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Nov 26, 2007 08:31 AM

Stroller/baby friendly high-end restaurants

We're visiting SF/Marin from Miami and desperately need some quality food. The catch is we're bringing our 3 month old and can't do a 3-4 hour dinner at French Laundry.
Can anyone recommend a few really good restaurants were we could park our 3 month old in his stroller next to our table without a problem?

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  1. Chenery Park, walkable (and stroller-able) from the Glen Park BART station, is child friendly, especially on Tuesdays, which is kid's night there:(

    Are you staying in the center of town, and do you need a dinner close to your hotel?

    1. I assume your looking for high a high end experience, and not just good food (due to the French Laundry mention). If so, the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton gives you an impressive amount of real estate, so they should be able to accommodate the stroller. Also, being a hotel restaurant keeps them a bit more flexible than most other similarly high end places.

      If you simply want great food without the trappings, almost any of the Bay Area's restaurants will work. Let them know about the stroller when you make your reservation and they should be able to seat you appropriately. One tip from when we used to be in your shoes--the full on stroller is a PITA when travelling or dining out. This is when the cheapie umbrella stroller or the expensive super lightweight strollers really shine. They're nice and narrow and much easier to maneuver in crowded restaurants.

      18 Replies
      1. re: lexdevil

        Thanks for the recommendations. We've heard great things about the Dinning Room and Chenery Park looks good too. We're staying at the St Regis, but we're renting a car and definitely want to check out other areas too. How are Michael Mina and Gary Danko's restaurants?

        1. re: drmtk674

          Danko is VERY crowded with table real estate and I would say that a stroller would be a complication. It is also difficult to get reservations there. Dining Room or Campton Place would be better bets.

          Can't attest to Mina - I didn't like his SoCal restaurant and haven't bothered with his San Francisco locale.

          1. re: Carrie 218

            I'd definitely go with the Dining Room over Campton Place in the food department at the moment.

            1. re: lexdevil

              i only have the dinning room and michael mina reserved as of now, although i'm having second thoughts now. i couldn't even find campton's menu on-line.

              1. re: drmtk674

                You might try calling, if just for reassurance. We took our son to the Dining Room for his 5th birthday, and they were wonderfully flexible. At the same time, you might feel more comfortable hearing from the restaurant before going.

                I'd also recommend Chez Panisse and Oliveto as very kid/baby friendly. They are not fancy, but they are definitely fine dining (though preparations tend to be more simple/rustic/ingredient driven). It's been years, but I can assure you that I breast fed at both without incident. Also, at six months, my son was taken on a tour of the Oliveto kitchen. That was also the occasion of his first stab at solid food (he grabbed some bread from the basket and hasn't looked back).

          2. re: drmtk674

            I haven't been to GD, but on my one visit, Michael Mina seemed to cater to a expense account crowd, so a baby might not fit well there. Probably neighborhoods that have normal San Franciscans and their babies will be a safer bet than the downtown restaurants set up for the Financial District crowd.

            1. re: pane

              Any good recommendations in the "normal" neighborhoods? Anything in Marin? Is it normal out there? We are actually thinking of moving there...

            2. re: drmtk674

              If you are staying at the St. Regis, you should check out Ame. It is right in your hotel - I don't know how they feel about kids/strollers/high chairs, but it would be worth finding out!

              1. re: dinnerout

                thanks for the brilliant idea, actually. we can always walk by and check it out. unfortunately that is usually the best way to know if it'll work with the stroller, etc.. i'm assuming you've been there and recommend it..? the menu looks great.

                1. re: drmtk674

                  Ame is great great food, and I think that the tables are relatively far apart from each other. I would call them, though, and check to see how baby friendly they are, but I'd replace the MM reservation with Ame, if the restaurant seems amenable.

                  Marin is very kid friendly, in my experience, but it's been a while since I've been out to eat up there. If you do a search on the board for Marin, though, you might come up with some good ideas of restaurants to check out.

                  1. re: drmtk674

                    I totally agree with Jasmine's comments on Ame - food is great, tables are not right on top of each other, but I'm not sure how they would feel about a little one. If they are okay with it, I'd definitely go there above MM.

                    1. re: dinnerout

                      We ate ate Ame for an anniversary a couple months ago. There was a family with a stroller there and they seemed to be getting good service and doing well.

                      1. re: dinnerout

                        wow! is MM that bad? i'm guessing it's just not that good considering their prices. the tasting menu did look good:
                        thanks again for all the recommendations. Ame, Chez Panisse, Incanto and Oliveto all look like good options. Anyone heard/been to Jeanty at Jack's?

                        1. re: drmtk674

                          Jeanty at Jack's is in the Financial District and attracts more of a business crowd. Also, I believe the best seating is upstairs, so perhaps not so good for a stroller.

                          I would think Aziza might be fairly stroller accessible, as long as you let them know when you make the reservation.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I am not a fan of Jeanty at Jack's, so wouldn't recommend it stroller or not, but did want to mention just as an fyi that they do have an elevator, and the upstairs (top floor, not the mezzanine) room is large, with well-spaced tables and could easily accomodate a stroller.

                        2. re: dinnerout

                          What's up with Michael Mina's? Is it just not that good? not worth it?

                          1. re: drmtk674

                            MM is very "business-y" (think expense accounts) and thus probably not very baby friendly. Opinions seem to vary about the food, with most people thinking that in that category, you can do better.

                            Seriously, I think you should look at Aziza -- great food of a kind you won't find many other places (Cal-Morrocan), a fun, grown-up atmosphere but still, I think, easily able to accomodate your baby. Do a search for many, many comments (note that most people who don't like it don't like the combination of sweet-savory that's traditional of that cuisine).

                2. Incanto is very family friendly - almost everytime I go there, there's a whole table of people with children celibrating a birthday or something (at the beginning of the evening, anyway).

                  High end? Dunno. Quality? Absolutely.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: epicurious_sf

                    yes, I often see strollers at Incanto. Be sure to mention when you reserve, so they can give you a table with space for one; tables can be fairly closely spaced. And yes, I agree with the poster who pointed out that this may not be the time for a mega stroller...

                  2. The original comment has been removed
                    1. I don't know if you're comfortable with this suggestion, but getting a sitter isn't out of the question either. Of course, a 3 month old may just sleep the whole time (I'm truly *not* saying that you shouldn't take the baby). I'm very interested to find out where you end up.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Atomica

                        If we lived in SF and knew a sitter extremely well (background check, health certificate, references, having observed before,etc.) we would consider it. However, at this point we are visiting (possibly relocating). In any case, as of now we have reserved:
                        Dinning Room at Ritz Carlton
                        Michael Mina
                        Ame (in our hotel)
                        Slanted Door

                        From other postings it seems that Danko's is a bit of a tourist trap and Chez Panisse is very hit or miss. Still considering Manresa, Sushi Ran and want to check out Tartine.
                        anyone, heard of Lulu's? recommended by the concierge.

                        1. re: drmtk674

                          Your list looks good so far. I like the food at Slanted Door, but it is very noisy and can get quite crowded. I think you've already done this, but I'd make sure they know you are coming with a baby and stroller. As far as Lulu goes, I'm not a fan. Every time I go I find myself staring at the menu trying to find something that I want to eat. Not really sure what that is all about, rarely happens to me! I also find that they use waaaaay too much salt. Last time I was there, I felt like I was served a salt lick or something. Ugh, I have friends who like the place and I always find myself frantically making other suggestions! Before I would suggest Lulu, I would second the comments about Aziza. Don't know if we've mentioned Myth yet, good food but hard to get into. Are you still looking in Marin? I've not been to Fish in Sausalito, but others speak highly of it. Bar Crudo in SF is also highly spoken of, but it is tiny so I'm not sure how much room there might be for a stroller. I would do any of these before going to Lulu!

                          1. re: dinnerout

                            I've been to Slanted Door with a toddler before, and they were very very accomodating, and it went very smoothly. It's a good place to bring a kid, because it's pretty noisy, so the kid won't make a difference, there are lots of things to look at for entertainment, and there are a number of different exit doors for parents who need to make a quick exit with the child. Definitely tell them that you're bringing a stroller, but it won't be a problem. I second the recommendation for Aziza, and while I've had fine meals at Lulu, it's nothing particularly interesting.

                            1. re: dinnerout

                              Want to add that it's tight quarters at Sushi Ran -- not sure a stroller will fit anywhere inside the restaurant -- maybe at the annex...

                              1. re: Sarah

                                I've seen families in there at lunch time.

                            2. re: drmtk674

                              Chez Panisse upstairs (the cafe) is much more hit than miss and has always been child friendly. If you can get a reservation, I'd do it. If you get a table on the early side, the neighborhood in which it's located has some nice shops, including the foodie destinations, clothing stores, and other boutique-y stuff. A nice area to stroll around with a stroller.

                              You might also enjoy strolling College Ave. in the Rockridge area. Many nice shops and no chains to speak of. Also a great neighborhood if you're considering relocating and not 100% sold on the "West Bay." Oliveto, which you considered, is right there as well, as are popular Chowhound picks Soi 4 and Wood Tavern. Within a mile in Temescal are casual but high quality family friendly food destinations Dona Tomas, Pizzaiolo, and Bakesale Betty. On nearby Piedmont Avenue you'll find Dopo, another high quality but casual Italian option and Jojo, an excellent country French restaurant.

                              1. re: lexdevil

                                Chez Panisse Cafe also serves lunch; the menu is nearly identical to their cafe dinner menu and no one will care about an infant.

                                You might consider a car seat over a stroller for some of the places you've mentioned.

                                Your list is also really high end. You might consider adding a few mid-range or neighborhood spots, which are San Francisco's strength and where children are generally welcome.

                                1. re: Windy

                                  I agree about the car seat.l It takes up much less space than a stroller and the baby will be just as happy.

                              2. re: drmtk674

                                Personally, I wouldn't dream of going to Lulu's instead of Chez Panisse if given the choice. If Chez Panisse is hit and miss, then Lulu's is just plain a miss, IMO. OTOH, the two times I've been Lulu's was so noisy that no one will mind (or for that matter, hear) your baby if she/he starts crying, which could be why the concierge recommended it.

                                third that Aziza is better than Lulu. way better. Had a great meal recently at Aziza, and if you do go, the squid salad appetizer on their menu right now is outstanding!