By Melanie Graysmith
Kid-friendly restaurants are high on most families’ wish lists as meals out with the little ones can be a challenge. But when restaurants clearly welcome children it’s an entirely different and positive experience, and the upshot is not just about food. With strong kid friendly vibes and affordability in mind, read on for San Francisco dining spots with some of the best kids menus in town.
American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
1 South Park Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94107
Who doesn’t love a hot, toasty grilled cheese sandwich and crave one every now and then? Forget the diet already and give in, especially with the kiddies at hand and you’ll all be easier to live with. The place to satisfy that craving is the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen – the name says it all — where there is basically nothing else to eat although AGCK offers a number of salads and sides. With a bunch of grilled cheese sandwich variations, most kids would enjoy ($8 – $13), the more purist among them (aged 8 and under) can choose the Kids Grilled Cheese ($5.50), the classic among the grilled sandwiches here. This is a small place, so you might want to think of nearby outdoor or indoor lobby spaces for your takeaway dining. There is a second location in the FiDi district at 799 Battery Street, San Francisco 94111, (415) 872-9230.
3465 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Serving delicious French cuisine, with an appreciation for authentic French countryside cooking, Rigolo reflects the love of the good, fresh food French culture is famed for. Reflecting our California sensibilities, Rigolo is a natural fit for San Francisco and its appetite for fresh, local food made from scratch. But the classy ambiance here is definitely a kid-friendly one too and evidenced in Rigolo’s open arms approach to kid dining and comfort which is why kids really do love the place. Grown-ups can enjoy dinner while the kids enjoy the restaurant’s play area. The Rigolo kids’ menu is spot on as it covers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts plus kids drinks too. Bonus: on Mondays after 4 pm Kids EAT FREE with purchase of an adult meal. Such a deal.
Ferry Building Marketplace
1 Ferry Building, Suite 6
San Francisco, CA 94111
This roadside diner is parked in the urban coolness of San Francisco’s bustling Ferry Building. With its modern take on an American classic, Gott’s has the look of fun that kids can easily settle into with family tagging along. All kinds of grown-up people, moms and dads included, will find something perfect to eat here among the California-inspired dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Although kids will find satisfying choices straight off the regular menu, Gott’s offers its kids menu with favorites like Chicken Tenders ($7.99), Mini Corn-Dogs ($6,99) and a Cheeseburger with meat patty and cheese only, and none of the drippy, spicy, oniony toppings grown-ups like to eat. Oh yes, the sweet stuff is tops, as Gotts is known for its shakes and floats ($4.99 – $6.99) made with organic ice cream and milk, and all ages will love to indulge.
The Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain
815 Cole St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
This old time style Soda Fountain Lunch Counter may be a throwback to a time and place that today’s kids have absolutely no idea about, but who cares, the kids will enjoy the whole package. More than an ice cream bar (bar, as in “lunch counter”) this authentic 1930’s style soda fountain and classic lunch counter serves what kids — and grown-ups — want to eat. Sweet and savory are well presented and at the heart of this modern take on a neighborhood gathering spot. A specialty here are the phosphate sodas with tart and fruity fizzy flavors like Wild Cherry, Chocolate, Orange-Sickle, Sassafras Root Beer and Petaluma Float, loaded with fruit sorbet and tart yogurt. The short savory menu includes some kid favorites, like a Grilled Cheese sandwich made with cheddar cheese and crème Fraiche, a PB&J made with house-made peanut butter and organic fruit jam, and a Tuna Melt, made with fontina cheese and organic greens. Top it all off with dessert-y Floats, Malts, and Milkshakes with fun names like Love It or Hate It, Too Good To Be True, and O Canada, or keep it simple with a few scoops of house-made ice cream or try over-the-top Sundaes, Sandwiches or a slice of Ice Cream Cake. Grown-ups can return later for the “21 and over” Remedies, delish fountain drinks with an alcohol kick. The possibilities seem endless, and that about sums it up.
The Garden Court Palace Hotel
2 New Montgomery St.
When you want to kick back and lunch in style but have the kids in tow, don’t cross the showcase stunner Garden Court at the Palace Hotel off your list. You can pop in for lunch here since the Garden Court has a surprise kids lunch menu ($8 – $15) offering burgers, sandwiches, spaghetti, chicken fingers and kid special desserts. The beautiful, historic Garden Court dining room makes for a special event feel lunchtime visit. The luscious food is high quality and served beautifully, and yes, the prices are high and worth it, but you knew that going in. This stunning, domed dining room has no match –- like dining inside a huge Tiffany lamp. Note: Check the dining room times as lunch hours are short: Mon – Fri 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Sat 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.