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How to Find Bay Area Restaurants That Are Open for Outdoor Dining

The best ways to figure out where to sit outside for a bite

A cyclist spins past diners on Valencia Street.
Patricia Chang

Well, it’s official: Outdoor dining has reopened everywhere in the Bay Area, with San Francisco the last to reopen at 8 a.m. on January 28, 2020.

Some restaurants say that they’re not going to open for outdoor dining immediately, due to factors like the San Francisco cold, the expense of temporary tables and chairs, or fears of COVID-19. Others are waiting until the rainy season lets up, as it’s expected to in early February. But according to the San Francisco Council of District Merchants, hundreds and hundreds of restaurants — most of which have been indoor-only until now — launched outdoor dining when it was last allowed, and are eager to resume.

San Francisco is home about 4,000 or so restaurants, and — if the pandemic-era pivot to takeout is any indication — more of those venues than not will also make a move to open outside. That makes any single, comprehensive, list a significant challenge to manage, but several local publications have launched lists that should get you well on your way to a seat on the street.

Current Guides

San Francisco Restaurants Reopened For Outdoor Dining [The Infatuation]

This running list (last updated on January 25, 2021) has a nifty click-to-jump-to-a-neighborhood navigation at its top, which means that you don’t have to scroll through entries for, say, the Bayview, Bernal Heights, Castro, and Cole Valley before you can see what spots in Cow Hollow are available.

320+ Outdoor Patios in San Francisco Now Open [Funcheap SF]

This running guide, last updated on January 25, 2021, might be the most thorough out there, with notes on which neighborhood is home to the restaurant,a linked restaurant name, and details like food type, number of tables, and even how windy a spot might be. It also loads lightning-fast on a mobile connection.

The Open Restaurants Map [the City of San Rafael]

This interactive map is intended to allow Marin County residents to find outdoor dining based on submissions from local restaurants. Don’t waste your time with its search function, which is glitchy and sends you to street addresses unrelated to the venue you’re looking for. Instead, stick to the map overview, then click on the blue map points for information on individual restaurants’ offerings.

Older Guides

These guides were a great resource when outdoor dining was open in 2020, but we suggest that you double check their information with a phone call or a look at a restaurant’s Instagram account.

The Resy Guide to Heated Patios and Cozy Outdoor Tables in San Francisco [Resy]

Published in early November of 2020, this guide has an eye to the region’s plummeting temperatures. It appears to be mostly concerned with serving folks on the east side of the city, as west of Divis diners are only offered a single choice.

Where to Dine Outdoors in San Francisco, by Neighborhood [7x7]

This guide hasn’t been updated since September 22, 2020 and is subdivided by neighborhood then ordered alphabetically, including details like if a spot is heated, has a roof, or accepts reservations

Here are all the San Francisco restaurants reopening outdoor patio seating [SF Gate]

The autoplay pop-up video ads on SF Gate’s mobile and desktop sites can make opening this list a frustrating experience (on mobile, closing the video prompts an animated ad that slows performance significantly). The list, itself, was last updated on September 30, 2020 and is divided by neighborhood, which is great if you’re looking for a spot close by. Each entry is a linked restaurant name, address, phone, and hours.

Restaurants open for outdoor dining [Berkeleyside]

This list of East Bay restaurants is so great that it makes one regret living in San Francisco. (Not really. Maybe a little?) There are checkboxes to let you filter by city and offerings, including in-house delivery, outdoor dining, and even drive-through options. There are links for the restaurant site and delivery options, as well as details on food style and hours.