Ocean views? Patios in the woods? Have a drink (and a bit of space) in one of these local open-air destinations.

The oh-so-swanky courtyard at the Park James Hotel in Menlo Park. (Image via the Park James Hotel Facebook page)

As many Californians prepare to venture out of their homes this summer with rising vaccination rates and eased COVID-19 restrictions, beer gardens, breweries and outdoor bars are great spots to beat the heat (while also maintaining a bit of Covid cautious spacing).

There are many go-to spots to visit up and down the Peninsula, whether as a well-deserved reprieve after a hike, a place to gather with friends you haven’t seen since before the pandemic or just an open space to enjoy the world outside of your home. Even as there remains a bit of uncertainty regarding Open Streets programs’ longevity and what’s to come from the June 15th “re-opening,” these outdoor mainstays will remain relevant throughout the summer.

For us, beer gardens and bar patios are great spaces to indulge a slice of collective calm following this past year’s storm, and these local favorites will have everything you need in this new stage of 2021 and beyond.

Scenic is an understatement: the outdoor patio at Sam’s Chowder House on the coast. (Photo courtesy of Julie Shenkman)

The Classics

Sam’s Chowder House | Half Moon Bay

This iconic Coastside spot is one of the best places to grab some grub while overlooking the Pacific Ocean — and the pandemic has not slowed the team down.

The team is adhering to San Mateo County Health Department guidelines — currently in the yellow tier — and offers guests the options of indoor and outdoor dining (as well as takeout) with mandated social distancing, staff wearing masks and masks required. The restaurant requests that guests stay no longer than 1.5 hours, to ensure all guests can enjoy the experience.

Stop by seven days a week (but be cautious of weekend crowds and wait times) for their famous lobster roll ($28.95), a bowl of clam chowder ($9.50–$13.50) or some delicious cocktails from their full bar. Because of the site’s proximity to the coast, you may want to bring a sweater just in case; the fog can definitely bring a surprising chill on a summer day.

Sam’s Chowder House // 4210 Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay // 650.712.0245

The weekend scene at Alice’s. (Image via Yelp)

Alice’s Restaurant | Woodside

A beloved stop along Highway 35, Alice’s has long been a favorite of cyclists, motorcyclists and locals alike. During the pandemic, the team has set up more outdoor seating and takeout options for customers. The team recommends customers review their orders in advance of heading over, as weekends can be especially busy. Thankfully, there is a lot of space at Alice’s, from the patio seating (with heat lamps) to the picnic tables on the lawn.

The menu is top-notch road house fare, from an always great cheese burger ($10.75) to (our recent preference) their brisket sandwich ($12.95). If you can make it on the early side, Alice’s has a great breakfast menu (read as: order the Redneck Benedict—made over homemade biscuits and sausage gravy). Best of all, it’s a full bar and their house cocktails are every bit as good as their excellent beer selection.

Alice’s Restaurant // 17288 Skyline Blvd, Woodside // 650.851.0303

The expansive (and beloved) beer garden at Zott’s. (Image via The Alpine Inn Facebook page)

Alpine Inn | Portola Valley

A tried-and-true favorite of Peninsula locals and Stanford students alike, the Alpine Inn has continued to be a beacon of outdoor drinking and eating throughout the pandemic.

The space is a popular spot both throughout the week and on weekends, but don’t worry; the staff has a knack for getting you seated quickly, oftentimes just a little after getting a tasty margarita ($10) or beer ($6–$10) in the reception area. Once seated on the expansive outdoor patio, your servers will explain the COVID-19 policies and procedures — all ordering and payment from your phone — and you’ll soon be able to dig in to a ton of great eats and drinks.

To get the full experience, we recommend digging in to: a ginger paloma ($11), a raspberry lemongrass fizz ($10), crispy Brussels sprouts ($6.95) and one of the wood-fired pizzas ($13.75–$18.75). Come hungry, and come happy!

Alpine Inn Beer Garden // 3915 Alpine Rd, Portola Valley // 650.854.4004

A lovely setting for consuming deviled eggs. (Image via the Dutch Goose Facebook page)

Dutch Goose | Menlo Park

When you think of the famous dishes as most bars and breweries, “deviled eggs” may not be your first thought. Yet, for fans of this longtime Menlo Park establishment, it’s the item that keeps people returning again and again.

First opened in 1966, the family-friendly establishment has been serving up comfort food and 12 beers on tap in the time since. During the pandemic, the team has been diligent about spacing out guests on its two patios, and currently includes limited indoor dining as well, offering guests the chance to play pool or watch the big football games as they wait.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (and until 2 a.m. on weekends), make sure to try the moon burger ($9), the tater tots ($6.75) and, of course, the spicy deviled eggs ($2.95). They’ll truly enlighten you as to why this spot is still bringing in the big bucks 55 years after it first opened!

Dutch Goose // 3567 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park // 650.854.3245

Sunny space and top-notch suds at Fieldwork in San Mateo. (Image via Fieldwork Brewing Facebook page)

Breweries & Taprooms

Fieldwork Brewing Company | San Mateo

With seven locations across Northern California, Fieldwork offers its visitors cheap eats and tasty beers.

Currently, at their San Mateo space, the team has focused on spacing out its heated outdoor seating to keep in line with county health guidelines, and offers takeout, delivery and indoor dining for patrons. Open daily from noon to 9 p.m., the space is ideal for all types of customers, noting “well-behaved adults, children and dogs” are always welcome.

The space offers guests a wide array of drafts — both as tasters and full pours — from the light and airy (21st Amendment’s “El Sully”) to hoppy and hearty (All The Pretty Colors Double IPA). Tasters start at $2, with full pours ranging from $7 to $8.50. Pair your drink with some of their sought-after food options, including housemade Chex mix with fermented honey and magic spices ($5) and plenty of sandwich options ($13).

Fieldwork Brewing Company // 3030 S Delaware St, San Mateo // 650.242.1280

(Image via the Faultline Brewing Company Facebook page)

Faultline Brewing Company | Sunnyvale

Ringing in its 27th year, Faultline focuses on creating a fine dining experience with hand-crafted beers and contemporary eclectic eats. With an outdoor patio overlooking a manmade lake, the space is ideal for an outdoor adventure, with the added bonus of more than 25 different ales and lagers year round.

Currently, the space is open for distanced patio and indoor dining daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with everything from Banh Mi Love pizza ($12 — $22) to FBC Mac N’ Cheese ($15 — $45) at the ready. Make sure to bring along your furry friends to join in on the sunshine, and don’t skip out on a beer bomb cocktail ($14) or a draft from the tap.

Faultline Brewing Company // 1235 Oakmead Pkwy, Sunnyvale // 408.736.2739

T.G.I.BeerF. at Devil’s Canyon in San Carlos. (Photo via Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company Facebook page)

Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company | San Carlos

We’ve been fans of this Bay Area haunt for many years, and the pandemic has not slowed down that adoration one bit.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing in San Mateo County, the crew has reintroduced Beer Fridays (and weekends) back into the mix for customers, with the site’s large Beer Garden open on Fridays from 4 p.m.–8 p.m., Saturdays from 12 p.m.–5 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Rules are still in place to ensure safety for staff and guests, with a six-foot distance from different parties, limited onsite capacity and enforced mask wearing except at your table.

To get the full experience, we recommend ordering the Full Boar Scotch Ale ($13.79 for a six-pack) or one of the fruit-forward brews like the Kaleidoscope Raspberry Lemon Sour Mash ($14.19 for a four-pack). For the designated driver, not to worry — try one of the site’s beloved root beers ($12.19 for a four-pack).

For fans who may be hesitant to visit, the team also offers delivery from South San Francisco to San Jose.

Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company // 935 Washington St, San Carlos // 650. 592.2739

(Image via the Out of the Barrel Taproom Facebook page)

Out of the Barrel Taproom | Campbell & Los Gatos

For Out of the Barrel’s two Bay Area locations the goal is and has always been to immerse its visitors in a small, independent craft brewery experience, and the pandemic has not slowed down that mission.

The team has been committed to showcasing beer from independent craft breweries across the state, and throughout the last year has offered a rotating selection of drafts, cans and bottles for outdoor dining and to-go service. The brand’s Instagram page showcases updates to Public Health mandates and updates to the weekly varietals regularly, so make sure to check in advance of stopping by — and bring your mask!

If you’re looking to dive into more than just some brews, check out the empanadas and the flatbread pizzas as well. You don’t want to miss out!

Out of the Barrel

1875 S Bascom Ave Suite #560, Campbell // 408.676.8332

201 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, Los Gatos // 408.827.4090

The outdoor space at Steins in Mountain View. (Image via the Steins Beer Garden Facebook page)

Steins Beer Garden | Mountain View

With 31 beers on tap, craft cocktails and a wine and rare bottle list, it’s almost impossible to *not* find what you’re looking for at this Mountain View haunt.

The restaurant elegantly balances its full-scale restaurant status with an impressive menu of modern American gourmet comfort food (courtesy of executive chef Cheke Guzman) and a laid-back German beer hall vibe, inspiring diners and drinkers to stop by for everything from weekday happy hour to late-night weekend drinks. The space is large, especially for a downtown Mountain View establishment, and service is offered both socially distanced indoors and outdoors on the restaurant’s back patio.

For the full experience, we recommend diving into a Beer Garden Cooler ($13) or one of the famous flights ($14 for 5 tasters), and chasing it down with a fresh baked pretzel ($12, limited quantity).

Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant // 895 Villa St, Mountain View // 650.963.9568

A flight of beer at Hapa’s in Los Gatos. (Image via the Hapa’s Brewing Company Facebook page)

Hapa’s Brewing Company | San Jose & Los Gatos

With large warehouse spaces in the South Bay, Hapa’s Brewing Company has been able to keep its clientele satisfied over 2020 and into 2021.

Founded by two South Bay locals Derek Tam and Brian Edwards, the team focuses on creating a great space for couples, singles, families, dogs and everyone in between. Pre-pandemic, guests could often be found playing cornhole or board games; now, there’s a bit more spacing and caution, but the ultimate neighborhood feel is still intact.

Outdoor and indoor seating is available for patrons, with food items available via a variety of food trucks outside. We recommend checking out one of the site’s flights with four different beer options, with menu offerings changing frequently.

Hapa’s Brewing Company

460 Lincoln Ave #90, San Jose // 408.982.3299

114 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos // 408.963.3942

The rooftop dining room at the British Bankers Club in Menlo Park. (Image via the British Bankers Club Facebook page)

Excellent Outdoor Spaces

British Bankers Club | Menlo Park

Of our picks, this Menlo Park establishment is definitely at the top in terms of elegance. Located right off of the main drag of the city’s downtown, the spot can appear unassuming — but once you head up to its rooftop bar, you’ll be blown away.

Open year round, BBC is committed to making sure its 21+ visitors are able to revel in the beauty and calm of its rooftop space, and in the pandemic, safety is of the utmost concern. Guests are required to wear masks and adhere to temperature checks prior to entering, with social distancing enforced, regular staff checks and contactless payments.

Once seated, make sure to try one of the team’s signature cocktails, such as the Killer Bees ($14) or the Liquid Asset ($13), and dig in to the House Smoke Salmon Toast ($19) or the selection of seasonal oysters ($21).

British Banker’s Club // 555 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park; 650.382.3191

The uniquely situated beer garden at Waterdog Tavern in Belmont. (Image via Yelp)

Waterdog Tavern | Belmont

Waterdog Tavern first opened its doors in the fall of 2016, and it’s been going strong in the five years since. Owners Toby McMillen and Anne Markle provide visitors with everything from a large beer garden beneath live oaks, takeout and delivery options and 28 taps with 24 beers.

Currently, the team is relying on distanced outdoor and 50-percent indoor dining, and asks customers to utilize contactless pay for ease of service. Tables are six feet apart and sanitized in between use. Guests are asked to wear masks when speaking to servers and walking around the space.

Further, Waterdog has been diligent in keeping up its weekly Taco Tuesday specials, with street tacos (two for $9), queso fundido ($12), house margaritas ($9) and Modelos ($6) available weekly for new and old patrons. For those interested in daytime offerings, look no further than their brunch menu, every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with specials including the Dawg Breakfast Board ($19) and the house-made Carnitas Hash ($17).

Waterdog Tavern // 1015 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont // 650.622.4642

Drinks and a view from Seal Cove Patio. (Image via Yelp)

Moss Beach Distillery | Half Moon Bay

Sitting on a cliff edge above the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean, Moss Beach Distillery has been serving up drafts, signature cocktails and small and large bites to its Half Moon Bay community dating back to the 1920s. An added bonus for your furry friends: The restaurant also has a doggie menu with treats including mini burgers and grilled hot dogs.

Moss Beach Distillery // 140 Beach Way, Moss Beach // 650.728.5595

Coastside vibes (and fried mac ‘n cheese balls) at The Barn in HMB. (Image via Yelp)

The Barn | Half Moon Bay

Although the team closed for a few months during the pandemic, The Barn is back up and running as we ease into summer. Located with lots of big open green space in Half Moon Bay, this local haunt offers old favorites, from homemade pie ($6.95) to the Mac Attack (their sublime fried macaroni and cheese balls—$6.50), to guests near and far. Pick up some grub and enjoy in the outdoor beer garden, which has a cash-only space for sodas, beers and wines.

The Barn // 3068 CA-1, Half Moon Bay // 650.560.8363

Bavarian atmosphere at Gourmet Haus in RWC. (Image via Yelp)

Gourmet Haus Staudt | Redwood City

Located just off the beaten path of downtown Redwood City, this beloved Bavarian favorite continues to serve up beers and pretzels despite the pandemic restrictions. With an outdoor setup in the space’s parking lot, guests can space out and dig in to boots of Bavarians ($5–$36), rotating drafts and specialties like the curry basket ($10) and the schnitzel platter ($18).

Gourmet Haus Staudt Gifts & Café // 2615 Broadway, Redwood City // 650.364.9232

The front of Ludwig’s on Castro Street in Mountain View. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)

Ludwig’s Biergarten | Mountain View & San Jose

Another German bier hall for our list, Ludwig’s has utilized the Mountain View Open Streets program to ensure patrons are able to fully immerse themselves in the experience. Make sure to order one of the restaurant’s delightful appetizers — such as the Jager Pommes ($9) — and get a round of the seven Bavarian drafts ($5–$32).


383 Castro Street, Mountain View // 650.260.3833

261 North 2nd Street, San Jose // 408.771.9871

The Courtyard outside the Park James hotel. (Photo by Veronica Weber)

Oak + Violet at the Park James Hotel | Menlo Park

Located in Menlo Park’s Park James Hotel, the upscale farm-to-table restaurant provides diners with a whirlwind ride of a tasty experience. Currently, the site offers both indoor and outdoor dining options, along with takeout and to-go, with spring menu offerings including beetroot cured salmon ($18), crispy oysters ($20) and an extensive wine and cocktail list.

Oak + Violet // The Park James Hotel, 1400 El Camino Real, Menlo Park // 650.304.3880

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Sometimes our work is a collaborative effort, hence the "staff" byline. The best of what to eat, see and do on the SF Peninsula.

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