Article •  San Francisco, California, USA

The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants In San Francisco For Special Occasions

Last Updated On:  March 24, 2023

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Celebrating special occasions can be overwhelming at times, especially if you don’t know where to go. If you’re looking for a unique dinner experience, the perfect restaurant to celebrate an anniversary or birthday, then look no further. After living in San Francisco for over 10 years we have finally taken the time to put together an extensive guide to the Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants In San Francisco For Special Occasions.

Outdoor dining really wasn’t a thing in San Francisco before COVID-19 and while pretty much all restaurants have opened their doors again for indoor dining, some pop-up patios and outdoor dining setups are now here to stay!

Being from Europe, outdoor dining has always been my favorite. There is just something about sitting under the open sky with good company and food.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic rooftop experience, a casual brunch spot, or a scenic dining experience there’s something for everyone on the list.

Click here to skip to the good stuff!

1. Merchant Roots

Fillmore District

$$$$ • Fine Dining

Theme-Driven Menu


Merchant Roots isn’t just fine dining, it is a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience for all of the senses. The immersive tasting menu is carefully curated by Chef Ryan Shelton who knows how to spoil your tastebuds by integrating delightful surprises throughout. The menu rotates quarterly so one month you could be having a Feast for Mermaids and then the next you could be in the deep woods eating every different type of mushroom.

This reservation-only restaurant is an absolute must when visiting San Francisco and is the perfect place to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or any intimate special occasions. The location only has two outdoor booths and a few indoor tables each decorated according to the current theme, so you can expect a calm and peaceful ambiance.

Merchant Roots is currently hosting dinners Wednesday-Saturday and every other Sunday, with seatings at 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM.

2. Foreign Cinema

Mission District

$$ • Casual-Classy

California/ International

Dinner, Brunch

Foreign Cinema might be home to the most romantic back patios in all of San Francisco. Beneath the warm glow of the string lights, expect an intimate dining experience paired with exceptional cuisine. It is an atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the city.

This casual yet classy restaurant sits quietly in the bustling Mission District and has been operating since 1999. The entrance on Mission St. and can be easily missed even though the cinematic theme can already be spotted from the outside since it looks like you are about to enter a movie theater.

The enclosed patio features nightly independent movies that flicker against the back wall and just in case San Francisco decides to bring the cold, the outdoor heat lamps keep you nice and cozy. The menu is a fusion of California and International cuisine and provides the perfect setting for a romantic date night or birthday celebration with friends. Reservations are highly recommended.

Enjoy dinner at Foreign Cinema from Tuesday to Saturday starting at 5:00 PM & Weekend Brunch (Saturday & Sunday) 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

3. 620 Jones


$$ • Casual


Brunch, Dinner & Drinks

This bar, while not an actual rooftop, sure has all the features of one. Located only a few blocks away from Union Square, 620 Jones provides one of the best outdoor dining experiences in downtown San Francisco. Situated on the second floor, 620 Jones is easily the envy of the entire neighborhood.

You can find the entrance through an impressive wrought-iron gate followed by a small alleyway leading into a spacious open-air terrace. Expect an inviting outdoor patio dotted with tables, palm trees, and romantic string lights.

This hidden gem is the perfect place to celebrate with friends for a birthday brunch on the weekends or keep it casual and grab one of their signature cocktails after work.

Should you decide to come here for Brunch, don’t miss out on their french toast, this might have been the best french toast we ever had. For a slightly different brunch experience come to 620 Jones on Sunday for Drag Brunch from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM with local drag sensation Princess Poppy.

They currently only take reservations for parties of 6+, all un-reserved tables on their gorgeous and spacious patio and interior are on a first-come-first-served basis.

4. Charmaine's Rooftop Bar & Lounge


$$$• Elegant, Casual

American / International

Brunch, Dinner, Drinks

Rising up 120 feet above Market Street, Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge offers a laid-back European vibe with stunning 360º sunset views of San Francisco.

The city doesn’t have many rooftop restaurants, so it is no surprise that this lounge made it into our list of The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants In San Francisco For Special Occasions.

Though my favorite might be the evening ambiance, snacking on crispy fish tacos & pretzels rolls, while sipping on creative cocktails as the sun sets behind the city hall, Charmaine’s is also a great place for a nice weekend brunch. Especially since it is so hard to find a nice sunny restaurant in San Francisco.

So whether you are a local looking for the perfect place for your anniversary or here on holiday staying at the San Francisco Proper Hotel, there is no better place to be on a rare warm evening in the city.

For the best seat in the house, make sure to request a table at the edge for the pristine views and a spot around one of the cozy fire pits.

The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants In San Francisco | Bare Escape
The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants In San Francisco | Bare Escape
The Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants In San Francisco | Bare Escape

5. Barcha Restaurant

Financial District

$$$ • Casual


Lunch & Dinner

Barcha Restaurant has made quite a name for itself in downtown San Francisco. Located only minutes from the Embarcadero, this Mediterranean bistro serves both the corporate clientele as well as locals and tourists alike.

The outdoor patio is chic yet welcoming, adorned with cute umbrellas and colorful carpets bringing a pop of color and all the Mediterranean vibes into an otherwise grey financial district. Heaters keep the outdoor space warm and cozy, but if you get too cold you can always ask to be reseated inside.

The experience provided feels very authentic and the servers here are so attentive. If you love Mediterranean food then this is your place!

6. The Vault Garden

Financial District

$$$$ • Fancy, Elegant

Upscale Cal-American Restaurant

Lunch & Dinner

Escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and gather in style at The Vault Garden. This spacious outdoor dining restaurant, cocktail bar & lounge is right in the heart of the financial district, sitting gracefully on the plaza of the historic 555 California building.

We really loved the atmosphere at night, an intimate dining experience within the weather-protected dining room under the sparkling lights and cozy heaters, but you can also come for lunch or simply stop by for happy hour. While the selections on the menu were few, the food was outstanding.

7. EPIC Steak


$$$ • High-end, Elegant


Brunch (only on the weekends), Dinner

EPIC Steak is a contemporary steakhouse boasting panoramic views of the Bay Bridge while feasting on delicious cuisine and handcrafted drinks. Enjoy front-row seats along the Embarcadero, and expect an exceptional dining experience you and your significant other will cherish forever.

Nash and I celebrated our 9-year anniversary here and couldn’t believe how lucky we got with the weather. It was a warm summer evening in the Bay and just as our dinner was served the Bay Bridge started twinkling, it was absolutely magical.

8. Le Colonial


$$ • Casual, Chic

French-Vietnamese Fusion


The minute I walked in, I knew I had to add Le Colonial to my list of the best outdoor dining restaurants in San Francisco.

One of my best friends took me here for a surprise birthday dinner and I fell in love with this place immediately. It is the perfect place to bring a date or go out with friends to celebrate a special occasion, or simply treat yourself to a night out on town.

The restaurant sits in a colonial-inspired building just minutes from Union Square in downtown San Francisco. Once you enter the building, you walk up a wide staircase that almost transports you to the 1920s French Colonial Vietnam. Dine amidst the slight rustle of palm trees and the glow of candlelight on the heated outdoor patio beautifully decorated with lanterns and plants. It is so romantic.

The service is outstanding, the atmosphere is on point, and the food is by far one of the best Asian fusions I had in a long time. The chef effortlessly mixes French cuisine with Vietnamese flavors, spoiling your taste buds with every bite.

9. Cavaña

Mission Bay

$$$ • Elegant, Chic

Central & South American

Tapas & Cocktails

Located on the 17th floor of the newly opened LUMA Hotel, Cavaña is the newest rooftop bar and restaurant in San Francisco. The minute you step out of the elevator you can tell that this place is such a vibe.

Inspired by the vibrant flavors of Central & South America, the menu features a mosaic of artisanal cocktails and shareable plates, each one as unique & delicious as the next.

With outdoor fire pits and 360º views of the San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge and the up-and-coming Mission Bay district, bring your date and eat under the San Franciso sky.

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