South Bay Area Outdoor Dining (In two months)
May 2, 2021 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had experience with restaurants in the south San Francisco Bay area that are taking COVID seriously and running outdoor dining setups that are reasonable? My in-laws have expressed a strong preference to meet us for outdoor lunch or dinner in late June, and I'm trying to do the leg work to keep everyone as safe as possible, so general COVID risk management input greatly appreciated.

Everyone in this group will be at least a month post-vaccine, and we've agreed that we'll cancel if the numbers take a turn for the worse. We've been very careful so far (takeout only), so we're not sure what's out there for outdoor dining options in our area. The few restaurants I've seen on my walks around our neighborhood have small, crowded outdoor tables, and plastic blocking off airflow on multiple sides which might as well not be outdoors, and I wouldn't eat at any of them right now. I'm hoping someone here has knowledge of some place doing better.

If it were up to me, we would not do this, but my wife really wants to see her parents too. Her parents are taking a weekend road trip and will pass through the area regardless of what we do. Our choice is basically "how do we interact with them, given that they will want food and drink?" I think my ideal would be an outdoor, masked walk, but I fear that will be a hard sell.
posted by Alterscape to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
What about doing a fancy picnic at a nice park instead? Tables are widely-spaced even in the Before Times.

Alternatively: what are your travel limits? I mean, would you go down to Gilroy?
posted by aramaic at 9:30 AM on May 2, 2021

Response by poster: I would love to do a picnic in the park, and our plans to hang out with friends again as we all get vaccinated will look a lot like that. Unfortunately my in-laws are big wine drinkers so they would prefer a location where they can order wine. That pretty much means a restaurant. I’m willing to push for a picnic for safety reasons, but I’d like to at least try to accommodate their preferences. If the answer is “all patio dining in the South Bay is handled in needlessly risky ways,” then so be it and I’ll push for a picnic.

I’m open to ideas in Gilroy or other outlying areas if that’s where the spaced-out open-air dining really is.
posted by Alterscape at 9:43 AM on May 2, 2021

Best answer: I think the difficulty is that none of us can predict what restaurant setups will be like in late June, especially because Governor Newsom has said that June 15 is the target date for a "full reopening" of California. Yes, if numbers take a turn for the worse, they will put the brakes on, but the Bay Area is doing extremely well in terms of case numbers/vaccination rates and IMO there's a good chance that the June reopening will happen. And if it does, I assume that a lot of restaurants will pack their tables more closely together, move to encourage indoor dining, etc. So even places that are taking strong precautions now are likely to relax them by late June, and I don't know if anybody can recommend a restaurant that we know will meet your COVID-precaution standards after the state reopens.
posted by clair-de-lune at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Try King's Fish House. When we were there, the outside seating was well spaced, had a heat lamp, was nicely breezy (i.e. actually outside, not in a tent) etc. Unlike a lot of places that are putting folks in their parking lots, this seating area is in a peripheral outside area of a mall.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:19 AM on May 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: they would prefer a location where they can order wine.

Picchetti Winery; BYO food, buy wine there, drink outside there (it's allowed despite being an Open Space Preserve).
posted by aramaic at 11:07 AM on May 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Murphy St in Sunnyvale has all restaurant seating outside and it’s a mixed bag in terms of spacing & partitions but a number of them have well-spaced tables.
posted by GuyZero at 2:34 PM on May 2, 2021

I’ve been to Picchetti (mentioned above) recently with family and it was perfect! Outdoor, well-spaced tables and the tasting room is geared completely toward get your glass/bottle and then go right back outside. People were masked unless they were seated at their own tables, and you can bring a great picnic. Bathrooms on site and you can stroll around the grounds (and see the peacock), too.
posted by quince at 5:24 PM on May 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ridge Vinyards is also in Cupertino and has very spaced out outdoor tables where you can bring your own food. Tastings are by appointment currently.
posted by GuyZero at 5:50 PM on May 2, 2021

Best answer: We've been to Nido's Backyard twice in the past year. Large, open, airy but sheltered with heaters if need be. The food is pretty great and I really love their cocktails. You must have a reservation. You can read their guidelines on their site- you'll need masks, ordering can be contactless if you like (via phone), tables are spaced far apart.

We've been out to dinner or drinks a grand total of four times in the past year, and Nido's has been half those visits. Generally Oakland has been excellent with masks and caution and Nido's has been great so far.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:27 PM on May 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pre-pandemic, Pizzeria Delfina in Palo Alto had a lovely outdoor garden (and a pretty nice wine list). They take reservations and you don’t have to walk through the restaurant to get to the garden.
posted by A Blue Moon at 6:56 AM on May 3, 2021

Best answer: Downtown Saratoga is surprisingly deserted, I've noticed. The tables at Sipan were very comfortably set apart, and not much foot traffic.
posted by Lady Li at 10:31 AM on May 3, 2021

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