Nosh’s 2021 in review
The East Bay’s most reliable bar and restaurant destinations
The East Bay’s best restaurant experiences
The best outdoor dining in the East Bay
The East Bay’s saddest restaurant closures of 2021

At the end of every year, East Bay Nosh surveys staffers across Cityside’s newsrooms as well as its regular writers and columnists. The goal: to bring you an overview of the region’s food and restaurant scene from our diverse group of contributors. Please keep checking back every day until the end of the for year answers to 2021’s set of dining questions — and if you’d like, add your own answers in the comments at the bottom of this article.

Today, our respondents were asked: What East Bay bar or restaurant offered your favorite outdoor dining setup or experience? 

I am not a fan of outdoor dining where you are eating on the sidewalk. But, I do understand how restaurant owners had to resort to doing that in order to stay afloat. From the few places that I checked out this past year, Grand Lake Kitchen in the Dimond had by far the best outdoor accommodations. It seems like restaurants that thought about designing outdoor space pre-pandemic came out on top. Azucena Rasilla, Reporter: Arts & Community, The Oaklandside

I love Saul’s expanded parklet. Lance Knobel, CEO and co-founder, Cityside

Nido's Backyard in Oakland offers spacious outdoor dining and a cocktail lounge with an agave-focused drink menu.
The spacious outdoor dining at Nido’s Backyard was a favorite in 2021. Credit: Nido’s Backyard

Nido’s Backyard was my first back-to-a-restaurant experience post-vaccination, and it felt so great to be there, celebrating a friend’s milestone birthday. What a great space for these times. Alix Wall, Nosh contributor and Oakland-based freelance writer

Other than Brotzeit Lokal, which I already mentioned, I think Marzano on Park Boulevard has a really nice curbside setup. They put up a sturdy canvas tent so you don’t really feel like you’re on the street, with heat lamps, and soft lighting. It has a comfortable, quiet vibe, and the food and wine there are good. Jacob Simas, Managing Editor, The Oaklandside

Mad Oak Bar N’ Yard. Ricky Rodas, Reporter: Immigrant Small Business, The Oaklandside

Nido’s Backyard is pretty awesome! Pomella is another one. Flora Tsapovsky, Nosh contributor and culture writer

The beer garden at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland. Credit: Sarah Han

The patio at El Patio doesn’t disappoint. — Zac Farber, Managing Editor, Berkeleyside

Eli’s Mile High Club right before a show at dusk with a beer and a plate of tater tots. I love a dive bar and this is just a moment of pure poetry for me. Brandy Collins, Berkeleyside, Nosh and The Oaklandside contributor

I’m still avoiding indoor dining, so I really appreciated the restaurants and bars that went the extra mile to make their outdoor experiences unique or festive. Copper Spoon definitely fits the bill: huge murals, an elegant couch, and large plants make their converted parking lot a lively and special place to have a cocktail and a bite. (For the extra-safe I should note that it’s somewhat enclosed.) Natalie Orenstein, Reporter: Housing and Homelessness, The Oaklandside

My nervous nature makes dining in parklets as cars whiz by a struggle, so I gravitated to places with patios and other off-street situations. I love Tribune’s heated outdoor space, with tables tucked against its iconic building and placed beneath toasty lamps. Like Brandy, I also treasured my evenings at Eli’s, especially since that bar required patrons to be vaccinated well before other places jumped on the bandwagon. Finally, Daytrip has a dreamy outdoor space that — when I visited this fall — had yet to open for seated dining, but was available for folks who were waiting with a glass of wine. I’m already looking forward to going back there. — Eve Batey, East Bay Nosh Editor

Top Hatter’s in San Leandro has such a nice setup! I’ve only been twice, but even outside, it’s cozy, and feels very safe. The food is really tasty, too. Jill Kunishima, Vice President of Development, Cityside

Kitchen Story on College seemed to get things going outdoors very early on. Beer Baron and Lake Chalet also have great setups outdoors. Risa Nye, Nosh contributor and memoirist 

Drinking a milkshake on the friendly heated patio at Barney’s on Shattuck is a pleasure. So is sitting with friends in the Adirondack chairs at the Factory Bar in Richmond. Joanna Della Penna, Nosh openings/closings columnist

A view of the back patio at Sam’s Log Cabin in Albany. Credit: Pete Rosos

Sometimes, when I needed cheering up during the week, I would go for a late lunch at Sam’s Log Cabin. For some reason, the sun was always shining on the days I went, and it made me happy to sit in their outdoor patio — which was mostly empty just before 2 p.m. — and soak in the warmth. The biggest decision I had to make was whether to have a breakfast dish or a lunch dish. Life felt simple on those days. Daphne White, Berkeleyside and Nosh contributor

Saul’s Deli has greatly expanded their outdoor patio and have made it easy to order, either at a kiosk or on your phone. They have heat lamps and shade, and their service is usually pretty quick. Doug Ng, News Platforms Director, Cityside