You’re going to a Giants game. If it’s at night, it’s usually during dinner hours, and as convenient as it may be to eat a bread bowl full of chowder inside a baseball stadium, sometimes you want to eat non-ballpark food. It’s also nice to not have to swat away seagulls with your soft pretzel, and to be able to stuff your hands in your pockets to keep them from going numb at a post-5pm game. Here are some of our go-to lunch and dinner spots near Oracle Park.
There’s a scene in The Sandlot where the kids play a night game only by the light of the Fourth of July fireworks shot off by their neighbors, and it’s a memory we’ve tried to steal as our own on multiple occasions. Nobody can go back to the ’60s to recreate it, but eating at Red’s Java House before walking to Oracle Park will get you pretty close. Come here before an afternoon game, sit on the back deck with a simple burger and a few beers, and decide that this may even be a better feeling than The Sandlot - unless you accidentally drop a ball signed by Buster Posey into the water.
You know you’re about to shamelessly spend a fortune on beers at the game, so beforehand, you should go somewhere where your dollar will feel like it’s going toward quality and not captive supply and demand economics. In addition to solid Mexican food - get the zapatos - Garaje has a phenomenal craft beer list, a line that moves relatively quickly, and plenty of small tables for you to sit at while you enjoy your beer.
We come here for a lot of the same reasons that we go to Garaje before a game - beer that you can actually taste the price and solid food before you destroy your breath for a month with garlic fries at the park. The cubano and the burger are both great, but splitting tacos with someone also works if you’re not that hungry.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to sit down at a baseball game and not get up until it’s all over, getting something to eat at Little Skillet beforehand would be a good idea. This place makes Southern comfort food like chicken and waffles, which are both delicious and will stick with you for a while after you’re done. The catfish po’boy is also solid if the idea of mixing breakfast and dinner isn’t your favorite. Either way, this place is big, so even if it’s packed, you can still come here and grab a few beers pretty easily before heading to the ballpark.
The game went so poorly that you want to pretend you’re in a reality where baseball never existed in the first place. In this case, go to Black Hammer Brewing. This place is covered in art that couldn’t have come from this planet, so instead of wondering what went wrong, you’ll be stuck thinking about what universe the laser pistol-wielding flying viking heroine on the wall comes from. Also, all of the beer is excellent and getting a flight would be a good idea, but we love the Hoppy Pillows IPA.
You can come here to snack on a flatbread pizza before the game, but the best thing about Atwater Tavern is its view of the bay. If it’s not too windy, stop here and grab a table on the outdoor patio, drink for a while, and on your way out, try to find where you’re sitting at the game from your view of the stadium from the restaurant.
If last night has a chance of ruining your day game, stop by Hi Dive before the first pitch. The fresh air from the bay will do you some good, and if that’s not enough, they make a strong Bloody Mary. Take a few breaths and let the walk down the Embarcadero bring you back to life before you show up at the gate.
Even though umpires don’t wear suits anymore, going to a baseball game is still a luxury. While you’ll happily have a beer or two inside the stadium, sometimes it’s nice to act like you’re wearing a fedora and a tie to the game instead of a jersey and a ball cap. For that, go to Lord George, get a few dozen oysters and some cocktails, and pretend you’re in a fancier time.
You’ve gone out for cocktails a few times. You’ve taken them to SFMoMa and kept a comfortable distance while you gauge their taste in art. Now it’s time to see if you can actually hang out with one another, so you got tickets to a game. If you want to make things a little nicer before you’re surrounded by the threat of ending up on the kiss cam, head to Marlowe beforehand. The space is cool, the cocktails are good, and even the burger here feels like it could afford better seats than you.
It’s a nice day out, which was the main reason for getting cheap tickets anyway. As long as you’re enjoying the weather, it doesn’t matter which inning you show up. Spark Social is the place to hit if you don’t really care when you get to the game, or really if you make it at all. The food trucks here can have waits for up to an hour, so it’s best to get drinks before choosing where to eat. Come with a few friends and divide and conquer to try as much as you can.
If you want to put your sunscreen to the test before you get to the stadium, spend some time at Mestiza beforehand. Most of the seating here is outdoors, and they make great soju margaritas that you won’t want to rush through. Get a few tacos if you’re hungry, but if you’re sharing with a friend, split the chicken lumpia instead.
Overspending on ballpark food is a pastime almost as old as baseball, but if you’re dead set on not doing that this time, go to Cockscomb before the game. The portions here are large and everything is heavy and meat-based. Go for the bacon chop and the crispy pig ears.
Drinking at Hotel Utah feels like you’re in an old ship - it probably has something to do with all the boats behind the bar, the old wooden bar itself, or the literal stern of a ship to the right side of the bar. So if being in a nautical time warp sounds like how you’d like to spend an afternoon before a game, come here. Grab a few pints and talk about how much better baseball must have been in the old days when everyone wore knickers and spoke with a funny accent. Then pay with a credit card, text your friends that you’re headed to the park, and be glad that electronic tickets exist so you don’t have to pay at will call for a paper stub.
Woodbury has Happy Hour before the first pitch on gamedays with discounts on a bunch of drinks and food, which is a good reason to come here. If by some miracle it’s actually hot outside, starting off with one of their frozen Irish coffees would be a good idea. And if you’re hungry, get some fries and a chicken sandwich.
This place is definitely more restaurant than bar, but the tacos here are worth acting like you’re not about to go yell at an umpire from 80 yards away and instead just catching up with a few friends. Get a few mezcal drinks and mentally prepare yourself to way overpay for beers for a few hours.
Maybe you’re actually on the Giants and your contract is about to expire. Walk the two blocks from the stadium and go to Saison for dinner one night. A meal here lasts about as long as a single game, so by the time you’re done with all 10 courses, management will understand that you were the one being conservative in your contract negotiations. Plus, there’s no dress code so the restaurant won’t mind if you show up in cleats.