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Summer has made a mercury-soaring entrance. And though the Bay Area’s microclimates still sizzle and chill depending where you are, these days are pretty darn perfect for outdoor dining and sipping.
So here are some of our favorite new alfresco spots across the San Francisco Bay Area, with gorgeous patios, rooftops and decks that bring the feast outdoors.
Puesto, Santa Clara
The first Bay Area branch of this SoCal taco temple is a definite summer dining destination, from the colorful, festive decor and sensational mezcal-centric cocktails to the gourmet Mexican street food.
The patio: Furnished in bright blues, this enclosed patio wraps around the restaurant, offering hydraulic windows and plenty of seating for people-watching with a Puesto Perfect margarita, made with blue agave reposada tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice and agave nectar, in hand.
The dish: Tacos, of course. Get the trio ($16) and make sure it includes the award-winning chicken al pastor taco which is topped with melted crispy cheese, hibiscus and chipotle tinga, avocado and piña habañero pico.
Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack, Oakland
Farm League Restaurant Group (Drake’s Dealership) is behind this fast-casual restaurant and beer garden, which opened last year in MacArthur Annex, a mixed-use space constructed from shipping containers. With 17 local craft beers and ciders on tap and chef Michael Williams (formerly of Rivoli, Corso and Gregoire) churning out gourmet pizzas and bar snacks, North Oaklanders need look no further for alfresco fun.
The patio: Rows of wooden picnic tables provide plenty of seating in this family-friendly, dog-friendly beer garden. Tables are enclosed in booths fashioned from wooden slats to provide a bit of privacy. Don’t miss the sandbox for toddlers and the magnetic board for kiddos.
The dish: A slice of piping hot veggie (or meat) of the day pizza ($3.75 each) washed down with a pint of Social Kitchen’s Who Let the Dog Stout ($6.50), plus a malted vanilla soft-serve on an old-school cake cone ($3.60) for dessert, natch.
Details: Open from 11:30 a.m. daily at 4006 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, steps away from MacArthur Bart; www.arthurmacs.com
Mersea, Treasure Island
The brainchild of Waterbar executive chef Parke Ulrich, this pale green compound — built from 13 repurposed shipping containers as a nod to the bay’s shipping ports — frames epic views of the San Francisco skyline. Add in cocktails, bocce and tasty bites, and you could spend an entire day here.
The patio: Order at the bar inside one of the glass-walled containers, then grab a seat outdoors on the crushed-rock expanse, where tables and benches share space with bocce courts and two putting greens.
The dish: Brunching? A chorizo scramble ($13) provides just the right zesty wake-me-up, or go for the brioche French toast with pecans ($11), if you’re feeling indulgent. Besides, Bloody Marys ($12) count as veggies, right? There for lunch or dinner? A double-stacked cheeseburger ($12), baby.
The Palms, Los Gatos
This stately 1891 Queen Anne has been home to a California coastal classic (the Chart House), a Michelin star winner (Trevese) and a high-end Mexican/Latin restaurant (Palacio). Now it’s The Palms, an upscale restaurant with a Pacific Rim focus.
The patio: Dozens of tables set up on the brick walkways in front of the Victorian offer a great view of the scene on Santa Cruz Avenue, the city’s buzziest boulevard. There’s seating for about 90 diners.
The dish: The island-inspired menu offers both surf (Hawaiian ahi, $18, and sea bass in miso-ginger broth, $40) and turf options (filet, $38, and kalbi ribs, $28). But you can’t go wrong ordering the signature Lobster Bisque ($8, $12) and sharing the rich Palm Burger with truffle fries ($22).
Details: Open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 10 on Friday and Saturday and until 8 on Sunday, plus weekend brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 115 N. Santa Cruz Ave.; www.thepalmslosgatos.com. Take a peek inside here.
Batch & Brine, Lafayette
Open just a few weeks, this hot spot — from the same restaurateurs that gave us Broderick Roadhouse in Walnut Creek — is sleek and relaxed. Huge fold-back windows bring the outside into a dining room that’s all about exposed brick and murals by street artist Berk Visual. Outside …
The patio: A wrap-around patio and lounge invite guests to linger over brunch, dinner or drinks. And there’s a fire-pit to keep things toasty when the evening air cools down.
The dish: Elevated gastropub fare rules at this new craft kitchen. Don’t miss the fried chicken sandwich ($15), topped with housemade pickles and slaw and accompanied by addictively crisp fries. Who needs ketchup, when you can order a trio of tasty little sauces ($3) — Calabrian chile aoili! — for dipping.
Salt Craft, Pleasanton
Matt Greco made his name locally as executive chef of Livermore’s Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, then decided to branch out on his own. He renovated a 1930s bungalow in downtown Pleasanton and turned it into a cozy all-scratch kitchen and bakery earlier this year.
The patio: It’s the only place to sit because this is an alfresco restaurant — as in all alfresco, all the time. Diners sit under dark blue umbrellas and shaded pergolas.
The dish: Greco’s signature Lamb Pastrami on house-baked rye with pickled onions ($14, available as a sandwich or appetizer) is a big hit at brunch and lunch. At dinner, look for Mom’s Chicken Apricot Bake (baked with fennel and chardonnay, $27). Pastas and desserts (think Cherry Upside Down Cake, $8) are all made in-house, too.
Details: Dinner is served nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. Weekday breakfast hours are 8 to 11 a.m. and lunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend brunch, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 377 St. Mary St., Pleasanton. www.saltcraftpleasanton.com. Take a peek inside here.
Papi Rico, San Francisco
This bright, colorful new cantina is all about bringing the party vibe of Puerto Vallarta to the Castro District. The instant you walk in, you’ll be snapping selfies against those Speedo-covered walls before ordering your beach-evoking cocktails and following the pinata-lined hallway outside.
The patio: This dog-friendly, backyard-style hangout features everything you need to sip the day away, including, most importantly, a tropical bar, bistro tables for two and a mural of fluffed and buffed surfers straight from the sands of El Malecón.
The dish: Easy. Dos Salsas E Guacamole ($10), which comes with warm, thick and salty house-made tortilla chips and the most addictive smoky salsa. Wash it down with a cold cerveza (a bucket of five is $20) or a cocktail, like the Sayulita ($12), a refreshing mix of sotol, a distilled spirit, chile and pineapple.
Palermo, San Jose
Late last year, the little house in San Jose’s Del Monte Cannery neighborhood that for decades was known as Paradiso’s Deli changed hands — Italian ones, of course — and become Palermo. Veteran restaurateurs Renato and Diane Cusimano kept some of the Paradiso family’s recipes and added many of their own.
The patio: Just in time for the warm weather, the parking lot has been turned into an outdoor dining area — with its own bar. Soon the colorful Sicilian cart that graced the Cusimanos’ Palermo restaurant on South Second Street back in the day will find its rightful place at this location. (BTW, the overflow parking lot remains open across the street.)
The dish: Classic Italian, with Meatballs ($13.95), Eggplant Parm ($14.95) and lemon-garlic Chicken Scarpariello ($21.95). This being a Sicilian place, you know there’s cannoli ($7.75).
Details: Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast/brunch starting at 7 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to closing. 791 Auzerais Ave., San Jose. www.palermosj.com
Barranco Cocina Peruana, Lafayette
This colorful hot spot is chef Carlos Altamirano’s seventh Peruvian restaurant (Parada, La Costanera, Mochica) and the place sizzles with energy and decibels. Inside, where murals by Bay Area artists Letty Samonte and Bridget Moser adorn the walls, wood-topped tables are crowded close together and ceilings soar — and sound bounces everywhere. Which is why we’re so stoked for summer, because the patio …
The patio: Bright sunset-hued umbrellas shade the peaceful patio out front, where four-tops offer views of Lafayette’s downtown along with those flaky empanadas and Pisco sours ($13).
The dish: Best share that delicious chicken empanada ($12), so you’ll have room for the meltingly tender Adobo ($23), a Snake River Farms pork shoulder braised in a Cusqueña-aji panca base and served over a potato gratin.
Details: Open from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, until 10 Friday and Saturday, plus brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday at 3596 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette; barrancokitchen.com. Take a peek inside here.
Scroll Bar Waterside Kitchen, Redwood City
Open since January inside the Pullman San Francisco Bay Hotel, this stylish modern seafood restaurant and bar is totally appropriate for a client lunch or after-work drinks with your boo. Take in the chic denim-blue and light wood interiors and feel free to plug in. Every seating area is equipped for devices. Scroll, get it?
The patio: Head over to this outdoor patio at sunset, when the fire pits are roaring and you can sit at orange bistro two-tops overlooking the Redwood Shores lagoon and watch the lights twinkle on the water.
The dish: Hawaiian chef Mariano Lalica’s Ahi Poke Stack ($18), with cucumber, kim chee, avocado and wasabi caviar, is among the most popular dishes. Try it with one of the bar’s craft cocktails, like the Digital Detox, made with Laughing Monk’s 3rd Street Pale Ale Whiskey, housemade tea syrup and lemon juice.
Details: Open from 6 a.m. daily at 223 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City; http://scrollbarkitchen.com
Top 10 coolest new alfresco restaurants in the SF Bay Area