The transition from winter to summer in San Francisco isn’t exactly drastic. Sure, it gets sort of slightly warmer once June hits, but unlike our friends in the Midwest or on the East Coast, we’ll still be carrying light jackets around everywhere we go. So when it’s 60 degrees outside (again) but you want to feel like you’re on some beachy vacation and not on a windy rooftop watching the fog roll in, use this guide. It’s got 18 spots with lush, plant-filled spaces, glassed-in patios, firepits, and more.
The Russian Hill bar is one of the prettier spots in SF to grab a drink. The inside is filled with plants and makes us feel like we’re hanging out in a botanical garden. And after sitting on one of their plush chairs or booths, you’ll want to chill here with one of their colorful cocktails all day. They also have a lot of great food options, like a Maine-style lobster roll and fantastic deviled eggs you definitely need to get into.
To us, summer means dining in one of the best garden patios in the city: 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 Mediterranean glasshouse. Potted plants, palms, and birds of paradise are everywhere, and the view is one best admired while seated within one of their white booths. Better yet, Fable’s patio has plenty of heat lamps and is weather-proof, which definitely comes in handy on one of the neighborhood’s windier days.
Sitting in the semi-outdoor space at this NoPa bar is basically like being in a garden, minus the wind chill. There are plants hanging above the tables and plenty of natural light coming in from all sides. We like to relax here for a cocktail and to share a few small plates of their better-than-average bar food, like pulled pork tacos and duck fat fries. Enjoy it all with a date or a group of friends and revel in the fact that you’re only wearing one layer of clothing.
Lost Resort is a nautical-themed restaurant and bar in the Mission that keeps us coming back with their great drinks, excellent small plates, and comfortable outdoor seating area. We recommend grabbing your favorite cocktail, and ordering the fish and chips or mochiko chicken bites, which come with an incredible chicken fat hot sauce. They have plenty of sidewalk seating and a large patio covered by a giant white sail.
Whenever we sit down on the beautiful patio at Foreign Cinema, we always feel like we’ve been transported to a far-away rustic courtyard. The heated space with high white walls is covered and lined with string lights, and there's a gorgeous orange-y glow at night when the sun goes down. Kick back and enjoy a glass of wine, oysters, and whatever movie is being projected on the wall.
Propagation is a cocktail bar in Nob Hill that has fully committed to the plant theme. Leafy palms and greens line the walls and hang from the ceilings, and most of their frequently-changing drinks are plant- and fruit-based—like the “Plantasia” with mezcal, matcha, wheatgrass, pineapple, and lime, or the piña colada with acai and champagne. Sipping on one while sitting on a cozy couch or armchair may not be as good as a tropical getaway, but at least you won’t have to pay for airfare.
photo credit: Patricia Chang
Good Good Culture Club
The breezy rooftop deck at Good Good Culture Club is a tropical oasis in the middle of the Mission. There are palms everywhere, teal wooden booths and light pink walls, and folks sipping on cocktails and natural wine while E40 and Jay Rock pump through the speakers. And since it is SF, after all, overhead heaters keep each table warm. Kick back and order a bunch of shareable plates from the eclectic, Asian-inspired menu, like the crying tiger shrimp, Lao sausage, and comforting catfish curry.
This Art Deco bar will always be the place to go if you want to experience one hot night in Miami—but in the Mission. The bar is backlit by neon, the tables are draped in white table cloths, and several indoor plants transform the dim space into a summer-y paradise (but without the Miami humidity or 80-degree heat).
Pearl 6101 looks like a light-filled beachside house in the Hamptons. So if you’re waiting for the fog to clear or just want to bask in the glow of natural light, the all-day spot in the Richmond is a great option. They have small plates, like halibut crudo with strawberry and nuoc cham, or roasted cauliflower with black tahini hummus, and bigger dishes like handkerchief pasta with white bolognese.
Red Window is a Spanish restaurant in North Beach with excellent tapas and low-proof cocktails. But we also love it because coming here is like sitting inside a kaleidoscope—their windows are adorned with multicolored floral designs, and even their parklets are painted bright orange and teal. Order as many tapas as will fit on your table, like the crispy patatas bravas, mushroom skewers, gambas, and jamón Ibérico, and wash it all down with a glass or two of sangria.
The dining room at this Thai and Laotian restaurant in the Mission always manages to make us feel like we’re eating at a lively outdoor street market. There are tables with red metal folding chairs and punchy-colored oilcloths, and string lights are strung across from the high ceilings. There’s an energy about eating here that reminds us of summer, and one you should experience over spicy laab salads, Isaan herbed pork sausage, and Hainan chicken and rice.
This tropical-themed spot in Cow Hollow does brunch, lunch, and dinner, so you can come here at any time to forget about the fact that you haven't seen the sun in 72 hours and down a punch bowl with some friends. Their cocktails have names like “Paradise Cantina” (mezcal, coconut water, pineapple, and jalapeño) and “Tropic Thunder” (gin, Falernum, passionfruit, and lemon), which align nicely with the pretending-you’re-on-a-yacht thing you’re going for.
There’s something about this food truck park in Mission Bay that reminds us of a relaxing day at a family reunion picnic. The grassy space has plenty of picnic tables, as well as a few fire pits (make a reservation here). The roster of food trucks rotates, but expect to be slightly overwhelmed (in the best way) by ones serving things like quesabirria tacos and cheese and jalapeño-stuffed corn dogs.
For incredibly fresh seafood, like cebiche samplers and Peruvian-style nigiri, plus great views of the Bay, book a table at La Mar. The Embarcadero restaurant has an expansive heated, covered patio that overlooks the water and all the boats docked at Pier 1 ½. Close your eyes, breathe in the salty air, and imagine that you’re on a cruise.
Park Chalet Garden Restaurant
Hanging out on the lawn at Park Chalet after a day of walking through Golden Gate Park is a pretty ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon. But even on not-so-sunny days, we’ll still head over and grab a table inside their atrium, which gives us Conservatory of Flowers energy with its big glass windows and ceilings. Soak in all the natural light with beer and a bucket of fried chicken.
photo credit: Krescent Carasso
Every time we step into the dining room at Nari, we immediately feel more relaxed. The sleek space has plants everywhere, and the high ceilings and big windows let in tons of light. And the food is just as impressive as the dining room, if not more. It’s an ideal space to enjoy dishes packed with layers of sour, sweet, and spicy flavors, like a plate of sweet pork jowl covered in a sticky sauce, or lettuce cups with a charred mushroom and puffed rice salad that’ll make your tongue tingle.
If you haven’t guessed at this point, if a restaurant is lush and plant-filled, it's certainly on this guide. Another one is Blue Plate. The casual Bernal Heights spot is a neighborhood staple and has a charming backyard with ivy walls and plenty of greens. Soak in the patio while you dine on comfort food like fried chicken, smoked trout deviled eggs, black truffle risotto, or meatloaf.
This Mission beer garden has a sprawling patio with heat lamps and umbrellas in case the weather is less than ideal. It also has a ton of picnic tables, which we like hanging out at with pints and burgers or grilled cheese, and pretending we’re at a summer BBQ. Stick around for their live music and stand-up comedy shows on Sundays and Wednesdays.