Sunny, warmer weather is here, which probably means it’s time to shake off the winter and take full advantage of brighter days by having a drink outside. That’s where this guide comes in. It’s got 16 great spots to check out when you want to grab a drink, get some fresh air, and eat something good.
If you’re looking for a spot to get an excellent cocktail and choose from a range of small plates, check out True Laurel. The cocktail bar in the Mission has a food menu that changes daily, but expect to see things like beet poke, hen of the woods mushrooms with a sour cream and alliums dip, and brussels sprouts with cauliflower cream. Wine, beer, and cocktails are also available for dine-in on their outdoor patio Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are available online.
Santeria is a new Mexican restaurant and bar in the Castro with a huge selection of agave-based spirits, cocktails, and dishes like an excellent octopus al pastor. You can also drop by for Happy Hour (Monday-Friday, 3-6pm) and brunch daily from 11am-3pm. There are no reservations so just walk up to grab a seat - they’re open for indoor and outdoor dining.
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 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.
Anina in Hayes Valley is where to go when you want to sip on something great on a colorful, spacious patio. To drink, you can choose from beer, wine, cocktails, and large punch bowls. But if you want to sit on their heated, covered parklet or back patio, you’ll need to order a BBQ bowl, which comes with either smoked chicken, BBQ tri-tip, or smoked portobello mushrooms. Anina is open Tuesday to Thursday (3-8pm), and Saturday/Sunday (1-6pm).
In the pre-pandemic days, this Senegalese restaurant in the Mission was a great spot for sweaty dance parties featuring Latin and African music. The dance floor is empty (for now), but Bissap Baobab is still offering their excellent West African dishes for takeout and delivery. You can get everything from chicken and akara yassa and dibi wraps to tacos served with sautéed onions and your choice of chicken, akara, fish, or lamb, which you should get alongside one of their energizing fruit drinks or cocktails.
La Mar does excellent ceviche right on the water, along with having plenty of patio seating and heat lamps. They have a pretty great view of Treasure Island, too. The Peruvian spot is accepting reservations for indoor and outdoor dining through their website, so grab one and have pisco sours, empanadas, and anticuchos for lunch or dinner.
If you 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 for outdoor seating, but walk-ins are welcome. And if you want to avoid a wait, find a spot on their ground floor cafe, which also has bay views, a full bar, and lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus. They have cocktails, wine, and beer, and food like Dungeness crab rolls, burgers, fish tacos, and oysters.
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, you can enjoy it all on their covered outdoor dining area in the company of a pitcher of beer, cider, or soda. They’re open daily from 10:30am-9pm.
The Mission tavern has a lot of great things going for it: They make an excellent burger with onion jam and gruyere, and a fried chicken sandwich stacked with a well-seasoned chicken thigh, apple slaw, and pickles. And, if their hop salt fries have taught us anything, it’s that hop salt fries should be served everywhere. Monk’s Kettle also has wine and an extensive draft and bottled beer menu, and accepts online reservations for outdoor dining.
One of the newer spots on this list, Damnfine makes damn good wood-fired pizzas in the Outer Sunset. They have a bunch of different pies to choose from, like one topped with an earthy mix of five different mushrooms, and another with purple potatoes, pesto, and pancetta. Plus, they make a mean margherita - which is even better with a drizzle of their hot honey and ranch. Damnfine also has cocktails, wine, and beer you can get to go along with it.
Macondray is a Russian Hill bar serving excellent cocktails and beer on their parklet, sidewalk patio, and inside their plant-filled space at a limited capacity. If you get hungry, they have New England-inspired food like lobster rolls and pier fries covered in malt vinegar powder, and other snacks like soft pretzels and fried mozzarella bites. Macondray is open Tuesday to Sunday, 4-9pm.
In the search for one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city, all roads lead to Hi Tops. This sports bar in the Castro does theirs right. It stars an extra crispy chicken breast, a sweet coleslaw, and a soft brioche bun. But our favorite part is the tangy and slightly spicy aioli that gives each bite a nice kick. Hi Tops serves other food that’ll make you feel like you’re at the world’s best sporting event, like house-made corn dogs, buffalo wings, and nachos. They’re open daily for takeout, delivery, and outdoor seating out on their parklet.
Sometimes we just want one bar to be our destination for the night, and when that happens, we head to The Alembic, a neighborhood spot in the Haight. The cocktails are consistently great, and if you grab a booth on their covered parklet, you can post up for a while and make your way through their list while you eat potato leek fritters, veggie burgers, salads, seasonal pickles, and other things from their newly updated menu.
El Techo is pretty much the perfect 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 spot in the Mission are basically unbeatable. Dishes here include small plates, chicharones, birria tacos, and more.
Chomp N' Swig
If you’re looking for a spot to grab a beer, eat something good, and watch sports, head to this Outer Richmond sports bar. Chomp N’ Swig has plenty of beers on tap and a large menu of sandwiches, from build-your-own subs to cubanos. After you order, post up on their covered parklet to watch whatever game is on their big outdoor TV.
All of the wine from this small wine bar in Cow Hollow is from California, Oregon, and Washington, but that’s not the only reason to hit up West Coast Wine & Cheese. They have a great menu of things like cheese and charcuterie boards served with Jane the Bakery bread, and other shareable plates like salmon crudo, spinach gnudi, and gnocchi alla bolognese. Call 415-376-9720 to make a reservation. Walk-ins are welcome.