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Food items that might "Wow" a pre-teen?

So I'm planning a visit for my aunt, uncle, and their 13 year old. She's a bit of a picky eater (bread and fried chicken wings, please!), but overall pretty easy going. She liked SF last time she visited, mostly because we let her eat all the naan she wanted and didn't make her eat the frogs and turtles we saw in Chinatown.

This time, I'm hoping to think of a few food items that will wow her a bit, especially dishes at good restaurants that have some presentation-related flair. Her parents eat out a lot and have exposed her to pretty cool restaurants in Taipei, Tokyo and Los Angeles, so she won't be asking for burgers and fries. But I do have to balance a desire not to bore her with a desire to show them what SF is all about.

Smitten Ice Cream - liquid nitrogen ice cream
TCHO- chocolate factory tour. Free daily at 10:30 and 2:00
Perbacco - mostly for her parents, but the stuffed quail I think she'd like
Kokkari - if only I could guarantee that they'd have the whole pig's head we were offered once.
Little Star - that cornmeal crust is pretty tasty. Too bad the restaurant doesn't have much of an interior.
Gitane - her mom is a cocktail lover and I want to take her to a place where the cocktails shine, but I can't exactly take a 13 year old to Bourbon and Branch. Is Gitane upstairs pre-teen-friendly? I do think my cousin will enjoy the flatbreads with dip and stuffed squid on a big cast iron.
Aziza - great interior, great cocktails, unfamiliar food.
Bananas foster - Bix?
somewhere she can see people toss pizza?
Off the Grid - they get in on a Friday. Depending on weather and timing I might not want to subject them to the hoards at Fort Mason.

TIA

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Perbacco
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Bix
56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

TCHO
17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

Smitten Ice Cream
Octavia Blvd Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Off the Grid
Stanyan Street at Waller Street, San Francisco, CA

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    1. re: wolfe

      The ice cream at fentons is not exactly modern, up to snuff, "wow". The flavors are muted, the richness is nothing special - compared to say ben and jerry's from the safeway.

      If she likes chicken wings, wouldn't you take her to Sam Tung?

      What about hand-pulled noodles? Are there any currently in SF?

      Mr and Ms Miscellaneous, for sure. They have such nice people there - if it's not busy, maybe you can ask to check out the kitchen, or talk about how they make flavors?

      When my sister was that age, there was no telling what she would be "wowed" by. I simply kept taking her to very good restaurants. Finally, what *got* her was a portabello mushroom over polenta at the old Moose's.

      1. re: bbulkow

        You don't think there is more wow in that sundae than in a cup or a cone?

        1. re: wolfe

          It's a nice visual, but knowing what the ice cream tastes like, I don't think it's right for the OP. Bi-rite does some kicking sundaes that taste better and are likely closer to wherever they are in the city.

          1. re: bbulkow

            Yes but was Bi-Rite featured in the award winning motion picture UP?

            1. re: wolfe

              13 year olds would not be impressed by that.

              1. re: wolfe

                Yeah, I gotta go against Fenton's too.

                I like it well enough but not as a tourist thing. She just might as well as go to Ghirardelli which has better sundaex and a nicer area in tourist central. Having tried both though, I wouldn't recommend either. She seems to have more sophisticated tastes than that.

                Thinking of Ghirardelli reminded me of the English tea shop (still there?). On that note, maybe tea at Nieman Marcus with the popovers and fab Rotunda restaurant. There's gotta be somewhat decent cocktails for mom. Then there is SHOPPING afterward ... if not at NM then all the other nearby places. Planning to take my own teen stepdaughters there but waiting until Christmas for that

                Tony's Pizza in North Beach ....sophiticted enough for a teen and lots of choices.

                1. re: rworange

                  Make sure you book early for Christmas time reservations at the Rotunda. They can be a nightmare to get if you leave it too long.

                  1. re: rworange

                    If afternoon tea appeals, then Tal y Tara tea and polo shoppe (sic) is a fine choice. Nothing like a motorloaf, and easy to combine with a trip to the Legion or GG Park.

          2. re: wolfe

            Fenton's food is the pits. Their ice cream is decent, might impress someone who's had only Baskin-Robbins. Their main claim to fame is sundaes with the sauce spilling out onto the plate, which might impress someone who can't see that's because the dish is too small.

            1. re: wolfe

              I haven't met a pre-teen that hasn't been wowed by Fenton's yet.

              1. re: Civil Bear

                But the OP is inaccurate; a 13 year old is not a preteen. I don't think giant ice cream sundaes are the fancy of most 13 year old girls... Actually I think most of the recommendations on this thread would be better for a younger child (who just want a lot of ice cream and sweets). I was already dieting/worrying about my figure by that age (like most teenage girls), and I would have had less interest in those kinds food then than I do now.
                Just take her along to good restaurants; she is old enough to appreciate them if she is well traveled.

            2. re: wolfe

              If they venture near Fentons, a better choice would be to walk down to Lush Gelato. The 13-year could taste all that day's flavors and decide what cone/cup to order. (The Fenton's Black and Tan sundae I had after the fire-to-hide-the-theft fiasco was rather dismal and didn't resemble your 2006 photo. . . quite a disappointment after the long wait.)

              If an old-fashioned type of sundae with great ice cream & fixin's in the East Bay is desired, Pei's family might consider Tucker's in Alameda plus there are a variety of cuisines within easy walking up/down Park Street vicinity and a public parking structure just off Park Street.

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              Tucker's Ice Cream
              1349 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

              Lush Gelato
              4184 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

            3. Pretty sure Gitane would be fine for a teen. Very nice vibe to the place. Good choice.

              What about focusing on places where you can sit at a bar and observe the kitchen? Commonwealth comes to mind. Might be a challenge to fit a largish, 4+ person party at the counter in most places though.

              The Ferry Building is a sensory delight. Both the Saturday farmers' market and an evening meal at Slanted Door, or maybe Lafitte or La Mer, would offer stunning Bay views and a very urbane vibe.

              I'd include a Dim Sum meal in the mix. although that might not work for a picky eater who's traveled a lot in Asia.

              1. Ice cream is a good call, lots of choices. I'd say BiRite or Mitchell's but there's a few other good options. FYI: Michell's won a taste-off with the Chron and noted was 2% extra fat content then the others don't have because of their cream vendor. They also have a few tropical flavors.

                Scene-wise Off the Grid "might" be interesting to a teen...but that's still a difficult call since every teen is different. I imagine getting a reaction from "that was cool" to stunned silence to "it was okay". In that same way, Belden Lane might be interesting...or the kid might think it's like Disneyland and not in the good way.

                Might be helpful to know what the kid likes or what they're use to.

                1. I think the best place to watch pizza being made is the bar at the wood oven at Tony's, though those pizzas are hand-stretched rather than tossed.

                  1. I was just remembering the whole quails at Bodega Bistro which are delicious with their lime-pepper sauce. Come with feet for sure, and possibly head.

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                    Bodega Bistro
                    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109