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Visiting San Fransisco, bringing my kids!

Greetings All! I am coming up to San Rafael for a week, but will be spending most of the time in San Fransisco.

I am looking for kid friendly, as I have three (8yo, 5yo, 4yo), places to eat. Nothing high end. Something off the beaten path would be perfect.

My 8yo (a boy who lives for eating) anxiously anticipates a tasty bowl of "that soup in a bread bowl". any recommendations?

Looking forward to visiting your beautiful city!

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  1. With the kids I suggest Fisherman's Wharf. Boudin has the big boy's soup and a brief walk to Pier 39 should get a glimpse of the sea lions, hopefully in season.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      There is also an In-N-Out burger at Fisherman's Wharf. BTW check out the Maritime Museum when you're down there -- they have several ships you can explore.

      Two place not on the Wharf you might like are Tommaso's for pizza (go early) and Hunan's Home for Chinese. Both would be good with kids and are in the North Beach/Chinatown area that should be a part of your trip.

      Have fun!

      Hunan Homes Restaurant
      622 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      Tommaso Ristorante Italiano
      1042 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      In-N-Out Burger
      333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. re: Calvinist

        ATM appears to be coming from the LA area; I don't think they will find much novelty in In-N-Out Burger. The kids probably would enjoy the Musee Mecanique more than the Maritime Museum (remember, they are 4, 5, and 8).

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          Yep, I'm from LA so my kids had their fair share of In-N-Out Burgers (we actually prefer Fatburger at the moment). My wife and I are trying to avoid the touristy stuff and would like to blend in with the locals. How about a good pizza joint and a burger/diner place? My wife wants Japanese curry.

        2. re: Calvinist

          Just struck me that you were referring to the National Maritime Historic Park (a.k.a. Hyde Street Pier) not the indoor Maritime Museum at the foot of Polk Street. Yes, kids would like that.

      2. Not sure where you're coming from, but dim sum is often fun for kids -- it's busy, there are always lots of kids around (especially for a weekend lunch) so you don't have to worry about them being disruptive, and the carts moving around and getting to pick what they want is fun (if they're slightly adventurous eaters). Lots of great dim sum to choose from, but if you're coming from San Rafael, Ton Kiang might be the easiest for you to get to, though if you search for dim sum on this board you'll see a lot of options.

        Ton Kiang
        5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

        1 Reply
        1. re: JasmineG

          Thanks for the rec. My kids love dim sum (and yes, they are all adventurous eaters - they had to be, being raised by foodie parents!) We'll check this one out.

        2. Kids of all ages would love to stroll through Chinatown and look at the shops hawking various knick knacks (toys to Chinese purses to teapots). I think they'll get a kick out of eating there as well. I recommend Great Eastern for dim sum (but no carts here - order from menu).

          1. My kids LOVE doing the day trip up to SF, hitting Taylors Refresher or the farmers market at the Ferry Building and then walking down to the ships already mentioned. My boys and many other kids LOVE running around on the ship. They like the sub too.

            5 Replies
              1. re: ceekskat

                About 1.5 miles. But there is always the streetcar/trolley.

                  1. re: ceekskat

                    It's an easy walk on level terrain and there are no intersecting streets to cross for most of the route. Plenty of things of interest to look at even before you get to Pier 39 and the Wharf proper, like the America True home base, sometimes cruise ships at Pier 35 (I saw the QE2 there), Hornblower Yachts, the new chocolate factory, etc.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      I routinely walk with my kids, so they are used to it, but we take a casual walk from the train station to the Ferry building to Fisherman's Wharf (when we have visitors who insist, or we are going to see the ships). Another day trip is the mission - we have done Cafe Gratitude with our kids, which was fun, but they prefer the taquerias - check out Pastores or Chichen Itza (or whatever it is called now) for Mexican there. They loved Bi-rite creamery which you can take over to mission dolores park. My kids also love going up to Golden Gate Park, which is a short drive from the Mission if you have a car, and I believe there is public transportation (we have never done that leg).

                      The key is that many restaurants that aren't the super fancy ones are kid friendly in San Francisco - as long as your kids don't have to have a dedicated kids menu. That being said - my kids tend to prefer the touristy areas like the Wharf because there is less mommy and daddy stopping to look at boring shops and more space for them to run around and see things.

            1. Park Chow + The Children's playground and carousel in Golden Gate park (so much to see and do for free at GG Park)

              The Boudin Bakery at Union Square might be easiest if you're looking for chowder filled bread bowls. I'd take the kids to the Yerba Buena playground, too. If you're around there.

              826 Valencia's Pirate Store is favorite of many children I know (for play, not dining). Dosa (across the street and down a block ) offers really good south indian cuisine (and great fresh tropical juices). Mission Dolores is nearby, too - if the 8 year old wants a headstart on California Missions studies. Boogaloo's further down Valencia is also kid friendly.

              St. Francis Fountain is a very good diner that offers diner basics, old style ice-cream drinks, novelty candies, etc. There's a small but cute park nearby. It's a very non-touristy area. Don't go there during brunch hours on weekends unless you don't mind the wait.

              1 Reply
              1. re: scarmoza

                You could hit the Pirate Store then grab takeout items from Tartine Bakery and head to Dolores Park. Once they get their fill of running around/playground, you could hit up Bi-Rite Creamery for amazing ice cream.

                Bi-Rite Creamery salted caramel ice cream: http://www.chow.com/stories/10761

                Tartine Bakery
                600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Bi-Rite Creamery
                3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              2. A tip on the "Chowder in a bowl" thing: if you order it at Bistro Boudin in the new "Bread Museum" building you'll pay $14.95 for it, while at the various Boudin "bakery-cafés", including other Fisherman's Wharf locations, it's only $5.79 for the clam chowder in a bread bowl. Not sure why, but I suspect that the "Bistro" location is the only one where it's house-made, and that tinned is used at other locations.

                I'd hate to stiff your 8 year old, but if you are ordering for five to humor one, you might consider ordering it at one of the "bakery-cafés" rather than at the "Bistro". You'll get a choice of chowder, chili (slightly more expensive) or "Soup of the Day".


                2 Replies
                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  Hey Xiao! Big price difference. Have you ever had both to compare? It peaks my curiosity now *I* gotta "feel" the difference!

                  1. re: AteTooMuch

                    I haven't tried the version at the Bistro since it opened. The version served at the older FishWharf location never did much for me, and I think I preferred the Chili. The Bistro version has garnered some grudgingly positive comments on CH, by people who were able to get over the fact that it was Boudin's, after all.

                2. haven't read it yet but you might want to go to www.sfgate.com and check out today's food section - they have child-friendly restaurant recommendations.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: chutney

                    Ya, good article (if you have kids). Those restaurants all sound expensivw, tho...kinda wanna keep it lo-budget.


                    1. re: AteTooMuch

                      AteTooMuch, I was just about to start this same thread. I am visiting SF with my 3 kids (8, 5, 1) in April, so thanks for starting the thread, Maybe someone here will know what I'm talking about, but last time we were in SF, we went to the coolest fortune cookie factory in Chinatown. It was a teeny hole in the wall down an alley that I would never be able to find again. It's just a couple people in a room with a machine. Does anyone know what this place is? It is really cool for kids, and the fortune cookies are good. (They let you eat the ones that aren't shaped properly!) My kids still talk about it.

                      Edit: Found it! Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Really, really cool.

                      1. re: kartho

                        Just watch out for the pornographic fortune cookies :-). Actually I think you have to special order those, maybe just as well.

                        1. re: kartho

                          Here is the place link

                          Golden Gate Fortune Cookies
                          56 Ross Aly, San Francisco, CA

                          1. re: kartho

                            Hey Kartho! My bunch might bump into to you and your bunch! thanks fer the tip <<adding to my evergrowing list>>

                    2. As everyone said, most restaurants are kid-friendly.It might almost be easier to ask which aren't.

                      I came across this great site called Go City Kids that has all sorts of useful information for kids in the city including restaurants. What I like about this is they say WHY the restaurant is kid friendly, what is the minimum age that a kid would like it, price and neighborhood.

                      Like this review of La Taqeria

                      "A taqueria that has been around since 1975 and is clean, efficient, and serves satisfying food day after day. The walls are adobe and decorated with brightly colored murals; the seats are woven leather stools; the salsa on the tables is always fresh and delicious. The food is your basic taqueria-style fare, but it's light, and flavorful, and the chicken fajitas are particularly good.

                      Every time we've gone, the same group of musicians has visited, strolling through the room and singing traditional Mexican songs. It's entertainment the youngest diners at the table never seem to tire of."

                      Here's a few from the Chow Places database on this site.

                      For the places I updated with "Kid-friendly" it was because they have a kid's menu, are generally noted on the board for that (like cherney park), or I have been there and noted some exceptional kid-friendlieness (like Town's End).

                      This was a great series called "Family of Six" who reported back on their adventures. The series is still fresh today

                      1. Well, thank you all for your wonderful advice. I have written down ALL the info and will visit as many as we can! (fortune cookie factory is on top of list).

                        We leave in three days! I will duly report back to all you good people! happy eating!