8 Favorite Spots for Outdoor Drinks in San Francisco
On a sunny, fogless San Francisco day, the city’s outdoor patios, courtyards and beer gardens are the most popular places in town. And on a nice night, well, you’re encouraged to arrive early to snag a seat. Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular spots for sipping craft cocktails, local beer and wine, and anything else you’re thirsty for, alfresco.
Palm House (2032 Union St.)
This tropical hideaway in the Marina slings the kind of cocktails that beg to be sipped in the sun, like piña coladas, spiked slushies and boozy punch bowls big enough for six to share. The charming sidewalk patio houses San Francisco’s second-oldest palm tree (really!), and the kitchen dishes up Hawaiian-style pork, coconut ceviche and other Caribbean-inspired fare.
Foreign Cinema (2534 Mission St.)
You may be tempted to linger in the gorgeous dining room of this longtime Mission institution, but the courtyard is where the real magic happens. Here, under twinkling stars and string lights, you can enjoy dinner, classic movies and a large assortment of libations, from house cocktails to ciders to California wines.
Dirty Habit (2 Fourth St.)
There’s nothing dirty about making a habit of this rooftop bar, perched five floors above the streets of SoMa in the hip Hotel Zelos. The sleek outdoor seating area has heat lamps, oversized fire pits and long couches you can squeeze your whole crew onto, making it an all-season favorite. The novel-length drink list, which focuses on rare brown spirits, will warm you further.
Epic Steak (369 Embarcadero)
Pound for pound, it’s hard to beat the views at this upmarket steakhouse. Nestled near the base of the Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero, EPIC Steak’s outdoor terrace has the San Francisco Bay for its backyard – an especially dazzling sight at night. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves everything from locally raised beef to sustainably caught seafood. And, if you can't snag a table here, try their sister restaurant next door, Waterbar, featuring a fresh seafood menu with bay views.
Zeitgeist (199 Valencia St.)
This iconic Mission dive bar may be the last place you’d expect to find a classic beer garden, but wander outside on a sunny day and you’ll discover rows of picnic tables packed with locals downing pints and bloody marys. There are 64 taps pouring mostly American beers, and you can soak it up with hearty burgers and brats. Zeitgeist is cash only, so hit the ATM beforehand.
After a full day of sightseeing, the mellow, surf-shack vibes at Wipeout Bar & Grill are a welcome respite. The patio has Adirondack chairs, dining tables and an indoor/outdoor bar serving beer, wine and cocktails. Refuel with burritos, pizzas, clam chowder and other crowd-pleasers, then stroll on to see the famous sea lions.
Skool (1725 Alameda St.)
This contemporary, seafood-focused Japanese hotspot in the SoMa design district isn’t afraid to swim against the current. Make a beeline for the delightful, plant-filled patio to sip seasonal cocktails or sake flights and treat your belly to out-of-the-box small plates, like crab deviled eggs, uni flan and eryngii mushroom fries.
Plank (98 Broadway, Oakland)
If sunny-day beers and lawn games are your idea of a good time, then it’s more than worth the trip across the bay to this adult playground. Steps from the water at Oakland’s Jack London Square, plank boasts a massive beer garden with over 50 local craft beers and a bocce court. The party continues inside, with bowling lanes, pool tables and interactive video games.