Much like natural sunlight and in-unit laundry, parklets are luxuries we didn’t know we needed. These sidewalk extensions are the Bay Area version of European plazas where, if we could, we would eat, drink, and relax for hours.
Plus, parklets have also been a lifeline to many restaurants in the pandemic. They’ve been transformed into cozy rooms, plant havens, Italian-styled verandas, and more to give us extra places to eat outside (and to distract us from the traffic rolling by). And as the classic SF fog and California “winter” begin to set in, lots of those parklets come fully equipped with heat lamps and blankets so you can stay warm and cozy.
Who knows parklets better than Poppy the AV? Poppy is one of the many Cruise all-electric, self-driving vehicles you’ve see driving around SF (she’s even got her own Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok accounts). Five years of nonstop driving in the city has made her a local’s local and her 360 degree view means no one has seen more parklets than her. So whether you’re feeling fancy, ready to drink with friends, or want to feel like you’re sitting in your lounge room, Poppy has helped us compile our favorite SF parklets for any situation. And make sure you stay connected with Poppy, because she’s almost ready to start Cruise’s self-driving service in the city and take you to the places she sees for us to enjoy.
Perfect For: An Elegant, Pet Friendly Date Night
At this upscale but not stuffy Italian spot in the Financial District, you’ll never leave disappointed by the food. Enjoy their house-made pastas and pizzas as you sit in their wooden parklet filled with olive trees and string lights. It feels imported from the Italian countryside and is perfect for date night, with or without your dog.
Perfect For: A Quality Yet Cozy Night Out Since It Took All Your Effort To Get Off The Couch
When this Moroccan restaurant on Geary Blvd. opened its parklet, we instantly felt comfortable, as if Aziza was our long-time friend’s living room. The restaurant’s incredible trio of spreads and cornbread with harissa butter, plus the parklet’s rugs, dividers, and string lights make you feel so cozy that you won’t want to leave.
Perfect For: Catching Up With Family
Rich Table’s parklet is great for when you want more privacy - like a pleasant dinner with the parents where they don’t have to shout to be heard, or a catch-up with a friend you haven’t seen since pre-pandemic times. Either way, the parklet has partitioned booths for an intimate feel. We like the perfectly salty sardine chips, dried porcini donuts, and tonnarelli tossed in a thick sea urchin sauce.
Perfect For: A Fun Group Dinner
If you’re looking for a fun group dinner or laid back date night spot, head over to State Bird Provisions. Their wooden veranda parklet is decorated with hanging lanterns and tall plants - combined with the excellent food, it’s no wonder this spot continues to be an SF favorite. They also have heat lamps so you can stay in the parklet even when the fog rolls in. The menu changes frequently, but the quail, corn mochi, and black sesame duck confit dumplings are some of our current favorites.
Perfect For: Drinking With Your Friends For No Occasion At All
Santería calls itself a margarita bar, but the extensive cocktail menu also includes everything from sangria and frozé to mezcal on the rocks. Plus, they have great food like their perfectly-charred octopus al pastor with caramelized pineapple and beet-dyed tortilla. All of which you should enjoy under their cute, red-painted parklet. Santería is a great option when you’re looking for somewhere fun for a drink and something to eat.
Perfect For: An Not-Fussy Birthday Celebration
This Spanish restaurant in North Beach just feels like a party. You might see people from different tables join together in an impromptu birthday toast on the brightly-colored parklet, or drinks might be mixed for you tableside from a roving bar cart. Plus, it’s not every day we come across a potato dish that brings literal tears to our eyes. The patatas bravas are well-seasoned, sliced paper-thin, and stacked together on a swatch of aioli and dollops of salsa brava. It’s a must-order.
Lost And Found Bar SF
Perfect For: When You Want A Chill Dinner
On top of having great quesabirria tacos and garlic fries, Lost and Found also has a cozy parklet complete with egg-shaped swinging chairs and cushioned benches. In other words, you’ll feel like you’re in your den and won’t mind leaving your spot on the couch for an hour or so to go here. Stop by for a quick cocktail and a snack before going back home for your nightly TV show binging.
Perfect For: When All You Want Is A Nice Lunch Outside With Your Book
If the only thing you have on the agenda today is making sure you change out of your night sweatpants and into your day sweatpants, we have a suggestion: soak up some much-needed sun on the plant-filled parklet at Family Cafe. The kissaten-inspired spot in North Beach is perfect for your next “sick day” or long lunch. You’ll fall in love with their perfectly-fried katsu sandwich on soft milk bread, or their plateful of silky smooth Japanese curry over rice. Come with a book, sit for a while, and don’t forget to snag one of their excellent cookies - it’s the perfect remedy for the Monday blues.
Perfect For: An Easy Lunch Under $15
The Italian Homemade Company in North Beach is one of our favorite places to drop into whenever we need a pasta fix. It’s a mix-and-match scenario of a few different pastas they make fresh every day and your choice of one of seven sauces, all for under $15. Sit on one of the barstools in their parklet for a casual lunch, order a glass of wine or beer, and enjoy people-watching along Columbus Ave.