San Francisco Ferry Building Fireworks (credit: Thinkstock)

The Fourth of July weekend in San Francisco has plenty of cruises on the Bay to celebrate the country’s day of independence, but there are also a number of on-land options as well. July in San Francisco can sometimes be cool and foggy, but a number of excellent bars and restaurants have outdoor patios or rooftop decks, where it can be fun to party down in the hoped-for sunshine or under the stars.  Some of these provide great views of the city skyline or people watching along a busy main thoroughfare. A few might even give you a nice view of the Pier 39 fireworks over the water on Monday night as well.

2518 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 550-6970

This rooftop bar recently appeared in the top ten most popular bar destinations in San Francisco based on an informal survey of ride-sharing users, and that coms as no surprise. El Techo, which sits above the sister restaurant Lolinda, offers good Latin street cuisine and an outdoor rooftop bar/dining area with impressive, sweeping views of the city. Drink choices include mescal cocktails or margaritas featuring Ocho Plata tequila that can pack a Fourth of July punch. This is a great place to snack on a plate of chicharrones de carne (fried pork) while savoring an impressive view of the city skyline.

399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9922

This Pat Kuleto restaurant offers some of the most expansive views of San Francisco waterfront and Bay Bridge, from either inside or outdoors on a terrace or patio. Even better, the outdoor patio has heat lamps and a fire pit, which can come in handy when you are right on the water. Fresh, sustainably-acquired fish and shellfish are the highlights of the menu here. The oysters are a popular item, especially when they are on special at one dollar apiece!

Dirty Habit
12 Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 349-1555

Although the remodeled Dirty Habit is tucked away on the fifth floor of a Union Square hotel, it has a surprisingly large back patio that includes an attractive rectangular fire pit and a fountain. Long couches and small candlelit tables make for a nice, casual vibe above the hustle and bustle of the city’s busiest square. Brown spirits are a specialty at the Dirty Habit, with hundreds of varieties, some of them rare. Soy-chili chicken wings, thick-cut fries, and a popular burger are just a few of the items on a bar menu reputed to be one of the best in the city.

STEM Kitchen And Garden
499 Illinois Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94158
(415) 915-1000

The booming Mission Bay (below AT&T Stadium) area offers a number of outdoor restaurant choices along the waterfront, which can be an ideal spot for fireworks gazing. STEM Kitchen has a beautiful heater-equipped outdoor patio that doubles as a garden where much of the restaurant’s edible selections are actually grown. This yields plenty of salad options for lunch or dinner along with vegetable influenced soups, pizzas, and main dishes. Even the cocktails originate from the garden including one that features genever (Dutch gin) with persimmon juice and lime.

Bluestem Brasserie
One Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 547-1111

If you are looking for a nice outdoor space right in the middle of San Francisco, Bluestem is a pretty good option. Their rooftop terrace is a great spot for watching the parade of Fourth of July weekend celebrants along bustling Market Street. There’s a creative cocktail menu (including a Toasted Sage Gimlet) and an extensive selection of wines. Bluestem is a meat-eater’s paradise, offering top-grade cuts and an unusual burger with apples, cambazola, and candied bacon.

Mark Albertson is an experienced Silicon Valley-based journalist who contributes regularly to the Examiner, Google News, and CBS. His work can also be found at