In the midst of San Francisco’s myriad frilly bars and restaurants there are local haunts where families with young children can enjoy a good low-stress meal together. The criteria that make for a kid-friendly establishment are quite different from what single, twenty-something, diners or an elderly couple might seek. Parents with rowdy toddlers might prefer eateries that can accommodate food being thrown and ones that provide distractions for young minds, such as crayons.
Last year Eater San Francisco compiled a list of 20 children-friendly restaurants across the City. The only spot in the Southeastern neighborhoods that made the cut was Stem Kitchen & Garden, at 499 Illinois Street. Its selling point is the farm-to-table concept, where produce is harvested from an onsite garden. The gourmands at Eater SF found the offering to be a great educational opportunity for youth.
“Here’s a spot that’s really good for discovering that food comes from the soil, not the grocery shelves,” wrote Laurie Jo Miller Farr. “City kids can interpret farm-to-table appreciation while roaming among rows of veggies in a rooftop herb garden with bocce court, fire pits, and waterfront views as distractions that beat sitting still at the table. Order the kids a pizza garnished with greens grown in the garden.”
The San Francisco Moms Blog guided San Francisco readers through more than 100 kid-friendly restaurants, and deemed ‘aˉina, 900 22nd Street, as a good brunch spot for the whole family. This Hawaiian restaurant serves dinner as well in a casual atmosphere. A Kids Bento Box, priced at $8.50, offers scrambled eggs, Katsu chicken, seasonal fruit, short grain rice, furikake and Portuguese sweet bread.
The blog recommended 21st Amendment Brewery and Restaurant, Tropisueno, Yank Sing and Zero Zero as choice options for youngsters South-of-Market. Yelp offers a list of kid-friendly eateries that includes ‘aˉina and Zero Zero. Mac Daddy, 1453 18th Street, and Alta, 1275 Minnesota Street. For older kids, Yelp suggested the Coin-Op Game Room, 508 Fourth Street. Goat Hill Pizza, 300 Connecticut Street, is considered the go-to spot in Potrero Hill by residents as well as the SF Moms Blog given the featured cuisine and an overall family-friendly atmosphere.
“We provide a lot of options for kids on our menu, such as an all-you-can-eat option that’s priced at $6.95 for kids,” said Oscar Barajas, assistant manager, Goat Hill Pizza. “We offer crayons and paper, and some of the drawings get put up on the wall. We have stickers for young kids as well. The neighborhood has a lot of families, so we want to provide a welcoming environment to them. Some other restaurants in the neighborhood are very fancy, so we’re a good option for families with children.”
Nicholas Cifuentes, West Portal resident and father of two toddlers, regularly dines out with his kids. Cifuentes considers the Hill to be the City’s most family-friendly neighborhood, and has a slew of restaurants on his list as options for dinner. His favorite is Sunflower Vietnamese Restaurant, 288 Connecticut Street, though he also likes Goat Hill Pizza, Mochica, 1469 18th Street, and Pera, 1457 18th Street. For brunch his family sometimes goes to Just for You Café, 732 22nd Street.
“We’re no strangers to having to deal with finding good places to bring toddlers,” Cifuentes said. “We frequent Sunflower. At first glance you wouldn’t necessarily think of it as a place to take children, but the staff are really accommodating by providing things like booster seats. With food they keep it simple, with items like noodles and bread; they have a lot of dishes that incorporate simple ingredients.”
For Hill residents, Chris and Amy Hansen, it’s the warmth and graciousness of the staff at Pera that keep them coming back with their preschool-aged daughter Laina. For lunch they frequent Papito, 317 Connecticut Street.
“Ever since our daughter was born we have gone to Pera on 18th Street between Connecticut and Missouri for an easy night out with great food and a very welcoming environment,” commented Chris Hansen. “Brothers Metin and Earphan Yalçin are the owners, and they have basically become extended family. Our daughter runs up to Metin for a hug whenever we are there, and sometimes even when we are just walking by. The menu has a lot of variety, especially for small plates that can be shared family style. Our favorite dish to order is the saganaki, a delicious pan-fried halloumi cheese that’s presented on an iron skillet and set aflame tableside while the server says “Opa!” We all love the hummus, baba ganoush, creamed spinach and salads as well. Since I’m a vegetarian I can’t speak as much to the large dishes, though the Bird’s Nest, a kind of zucchini casserole with crispy topping, is delicious.”
“We don’t even refer to it as Pera anymore, but ask our daughter, “Do you want to see Metin tonight?” and the answer is always an enthusiastic “Yes!”