The weather is fogless, so you may be asking yourself two questions: “Is today a day I can get away without lugging a jacket around and not regret it later” and “Where can I drink outside”? We’re not going to attempt to answer the first one (if you insist: probably not), but when it comes to where to grab a drink, we have some ideas. From a margarita bar in the Castro to casual waterfront spots on Embarcadero, here are 30 great places to enjoy a cold one al fresco (with or without a jacket).
Anina is a Hayes Valley beer garden with a tropical feel that works well for first dates, group hangs, or any occasion that calls for fruity punch bowls. The sun-drenched patio with twinkle lights has plenty of outdoor picnic tables that are ideal for holding up all the beer, wine, and cocktails that will inevitably cover it. Get here early to secure a spot before they start to get busy (and they always get busy).
photo credit: Sarah Felker
The Guamanian restaurant in the Mission is a backyard party—one featuring tons of plants, umbrellas, mismatched tables and chairs. Meaning, there’s plenty of elbow room to kick back with a drink. They have natural wines and beer, but you should zero in on the sake and umeshu spritzes. And because this spot is one of the best restaurants in the city, don’t pass on the opportunity to order their plump chicken wings, tender BBQ pork ribs, and, really, anything else on the menu.
photo credit: Kaiyo Rooftop
Rooftop bars aren’t abundant in San Francisco—but there are still options for when you want to drink on an elevated surface. Kaiyo Rooftop in SoMa is on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place, and has views of the city to go along with a scene that’s as close to an exclusive, no-jeans-allowed club as you can get in town. Peruvian-Japanese dishes like empanadas, chicken karaage, and ceviche in a citrus-y leche de tigre are there for when you get hungry, as are excellent cocktails and wine to drink. There are heaters throughout the rooftop—this is San Francisco, after all—but bundle up in case the wind acts up.
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It’s impossible not to have a good time at this Spanish restaurant in North Beach, between the bright window decals, flowing sangria, and patatas bravas that bring actual tears to our eyes. And better yet, they have two covered and heated parklets, so you won’t have to worry about becoming damp over the course of your meal if the fog decides to do its thing. You’ll still get low-proof cocktails—mixed and poured tableside via a roving bar cart—while you shuffle around plates of jamón, garlicky gambas, and bacalao croquetas. Bring a date or use Red Window as a starting point before a night out.
The spot formerly home to Virgil's Sea Room officially traded in the boat for one that can go to outerspace. Mothership is a sci-fi-themed cocktail bar in the Mission that has groovy lights and futuristic curved white walls. And more good news is this place continues to have a great back patio, revamped with a hanging garden and lots of tables. On your way out back, grab a cocktail, like the Knee Deep with mezcal, chile ancho, and a sichuan salt rim, or the Dinner Theater with tomato gin and vermouth.
There are plenty of things to do in this city, like walk along Ocean Beach or relax at one of the city's many parks. If you’re seeking a different kind of day, consider a lazy afternoon soaking up sun at Red’s Java House. This pre-Giants game hangout on Pier 30 is all about chill—the back patio is right by the Bay Bridge and is the perfect place to enjoy something cold over a burger on a sourdough roll.
When someone says "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). Wherever you end up sitting, get a glass of wine, order a bunch of oysters, the peppercorn duck breast, or the seasonal pasta, and enjoy it while you watch whatever movie is being projected on the wall that evening.
photo credit: Krescent Carasso
Generally, places that have lines are good. Sure, they might be overrated and test your patience, but look how well Furbies turned out for everyone. Biergarten will have a line—especially on a nice day—but suck it up and wait it out. The German beer is top-notch, as are the sausages and pretzels, and there’s something uniquely San Francisco about sitting in a possibly-converted parking lot surrounded by a chain-link fence drinking at a picnic table.
El Rio is a San Francisco institution that’s always ready to party. This Bernal Heights bar has a full calendar that includes themed dance parties, drag shows, live music, and ping-pong out on the outdoor patio. When you get tired of bobbing your head to loud music or drinking cheap drinks, you can play pool or shuffleboard. There are not many guarantees we can provide in this world, but going to El Rio means you’ll either leave happy, sweaty, or kind of buzzed—or maybe a combination of all three.
El Techo is a rare San Francisco rooftop bar: there are umbrellas in case it’s too bright, heaters for when it’s too cold, and excellent margaritas and palomas. On top of that, the views from this Mission spot are basically unbeatable. And while drinking, you might get hungry. El Techo has a menu of mostly 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.
One of the quieter back patio situations around can be found at Ragazza—they have a beautiful backyard garden filled with lots of plants and trees. There's even a plastic gazebo to hunker down under if the elements start to get the best of you. Throw in really good small plates, thin-crust pizzas, and all the wine, and you have yourself a night.
Santería is a Mexican restaurant and bar in the Castro that falls in the "Grab A Quick Drink And Light Bite" category. They have a huge selection of agave-based spirits and cocktails, and dishes like an excellent charred octopus al pastor, tacos, flautas, and carnitas plates with housemade tortillas. The outdoor seating is a parklet done up with string lights and planters. It also doubles as a solid setting for weekday Happy Hours and bottomless brunch.
4505 Burgers makes some of our favorite BBQ in the city. But if you want more than a few pounds of their brisket, pork spare ribs, or pulled pork, they also make an excellent cheeseburger. Whatever you end up ordering, enjoy it under their covered patio, ideally in the company of cider, soda, or a pitcher of beer.
Pier 23 is a family-run bar and restaurant on the Embarcadero with good beer, stiff cocktails, and a menu of things like salads, tacos, and crab cakes. We usually skip the food when we’re here (this isn’t a place where you’ll say, “Hey, try this”), and instead use this spot as a ticket to waterfront drinking. Lots of umbrellas, tables, and plastic chairs fill the cozy but sun-lit outdoor area. Enjoy the views with a drink before moving on to the next spot.
The cocktail bar on Divisadero makes excellent drinks along with some pretty great tacos, fantastic burgers, and poke bowls. The NoPa spot also stands outs for a semi-outdoor atrium with a skylight that pulls in beautiful natural light. It feels like a greenhouse, and one you won't want to leave. Horsefeather also has parklet seating.
One reason you’re probably at the Marina bistro—the Americana Burger stacked with double-smash patties, homemade aioli, cheese, onions, and pickles. You'll also want to walk up to grab a seat on their sidewalk or covered parklet (reservations are recommended) to order something from the cocktail menu, which features everything from mezcal palomas with fino sherry to espresso martinis.
In the mood for tequila or mezcal? Head to Sunset Cantina. The Mexican restaurant and cocktail bar in the Sunset is an excellent spot to enjoy agave spirits in many forms, including frozen margaritas and Jell-O shots. They’re serving their drinks to go along with things like tacos, flautas, and tostadas. For outdoor seating, ask for a seat on their back patio. All tables are first come, first serve.
We keep coming back to the nautical-themed bar in the Mission for their great drinks, excellent small plates, and comfortable outdoor seating area covered by a flapping sail. We recommend grabbing your go-to cocktail, and ordering the fish and chips or mochiko chicken bites, which come with an incredible chicken fat hot sauce. The burger with roasted pepper jam and nori mayo is standout, too. This spot also has a ton of tables on the sidewalk.
photo credit: Speakeasy Brewery
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
If you want some sun with your IPA, head to Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in Bayview-Hunters Point. The brewery has tons of picnic tables in the sprawling beer garden out front. While you’re here, you’ll also want to focus on their rotating line-up of food trucks, pop-ups, and local eateries, including Rome’s Kitchen, Los Bayuncos, and Buddha Miches.
If you need to be reminded that you live in a place surrounded by water, head to Mission Rock Resort, a two-story restaurant and bar in Mission Bay. They’re taking reservations, but walk-ins are welcome. And if you want to avoid a wait, find a spot on their ground floor cafe. It’s got bay views, a full bar, and lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus.
The open-air front porch is the best place to go when you want to drink a boozy slushy surrounded by plants, and you happen to be in Cow Hollow. Palm House also has an excellent Happy Hour, and good small plates to share over a piña colada or an Old Cuban, a very strong cocktail with rum, champagne, lime, and mint.
The Mission bar and beer garden is teeming with picnic tables, which also includes private “booths” separated by plexiglass. So, yes, Zeitgeist is a great place to drink stiff cocktails and beer outside—and listen to live music while filling up on burgers, brats, or grilled cheese sandwiches.
Valley Tavern in Noe Valley has one of the best patios for drinking in the entire city. It’s split between multiple levels, each with its own picnic table, so it feels more like you’re hanging out in a backyard than a bar. They're also serving cocktails and beer alongside pizza from Patxi’s. First come, first serve seating.
Lost and Found is a more chill option for outdoor drinking as they’re located on a quiet stretch on Taraval in the Sunset. They also have a cute parklet set-up, which includes two hanging swings and a cushioned booth. Once you’ve cozied up outside, you have plenty of drink options, including cocktails named San Francisco landmarks (J-Town, Ghirardelli Sazerac, Stern Grove Greens), and a food menu of things like birria tacos, garlic noodles, and mac and cheese.
The Bernal Heights bar has been drawing in people with reasonably priced drinks and pool tables since the 1960s. But one big perk of Wild Side West is its lush outdoor garden, which has plenty of art sculptures, tables, chairs, and hidden corners that make you feel like you’ve left the city completely.
Located on top of the Proper Hotel, the views from this Mid-Market rooftop bar are fantastic. And aside from that—and having great cocktails—it’s a good place to cozy up next to a fire pit at night. Charmaine’s is taking reservations for both outdoor and indoor dining. Heads up, there's a $65 per person minimum for groups of three or more.
There are plenty of great wine bars in the city, but one we love is Ungrafted. That’s because the Dogpatch wine shop has an impressive wine list, plenty of parklet seating (though, it is along busy 3rd Street), and a menu of things like charcuterie and cheese plates, salt and vinegar fries, pastas, and sandwiches. Wine options include sparkling, half bottles, sake, and wine kits to go.
Balboa Cafe is a Cow Hollow institution—it’s been operating since the early 1900s. These days, the corner spot continues to be a great local gathering place, and one where you’ll most likely always have a good time. They have sidewalk seating, and a covered parklet with heat lamps.
The Page wasn’t an outdoor drinking spot pre-pandemic. But like many places on this guide, parklet and sidewalk seating are now a thing—and we’re glad it is. The NoPa spot has all the elements of a great dive bar: stiff cocktails, plenty of beers on tap (23 to be exact), and a casual atmosphere.
photo credit: Mary Lagier
Black Hammer Brewing
The small-batch brewery specializes in ales and lagers with the gluten removed, and what’s on tap tends to change frequently. You can order cans and growlers for takeout, or, better yet, sit with a pitcher or tasting flight on the parklet and sidewalk seating area. Black Hammer Brewing also has Trivia Night on Wednesdays.
Old Devil Moon is a laidback Bernal Heights bar with excellent cocktails and plenty of beers on tap. For food, order po’boys and snacks from their New Orleans-inspired menu and enjoy it all on their very small but sunny patio in the back.