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 17 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.
Summer to us means dining in one of the best garden patios in the city, which is why you should 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 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.
Southern Pacific recently reopened after a temporary closure, which is as good an excuse as any to head over to the massive brewpub in the Mission. There are tons of trees and plants, and giant floor-to-ceiling windows, so coming here always feels like you’re sort of outside, but minus the wind chill. Order some beers and their crispy brussels sprouts and sage-dusted fries, 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 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 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 too.
Whenever we sit down on the beautiful patio at Foreign Cinema, we always feel like we’ve momentarily left the city and been transported to the countryside in the South of France. Their heated patio with high white walls is covered and lined with string lights, and is like an extension of their relaxed dining room. Kick back and enjoy a glass of wine, oysters, and whatever movie is being projected on the wall.
Propagation is a new-ish 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.
Yes, Lone Palm may now be the “No Palm” (for now), but the Art Deco bar is still 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 new Spanish restaurant in North Beach with excellent tapas and low-proof cocktails. But we also love it because it’s 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 sip on a glass or two of sangria.
The dining room at this Thai and Laoatian 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 can’t see the sky today. Their cocktails have names like “Passport Stamp” (whiskey, passionfruit, coconut water, mint, cardamom, pitaya, and lime) 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 firepits (make a reservation here). The roster of food trucks rotates, but expect to be slightly overwhelmed (in the best way) by one servings things like quesabirria tacos and cheese and jalapeño-stuffed corn dogs.
For incredibly fresh seafood, like cebiche samplers and Peruvian-style nigiri, and 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.
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.
Every time we step into the dining room at Nari, we immediately feel at least 25% more relaxed. The sleek, minimalist 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 it’s lush and botanical, that restaurant is 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 garden patio while you dine on comfort food like fried chicken, smoked trout deviled eggs, black truffle risotto, or meatloaf.
The 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.