Fun, Creative, Unique Date Ideas in San Francisco: Walks, Take Out Orders, To Go Drinks, Picnics, First Dates, Coffee Dates, Urban Hikes & Bike Rides During Covid
Update July 2021: List of bars, restaurants requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests in SF
Covid Date Ideas In SF: Take-Out, Drive In, Walks, To-Go Food, Parklets, Outdoor Dining
(Read this prior post to get a glimpse into what dating in San Francisco is like before Covid-19).
As an online dating photographer and consultant SF Bay Area, I work with clients to capture photos but offer great date ideas to give them the best foot possible to relax, be themselves and open up to others. During Covid-19, I am making a few ideas available to all. This list is an updated Covid-19 version of my San Francisco Date Ideas list.
Here are my favorite places around San Francisco neighborhoods for nearly every occasion, budget, lifestyle on those socially distant dates.
Please note there are many, many other places I recommend beyond those listed below including more intimate locations, seasonal or weekly one-off events, hidden gems and date ideas beyond early dates – these are exclusively available for my clients.
Quarantine Date Ideas In San Francisco: Parklets, Outdoor Dining & Drinks
Orenchi Beyond, Mission District
If you are like me and miss sitting at the bar and miss traveling, this is your spot. Bar seating here is is the closest thing you can get to replicating the alleys of Japan for a quick hot, delicious bowl of ramen with outdoor bar seating. Heat lamps overhead and cool wind to your back is the perfect setting for a meal in San Francisco with seating away from the Valencia sidewalk.
ABV, Mission District
Fantastic cocktails, amazing burger
Barrio, Russian Hill & Ghiradelli Square
A cute little wine and beer bar and Latin kitchen in Russian Hill (founded by La Mar alumni), this is a great place for small bites, shared plates including yuca fries, tacos, quekas, ceviche and more. Their newer, bigger location in Ghiradelli Square has great views of the bay.
A great place for a beer, wine, cocktails and light bites just located within the Lombard Gate of the Presidio, away from traffic facing a beautiful green area. You can also order from here and have a picnic on the grass if you want some sun or additional space a few feet away.
Bix (Outdoor Drinks & Dining In A Jackson Square Beautiful Alley)
Bix is opening up Gold Street for dining. It’s one of my favorite streets in all of SF. Nothing quite like a warm night here sipping on martinis, espresso martinis or negronis.
The Snug, Pacific Heights
Brown buttered coffee and popcorn chicken – yes please!
Palette Tea House, Ghiradelli Square
From the people that brought you Dragon Beaux. Enough said. Now with cocktails.
Gioia Pizza Slices + Hayes Valley Neighborhood Walk
Lots of take out options murals, green space and boarded storefront art make this area a popular place to walk around. If you want a quick delicious easy snack for take out, slices from Gioia are your best bet.
A Mano, Hayes Valley
If you want a sit down place, A Mano is it. Great pizza, fantastic cocktails (get the Godfather!). Spacious street seating with no car section of Hayes Street.
Pizzetta 211 / Pearl 6101, Outer Richmond
These two places are right next to each other, with Pearl 6101 being a spin-off of Pizzetta 211. Both have extensive outdoor seating, heat lamps and the 23rd street intersection is blocked off for all through traffic for those a little nervous about dining close to traffic. While I love the pizzas at Pizzetta, Pearl has more of an extensive menu with cocktails as well.
Mandalay, Inner Richmond
Ask any local, and they will tell you their favorite Burmese restaurant in San Francisco is Mandalay. With outdoor seating, heatlamps and wine bar next door in Corks, it’s a great date spot in the Inner Richmond away from Clement Street.
Nopa – Alamo Square
While there is no more take out options for Nopa, there is now a parklet for outdoor dining and the fried chicken is still on the menu.
Bar Crudo – Alamo Square
Another Coronavirus limited menu offering are tacos from Bar Crudo. They have several options that are easy to transport for a picnic up the street. My favorite is the carne asada taco – pair this with a nice cold IPA or lager and you are good to go.
Fool’s Errand – Alamo Square
If you don’t want to commit to a meal, go straight to the booze picnic here at Fool’s Errand with a great selection of wine and craft beer to go. Follow John and crew on IG for the latest beer and wine selections added regularly.
Bi-Rite Ice Cream & Nopalito 18th Street Take-Out Window.
Nopalito across from Dolores Park: https://www.toasttab.com/nopalito-on18th–3690-18th-st/v3
Arsicault Croissants, Inner Richmond
Arsicault was closed for almost two months during Shelter in Place, but they are back up and running and you will be hard-pressed to find a better pastry in the city than warm gooey chocolate croissant from here.
Limited coffee options so if you are like me, have your partner get coffee next door at Breck’s. Take your order to go into Golden Gate Park if you can manage to eat them beforehand if not, walk it off at the park or do some grocery shopping at the farmer’s market on Clement Street.
Dumpling House, Castro
Dumplings make me happy, especially on a cold day in SF. This is one of the best takeout places in the Castro and you will be happy you ordered from here. You can take your food up to Tank Hill or Corona Heights park that are largely locals only parks so not as crowded as Twin Peaks.
San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
Select vendors remain open for takeout during lockdown but at least you can support local business, get some fresh air and take in the scenic views up and down the Embarcadero with a nice walk.
Padrecito – Cole Valley
Padrecito is opening up shortly and will feature plenty of options for takeout (food and drinks), making it an ideal place for a picnic in Golden Gate Park, Panhandle areas. Popular options include the duck tacos, chips and guacamole, margaritas and Copa Verde cocktails.
Equator Coffee – Fort Mason
Great grab and go spot to walk over the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf, hang out at the park with views of the bridge or walk down along the water toward the park. Be sure to check out the Shakerato (frothy iced espresso drink, perfect for a warm day in the city).
Jackson Place Cafe – Jackson Square
Hidden exposed brick courtyard cafe only open during business hours during the week. It’s a little more romantic and intimate during slow times without all the crowds getting in the way so you can actually focus on the calm details of the buildings and alleyways. Check out dining on Gold Street alley at Bix!
Buena Vista Cafe – Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39
Upgraded coffee from Graffeo and handmade whipped cream make Irish Coffees the perfect drink when you realize you underdressed and are freezing cold with your family on vacation. A destination place even for locals. Although to-go options can never replace the bar stool experience, this is still one of my personal SIP options.
Devil’s Teeth Baking Company
I could have lumped this place with Ocean Beach but I needed to call this place out for their amazing breakfast sandwich. It’s arguably the best in the Bay Area (two scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, avocado and lemon-garlic aioli on a house made buttermilk biscuit). You will thank me later.
Swan Oyster, Russian Hill
One of my all-time favorite places is now offering to take out orders. No more waiting in line or wondering if you will get a seat before things sell out. This is a great place to grab smoked fish and other delicious bites to go for a picnic in Fort Mason or anywhere along the water. They also have a parklet now if you want to dine there as well.
Tartine Manufactory Fried Chicken, Mission
Not near a park but there are benches around the building, newly built parklet seating or you can transport elsewhere to enjoy but the fried chicken from Tartine is one of my favorite quarantine meals thus far. I am not sure if NOPA and Tartine will stop offering fried chicken if things ease with SIP so get your fix while you can. A side of carrot hummus pairs great with the chicken and bring a knife if you order the bread loaf.
As for cocktails, the boulevardier drink is amazing. It’s strong, it’s balanced (not too sweet) and refreshing. I can drink this all day.
Rintaro, Mission District
The bento boxes are perfect for transportation and takeout and now with an easier way to order food (online ordering system vs call in) you are able to secure a delicious meal and easily transport it with you wherever you go. Everything is better in a bento box.
Wildhawk, Mission District
Cocktails with parklet seating off the side street.
Liholiho, Mission District
Liholiho launched their new takeout menu and new items are added regularly. If you haven’t had a chance to snag a reservation pre-covid, now is your chance to try out some new dishes from these folks who always put a smile on your face when dining here. There is also food kits and cocktails to go.
Place an order and walk over to Dolores Park or dine upstairs on the rooftop.
Beretta Pop-Up at Barvale, NOPA
The shuttered Barvale on Divisadero has been reincarnated by Beretta’s second location and pop-up offering pizza, brunch and cocktails with outdoor seating options and take out orders. With nearby options in NOPA, Bar Crudo, Fool’s Errand and Souvla, you’d be hard pressed to find a more happening block in the city with to go options and a park destination nearby for picnics (the other location being Dolores Park).
Chapeau! Inner Richmond
This small yet impressive restaurant now has parklet dining, sidewalk seats and a few tables tucked in away from the sidewalk in this Inner Richmond neighborhood. With aull cocktail bar, excellent 3 way duck salad, great Espresso Martinis and their own ice cream and bread made in house, this cozy, elegant restaurant is a must try. Off menu drink to try: Vieux Carre
Interval, Fort Mason
Great cocktails (very underrated). Avaialble for sit down or to-go (many people take them to go and sit across the street in the sun on a cold/windy day.
Coqueta, La Mar – Embarcadero
Both great places for drinks and/or small plates.
Wayfare Tavern, Financial District
One of my favorite restaurants has some prime real estate for outdoor dining. Low traffic street and huge alleyway provide comfortable, distanced meals. https://www.instagram.com/p/CCJbRZtn7ea/
Osmanthus Dim Sum Lounge, North Beach
As one of the newer places to open up in San Francisco, this place features covered, outdoor dining where Enrico’s and Naked Lunch use to be. With seating away from the busy Broadway street, this place provides open space dining that doesn’t seem as crammed as parklets. They were quite quick to wipe down tables after previous diners left and well who can say no to Dim Sum? Their chicken wings are spectacularly crisp and lightly breaded. The shrimp and chives dumplings are a must.
San Francisco Date Ideas, Walks, Outdoors, First Dates, Coffee Dates & More
Philz Coffee + Salesforce Park Walk (Yerba Buena Gardens)
Salesforce Park remains relatively empty these days given the empty surrounding offices. With a Philz Coffee downstairs, a nice sheltered walk with views of the buildings, varied plant life and abundant picnic spaces make this a good option in the area.
Philz Coffee Truck Marina + Wave Organ – Marina Green / Crissy Field
Great area to walk and explore on a clear day. Views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the San Francisco skyline. Iced coffee from Philz is always a great idea.
Victorian House Tour + Ice Cream Bar Sundaes – Cole Valley
Many of the popular Victorian homes are located on Waller, Cole and surrounding streets of the Upper Haight and Cole Valley. After a long walk, there is nothing quite like a refreshing sundae or scoop of ice cream at this old school ice cream bar. Even before Covid-19, this was a popular date idea for those that like to wander and explore.
San Francisco Crosstown Trail Hike
Hole in the Wall Coffee, North Beach
Easy, convenient place to grab a coffee to go as you explore North Beach, Jackson Square and Chinatown. Be sure to try their Coconut cold brew served in a coconut (perfect for a hot day). Lots of places to explore around here including views, staircases and more.
Coffee Movement, Nob Hill
Fantastic coffee shop with a standing room and a few seats outside to enjoy a fantastic chocolate cappuccino or ice coffee.
Ocean Beach Walk / Golden Gate Park Bike Rides
A large section of the park is off-limits to cars on Sundays making it easier to ride bikes around the park. Stops to see the Bison, Trouble Coffee or bites at Hook Fish are a great way to round out a date. Ocean Beach Cafe features outdoor seating, casual bites and specializes in non-alcoholic drinks.
During Shelter in place, large sections of JFK and John F. Shelley Drive are closed 24 hours a day.
Other areas great for walking are North Beach, Hayes Valley, Presidio, Marina, Ghirardelli Square, Embarcadero, Golden Gate Park, Mission Bay, Jackson Square.
Shared Spaces, San Francisco
San Francisco is slowly rolling out shared streets that will shut down select streets throughout the city allowing businesses to offer expanded outdoor seating space. Valencia Street, Grant Avenue, Hayes Street and more during select times, days. Look up the places here: https://sf.funcheap.com/city-guide/interactive-shared-spaces-map-dashboard-launched/
Best Places In San Francisco For Drive In Style, Parked Car Dates With View
Land’s End Visitors Center
Alamo Square (limited spots but ideal for trucks w/ bed)
Fort Mason Parking Lot
Crissy Field Overview
Pacific Heights – Divisadero & Broadway
Miraloma on Marietta Drive (Diamond Heights)
Market Street up Near Portola Ave
Folsom and Bernal Heights
20th & Wisconsin In Potrero Hill
San Francisco Happy Hour Guide
San Francisco Date Ideas
For other date ideas pre-Covid quarantine, here are some of my favorite spots to explore around the city.
East Bay Date Ideas (Oakland, Berkeley & Alameda)
North Bay Date Ideas (Napa, Sonoma)
South Bay / Silicon Valley Date Ideas
Marin County Date Ideas
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.
In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally.
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