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Great meal on a Monday & Dining with kids

I'm a Philly hound coming to SF next month with my family in tow (2 kids ages 4 and 6). I am likely to have time for one great meal without kids, probably on a Monday, though possibly Sunday. I'd like something representative of the SF dining scene. It doesn't have to be fine dining, but should be creative and delicious. Any suggestions?

Also, any suggestions for kid-friendly dining throughout the city. We'll probably be hitting the Exploratorium, possibly the zoo, Fisherman's Wharf--all the touristy stuff kids like to do. I'd love suggestions to avoid the tourist traps/chains.

We'll probably be staying near Union Square, though I'm open to suggestion. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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  1. Dinner w/o the kids...
    http://www.aziza-sf.com/

    Fisherman's Wharf
    http://www.chow.com/digest/577

    Out of all of the above maybe Nick’s Lighthouse, Boudin or In-N-Out might be the best choice for kids. There's Norman's Ice Cream I haven't been there but they serve a local Ice Cream ... Mitchells which I have tried.

    In the Golden Gate Park area, Park Chow off of Irving would be good. Another laid back place that might be good in that area is Darla's burgers. Clement Street has lots of Chinese restaurants if you are into that.

    Depending on how picky your kids are food-wise you might check these "family of 6; repors
    http://www.chowhound.com/search?item_...

    Near the Exploritorium there are lots of restaurants on Chestnut St that might be good for kids.

    Hope you report back. Those famiy of six reports were really a help to other visitors.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Thank you, this was just the kind of information I was hoping for! Those links are very helpful.

      As for the Monday night dinner, Aziza looks interesting but, based on the website alone, didn't really grab my fancy. Can you expand on what is great about it? Any other recs? It will be for two or three adults, all very adventurous eaters.

      Thanks!

      1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

        It meets the reaquiremnents ... something representative of the SF dining scene ... should be creative and delicious

        It is a restaurant you probably won't find elsewhere. It is Cal-Moroccan using top-class ingrediants and a fabulous cocktail menu. Here's a few reports. If you search for more, ignore any prior to 2005 where they changed the format of the restaurant.
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36168
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43973
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37196
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356519

        I posted this sort of tongue-in-cheek because the article made it seem like breaking news where all these places are pretty-well known. However they are all good places. The first link in the topic should be.
        http://www.chow.com/grinder/2633
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393349

        Other restaurants that are the better spots that lots of people frequent ... some I have, some not ... Perbacco, Slanted Door, Boulevard, Piperade, Myth, Coi, Coco500, NOPA ... theres a bunch more, but those come off the top of my head.

        What I'm picking up though in your last post is something different perhaps ... adventurous eaters ... are you looking for more neighborhood type places that you might find in some of the grittier parts of the city like the Tenderloin? You might narrow down cuisine in that case. I'm not sure what Philly has a lot of and what cuisine it may lack. It also might be helpful to know how low you want to go.

        1. re: rworange

          Thank you so much for all of the detailed information. I think my initial reaction to Aziza was based on the fact that I've been cooking a lot of Moroccan at home lately, but it really does look terrific and I'm keeping it at the top of my list (have to consult my dining partners before a final decision).

          As to "adventurous" eating--I meant more in terms of innovative cooking with fantastic ingredients. I'd love to check out more of the neighborhood places, but I don't think it is in the cards this trip. Hopefully I'll have another opportunity soon.

          Any feedback on Slanted Door? That's another place we were thinking of.

    2. It's sort of a mini-chain here but I'd go to Chevy's Tex-Mex. Kids love it. They get to watch El Machino make tortillas and eat the dough too. Dad can have a good Margargita or beer too. Decent food. Addictive chips and made fresh salsa. Definitely not something you'd have in Philly.

      For your solo flight go for Tadich written up here often.

      2 Replies
      1. re: NoeMan

        This sounds like fun (though I'm the margarita lover in the family). Sorry to be a dope, but where is it?

        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

          Closer to Union Square are 1) 3rd & Howard SOMA (South of Market Area), 2) Emarcadero Center Financial District, or 3) 590 Van Ness Street (Near Ellis? I think?). There's also one way out at Stonestown Mall on 19th Ave

          My apologies, since I'm a Dad I somehow assumed the post was by a Dad. By all means Mom, enjoy the `Ritas!

          Tadich is a classic SF experience, not necessarily the creative thing but really a not miss SF experiennce (California Street near Battery FInancial District).

      2. On Tuesday nites Chenery Park ( in Glen Park) has a kids evening, I stumbled upon it by accident. The food at this restaurant is perfect--they always use the freshest ingredients and when my nieces come to visit I will definitely take them here.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cillick

          If you can get to Glen Park, I couldn't agree more with this reccomendation. Tuesday at Chenery Park is also "Fried Chicken Special Night." They do a great job of making families welcome and making it a comfortable scene for all of those with and without kids. The staff is wonderful and the food is uniformly good with the occasional standout dish (keep a close eye on the specials).

        2. Incanto's one of the best restaurants open Mondays. Great ingredients. According to the Iron Chef judges, the chef has 63% more originality than Mario Batali.

          Aziza's great too.

          1 Reply
          1. One other thought. Kids that age would love Bubba Gump's on Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf and there's a carousel and ice cream shops and a carnival midway sort of atmosphere to the Pier.

            4 Replies
            1. re: NoeMan

              Thanks! I was planning to spend some time around Fisherman's Wharf at least one day. Still debating whether to stay there or in Union Square for the last couple days of our trip.

              We still haven't decided on the place for dinner w/o kids, though I'm leaning heavily towards Aziza. Any feedback on Slanted Door? I know it's loud and all, but I've heard so much about it. Does it live up to the hype?

              1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                It depends.

                Do you have lots of Vietnamese in your area and are really familiar with that cuisine. If yes, you might or might not like Slanted Door. The argument is that the food is cheaper and better elsewhere.

                Well, cheaper, but SD is using top-quality ingrediants. IMO, it has gotten better recently. With each move the restaurant has gotten bigger and there was less control over the kitchen. On my visit shortly after the move to the Ferry Building it was awful. However, more recent trips is seems the kitchen has gotten used to the new bigger digs. Still with a bigger kitchen mistakes happen. It is harder to control.

                The restaurant itself is stark to me. However, there are big windows looking out on the bay, so who cares. Here's the menu.
                http://slanteddoor.com/dinner.html

                1. re: rworange

                  The food has been great every time I've gone to Slanted Door, and so has the wine list. It's everything else about the place I don't like: noisy, sterile room, indifferent service. If I hadn't been to the original location on Valencia St. I might not dislike it so much.

                2. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  I've always had great meals at Slanted Door, and while it's noisy, that's a common problem amongst restaurants in San Francisco. I've seen lots of kids there, too, (and eaten with them there) so that might be a good option for eating with your kids.