceedingly well, from a fennel soup that warms you up on a foggy day to the housemade sourdough that's one of the pillowy-est breads we’ve had. And while you can typically get a seat inside, the small parklet out front is an equally acceptable option, with blankets being handed out as needed.
Wooden booths, glowy string lights, and as many four-legged animals as humans—classic Zazie. This Cole Valley bistro serves comforting, French-leaning, hefty dishes, so whenever the craving for incredible french toast, “miracle pancakes,” or crab cakes strikes, come here, no matter the weather. This place doesn't take reservations, but you can put your name on the waitlist and take some laps around the neighborhood as you enjoy a short wait for a seat on their heated back patio with a retractable roof—plus blankets for the extra chilly among us.
Lavash in the Sunset serves solid renditions of classic Persian stews, such as fesenjan (chicken with walnut and pomegranate sauce) and ghormeh sabzi (beef, herbs, and kidney beans)—perfect for warming up on a foggy day. With its small cafe feel, it’s the kind of place that you can walk into on a moment’s notice. But if for whatever reason you can't get a table inside, you can get a seat (and a blanket) on the big heated parklet that’s decked out with flowers and light wood furnishings—it brings a slice of the small cafe outside.