Summer's here, which means it's time to actually venture outside and take advantage of the (relatively) warm weather. And to help you with that, we've assembled all the best outdoor drinking spots in the city and power-ranked them 7-to-1. Check out the rankings, call up your buds, and grab some weekend suds in the sun... until it goes down, at which point you hopefully have a jacket.
7. Pier 23
Pier 23; The Embarcadero; 415.362.5125
Kicking off the rankings, this old-school San Francisco spot looks like it’s gonna be a tiny hole-in-the-wall, but is actually boasting a pretty huge patio out back with a view of the bay. Bring your thermal.
6. Arlequin Café
384 Hayes St; Hayes Valley; 415.626.1211
The little sister to Absinthe, this Hayes Valley work spot adjoins a wine bar and has a giant outdoor area that’s a great place to throw back a few daytime beers, or -- if you're actually using it as a work spot -- a few daytime ginger beers.
5. The Tipsy Pig
2231 Chestnut St; The Marina; 415.292.2300
This Marina mainstay has a patio that starts at brunch and just doesn’t quit. It can get pretty crowded, but if you grab a table, you’re golden and don’t have to explain why you’re holding a Strawberry Fields.
199 Valencia St; The Mission; 415.255.7505
Get your surly outdoor Mission beer garden on here. Make sure to bring cash and ditch anything you might be judged for (polos, yoga pants, khakis, clothing that isn’t black and/or torn), then get ready to be pressed up against a bunch of Mission-ites with questionable grooming habits... with beer!
620 Jones St; The Tenderloin; 415.496.6858
Even though you enter at street level, thanks to the craziness of SF hills, you will see that this is mostly a rooftop bar with at least four service points (one’s up on a terrace they open up for larger parties), plus they host fun events like movie nights and "technology detox".
424 Octavia St; Hayes Valley; 415.252.9289
If it’s nice outside, or even above 60, or 58, BUT NOT FIFTY SEVEN, you should show up early to Hayes Valley's traditional German beer garden and grab a spot while your friend gets you liter-sized steins and wieners (tee hee) to while away the hours 'til sundown, when you can grab a complimentary blanket to keep you warm/ridiculous-looking.
1. El Techo
2518 Mission St; The Mission; 415.550.6970
Topping out the list, El Techo has it all: rooftop partying, skewers of meat, specialty cocktails, Latin beers on tap, gorgeous views of the city, and clear wind shields to keep you actually warm at night. Go here.
1. Pier 23 CafePier 23, San Francisco
2. Arlequin Cafe384 Hayes St, San Francisco
3. The Tipsy Pig2231 Chestnut St, San Francisco
4. Zeitgeist199 Valencia St, San Francisco
5. Jones620 Jones St, San Francisco
6. Biergarten424 Octavia St, San Francisco
7. El Techo de Lolinda2518 Mission St, San Francisco
When it comes to seafood, you want to be fairly close to the sea so that you know it's fresh. At Pier 23, you couldn't be any closer to the water, so much so that they've got a shoulder-height railing enclosing their patio. Add to that the fact that they've got a famously good Bloody Mary, and you just might be docked here for a while.
This Hayes Valley eat spot boasts a flagstone seating area out back that's shaded by trees (and other green stuff) to ensure your ultimate enjoyment of the "Staff Meal" -- three crispy skin duck confit tacos on corn tortillas in a spicy mole sauce.
Brunch and the Marina go together like bacon and eggs (and bottomless mimosas), and The Tipsy Pig has all these things, plus everything else you could ever want in a gastropub. Outdoor patio? Check. 40 local and worldly brews? Check. Cocktails? You get the idea. You’re going to want to get here early on a Sunday morning to stake out a spot outside and stay here all day chowing down on huevos rancheros, old-fashioned doughnuts, and the killer burger.
Zeitgeist is a fascinating combo of a dive and a biergarten that houses an eclectic blend of friendly patrons who are all there for the same reasons: to sample a bodacious variety of beer, enjoy the nice weather on the numerous outdoor picnic tables, or slug an award-winning Bloody Mary (and in many cases, all three).
Jones is a Nob Hill hot spot where you can sip fresh cocktails on the expansive and impressive heated rooftop -- perfect for a sunny brunch with friends or drinks under the stars. It’s the biggest rooftop bar in the city, meaning there’s plenty of room for you and your crew to gather for some live music, which it offers six nights a week.
With quintessential large mugs, sausages and sauerkraut, long picnic tables in the sun (hopefully), and a rotating selection of impressive German beers, Biergarten everything you want in, well, a beer garden. It’s owned by the masterminds behind Suppenküche, so you know you can bank on them having a way with Teutonic suds and snacks. With no roof, it’s not the ideal spot for a rainy day pint, but you’ll be clamoring for a space come summertime.
El Techo, the more casual version of the downstairs Argentinean steakhouse Lolinda, serves Latin American street food and pitchers of margaritas. You’re gonna want to get the chicharrones de carne, which come in half pound, one pound, or one and a half pound orders (in other words, you'll need to come with friends). These aren’t your basic sidewalk cracklin's -- these are massive fried chunks of roasted pork shoulder that you’ll devour with housemade tortillas, lime, salsa, and escabeche meant to be enjoyed alongside one of the best rooftop views San Francisco has to offer.