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Fun dinner for a father and 7-yr-old daughter? [San Francisco]

Hi everyone!

My best friend Katie's husband is spending Saturday in SF with their 7 year-old daughter for a fun, 24 hour "day with daddy." They have 3 kids, life gets busy, etc, so this is going to be a fun time for both! Plus, she's the only daughter, so it makes it extra special.

They have hotel and tons of great plans (aquarium, America's Cup, etc) but they're looking for a place to go for dinner. They wanted to have dinner at the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel, simply because she'd never forget it (what with the pool and how the house band comes out on the boat, etc.). However, the Tonga Room is booked for dinner so they are looking for another place. They don't want a Chuck E. Cheese place, but someplace like the Tonga Room -- something that would be fun and/or interesting and memorable for a 7 year old girl.

Their daughter has no food allergies, nor is she a picky eater. She's just an enthusiastic, great little girl who's excited for her weekend! They'll be staying in the downtown SF area, but can have dinner anywhere in the city, thanks to cabs. Katie, if I'm missing something, chime in...:)

Any suggestions of where they could have dinner would be greatly appreciated.


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  1. Well these are not necessary chowhoud worthy, but here are my daughter's favorite spots in SF: (she's 10) Bucca di Beppo and Rainforest Cafe. She also likes Coco500 but I bet if I explained the request, she'd go with the first two.

    1. What about Forbes Island? You take a short boat ride to get there. I imagine that'd be pretty memorable. Another suggestion would be Rotunda at Neiman Marcus or for something more casual, The Burger Bar at Macy's. Maybe even a fancy afternoon tea somewhere (The Rotunda does one, as does Lovejoy's Tea Room in Noe Valley). If I was 7, I would love that!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Denago

        OMG, Lovejoy's would be perfect! Didn't even think of that.

        1. re: Denago

          I guess it's probably not a dinner spot though. More afternoon tea. They are only open until pm.


          1. re: Denago

            Ugh, sorry. That's meant to say 6pm. Darn you number lock key!

          2. I will probably have my Chowhound membership revoked for this but what about The Rainforest Cafe? I've been dragged to this place on several occasions for kid events. I find the place atrocious and the food horrid but the kids think it's the coolest thing EVER. They have so much fun. If dad is hoping for something with better quality food that is also fun, I will need to put my thinking cap on for a bit longer. It's a step up from Chuck E but still in the same vein.


            Just a caveat: I don't have kids so don't know if a seven year old is too old for this kind of place.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ChervilGeorge

              Once upon a time we were visiting family out of state and were forced to eat at Rainforest Cafe. Both my daughter and her cousin were terrified by some of the trumpeting elephants and other loud aspects of the decor. Of course, children vary, so that may not be an issue here.

              My daughter at 7 loved Lovejoys and if they can get a later afternoon reservation, it might work as an early dinner, perhaps to be followed by ice cream somewhere near the hotel?

              Piccino is her favorite these days.

              1. re: absc

                I also was once forced into Rainforest Cafe with my Granddaughter, who was five, and she was also terrified. At 7 that probably wouldn't be an issue but there must be more memorable places for a child....besides, the food was *not* good.

            2. Wow!

              I'm so glad I posted this question, you've all given such great replies. Thank you!

              Katie and I will check out all of these recommendations. I'd never heard of Rainforest Cafe, but went to the site and it's definitely on the right track of what they're looking for.

              In fact, I'm glad I posted this for my friends family, because it's now given me additional ideas for when my brother and his kids visit me in San Francisco in October. Thanks so much, everyone! Keep the ideas comin' -- this is great!

              1. our kids love to goto pizetta 211 (clement and 23rd) and sit at the counter. They can see all the action and the making of the pizza and calzones etc. The staff there are also great and chat / answer the kids questions

                You can drop by clement st on your way there and get a tapioca drink / some dim sum treats etc

                Might want to consider an ice cream / desserts tour also. Lots of great ice-cream places in the city that many a time we do a bike ride from one eating spot to the next. On a warm sunny day the lines get a bit crazy though


                1. Oh my gosh, you guys, Lovejoy's is another great idea! Just went to the site! Katie, check it out!

                  1. A while back I had dinner with a 7 year old at MarketBar and he enjoyed it and was treated wonderfully by the staff. Much better than Rainforest Cafe.

                    When I was that age I thought going to Chinatown was a special treat.

                    1. Hi all - it's the aforementioned Katie! Thank you everyone for your thoughtful suggestions. I'd never heard of Lovejoy's - I'm definitely going to suggest it to the father/daughter team. I think that plus some ice cream after would be perfect! And to Susaninsf - we are of the same mind. I'm making my husband take her to Chinatown for lunch - plus a tour of the fortune cookie factory :)
                      My other thought was to send them to North Beach and just find a cafe with sidewalk seating - such great people watching on a nice night (which I'm suspecting will be the case again this weekend). If anyone has any suggestions for that, I'd love to hear them!
                      thanks all!!

                      1. Rainforest Cafe is amazing for a 7 year old. Food is ehh but very cool for a kid.

                        1. I would think the Exploratorium would be a great place to take a 7 year old. They have a restaurant, but it looks like it closes at 5pm, so it would have to be an early dinner. They have recently re-opened at Pier 15.

                          The Zeum is next to Moscone Center and has a vintage carousel and other attractions for kids. Zero Zero is a couple of blocks away for pizza and ice cream, in a little more grown up fashion.

                          1. When my daughters were that age they loved sharing small plates with us. Lots of choices and they didn't have to plow through a whole dish by themselves.

                            1. I would recommend El Mansour out in the Richmond.

                              They are near Clement and 32nd.

                              Moroccan food in a fun tent with cushions and on many nights belly dancers.
                              It's a fun place with okay food; SF has little moroccan to offer, with Aziza being delicious but barely moroccan any more. El Mansour is at least traidional moroccan food if not the best in the world.
                              I like this place for dates, for kids, or for the occasional birthday....

                              1. This is going to cost me all my street cred but....they should go to MY China. The guy who hand pulls the noodles comes out and demonstrates for the children. The one time I ate there, there were lots of children to demonstrate to.

                                Plus, they can have fun going up the curvy escalators in Nordstrom's to the 4th floor.

                                Failing that, they should try someplace where they can eat at the bar. My daughter always thought that was fun.