It’s a design trend that’s been growing over the past few years, but it suddenly exploded — these days, bars and restaurants seem to be downright dripping with plants. No longer an accent or an afterthought, plants seem to be everywhere, patterned in the wallpaper, printed on the menus, and living and thriving in dining rooms across the Bay. For all those craving green, here are some of the lushest, greenest, most overgrown dining rooms in San Francisco and Oakland.
Buzzy and newish vegan restaurant Wildseed centers plants on the plate and carries them through the design. In addition to brushes of green paint and turquoise tiles, spiky palms wave from corners, lacy ferns festoon the railings, and even outside in the parklets, thick little succulents root between the seats.
Macondray cocktail bar in Russian Hill serves spicy margaritas and lobster rolls in a gorgeous green space with plants literally climbing the walls. Designer Marissa Jade Marsh specifically installed a shelf running the length of the dining room, so owner-bartender Aaron Paul could rack up 50 to 60 plants, many gifted by friends and family.
From the team behind Michelin-starred Kin Khao, sister restaurant Nari opened within Hotel Kabuki and promptly won the Eater Award for Design of the Year for 2019. Lundberg Design pared down the space to minimalist wood and concrete, installed Thai fabric banquettes and sweeping light fixtures, and brought it to life with lush plants, transforming the two-story space into a Thai greenhouse.
Propagation is a hot new cocktail bar in the Tenderloin, with well-worn leather Chesterfields and wingbacks, and an array of nearly 60 plants, like the overgrown living room of your dreams. Co-owner and designer Lauren Nguyen says she often has to hold back on the plants she recommends to clients who are scared of maintenance, but for her own bar, she went all in.
Leo’s Oyster Bar
One could argue that Leo’s was an early tastemaker on the plant trend. It opened a good five years ago as a glam garden party with tropical patterned wallpaper, green-and-white tiled floors, and an atrium filled with feathery ferns. And despite a few fits and starts during the pandemic, it is officially back open, so grab a reservation for oysters, caviar, and lobster roll.
Bringing a breath of fresh air to downtown happy hour, Nightingale channels inspiration from the fern bars of the 70s. But instead of the traditional Tiffany lamps and sticky sweet drinks, the Future Bars team updated the concept with green walls, hot pink neon, disco balls, and fresh punches. Over-the-top frilly ferns hang from chandeliers and cacti are ensconced in the walls.
Son & Garden
From the always colorful and creative Farmhouse Kitchen team, Son & Garden is an over-the-top garden tea party in the Tenderloin. A breathtaking 20,000 artificial flowersthe space, which the team says they painted, cut, and installed themselves. It quickly became a social media sensation with dreamy reels on Instagram and TikTok.
Peacekeeper cocktail bar in the Tendernob digs into Oaxacan flavors, and the agave goes further than the drinks. Designer Brit Hull installed a big skylight that actually retracts to open the roof and drench the space in light, and Kelly Valentine, wife of co-owner Nate Valentine, filled the room with nearly 50 plants, cultivating an urban sanctuary.
In Uptown Oakland, Duende serves tapas and cocktails in a vibrant space, but with social distancing and capacity restrictions, the team didn’t want to pull out tables and leave dead space. General manager Oona Wong worked with Lauren Borden of Delano Nursery to fill the gaps and bring new life to the space in the form of nearly 20 plants and growing.
Sobre Mesa in Oakland swung open as a lush tropical lounge in 2020, serving rum cocktails and snacks reflecting the Afro-Latino diaspora. Designer Cassandra McCall of Gold and Rust styled out the jungle green space, layering leaves in the pattern of the wallpaper, printed on the menus, and yes, in the form of nearly 30 live plants, from small vines hanging from the ceiling to massive potted palms secluding booths.
Still craving something green?