The Most Laid-Back Spots For Outdoor Drinking in San Francisco's Summer

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice drink out doors? With indian summer showing signs of life in the Bay Area, and Mission Dolores Park out of commission for the big renovation, it may seem like there’s nowhere to go.

But San Francisco has its share of patio spaces (as illustrated by this exhaustive list of 89 different spots). There are always the popular spots like Pier 23, Americano, Zeitgeist, and the Hi-Dive (especially during home Giants games), or during the day Mission Rock Resort and The Ramp. While you’ll find us there sometimes, we like places that can be a little more intimate. Or have good food. Or are simply as interesting and weird as we are.

[jump] The Bernal/Mission area has an embarrassment of riches with these outdoor spaces. The Royal Cuckoo with its vinyl collection rules the roost, but get some fresh air in the backyard area (and free barbecue on Sundays). Nearby El Rio hosts some lively entertainment with everything from burlesque shows to outdoor cinema nights. Cheap drinks, free oyster night, and barbecues on the huge patio make this a hit. A little calmer (though not much) is Virgil's Sea Room where you can pick up a couple of pitchers of cocktails (margaritas or mojitos) and while the afternoon or evening away.

may not have a big patio, but they do have barbecues there as well with free burgers on Sundays during the day. Not too far away is another spot with meat and a patio: Sycamore. Get your lunch on here for one of teh bar's daily specials that include a PBR. Not too far away as the Mission meets the Castro is the Pilsner Inn that gets a crowd from the hungry patrons waiting for a table at Chow. Grab a drink and head to the back where you can forget all about the 30 people ahead of you on the list.

But sometimes you really want to eat and drink, which is when you should go check out Trou Normand. Their glass-covered outdoor space sports its own bar, which is important when the drinks are this good. Bonus points for the truly spectacular charcuterie and food. Sister restaurant Bar Agricole also has a nice enclosed front dining area for higher end eats outdoors and the same great caliber of cocktails. While the space fills up quick on nice days, the patio at the new Dirty Habit near Union Square is chic and elegant, worthy of a date, or for more informal, but just as entertaining head to Sheba Piano Lounge in the Fillmore where you can get drinks, live music and Ethiopian food all at once.

For something more casual and great for large groups (or those travelling with kids, and/or dogs) are the two events that Off the Grid hosts in the Presidio. Sundays is the daytime Picnic at the Presidio which also boasts music along with the food trucks and a bar selling cocktails, wine, beer, and mimosas. Thursday evening features the smaller, but equally fun Twilight at the Presidio. Watch the sun set as the live band plays, then huddle around one of the fire pits when it gets cold. There are less food vendors than the Sunday event, but the all important bar is there, mixing up stiff and delicious drinks.

Sometimes all you want is just a glass of wine and to drink up some sunshine, which is precisely the time you should check out Arlequin in Hayes Valley. Here you can pick up a glass or two at the café or a whole bottle to enjoy in the garden (with a corkage fee to cover glassware). Closer to the Financial District the Hidden Vine offers a bocce court in a sliver of an outdoor space, where there is also wait service if your game is on a hot streak.

If beer is more your thing, then swing by Hayes Valley’s Biergarten for a big stein of beer and some of their excellent snacks. It may be more fun during the day, but nighttime is doable — just grab a blanket from the neatly folded pile. Or if you want to earn your beer with a steep walk up the hill, invite your sherpa and head up Cortland to Wild Side West. This lesbian owned bar has been here since 1976 as an informal LGBT community space, but welcomes everyone who is thirsty.

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