TABLEHOPPING Ahhh, the much-maligned San Francisco "summer," the 62-degree, socked-deeply-in-the-fog days we love to hate on — but secretly cherish when the rest of the country is melting in 98-degree temps with sauna-like levels of humidity. But we are a hardy bunch. We proudly don our scarves with a flourish as we sit on patios drinking pitchers of beer, our stripy sweaters like badges of honor as we attend windy picnics in the park, eating corn on the cob (that was grown somewhere warm, definitely not here) while wearing fingerless gloves.
Since the calendar says it's summer — even though some days almost require a parka — we have a restaurant summer salute for you: your cheat sheet of new restaurants with patios and sidewalk seating, plus recently opened spots that are just plain hawt, no matter what the temperature is. Oh, and a sneak peek at a couple places opening in time for Indian summer. Sunblock optional.
Due to reopen this week is a revamped Ziryab (528 Divisadero. SF. www.ziryabgrill.com), with a brand-new look, and there will now be both the popular front terrace and a new back patio with greenery. Add in a fresh Mediterranean menu from chef Khalid al Morabet (think vegetable tagine, merguez flatbread), plus a new liquor license with cocktails from Zach Taylor, previously at Hog and Rocks. Dive into drinks like the Ziryab Manhattan, with date-infused Bulleit rye, lapsang souchong tea, and a touch of arak — yeah, it'll keep you warm.
In the Castro, the owner of Italian hotspot Poesia recently opened Dante's Table (544 Castro, SF. www.dantestable.com), which has a back patio and garden area fittingly called "Paradiso." You can swing by for a menu of casual Italian dishes (pasta, Neapolitan pizza), plus summery classics like bruschetta with tomato or burrata and tomatoes. Bonus: full liquor! There's a happy hour from 5pm–6:30pm, with $7 cocktails, and $5 bites (suppli al telefono, fried and cheesy risotto balls...) that you can enjoy before the fog rolls in.
On the waterfront, Michael Chiarello's Spanish Coqueta (Pier 5, SF. www.coquetasf.com) has a few outdoor tables where you can watch joggers go by as you swill your gin and tonic and eat jamón iberico (we recommend you do this at lunch for maximum sun). If the wind picks up, there is the Bar5 space that flanks the restaurant, with a communal bar table, high leather chairs, and tiled floors. And it's full of windows that open and let in fresh air and light, so it's almost like being outside.
We have mentioned these other new patio-bedecked places in our weekly Tablehopping column, but here's your reminder: in North Beach, there's the latest location of Tacolicious (1548 Stockton, SF. www.tacolicious.com), serving tacos and margaritas — available by the pitcher, oh yeah — all day to put you in a Mexico frame of mind as you kick it in your sidewalk seats. Meanwhile, over in the Upper Haight (a.k.a. fog-bank city), there's Sparrow Bar and Kitchen (1640 Haight, SF. sparrowbarandkitchen.com) with its spacious heated beer garden in the back. Order one of the burgers to pair with the 14 beers on tap. Lastly, the very-soon-to-open (and heated!) back patio at Rustic (3331 24th St., SF. www.rusticsf.com) in the Mission will help you pretend you're a well-seasoned Italian man, or reaffirm your official status as one, playing on the two bocce ball courts while eating pizza.