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May 4, 2008 04:12 PM

Best places with baby in tow, near the Westin a plus

Hello all,

I'm looking for a bit of advice about where to take my sister, brother-in-law, and cute baby niece (18 months old) for a few meals near their hotel, the Westin. Immediate proximity to the hotel is not crucial as they want to tour some sites anyway, but ease of access by public transportation (BART, Muni, bus, trolley, no cabs) with minimal walking is.

Want to keep the prices pretty gentle, say $30ish/person (before tax/tip) tops. Some places I've been considering for are:

DIM SUM: Yank Sing, Tian Sing, Gold Mountain, Great Eastern
ITALIAN: Pizzeria Delfina, Delfina, Ducca, Incanto
BAKERY: Tartine Bakery, Liguria Bakery (would a 1pm arrival be a problem?)
AMERICAN: Zuni Cafe, Town Hall, Canteen
BREAKFAST: Sears Fine Foods
SNACKS: Ferry Market Bldg, Ti Couz

The only above places I've been to are Yank Sing, Tartine Bakery, Incanto, Canteen (only breakfast so far), and the Ferry Market Bldg. And I live across the Bay, so many of these places will be new to me. Any opinions you might have on the above places, or suggestions for completely different ones, would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance.

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  1. I think that Pizzeria Delfina may work with a baby during the day (you can time that with a visit to Tartine bakery, since they're right next door) on a slightly off hour, or if you can sit outside, but it can be pretty cramped in there and I don't think would be that good in the height of lunch or dinner service. Delfina would be okay, but not great -- it's also a little cramped, and I'm not sure if it's the best spot for a baby. Incanto would be fine, especially if you go on the early side, because the tables are pretty spacious especially if you're along the side of the restaurant. I adore Canteen, and my belly is still full from my brunch there today, but I would only bring a baby there at brunch, not at dinner. At dinner they're on a relatively tight schedule, and they only have a handful of tables (and the tables are a snug fit for four anyway), and while it might work out fine, it might also be stressful, if the baby needs to be taken outside, or spills, or needs to spread out with a toy or two, etc. It's also pretty quiet at Canteen -- not silent, but a baby getting loud would be immediately heard by the whole restaurant. Zuni is super easy with a baby, especially since it's large, spread out, and on the loud side, so a baby would be fine, and the food is great. Town Hall is a great place to bring kids, because it's really loud in there, and there are plenty of kid pleasing things on the menu, and while I've always had fine meals there, there are much better choices. Sears Fine Foods is a pretty boring breakfast (if you're nearby, just go to Canteen). All of those places are easily accessed by public transportation and walking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      Yeah, I'd skip Sears. Why not Dottie's True Blue Cafe? There have also been some good reports about breakfast at Cafe Bean. I've read some positive stuff about Cafe Andre's breakfast.

      It probably is too much of a trip, but Town's End on the Embarcadero not only makes a fine breakfast but is VERY child friendly. It is up near the Ball Park on the Embarcadero and Townsend.

      1. re: JasmineG

        Liguria bakery will undoubtedly be out of foccacia if you wait until 1pm. When the bread is gone they close whatever time it may be.

        Townsend is a great breakfast/brunch place to go with a kid. They are very accomodating and if the toddler gets antsy, there is a nice outdoor area right in front of the restaurant where you can take her for a bit to run about. This works too if you have to wait for a table.

        Gold Mountain is large and noisy and is full of families with kids-perfect for a an early lunch or brunch with a kid.

      2. Oh dear, 18 months is the *worst* age to go to a restaurant with a small person! Trust me on this one, I have a kid, they are typically horrendous at that age, just in terms of running around and making noise and not sitting and not eating and driving everyone nuts. So while you could go to many of these places with a *baby* that would sit in a carseat, a toddler is another story altogether. Next year she'll be able to go to many more places, but unless she is unusually sedate, restaurants are tough now, I"m sorry. So from your list, I would say:

        DIM SUM: any of these places are fine; these Chinese places are busy and bustling and used to big families with kids. They may even have tables with Lazy Susans in the middle, likely, that will thrill the 18 month old and keep her busy. If you must have dinner out, places like this would be a fantastic choice. It wouldn't be dim sum though, obviously, at night...unless Yank Sing serves it at night, I'm unsure about that.
        ITALIAN: None of these will work well for dinner. Maybe Pizzeria Delfina for lunch, if you can sit outside. Incanto, at least the chef has a little kid so he'd understand, but it's too quiet for the tyipcal toddler.
        BAKERY: The line at Tartine will be a nightmare for the parents as they try to keep their kid from running into traffic. Go to Liguria instead, or pick up food from Tartine and bring to their hotel or to the playground at Dolores Park, that would be ideal.
        AMERICAN: None of these will work for dinner, unless you eat super duper early, like 5 pm. in fact, going out to dinner altogether will be dicey, particularly if your family is from the east coast. the kid will want to go to sleep at 6 pm or earlier! Go to lunch at Zuni, maybe.
        BREAKFAST: Sears is fine for this age. She'll love it. Take her on the cable car too.
        SNACKS: Any of these places will work well, except that Ti Couz' bar chairs are too tall for small kids. There are tables with benches; if you can get one, you'll do fine.

        Good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: pointybird

          I've seen plenty of toddlers at Incanto, though I would go early.

        2. Thank, all, for the input. Our Day 1 results...

          Lunch -- Tian Sing. It was a few short blocks from the hotel, and they were starving by the time I was able to make it in to SF, so it was an easy choice. Nothing really noteworthy, but not bad. BBQ pork buns; shrimp & chive dumplings; fried taro; soup dumplings; sticky rice with pork; crab dumplings; tofu skin rolls; beef meatballs; egg custard tarts. BBQ pork buns, tofu skin rolls and egg custard tarts were pretty good. The skins of the xiao long bao were too think. Dumplings and sticky rice were inoffensive. Meatballs were absolutely horrendous. Taro pretty good, though could have been served hotter. Total damage was about $50 for the three of us. Next time will walk down to Yank Sing. Noticeable difference in quality at a similar price point, in my opinion.

          Dinner -- Vivande Porta Via. Kind of a wild card choice (they opted to pass up a table at Incanto, to my chagrin) but a place that had been recommended to me for its fresh pasta. We had three kinds. Fettucine alla carbonara. Canneloni with chicken, ricotta, and parmigiano filling in tomato sauce. Huge beggars purse of pasta filled with tagliolini, with creamy bechamel, peas, prosciutto. The last was definitely the best of the three. The texture of their housemade pasta was wonderful. Tender and slightly eggy. We also got a side of mandorlata, a mixed saute of bell peppers, almonds and currants with olive oil and garlic. Pretty good, but I think I'd skin the peppers if I did this at home. Ah, and we had a tasting portion of Laudemio olive oil before all of that. Good stuff. Anywho, the pasta here are pretty pricey, in my opinion, all hovering around $20. All said and done the damage was about $90 for 3.

          Dessert -- Tango Gelato. We walked by this place on the way to the restaurant, and it looked promising, so we decided to stop in afterwards. I had a cup of three flavors: cardamom-orange zest, almond delight and vanilla. The almond was forgettable and the vanilla, frankly, was pathetic. The cardamom-orange zest on the other hand. Deeeelicious. Should've just gotten an entire cup of this. Maybe the keep the freezer too cold or maybe something else is the problem, but the texture of the vanilla and almond left a lot to be desired. Icey and chunky, everything that gelato should not be. I don't think I'll be racing back here anytime soon, but the cardamom-orange zest flavor might be worth a return visit in itself.

          Walking back down Fillmore after the meal, I was disappointed to walk by SPQR. I really enjoy A16, and have been wanting to try SPQR since it opened. And we'd walked right by it, unknowingly, on the way to Vivande! Gah! I suppose there's always another day for that one, though!

          2 Replies
          1. re: tupac17616

            Thanks for reporting back ... especially someone who is keeping up with a toddler.

            That's too bad about Tango gelato. When they opened they were highly regarded. Don't they offer tastes anymore?

            Vivande Porta Via
            2125 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

            Tian Sing Chinese Restaurant
            138 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

            Tango Gelato
            2015 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

            1. re: rworange

              They still offer tastes, but unfortunately they had me at hello as soon as I tasted the cardamom-orange zest, so I just chose to the other two flavors to see how well they do the everyday sort of flavors.