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Visiting from L.A. w/ Kids for 5 days

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HI SF Hounds --

I'm an LA Hound who lived in SF from 1982-86; in those days the best places were Zuni Cafe in SF and Bay Wolf in Piedmont, and la Cumbre right around the corner from my flat. I guess they're still around but this time my partner and I and our two daughters (10 and 6) are all visiting together. It'll be the girls' first time in SF. We're staying at the Renaissance Stanford Court near Union Square, will have a car, but probably prefer not to drive too much. We'd love some suggestions for

Chinatown (no spicy Szechaun, please) for dim sum and dinner
anything near where we're staying
South of Mission area
Marin County area (Sausalito, eg)

For the most part, we want affordable, interesting and lively, plus maybe ONE place for a more special dinner. The kids are getting more and more interested in being little hounds (they loved their spring trip to NOLA for example) and have eaten most cuisines in LA. They love Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian, French, Italian. Their only real issue is that they don't have huge appetites, don't like spicy and they are still quite challenged by extended eating periods, so no tasting menu suggestions please!

We will be first in Columbia STate Park and then driving to SF, so any finds in Columbia or on the road are much appreciated as well!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Many threads every month on Union Square and Chinatown dim sum. Here are a couple to start with.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/409432

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/375613

    1. NAspy -

      I started a similar thread and we are in very much the same situation ->
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424363
      My wife and I have been to SF several times on our own, this is 2nd time taking the kids (who are roughly same age as yours). If you work your way down the thread you'll find the "short list" I had narrowed down to after getting suggestions and reviewing the board.

      My general thoughts:
      dim sum - Yank Sing, if not the best, is at least reliable and spanking clean, 2 locations SOMA/Financial District. In Chinatown, my dim sum choice (which I've not yet tried) would be Gold Mountain based on food quality / dive ratio. For non dim sum, we've also liked Great Eastern in Chinatown, which has huge fish tanks (food not decoration) which entertained the kids and good food.
      Union Square/SOMA (I assume you meant South of Market and not South of Mission?) - I think most of the places recommended in the Union Square thread referenced by another poster will be too slow and fussy for the kids (ours at least). I'm not in love with much of the eating directly around Union Square, though there are a couple Vietnamese places due west (Anh Hong, Turtle Tower) that look interesting. Relatively close by we are considering TWO ("California" cuisine), Perbacco (Italian), Jeanty at Jack's (French), Kyo-Ya (Japanese). Also just a little further (at the Embarcadero end of Market) is One Market where I have a recollection from last time we were there they actually had a kid's menu (and good food for grown-up tastes too). We're also doing Zuni, which I've never been to in our many visits, and appears to still come highly recommended by locals.

      If we make it down to Mission/Noe Valley there are a couple Italian places which were consistently recommended - particularly Incanto and La Ciccia.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Frodnesor

        Would second La Ciccia. I go there w/ my seven-year old son. Excelent pasta & seafood dishes as well a unusual selection of Sardinia and Italian wines. Note that it is a fairly small place so it's best to go early or make a reservation.

        In Chinatown we like Hunan's Home. Not the fanciest, and certainly has a fair number of tourists, but it's a comfortable, standard chinese place to eat w/ kids.

      2. There's also this place called Chenery Park in Glen park. We just had dinner there on Tuesday night and its their "kids" night but I think you could take kids there on any night of the week and its ok. Great food, fun menu but not too quiet and pretentious. Also nearby is Mitchell's ice cream so you could stop there after dinner for dessert.

        1. I would highly recommend Chow at Church and Market as a great spot to take kids. The food is affordable, fresh and quick, the atmosphere is fun and its really consistently good.