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Best Outdoor Drinking Options - 2009
Pier 23 Cafe|Bambuddha Lounge|B Restaurant & Bar|Bocce Cafe|Jay'n Bee Club
San Francisco, CA 94111
Fog, wind, and rain aside, San Francisco's largely temperate year-round weather patterns inspire an abundance of out-of-doors strolling, sunning, supping, and sipping. Especially sipping. Here are a few of our favorite places for getting a tan and a buzz at the same time.
Pier 23 Cafe
Pier 23 (at Embarcadero), 362-5125, www.pier23cafe.com
Pier 23 is one of the few places in this water-centric city where you can enjoy an al fresco cocktail right on the edge of the bay. On a sunny afternoon, the patio's palm trees, surfboards, and ambient reggae create an atmosphere of tropical languor, right on down to the drifting sailboats and the sound of waves lapping against the seawall. Heat lamps and tented seating are available during squalls and tempests, and there are top-shelf margaritas to encourage that West Indies outlook. Live music nightly except Mondays.
In the Phoenix Hotel, 601 Eddy (at Larkin), 885-5088, www.bambuddhalounge.com
The Phoenix Hotel's poolside patio is an oasis of retro-Miami chic amid the grit and grime of the Tenderloin. Settle into a buffed maple recliner near the cerulean swimming pool, order a Lotus Flower with a twist of lemon, and study the constellations, moonbeams, or encompassing glitterati. Two peaked pagodas, a bamboo grove, wrought-stone icons, and hanging lanterns add a hint of tiki to the lime-and-aquamarine setting. House cocktails include the Guavapolitan, the Monkey Cocotini, and the Thai-My; happy hour happens Wednesdays through Fridays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
B Restaurant & Bar
Yerba Buena Gardens, Upper Terrace, 720 Howard (at Third St.), 495-9800www.brestaurantandbar.com
Floating above the frenzy of downtown S.F. is the B Bar, a rooftop-garden refuge with climbing vines, blooming plants, cascading water, and a view of the wide blue yonder. The bar's sleek glass-and-flagstone look is accented with a long galleria-type arbor, a waterfowl-friendly stone pool, and impressive vistas of the gardens below and a striking array of urban architecture to the north. It's a calm and contemplative place to watch the setting sun reflect off those gleaming towers over a glass of Pinot, a bottle of Anchor Steam, or a cool ginger rickey. And oysters are only a buck apiece during happy hour (4-7 p.m.)!
478 Green (at Grant), 981-2044, www.boccecafe.com
A few steps uphill from Grant and Green's festive high-jinks is the portal to the Bocce Cafe, where a long trellised passageway beckons you within. Follow it to the cafe, walk through the restaurant to the glass doors in back, and you'll find yourself in a tucked-away secret garden bordered by clapboard Victorians, redwood arbors, and dripping foliage. Branches from the trees growing through the planked-wood deck form a protective, sun-dappling canopy, and there's a friendly cat to keep you company while you enjoy a martini and a platter of carpaccio. Live jazz Friday and Saturday nights.
Jay'n Bee Club
2736 20th St. (at York), 824-4190, www.myspace.com/jaynbeeclub
The Jay'n Bee Club is nestled in an unassuming corner of the Mission among residential houses and low-slung brick office buildings. The neighborhood bar's well-appointed interior is refreshingly free of pretension, kitsch, and crap. But best of all, there's a surprise awaiting you. The door in the back leads to a charming patio. It's large enough to rarely feel crowded, and small enough that it can feel like your own backyard on a lazy Saturday afternoon. You won't be shouting to be heard here. The Jay'n Bee also serves a menu of bar classics, including Buffalo wings (with celery sticks and blue cheese) and Anchor Steam-battered fish and chips, all for less than $10. Grab a beer, a bite, and a piece of patio furniture, and prepare to unwind.