It’s September, which in San Francisco means the beginning of Indian Summer and the end of Fogust. As the temperatures climb into the 70’s and 80’s, we channel our inner Elaine Benes and tell everyone to get out – outside, that is. It always feels special to dine al fresco, and while many restaurants offer sidewalk seating, these spots feature honest-to-goodness patios, verandas, and terraces that amp truly amp up the ambience. Of course, most of these top San Francisco Outdoor Dining restaurants also have heat lamps — because Bay Area weather. Read on to find out where to make the most of this special SF season.
This classy French-Vietnamese eatery has a charming and unique patio space. The tiled promenade leading to the restaurant’s entrance is an atrium-like veranda, featuring outdoor seating at tables nestled among palm fronds and banana trees — romantic and evocative of the storied elegance of Vietnam in the 1920’s. The French and Vietnamese chefs offer a menu of classic Vietnamese dishes, such as crispy Saigon crepes and fresh spring rolls, as well as fusion dishes like Pot Au “Pho” with braised oxtail and short ribs in a oxtail bouillon, crispy vermicelli noodles, turnips, pearl onions, and shaved radish served with mushroom bone marrow fondue. Make a reservation at Le Colonial.
Richmond neighborhood Italian joint Fiorella serves up pizzas and pastas, but equally good are the comfort food classics like luscious wood-roasted chicken and Guittard chocolate budino with hazelnuts and Maldon sea salt made from a recipe handed down from the mother of one of the partners (a retired chocolatier). The newly opened back patio is bright and cheery with yellow chairs and a soothing rock garden perimeter with desert plants and cacti giving the space a decidedly SoCal vibe. Make a reservation at Fiorella.
The patio right along the Embarcadero,that fronts Americano is a magnet for après workday libations as well as for business lunches and dinners. The outdoor space is set back from the street but affords a view of the San Francisco Ferry Building, peeking at the Bay Bridge and the bay itself, and yet it’s frontage is swathed with greenery and is the front yard space every apartment dweller wishes he or she had. The California and Mediterranean menu offers pizzas, pasta, and snacks aplenty, including deviled eggs, crispy chickpeas, and feta piquillo dip to nibble on while you enjoy the nature at its urban best. Make a reservation at Americano.
San Francisco isn’t known for roof bars — but there is one notable exception. In the heart of the Mission lies El Techo de Lolinda, a choice spot for cocktails and Latin American street food. It’s also beloved for its lively brunch that showcases Mexican dishes like the chorizo scramble with roasted vegetables, avocado, potatoes, and chipotle or carnitas served with black beans, escabeche, chipotle salsa, and housemade tortillas. Pro tip: Wash it all down with pitchers of margaritas or palomas. Make a reservation at El Techo.
No time for a vacation? You can take a Caribbean staycation without leaving the city, courtesy of Palm House. Chill at this fun spot facing Union Street and savor an eclectic menu under a covered terrace just beyond the sidewalk. Watch the world go by while sipping on a chipotle mango margarita and nibbling on macadamia nut crusted mac and cheese, jerk chicken tacos, and bay scallop ceviche. Make a reservation at Palm House.
This downtown destination, known for creative cocktails and for one of the best in-house charcuterie programs in the city, has a covered and heated patio just behind the restaurant in the courtyard of 140 New Montgomery. Akin to a secret garden in San Francisco’s Financial District, it’s enclosed in a striking steel and glass awning and outfitted with heaters and retractable canvas walls. The patio is weatherproof and available year round making it perfect for private events and parties — but it’s open to lunch and dinner diners as well. Make a reservation at Trou Normand.