Where to eat in downtown SF w/kids (not fast food)?
First, thanks to everyone who responded. There are so many good choices that now I have an excuse to try them another time -- maybe with out the kids!
We ended up going to Puccini & Pinetti. For dinner w/the kids and a time constraint, this was an excellent choice for us.
We told the waitress we had an hour before the show started (traffic from the east bay turned our planned leisurely 90 min dinner into fast paced 45 min dinner), and she made sure our food arrived promptly and with plenty of time to enjoy it.
We shared their fried calamari, which everyone enjoyed and was not overly breaded or greasy (tasted very fresh). The warm spinach salad was delicious -- definitely my fave of everything we ate! -- and a meal in itself with the bread and dipping sauce. Daughter ordered the kids' mac and cheese, and her sauce was so yummy we ate what she didn't finish. Son ordered the kids' pepperoni pizza; the leftover was dinner this evening, with both kids asking to have more after we all devoured what was left. I ordered the orecchiette with fennel sausage, which was very good too (by the time it arrived I had filled up on bread and salad, so most of it was reheated for lunch today-yum!). The only disappointment was husband's rib eye steak; even our son, who isn't too picky about his meat, was not impressed.
I was very impressed with the attentiveness of our server and the quality of the food (with the exception of the steak) - it's dependable, comfort food. There was a long lag time between appetizers and main course, which I suspect was due to a line of pizzas waiting to cook in their small brick oven. But given the restaurant was packed with patrons and our time constraints, they did a great job getting us seated and served promptly.
The kids are asking to go back again. We will definitely be back.
... Just re-read my original post. No, we defintely did not get out within our budget -- actually went waaay over since husband and I ordered drinks! -- but as part of the package of memories the kids have for last night (all good), I'm not beating myself up.
Puccini & Pinetti
129 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Depends on the kids.
My go-to place for cheap eats when I go to ACT is the Japanese restaurant across the street whose name I cannot recall (next door to Colibri). If your kids are like my grandkids and enjoy ramen (highly recommended) and sushi (so-so, but ok for kids), I think you can easily bring it in on budget. We always get there just a bit earlier than we need to because the lines build up near theater time. Another cheap eats within a few blocks is the food court under Bloomies. Lots of choices and, again, you can hit your budget and eat reasonably well.
PS: I'm assuming you'd like to feed the family for as close to $50 as you can get, not per person.
Your budget specifications come out to $12.50-17.50 per person, not including tax and tip. For that amount of money in downtown SF you can maybe get some sandwiches, soup, or salad. Just to give you an idea, in downtown SF you're going to spend $20.00 for a plate of spaghetti & meatballs.
Fish & Farm has excellent burgers. They also have a soup & grilled cheese offering on the menu, but I'm not sure if that's a fixture or a current special. They have a small menu that changes.
The total tab will be >> $70 there, but the per person tab will be well in the $50-$70 range. I'm not clear how to read your budget guidelines.
Shalimar, Lahore, Sultan. Two short blocks, and you'll be stuffed for $50.
These kids might be 15 years old and curryhounds. Since darkchow has never, ever responded or followed up after getting advice, or responded to a question, I'm not holding my breath. But the kids were 5 and 7 in 2007, so we're talking 9 and 11 now. Old enough for curry, I'd say.
Status of the Tandoorloin:
There are at least three outlets of Lori's Diner near the Theatre District. I'm not sure if you can bring it in on your budget, but you can probably get close. Check their website for menu.
Also, there's the Cheesecake Factory in the Macy's building. It has gi-normous portions, and seems to be a crowd-pleaser, but, again, not sure if it's within your budget. Their on-line menu is geared for the whole chain, so it doesn't show prices.
With kids and for A Christmas Carol at that price, it's a little slim. I'd say Sears Fine Food (I know, many people disagree...it's basically diner food in a nice, old fashion "almost Disney" setting), Vietnamese (like Anh Hong). Pearl's Burger has great burgers but seems too casual but kids like burgers.
Sears Fine Food
439 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
How old are your kids? What kind of food do they like? Off the top of my head, there are a few passable Thai places nearby and Pearl's Deluxe burgers (one of the best burgers in town, shakes, an option for buffalo patties, but not much seating). Those would be appropriate for all ages. If the kids are a little older and more amenable to walking more than a couple of blocks, choices will widen up. Also, are you trying to do a sit down, semi-nice meal, or do you care if you're grabbing burgers in a diner or ramen at a bare bones noodle joint?