Jun 10

Dining Out With Kids Survival Guide

Gone are the days of late, lingering dinners at the latest hot spots, but we haven’t given up on our love of eating out just because we have a toddler in tow. We eat earlier, and frequent more casual spots, but we still manage to indulge our passion for great food while keeping our sanity.

My criteria has changed of course. Now I deeply appreciate places that can accommodate strollers and friendly staff that don’t sweat the inevitable spills. And a little preparation by us parents doesn’t hurt either. By preempting the dinner rush, being ready to order quickly when you’re seated and having some emergency crayons or ‘quiet toys” tucked away in your purse, you can often avert meltdown and actually enjoy a family night out.

And here’s more sage advice from other parents who’ve been there:

  • 7 Mistakes Not to Make When Dining Out with Kids (Fodors)
  • How to dine out with kids … and enjoy it! (ages 2 to 4) (BabyCenter)
  • Sanity Tips for Eating Out With the Kids (Keep Kids Healthy via clubmom.com)
  • Dining out with Kids in Restaurants (non-chain, non family) or Tales of Training a Future Restaurant Critic (Fork and Bottle)
  • Eating out with Young Children – Practical Advice for Parents (as well as Waiters, Chefs, and Restaurateurs) (Tasting Menu)
  • But none of this matters if the food doesn’t make the cut. Why go to all this effort and trouble for just so-so grub? And this is where getting the inside scoop makes all the difference. Ask all your foodie friends about their favorite family dining spots and you’re guaranteed to find out-of-the-way neighborhood gems that welcome families and serve up tasty fare. You can also browse Mom Maps online or with your iPhone to find hundreds of restaurants (as well as parks, museums and playgrounds) mapped and reviewed by other parents. A great resource to find something new where you live or to locate primo spots while you’re on the road. Best yet, share some of your own favorites!

    This post was written by Stacie Dong, also a contributor to A Little Yumminess.

    May 10

    Parents Pick: Family Eats in San Francisco

    All month we’re mapping kid friendly dining spots and inviting our fabulous Mom (and dad) Mappers across the country to share their favorites. This week we bring you picks from three San Francisco moms. What do you think of our list? Did we miss one of your favorites?

    Emily’s Picks
    1. Giorgio’s (Inner Richmond, Clement Street and 3rd Ave.) –Family friendly pizza place that allows children to play with dough – sometimes make their own pizza.

    2. Beautifull! (Laurel Village, California at Laurel) – Cafe with plenty of healthy options with kids menu and free tasting.

    3. Park Chow (Inner Sunset, 9th Ave. and Lincoln) – It’s pretty great when kid-friendly coincides with the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Restaurants” list. Great comfort food made with fresh, organic ingredients.

    4. Pacific Catch (Inner Sunset, 9th Ave. and Lincoln) – Seafood that’s kid friendly. Did I mention the sweet potato fries?

    5. Green Chili Kitchen (NOPA, McAllister and Baker Streets) – A kid friendly, laid back neighborhood place. Modern twists on Mexican favorites and good rotisserie chicken, too.

    Jill’s Picks
    1. Park Chalet Garden Restaurant (Foot of Golden Gate Park at the Great Highway) – Grassy area in back that allows for picnics and places for kids to run around. Kid-friendly food.

    2. Rigolo Cafe (Laurel Village, California between Locust and Laurel Streets) –Pacific Heights cafe that caters to Pacific Heights crowd. Kids menu with toys in back.

    3. Asqew Grill (Laurel Village, California between Locust and Laurel Streets and other San Francisco, East bay and Marin Locations) –Nice kids menu that is reasonably priced. Free kids meals Mondays.

    4. Mel’s Diner (Marina, Lombard between Steiner and Fillmore and other San Francisco and Southern California locations) – Great burger place that serves kids meals in a paper car! Balloons sometimes available. 🙂

    5. IHOP (Marina, Lombard at Pierce Street and many other locations) – Nothing beats pancakes. Free kids dinners on some evenings – check in advance.

    Tita’s Picks
    1. Savor (Noe Valley, 24th Street and Sanchez) – This is a place that’s used to kids. All-day kids fare for $3.95 each (but drinks cost extra). As soon as they seat you, they bring the drawing paper (placemat/menu) and crayons.

    2. Eric’s Restaurant (Noe Valley, Church Street at 27th Street) – Tasty Szechuan food, family-style dining, super fast service, cute melamine kiddie plates, and the ungrumbling way staff handle the inevitable spills. Plentiful din that allows your family’s noise to blend in with everyone else’s, and fortune cookies as take-home prizes.

    3. Pasta Pomodoro (Noe Valley, 24th Street at Castro and other Bay Area and Southern California locations) – The ultimate in quick and easy kid-friendly dining. These people have the protocol down pat: coloring placemat/menu plus crayons, reasonably priced kids’ meals that range from fairly nutritious (chicken parm) to not so (cheesy pasta) and includes a drink and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert. Best of all, kids eat free on Tuesdays.

    4. La Boulange De Noe (Noe Valley, 24th Street at Sanchez and other San Francisco and Marin locations) – The casualness of this place makes it a decent choice when you’re with kids. There are a couple large, family-sized tables, stroller access is reasonable, and service is fairly quick (a hybrid of a sit-down restaurant and a coffee shop with counter service only).

    Hungry for more? Our previous post “Calling All Foodie Moms and Dads” includes more great places to eat with kids in San Francisco. If you liked this list, download Mom Maps’ free iPhone app to browse thousands of kid-friendly places including restaurants, museums, parks and playgrounds. Take it on the road or discover something great in your own city. And stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more moms’ picks for good family eats across the U.S. in the coming weeks.