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Places to eat near the zoo? [San Francisco]

Can anyone recommend somewhere good near the SF zoo? We love all types of food. We're doing a trip up the coast from LA and the zoo is a way to let our kids stretch their legs. We'll only have 3 days in SF and I'd hate to waste a meal on something mediocre. (At the same time, we have 3 young kids, so can't be too fancy.) We need to stay south because we're picking up my parents up at airport at 7.
I have seen mention of George's zoo deli, but unless these are the best sandwiches ever, I'd rather eat somewhere better!
Thanks!!

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  1. I'd love some other recommendations for the rest of our trip, especially pizza places. We'll be staying at a flat in Cole Valley.

    8 Replies
    1. re: oc.mamma

      Ragazza is at 311 Divisadero for pizza. Little Star Pizza is nearby at 846 Divisadero. The Mill will open on February 4 for coffee and toast at 736 Divisadero. Eddie's Cafe for breakfast at 800 Divisadero or Bean Bag at 601 Divisadero Street.
      Green Chile Kitchen at 1801 McAllister at Baker or Chile Pies & Ice Cream at 601 Baker at Fulton Street.
      Gingerbread pancake at Zazie at 941 Cole Street.
      Bambino's Ristorante at 945 Cole St.

        1. re: Cynsa

          That part of Divisadero is a mile and a half from Cole Valley and parking's pretty tough.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            MUNI
            http://www.sfmta.com/cms/asystem/rout...

            sorry, I think of San Francisco as a walking city. I've walked from Cole Valley to Divisadero.
            I forgot about the 3 little ones - too far for little legs to trek.
            Parking is a challenge in many of our neighborhoods; cruise the side streets and walk a block or two?
            Daytime parking for lunch may be an easier search than during evening hours... call a cab.

          2. re: Cynsa

            Thanks for the recommendations and the street addresses! We will have a car, yes, but plan to walk or take public transportation while in the city itself.

            1. re: oc.mamma

              The zoo next to the ocean and typically it's pretty cold even on a sunny day so bring a jacket. I would recommend driving to the Zoo from Cole Valley if you have a car. There should be plenty of free street parking on Sloat Blvd. Also, the zoo closes at 4 during winter time.

              As for dinner around the Zoo area, it's slim pickens to none.

              Besides kids friendly place, what are some other preferences? This way the group can better help you with a recommendation.

            2. re: Cynsa

              Bi-Rite Market just opened recently - has ice cream, too -
              550 Divisadero St
              (between Fell St & Hayes St)
              San Francisco, CA 94117
              http://www.biritemarket.com
              Mon-Sun 9 am - 9 pm

              Fly Bar has good Happy Hour pizza for $6 from noon to 6:30 pm
              - this is probably not child-friendly -
              762 Divisadero St
              (between Grove St & Fulton St
              )San Francisco, CA 94117

              http://www.flybarandrestaurant.com
              Mon 4:30 pm - 2 am
              Tue-Sun 12 pm - 2 am

              Pizzetta 211
              http://www.pizzetta211.com
              211- 23rd Ave
              between Clement Street and California St.
              San Francisco, CA 94121
              (415) 379-9880

              Gialina Pizzeria
              2842 Diamond St
              (between Kern St & Wilder St
              )San Francisco, CA 94131
              Neighborhood: Glen Park
              (415) 239-8500
              http://www.gialina.com
              Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5 pm - 10 pm
              Fri-Sat 5 pm - 10:30 pm
              (go at 5 pm

              )

              Piccino
              1001 Minnesota St
              (at 22nd St)
              San Francisco, CA 94107
              Neighborhoods: Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch
              (415) 824-4224
              http://www.piccinocafe.com

              Pizzeria Delfina (very tiny space
              ) 3611 18th St
              (between Guerrero St & Oakwood St)
              San Francisco, CA 94110
              Neighborhood: Mission
              (415) 437-6800
              http://www.pizzeriadelfina.com

              Pizzeria Delfina
              2406 California St
              (between Fillmore St & Steiner St
              )San Francisco, CA 94115
              Neighborhoods: Pacific Heights, Lower Pacific Heights
              (415) 440-1189
              http://pizzeriadelfina.com/pacific…
              Hours: Mon, Wed-Thu, Sun 11:30 am - 10 pm
              Tue 5 pm - 10 pm
              Fri-Sat 11:30 am - 11 pm

              Caffé BaoNecci
              516 Green St
              (between Bannam Pl & Grant Ave
              )San Francisco, CA 94133
              Neighborhood: North Beach/Telegraph Hill
              (415) 989-1806
              http://www.caffebaonecci.com
              Mon-Fri 5 pm - 9:30 pm
              Sat 12 pm - 9:30 pm

              Tony's Pizza Napoletana
              1570 Stockton St
              (at Union St
              )San Francisco, CA 94133
              Neighborhood: North Beach/Telegraph Hill
              (415) 835-9888
              http://tonyspizzanapoletana.com/
              Hours: Wed-Sun 12 pm - 11 pm
              also has take out next door if you want to picnic at Washington Square.

              Capo's
              641 Vallejo
              next to city parking garage
              between Columbus Ave & Stockton Street
              http://www.sfcapos.com/
              Hours: Mon, Wed-Thu 5 pm - 10 pm
              Fri-Sat 12 pm - 11 pm
              Sun 12 pm - 10 pm

              for a slice:
              Golden Boy Pizza
              542 Green St
              (between Bannam Pl & Jasper Pl
              )San Francisco, CA 94133
              Neighborhood: North Beach/Telegraph Hill
              (415) 982-9738
              http://www.GoldenBoyPizza.com
              Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11:30 am - 11:30 pm
              Fri-Sat 11:30 am - 2 am
              CASH only

          3. Unfortunately I don't think there are a lot of great places near the SF zoo.

            Since you mention pizza, a lot of people like The Pizza Place on Noriega. It is not a formal place. I have not been there though so don't have firsthand knowledge.

            If you drive north along the beach, Outerlands is pretty close and is very good. The main negative is that the line is always long.

            If you like shabu shabu, there is a place called Shabu House on Ocean which is not well known but pretty good.

            If you like Chinese food, my recommendation would be to go south (toward the airport) to Koi Palace.There are other threads on this site with recommendations on what to order there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: calumin

              I have been to the Pizza Place on Noriega & 46th Avenue a couple of times. Yes, it is a very casual place and I think children would be comfortable there. The pizza is pretty good too!

              1. re: DavidT

                Love good pizza and it's always a favorite with the kids. Thanks.

            2. Mandarin Islamic, a great Muslim-Chinese place that's been around for quite a while, is very close to the zoo!

              I was there in December and had a good meal. See: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/883640

              Not sure what your kids are like and what they eat, but it could be a good choice. Lots of good dumplings....I know I would have loved it as a young kid!

              Also, you might want to check out this discussion about food in the southern part of San Francisco. Most of the places mentioned here would be a quick drive from the zoo, and wouldn't be too out of your way if you are next headed to SFO: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/888067

              2 Replies
              1. re: Dave MP

                She said "trip up the coast" which I took to mean a road trip.

                1. re: Dave MP

                  Second Old Mandarin Islamic, especially if the the OP is in to lamb.

                2. Thank you for all the recommendations. We are definitely looking forward to indulging in good Chinese. I was also looking at Riverside Seafood. Do you have an opinion on how it compares to Koi Palace or Mandarin Islamic?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: oc.mamma

                    Here's my old post on dinner at River Side Seafood,
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/550488

                    I've also had dim sum lunch there, and it's fair to middling in that area. Dinner was the better bet at the time. Here's the photo of the dim sum menu in 2009,
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    Koi Palace is a step up in quality, especially on the dim sum side. But pricier too. Mandarin Islamic is an entirely different regional style.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Lol, I read your review of River Side Seafood which made me want to go there!

                    2. re: oc.mamma

                      And, my kids are used to their parents dragging them to ethnic restaurants all over LA. There is always something on any menu a child can eat.

                      1. re: oc.mamma

                        Old Mandarin specializes in Peking-style hot pot. The other things on the menu I've had better at other Muslim Chinese places.

                        Koi Palace is Hong Kong-style with dim sum at lunch.

                      2. West Portal is a neighborhood not far from the zoo, with lots of choices. Glen Park is 5 minutes further, but en route to SFO.

                        I'm sure there are threads for both - but my latest favorite in West Portal is Bursa Kebab (very good mediterranean). In Glen Park, I love Gialina's (excellent pizza) & Le P'tit Laurent (very french, the food is less child friendly & a bit too nice perhaps). Between West Portal & Glen Park is K's Kitchen (excellent sushi & noodles & other small plates & japanese). There are always families at all of these spots, especially K's. Adults and kids will both be happy.

                        I love Koi Palace, but I wouldn't go there with 3 kids post-zoo. Everyone will be too tired.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: mamacooking

                          I love all these options. And neighborhoods en route to SFO would be perfect. I don't know my neighborhoods so that is helpful to have the names.

                          1. re: oc.mamma

                            I would very much recommend eating in West Portal. I lived there and it really is such a charming part of town. Tons of restaurants, too, in just a few short blocks.

                            1. re: Violatp

                              We leave for our trip in two days and are now scouting where to get bread in that area to have for the next day breakfast. Can you recommend any bread bakeries in West Portal? Thanks!

                              1. re: oc.mamma

                                You know, there aren't any right in West Portal. There was a few years ago, but it's gone now. If you want to think outside the bread box (heh) there's Victor's on Taraval. Straight shot on the Muni L line, right across the street from the Safeway. It's a pretty good Chinese bakery with all manner of buns and whatnot.

                                Now, if you can backtrack on that same L line and go to the Castro, there are several good bakeries within a very short walking distance, a couple blocks, of the Castro Muni stops.

                                OH. Just had another thought though. There's a produce market on Taraval and 15th called the Parkside Market. They carry a huge selection of Middle Eastern breads, super fresh, that they must have delivered every morning. Beyond the cheap produce they also carry cheeses and olives and cured meats - not a typical American breakfast, but good!

                                1. re: oc.mamma

                                  Just a short ways from West Portal at Portola and Teresita is Molly Stone's Tower Market. They sell all sorts of breads from lots of excellent bakeries. They also have a very good cheese section and deli. Also, it's right near Twin Peaks -- beautiful view of the whole city.

                                  1. re: oc.mamma

                                    Is there still a Boudin in the Stonestown mall?

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      at the mall:

                                      Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe
                                      Stonestown 19th Ave & Winston
                                      Ste 144
                                      San Francisco, CA 94132
                                      Neighborhood: Lakeside
                                      (415) 564-1849
                                      http://www.boudinbakery.com

                                    2. re: oc.mamma

                                      for breads near Cole Valley:
                                      shop at
                                      Haight Market at 1530 Haight Street
                                      Whole Foods at 690 Stanyan Street

                                      La Boulange de Cole for bread/pastry
                                      1000 Cole St
                                      (between Parnassus Ave & Grattan St)
                                      San Francisco, CA 94117
                                      http://laboulangebakery.com/

                                      check out Crepes On Cole for breakfast
                                      100 Carl St
                                      (between Cole St & Shrader St
                                      )San Francisco, CA 94117
                                      Hours: Mon-Sun 7 am - 10:30 pm

                                      Squat and Gobble Cafe for breakfast
                                      1428 Haight St near Masonic Avenue
                                      San Francisco, CA 94117
                                      (415) 864-8484

                                      Pork Store Cafe for breakfast
                                      1451 Haight St
                                      (between Masonic Ave & Ashbury St)
                                      San Francisco, CA 94117
                                      Neighborhood: Haight-Ashbury
                                      (415) 864-6981
                                      http://www.porkstorecafe.com/

                                      Thorough Bread & Pastry
                                      248 Church St
                                      (between 15th St & Market St
                                      )San Francisco, CA 94114
                                      Neighborhood: Castro
                                      (415) 558-0690
                                      http://www.thoroughbreadandpastry.…

                                      Yan Yan Seafood Restaurant for Cantonese/Seafood
                                      with complimentary desserts (mango pudding + others
                                      )with starter of complimentary cold chicken feet appetizer
                                      2241 Judah St
                                      (between 27th Ave & 28th Ave)
                                      San Francisco, CA 94122
                                      Neighborhood: Outer Sunset
                                      Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am - 9:30 pm
                                      Sat-Sun 11 am - 10 pm
                                      Good for Kids: Yes
                                      (ask for Kat, the owner, to assist you)

                                      Xiao Loong Restaurant
                                      250 W Portal Ave
                                      San Francisco, CA 94127
                                      Neighborhood: West Portal
                                      http://www.xiaoloong.com
                                      I have not eaten here.
                                      It was on a 7x7 magazine list; http://www.7x7.com/eat-drink/flavor-p...
                                      "What’s your go-to takeout? Our daughters love the black bean chicken dish from Xiao Loong on West Portal Avenue. We get it with lots of baby corn and always order extra so we can make fried rice with it the next morning."
                                      http://www.xiaoloong.com

                                      - another place for the children to run and stretch their legs is the Harding Park golf course at Lake Merced. Parking is easy.
                                      Breakfasts are excellent at the golf club cafe: Cypress Grill.
                                      (the breakfast sandwich is perfect for children - or, the Breakfast burrito - large enough to split)
                                      Share the English Club or the Presidential Breakfast with the children.
                                      It's also a good spot for a picnic by the water.
                                      http://www2.cybergolf.com/tpc/images/...

                                      this is 'off the beaten path' for you but it is family friendly:
                                      Joe's Ice Cream is a local gem
                                      for ice cream, burgers, hot dogs
                                      5420 Geary Blvd.
                                      between 18th and 19th Ave.
                                      parking is a challenge
                                      there is metered parking in a lot with the entrance on 18th Ave on the south side of Geary Blvd (across the street from Joe's) but you might get lucky and find street parking - it happens!

                                      or, for more exotic ice cream flavors:
                                      Marco Polo Italian is my favorite for black sesame, jackfruit, soursop.
                                      at 1447 Taraval Street btw 24th and 25th Avenues.
                                      The mango and the cantaloupe are yummy. Oh, well - it's all good.

                                      I hope you enjoy your visit ;-D

                                      1. re: Cynsa

                                        Thanks, Cynsa! We have eaten at the crepe place and the pork store cafe during previous trips and we loved both. We are so excited about all our options! Deciding where to eat will make the trip up go by quickly ; )

                              2. John's Ocean Beach Cafe is across the street from the zoo at 2898 Sloat Blvd.
                                I only eat pancakes here. Banana Walnut was my fave until I recently tasted the Apple Crisp hotcakes... if the 3 little ones eat hotcakes, this is it!

                                1. For your family day at the SF Zoo, you might stop at a deli or grocery market and brown bag snacks for the family. Is this too much trouble?
                                  Haight Market at 1530 Haight Street
                                  Whole Foods at 690 Stanyan Street
                                  Andronico's at 1200 Irving Street
                                  Safeway at 850 La Playa St
                                  (between Cabrillo St & Fulton St)
                                  Lucky Supermarket at 1515 Sloat Blvd.

                                  I don't know George's Zoo Deli but there are Yelp reviews. I've never eaten 'at the Zoo' so I am not a reliable source.

                                  Check the daily schedule for the Giraffe Feeding
                                  http://www.sfzoo.org/

                                  also, great for the children:
                                  California Academy of Sciences
                                  http://www.calacademy.org/

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                    I'll definitely look in to the giraffe feedings. My kids would love that. We plan to brown bag it for lunch (thanks for the list of grocery stores!) but were hoping to partake in something yummy for dinner. We've had awesome meals in SF, but have never been in the area near the zoo before.

                                    1. re: oc.mamma

                                      After the Zoo day, go to the West Portal neighborhood and you'll find many excellent choices for dinner. mamacooking and Violatp's suggestions are excellent.

                                      Orexi Greek Cuisine
                                      243 W Portal Ave
                                      http://www.orexisf.com/

                                      http://www.sanfranciscodays.com/west-...

                                      Bullshead
                                      http://www.bullsheadsf.com/

                                      Fresca
                                      24 W. Portal Ave
                                      http://www.frescasf.com

                                      Bursa
                                      60 W. Portal Ave
                                      http://bursa415.com

                                      Market and Rye
                                      68 W. Portal Ave
                                      http://marketandrye.com

                                      http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                                      1. re: Cynsa

                                        I really like the concept of Market and Rye but I don't think their food is actually very good. I've tried most of the things on the menu and I usually feel bloated after eating there -- which is a shame because they focus on light, healthy meals.

                                        1. re: calumin

                                          Salads? Which did you not like?

                                          1. re: Cynsa

                                            I've tried all of them, as well as the sides they serve by the scoop, and most of their sandwiches. I used to go there a lot because it was the only place in the area (esp. before Whole Foods on Ocean opened) that focused on healthy food & preparation.

                                            I think their salad sandwiches (deviled egg, chicken salad) & their chicken meatball sandwich are really heavy. Their winter market salads are pretty heavily dressed too. Now that Whole Foods is open I don't go there much anymore.

                                    2. re: Cynsa

                                      Adjacent to that La Playa Safeway is Europa Express 2. Bulk pickles and other Eastern European treats.

                                    3. Beach or Park Chalet, Cliff House are good options.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: SFBelle

                                        Has the Beach Chalet improved? The food was always mediocre at best.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Agreed. Its a nice spot for a beer, but not necessarily with kids.

                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                            I've haven't gotten the details yet, but our daughter, husband and 16 m.o. joined about a dozen others of like combo at BC and had a great time.