5 best San Francisco bars and restaurants to drink outside

To prepare for San Francisco’s sunny days following summer’s end, SFGATE’s food team went in search of the city’s most inviting patios to soak up the sun, while also enjoying a few cold ones.

These five outdoor courtyards are attached to some of our favorite San Francisco restaurants and bars. And each spot features its share of unique attributes, including everything from luscious gardens with blooming pink bougainvillea flowers to lively barbecue joints with plenty of bench-style seating and opportunities to get to know strangers outdoors. There’s also an oceanside oasis that beckons patrons to exit through the kitchen to enjoy a hidden enclave, as well as an old-school metal haven that will make you a believer that techies and punks can coexist over a hop-induced buzz.

Whatever your scene, here are our top choices for San Francisco’s sunniest patios.

Daydreaming on Divisadero


Burgers and brews at 4505 Burgers & BBQ.


Steph Rodriguez/SFGATE

4505 Burgers & BBQ is located 4505 Divisadero St.  in San Francisco.

4505 Burgers & BBQ is located 4505 Divisadero St. in San Francisco.


Steph Rodriguez/SFGATE

A sunny Saturday afternoon at 4505 Burgers & BBQ in San Francisco.

A sunny Saturday afternoon at 4505 Burgers & BBQ in San Francisco.


Steph Rodriguez/SFGATE

The enclosed patio space at 4505 Burgers & BBQ has sunny and shady places to sit and enjoy the warm weather.

The enclosed patio space at 4505 Burgers & BBQ has sunny and shady places to sit and enjoy the warm weather.


Steph Rodriguez/SFGATE


Steph Rodriguez/SFGATE

While lively chatter radiates from one of San Francisco’s sunniest patios at 4505 Burgers & Barbecue, near the corner of Grove and Divisadero streets, the aroma of smoky barbecue tantalizes passersby. This community-loved spot is home to one of the area’s last remaining historic wood-fired barbecue pits and is also known for its ear-shatteringly crispy chicharrones under the 4505 brand (I am obsessed with the chili and salt variety).

As customers place their orders for delectable meat platters, accompanied by glistening dinner rolls and domes of freshly whipped potato salad, the bright patio — with plenty of sunny and shady spots — is the place to go and pass the time with a cold beer. My son and I enjoyed a couple of burgers and a basket of golden french fries as we watched cute babies cooing nearby from the comforts of their strollers. A man sat quietly reading a book while sipping a beer and soaking up some vitamin D during this unusually warm Saturday afternoon.

The patio waxed and waned between families with their children in tow and young, hip couples stopping by for a quick bite and a cool beverage. Strangers shared space on the long bench-style tables, getting to know each other, and the steady pace of orders from the kitchen never seemed to drop a beat. If you’re in the mood for barbecue comforts paired with a little neighborhood camaraderie, 4505’s lively patio is tops for catching some warm rays and getting lost in a buzzy daydream as your food settles. Be sure to grab a bag of chili and salt chicharrones on your way out. — Steph Rodriguez

4505 Burgers & BBQ, 705 Divisadero St., San Francisco. Open daily, 10:30 am-10 pm

oasis by the ocean

Hockey Haven's back patio has plenty of sunny vibes potential, perfect for afternoon sippin'.

Hockey Haven’s back patio has plenty of sunny vibes potential, perfect for afternoon sippin’.

Silas Valentino/SFGATE

Exit through the kitchen, past the hanging tongs and a neatly scrubbed grill, and you’ll find the best backyard bar on Balboa Street. Hockey Haven, located 12 blocks from the Pacific Ocean in the Outer Richmond, has cemented itself as the quintessential joint since opening in 1949. On a recent weekday evening, the atmosphere was congenial as “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” by Paul McCartney and neighborhood Wings drummed from the jukebox.

The beers on tap were unpretentious and fairly priced: it was $5 for a bottle of domestic ale. A fellow patron offered up a loose cigarette freely. Close one eye, and it felt like the San Francisco we grew up in. When Herb Caen mentioned the bar in his column, he described it as a “pucky pub” and wrote about its then-new window into the streetside wall.

What the iconic gossiping gumshoe missed was the backyard patio. It’s a simple setup: a few tables and benches to support a cold libation, while junkyard artwork adorns the fences. A wired bed spring was refashioned into a holder for succulents near a single brown loafer that was curled up on top of the fence post. The bizarre eye candy spilled into the flow of conversation as this oasis by the ocean fostered a folksy environment that’s hard not to hold dearly. — Silas Valentino

Hockey Haven, 3625 Balboa St., San Francisco. Open daily, noon-2 am

moment of zen

The garden space at Fable restaurant, located at 558 Castro St.  in San Francisco.

The garden space at Fable restaurant, located at 558 Castro St. in San Francisco.

Susana Guerrero/ SFGATE

When I reached the entrance of Fable, a group of customers was already queuing up outside the door. Fable first opened in San Francisco’s Castro District in 2013, but I never had the chance to visit, until now. The host took me in, despite not having a reservation, and I’m so glad he did. Fable’s garden patio will make you feel as if you’ve suddenly left the bustle of San Francisco and stepped into a loved one’s suburban backyard.


The patio space is surrounded by luscious greenery and an eye-catching pink bougainvillea tree near a charming water fountain. String lights and ornate lanterns add ambiance under the blue sky. As I perused through the menu, I ordered Fable’s double cheeseburger with crispy fries and a glass of pinot noir. The restaurant doesn’t have a cocktail menu, but offers a wide array of wines available in addition to a list of sparkling and natural wines.

Not big on wine? A few draft beers are available from San Francisco’s own Standard Deviant Brewing. If the group of customers wasn’t an obvious indicator, Fable is the type of restaurant to gather with a group of close friends or for a date. As for me, Fable was just the place I wanted to experience for peaceful relaxation on a bright sunny day. Pro tip: Make sure to book a reservation ahead of time, since Fable has limited outdoor seating. — Susana Guerrero

Fable, 558 Castro St., San Francisco. Open Monday through Friday, 11:30 am-3 pm; Tuesday through Saturday, 5 pm-10 pm; Sunday through Monday 5 pm-9 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am-2:30 pm

metal haven

The patio at Zeitgeist is prone to sunshine and the sounds of heavy metal.

The patio at Zeitgeist is prone to sunshine and the sounds of heavy metal.

Gabe Lehman/SFGATE

A spot almost directly underneath the 101 overpass at the very end of Valencia Street might be a dubious location for one of the most beloved outdoor drinking establishments in the city. But Zeitgeist, which has entertained San Franciscans for over four decades, has enough appeal to fill its patio on a daily basis. The bar facetiously boasts that it offers “warm beer and cold women,” but actually features a full bar with an additional 64 beers on tap, so anyone can find something they want to try. Fries, burgers and burritos are also available to order to keep you fed as you imbibe. While the bar does have an inside area complete with pool table, Zeitgeist’s sprawling outdoor patio is what it’s best known for.

But unlike many outdoor drinking locales, Zeitgeist is just as popular late at night as it is during an afternoon happy hour. The bar stays open until 11 pm on weeknights and 1 am on weekends. Historically a punk scene, it still attracts that clientele, but a large contingent of tech bros was also onsite during a recent afternoon. All groups appeared to mix amicably. One word to the wise, drinkers have to like — or at least tolerate — blaring metal music if they’re going to enjoy the scene. But if you don’t mind some light screamo every once in awhile, Zeitgeist is the place for you. — Gabe Lehman

Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia St., San Francisco. Open Monday through Wednesday, 2 pm-11 pm; Thursday, 2 pm-12 am; Friday, 2 pm-1 am; Saturday, 1 pm-1 am; Sunday, 1 pm-10 pm

Sip and stay

Casements bar is a cozy cocktail haven with a choice patio located at 2351 Mission St.  in San Francisco.

Casements bar is a cozy cocktail haven with a choice patio located at 2351 Mission St. in San Francisco.

Courtesy of Maira Sandes

If there’s one good thing to have come out of the pandemic, it’s the lively back patio at Casements in the Mission. When nightlife veterans Gillian Fitzgerald, Chris Hastings and Sean O’Donovan first opened the Irish bar in early 2020, it had zero outdoor seating. But then the pandemic hit.

And just like that, a nondescript back parking lot transformed into one of the best patios in San Francisco.

Adorned in colorful murals featuring Irish rock band Thin Lizzy and drag queen Panti Bliss, the Casements’ patio is the perfect place to sip a world-class cocktail while listening to live music. You truly can’t go wrong with what you order. On a recent visit, I got the Exit Row, made with Irish whiskey, Alpe Genepy herbal liqueur, jalapeño apéritif grapefruit, lemon, pineapple and spicy bitters. The cheery yellow beverage packed a spicy punch, but was also coolly refreshing on a temperate San Francisco summer evening.

Depending on the elements, one can also enjoy a frozen rosé or a hot toddy, or opt for a simple Guinness. I’ve also previously convinced myself that I was on a coastal Italian vacation by ordering the festive North Beach spritz, or dabbled in the trendy cocktail of the moment with an espresso martini. Oh, and there’s food, too — good, hearty stuff like fish ‘n’ chips, chicken pot pie, vegetable curry and beef and Guinness stew. If you need me, I’ll be here all summer. — Madeline Wells

Casements, 2351 Mission St., San Francisco. Open Monday through Thursday, 4 pm-2 am; Friday, 3 pm-2 am; Saturday through Sunday, 2 pm-2 am

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