Need to Entertain Family of Picky Eaters in SF
My cousin from Cleveland is coming to town next weekend with her husband and two teenaged daughters who are very picky eaters. They have requested that I choose a place for dinner that is nice, interesting, and typically San Franciscan. Help!
Here are my ideas:
1. I am sure this is sacrilege, but I went to a wedding at the Cliff House about a year ago and the food was really good (the best wedding meal I've ever had). It was catered so it wasn't the regular menu, but it made me think that maybe the food there was ok.
2. Do they eat fish? The Pacific Cafe (Geary and 34th) is a 70s throwback and yet still seems very San Francisco to me. They have simple preparations. Be prepared to wait in line (no reservations) or do like I do, and arrive there at 4:40 and wait for them to open at 5 pm for the first tables.
3. I very much agree with Chow. We brought picky kids and they were fine there. The one in the inner sunset (9th between irving and lincoln) has a deck on the roof (covered, with heaters) which is not so noisy and a nice atmosphere. Ask to sit up there on the roof.
4. Do they eat Chinese food? A walk through chinatown, ending with dinner at Brandy Hos may work. I ate there about ten years back with visitors and thought the food was actually very good. Haven't been in that long, so I can't confirm it is still good. I know it looks like a tourist place, but you could take them to a north beach cafe for a cannoli afterward.
5. Call Il Fornaio at Levi Plaza and ask if they are seating outside - it's standard italian fare, better than average and sitting outside there is a very pleasant experience, particularly for Sunday lunch/brunch. They never seem to know in advance if they are seating outside or not. Inside is a bit stuffy IMHO. Here's a fun idea: take a cab to coit tower, then walk down the filbert steps and end the walk at Il fornaio (Levi Plaza is right there at the bottom of the stairs.) The Filbert steps are a only-in-San Francisco experience and I have taken tourists to Il Fornaio and they have been very pleased. Is lasagne ok? I think they do have pizzas there, so that may help in the (lack of) adventurousness.
6. The outdoor bar/restaurant at the Ferry Building (name escapes me) is supposed to be so-so on food (haven't eaten there) but I think they have a standard menu and what a great location. You could walk thru the building (make sure you look at the deli cases inside Delica, a japanese "deli" that has beautiful displays).
7. Nopa is a hip happening spot - the food may be a bit too adventurous for them, but you could check out the menu online. Food quality is very good and it's cosmopolitan, although it could easily be in manhattan.
I can't think of anything else right now. Good luck!