As SF begins to reopen, you might be asking yourself the same two questions: “Why does time not feel real anymore” and “Where can I safely drink outside right now”? We’re not even going to attempt to answer the first one, but when it comes to drinking outside, we have some ideas. From a new margarita bar in the Castro to breweries to waterfront spots, here are 25 great places to drink al fresco right now.
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 night.
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).
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.
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 Drink And Bite With A Friend" 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 here 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.
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 lush 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 spacious covered parklet (reservations are recommended) to check out their new 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, find a spot on their parklet, or ask for a seat on their back patio. All tables are first come, first serve.
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, and a menu of things like charcuterie and cheese plates, salt and vinegar fries, pastas, and sandwiches. Wine options also include sparkling, half bottles, sake, and wine kits to go. Call 415-814-2129 if you’re looking to reserve a table.
Lost Resort is a nautical-themed restaurant and bar in the Mission that keeps us coming back thanks to their great drinks, excellent small plates, and comfortable outdoor seating area. We recommend grabbing your favorite cocktail, and ordering the fish and chips, hamachi poke, or mochiko chicken bites, which come with an incredible chicken fat hot sauce. They have plenty of sidewalk seating and a large patio out back.
Old Devil Moon is a laid-back Bernal Heights bar with excellent cocktails and plenty of beers on tap. If you get hungry, order po’boys and snacks from their New Orleans-inspired menu and enjoy it all in their small, sunny patio.
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 at their beer window (Wednesday-Saturday), or sit down with a pitcher or tasting flight on their heated parklet and sidewalk seating area. Black Hammer Brewing even has Trivia Night on Wednesdays. Reservations for dine-in are available here.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
If you want some sun with your IPA or ale, head to Speakeasy Brewery in Bayview-Hunters Point, which has a ton of picnic tables in their massive outdoor beer garden. While you’re here, you’ll also want to focus on their rotating line-up of food trucks, pop-ups, and local eateries, including Al Pastor Papi, Vegan Hood Chefs, and Long Bridge Pizza. On Sundays, check out Speakeasy’s Brunch N Brews from 11am-4pm, which includes everything from beermosas and breakfast burgers to vegan chicken and waffles.
If 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 on Union Street is the best place to go when you want to drink a boozy slushy surrounded by lush plants. Palm House also has an excellent Happy Hour, and pretty good small plates to share over a piña colada or an Old Cuban, a strong cocktail with rum, champagne, lime, and mint.
The Mission bar has changed its look a bit since the pandemic: the sprawling beer garden teaming with picnic tables has been reconfigured into private “booths” separated by plexiglass. What hasn’t changed is the fact that Zeitgeist is still a great place to drink outside, especially if you’re looking for stiff cocktails and beer, and burgers, brats, and 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. Right now, they’re serving cocktails and beer alongside pizza from Patxi’s. Seating is first come, first serve.
Lost & Found
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 somewhere, you have plenty of food and drink options - cocktails, wine, and beer, and everything from birria tacos and birria ramen to garlic fries and mac and cheese.
The Bernal Heights 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.
There aren’t many rooftop bars, but Charmaine’s is one of them - and a great one at that. 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 enjoy a drink during the day, or cozy up next to a fire pit at night. Charmaine’s is taking reservations for both outdoor and indoor dining.
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 pretty good time. They’ve reopened their sidewalk seating area, and also installed a covered parklet complete with heat lamps. You can also expect live music every Tuesday.
The Page wasn’t known as an outdoor drinking spot in pre-pandemic days. But in the last year, they set up a parklet and sidewalk seating - and we’re sure glad they did. 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. They’re now also serving tacos, burritos, and quesadillas from The Little Chihuahua, and 12-inch cheese or pepperoni pizzas from Bus Stop Pizza.
You can’t beat the location or the beer list at Sessions. The huge outdoor patio is located right inside the Presidio, off Chestnut Street, and pretty much calls to us all day long on a sunny Saturday - or any day for that matter (they’re open daily from 11:30am-8pm). Be sure to make a reservation beforehand and come hungry and thirsty - the burger is tasty, and the Bloody Marys are worth your time too.