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Seven Alfresco Restaurants in the Bay Area to Book Now

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.

 

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.

 

INDIE SUPERETTE

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.

 

WILDSEED

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.

 

SERAFINA

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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