Under normal circumstances, the Fourth of July is a day of when Bay Area residents to head to the nearest waterfront park, set up a picnic blanket, and settle in to enjoy the fireworks. Of all fireworks shows have been canceled this year — apart from the unsanctioned ones you’ve been hearing in your neighborhood on a nightly basis — as local municipalities exercise caution amid the surging coronavirus pandemic.
How’s a patriotic, or just beer- and barbecue-loving, person to celebrate then? The overwhelming advice from public officials is simply this: Stay at home.
The mayors of cities — and popular beach destinations — like Santa Cruz, Pacifica, and Half Moon Bay have asked people, especially out of towners, to refrain from flocking to to the beach. And during a press conference about the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom stressed that Bay Area residents should under no circumstance organize or attend Fourth of July barbecues with people they don’t live with. “One of the areas of biggest concern as it relates to the spread of COVID-19 in this state remains family gatherings,” Newsom said. “I hope you’ll reconsider those gatherings with people you do not live with that are not in your immediate household.”
Fortunately, the local restaurant scene is well adapted to the new takeout-oriented reality at this point, and they’re offering a slew of special packages, meal kits, and takeout deals that make easy to eat very, very well this Fourth of July weekend — even if you are just doing it in the comfort of your own backyard or dining room. Here are a few of the most appealing options:
Ribs and lobster rolls from Ernest
Ernest, chef Brandon Rice’s hotly anticipated Mission District restaurant, has an impressive lineup of summery options for Fourth of July weekend, including BBQ baby back ribs, New England-style lobster rolls, and a big bucket of fried chicken. Order online for pickup — on Friday, July 3 for San Francisco customers, and on Saturday, July 4 in Walnut Creek.
A Japanese-Hawaiian picnic from Restaurant Nisei
For the July 4 holiday, Restaurant Nisei, the year-old pop-up and forthcoming restaurant specializing in washoku-style Japanese home cooking, is offering everything you need for a Japanese-Hawaiian picnic: kalua pork, Japanese potato salad, grilled corn with togarashi mayo, Spam musubi, and more. Order the $70 prix fixe picnic pack online for pickup or delivery on July 4.
BBQ kits from the Morris
In the realm of non-barbecue restaurants that are serving barbecue this weekend, the Morris’s offerings are some of the most impressive-looking: a half-pound of brisket, a half-pound rack of ribs, two links, and sides — enough food to feed two — for $80. Everything’s pre-cooked and just needs to be reheated, and since it’s the Morris, you’ll almost certainly want to dig into the restaurant’s legendary wine list while you’re at it. You can order online, and the restaurant is also now open for outdoor seating.
Mexican barbecue from Lalos Asados
For a distinctly Mexican take on barbecue, check out this San Leandro-based popup, caterer, and true East Bay original. On July 4, Lalos Asados will be posted up at San Leandro’s Empire Smoke Shop, slinging a rack of ribs, mac and cheese, and potato salad for $40, plus a limited number of whole spatchcocked grilled chickens. Text orders to 510-282-5932, or order via Instagram DM.
Buy-one-get-one-free deal from Ike’s Sandwiches
If, on the other hand, your main motivation this weekend is to hunt down a good deal, this one might be worth seeking out: On July 3 and July 4, all Ike’s Sandwiches locations are offering buy-one-get-one-free sandwiches.
Outdoor mini golf and food trucks at Parklab Gardens
For those who do feel comfortable venturing out for a socially-distanced outdoor activity, Parklab Gardens touts itself as running SF’s only outdoor mini golf course, Stagecoach Greens. It’s open, with various social distancing protocols, just in time for the July 4 weekend, and has a rotating selection of food trucks on site. Reservations for tee times are required.