Nervous about dining out? Put these outdoor eateries on your list
Words by FLORA TSAPOVSKY
As the city continues to open up but COVID-19 cases are still rising, dining outside is an increasingly inviting option, from both a safety standpoint and in terms of what’s summer-appropriate. Lucky for us, San Francisco has a host of new options for catching up with friends and fine dining en plein air, from posh patios to seasonal cafes. Bon appetit!
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Dining at TOSCA CAFE. The eatery is situated on a patio outside SAINT JOSEPH’S ARTS SOCIETY; photo by Ken Fulk.
TOSCA CAFE AT SAINT JOSEPH’S ART SOCIETY
Best for: Dinner under the stars, courtesy of the as-yet-unopened Cafe Tosca. Limited to two seatings per night and tables spaced 6 feet apart, this restaurant will still be S.F.’s hottest opening of 2020 come July.
What’s outside: An outdoor cafe at the foot of the towers of the Saint Joseph’s church. Cafe Tosca is a partnership between Anna Weinberg of Marlowe, interior designer to the tech industry; Ken Fulk (and Weinberg’s restaurant Leo’s Oyster Bar); and Nancy Oakes of old favorite Boulevard.
What’s inside: Saint Joseph Art’s Society, the members’ club from AD100 designer Fulk with its florist, Buly 1803 apothecary, and contemporary art on rotation.
Chef: Oakes has created a four-course menu of nostalgic Italian dishes.
What to order: Shelley Lindgren’s A16 pizzas.
1401 Howard St., S.F.
Dine on the spacious patio at The Garden at THE VAULT.
THE GARDEN AT THE VAULT
Best for: The Garden is an addition to The Vault, which opened in late 2019.
What’s outside: A full-fledged outdoor restaurant on a bustling downtown plaza, it has some 100 seats, heating lamps and hedgerows, with plenty of space between the tables.
What’s inside: A gaping dining hall with a long, padded bar producing standout cocktails, such as the Okayama, with Suntory Toki, green tea and shiso.
Chef: Robin Song, who’s mixing up the tricks he picked up at Coi and Plum Bar with Korean flavors from home.
What to order: Go all out with a caviar service and the Vault burger, finishing with a tiramisu trifle.
555 California St., S.F., 415-508-4675.
Enjoy comfort food at LUPULANDIA BREWING.
Best for: A socially distanced catch-up over a beer and fancy Mexican bar snacks. The new Mission beer hall has an inviting patio.
What’s outside: Ample outdoor benches under strings of lights afford prime opportunities to people-watch the hip Mission crowd.
What’s inside: The brewery’s own pale ale and lager on tap, plus micheladas and a mouthwatering menu leaning heavily into Tijuana-style dishes like spicy fried chicken paired with churros.
Chef: Oso Campos, who is the co-owner of the Tijuana taco chain Kokopelli.
What to order: Shredded beef “Jack in a Bell” tacos, ceviche and an aperol-tequila cocktail.
2243 Mission St., S.F., 415-757-0487.
A sandwich with ultrafresh ingredients at INDIE SUPERETTE. The cafe and juice shop’s turquoise patio.
Best for: An alfresco breakfast with a healthful angle. Indie Superette is the latest venture from the Mina Restaurant Group, opened in the spring as a cafe-meets-So-Cal-juice-shop.
What’s outside: A scattering of tables equipped with shades, set against a turquoise wall.
What’s inside: A small neighborhood spot serving smoothies, vegan bowls, toasts and all other breakfast staples to fit and quarantine-fatigued Cow Hollow residents.
Chef: Harrison Chernick, who’s responsible for the Mina Group vision. Owner Michael Mina might be a fine-dining wizard, but he can also nail it with his food hall skills.
What to order: A masterfully made acai bowl and a beautifully presented toast with avocados and sprouts.
3060 Fillmore St., S.F., 628-222-6642.
Tuck into prime barbecue at SAISON SMOKEHOUSE AT ANGLER. Photo by Chris Presutti.
SAISON SMOKEHOUSE AT ANGLER
Best for: A celebratory dinner with your shelter-in-place partner, to feast on Saison Smokehouse’s prime barbecue born from the union of San Francisco’s most extravagant restaurants — Saison and Angler, the latter of which is led by chef Joshua Skenes.
What’s outside: A breezy patio with views of the Ferry Building, white tablecloths and just the right amount of attitude.
What’s inside: A more buttoned-up fine-dining experience, not dissimilar from that of recently closed Angler. The menu focuses on barbecue.
Chef: The project is led by a group of head chefs and sous chefs from both restaurants, who fully utilize Angler’s live-fire grill and smokers.
What to order: Pastrami brisket, smoked chicken or pork ribs, with buttermilk biscuits and “burnt ends dirty rice.”
132 The Embarcadero, S.F., 415-872-9456.
WILDSEED focuses on sourcing fresh, nourishing ingredients.
Best for: A leisurely lunch full of vibrant vegetables, grains and herbs to make you forget the three-month quarantine carb bonanza. The recent addition of Wildseed to the Marina neighborhood is all about seasonal, vegan dishes.
What’s outside: A few tables on one of San Francisco’s sunnier sidewalks, plus a parklet coming soon.
What’s inside: A sleek interior filled with wooden touches with accents of deep blue by Roy Design.
Chef: Blair Warsham, who has cooked at the Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood, but can produce a superlative veggie burger.
What to order: The Green Forest Pizza with broccolini, chimichurri and mushrooms is the perfect combination of comfort and good-for-you food.
2000 Union St., S.F., 415-872-7350.
Visit SERAFINA for a little taste of Italy in San Francisco.
Best for: An intimate family dinner. Brand-new, Serafina is the latest venture from Maurizio Bruschi, the chef and restaurateur who already owns two Italian restaurants in the city, Ideale and Piccolo Forno.
What’s outside: A handful of tables on the sidewalk, with a bonus of prime Russian Hill views around the corner.
What’s inside: A cozy and blissfully classic Italian restaurant with abstract art on the walls, and a menu filled with straightforward, delicious offerings.
Chef: Umberto Cannarsa, who joins Serafina after owning a string of restaurants in Rome.
What to order: Olive-stuffed calamari, homemade gnocchi with short rib sauce, and a limoncello tiramisu, a tangy twist on a classic.
1701 Jones St., S.F., 415-874-1936.
Feature image: The Garden at THE VAULT.
June 30, 2020
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