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 social distancing).There are many go-to spots to visit up and down the Peninsula, even as there remains a bit of uncertainty regarding Open Streets programs’ longevity, these outdoor mainstays will remain relevant throughout the summer.
Beer gardens and bar patios are great spaces to indulge in 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.
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. 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 cheeseburger ($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.
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 woodfired pizzas ($13.75-$18.75).
Alpine Inn Beer Garden, 3915 Alpine Road, Portola Valley; 650-854-4004.
When you think of the famous dishes at 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 indoor dining as well, offering guests the chance to play pool or watch the big 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
Steins Beer Garden
With 31 beers on tap, craft cocktails and a wine and rare bottle list, it’s almost impossible not to 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 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 five tasters), and chasing it down with a fresh baked pretzel ($12, limited quantity).
British Bankers Club
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. Although the state’s June 15 reopening lifted many mandatory restrictions, individual businesses may still require face masks, social distancing or ask about vaccination status. 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.
Gourmet Haus Staudt
Located just off the beaten path of downtown Redwood City, this beloved Bavarian favorite continues to serve up beers and pretzels. With an outdoor setup in the 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).
Another German bier hall for our list, Ludwig’s has used 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).
Ludwig’s, 383 Castro St., Mountain View; 650-260-3833.
Oak + Violet at the Park James Hotel
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.