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22 Especially Child-Friendly Restaurants in San Francisco

Tested and proven restaurants where the younger set are welcome

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Eating out with children is a particular kind of challenge, one that involves distractions, concessions, and planning ahead. Does the restaurant provide crayons? Will there be room for a high chair or stroller? Will the kitchen just make some damn pasta and butter if need be? And in these pandemic times, even though many kids are vaccinated, a lot of parents are still seeking out the lower risks of outdoor dining.

The most successful dining experiences with tots in tow involve tested and proven restaurants where the well-behaved younger set are welcome. To take out that guesswork, we compiled a list of 22 of the most child-friendly restaurants in San Francisco, so that when it's time for a family meal out, everyone can have a good time.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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1. Boudin Bakery Café Baker's Hall

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160 Jefferson St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 928-1849
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Fisherman’s Wharf kids’ fun equals seeing the famous sourdough bread expertly crafted into animal shapes right before their eyes. Be lured in by the aroma of clam chowder mingled with freshly baked bread and head for the upstairs dining room with a cool mini museum and terrific views over the bay. If the children don’t go for chowder in a bread bowl, there’s a regular kids’ menu as well.

2. Pier 23 Cafe

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Pier 23
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 362-5125
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A couple of piers along, this funky landmark is just right for after an Exploratorium visit. The kids’ menu offers fish ’n chips as well as the standard burger, hot dog, and grilled cheese. Mixing up regulars and tourists for decades, this popular spot has bay views from its huge suntrap patio that’s a magnet in the rear, and complimentary cowboy hats come with the crayons in a Mason jar. Parental tip: Avoid happy hour, though they do make a special kid drink called the Gold Rush that has 7-Up, grenadine, OJ, and whipped cream.

Takeout shrimp sandwich Pier 23 Cafe

3. MAC'D

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3347 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 795-1026
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Think outside the box at this counter service Russian Hill mac ’n cheese restaurant. Kids will love choosing a cheese sauce, pasta shape (shells or elbows) and mix-ins like bacon and hot dogs (or broccoli and peas if green veggies are their thing). Parents can experiment with ingredients like truffle oil, lobster, or hot Cheetos.

MAC’D

4. Waterbar

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399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9922
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Kids love panoramic bay views, too, and this one even includes a fire boat under the Bay Bridge. The impressive tubular floor-to-ceiling fish tanks substitute for yet another visit to the Cal Academy’s aquarium, or sit outside on the well-shaded patio. The kids’ menu comes with pictures, crayons, word search, and a fish maze to entertain while waiting for a shrimp cocktail, crispy chicken breast, or ricotta cheese ravioli, plus an ice cream sundae for being on best behavior.

5. Yank Sing (Stevenson St.)

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49 Stevenson St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 541-4949
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Yes, Yank Sing is pricier than most other dim sum restaurants in the city, but what you get is the ability to make a reservation, cart service so that you can pick exactly what you want to eat the minute you’re seated. Opt to dine in the airy atrium to give little ones space to roam while you feast on Cantonese classics. If you prefer to dine outdoors, their second location on Stevenson has a covered patio.

Dim sum carts at Yank Sing Yank Sing

6. Hikari Sushi & Bar

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1734 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 872-9116
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Give kids another reason to love sushi when it’s delivered by bullet train. Order sushi, noodles, skewers, and more from an iPad, then wait for a high-speed miniature train to whizz by with your food in this dinner-plus-entertainment favorite across from Japantown.

7. Lemonade Yerba Buena

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781 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 522-0191
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Kids really dig the see-it-and-point concept at this mini-chain of bright, upscale cafeterias imported from Los Angeles. Parents appreciate knowing that everything is freshly made daily on the premises. Get a tray and combine any number of options from the counters displaying cold and hot mains and sides, sandwiches, desserts and drinks like blood orange lemonade before settling into a booth with your trays. Yerba Buena Gardens is right outside to picnic or run around in, and there’s a second location in West Portal.

8. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

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1 South Park Ave. # 103a
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 243-0107
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The name says it all in two magical words that kids crave: grilled cheese. Buttery and crunchy, it’s an irresistible, old fashioned treat for the ages and for all ages. AGCK is a small place, so get your sandwiches wrapped up to go, especially when the nearby vest pocket-sized South Park has seats in the sun.

Grilled cheese sandwich American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

9. Joe's Ice Cream

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5420 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 751-1950
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This old-school ice cream shop in the Richmond sports one of the cutest parklets in SF and has scooped homemade ice cream since 1959. Mixed in with familiar flavors like rocky road and cookies and cream are Asian-inspired scoops of sweet red bean, black sesame, and Thai tea. To make it a full meal, order classic burgers and fried sides, or opt for a Korean-inspired bulgogi burger, Seoul-food salad, or gochujang fries instead.

Patricia Chang

10. 4505 Burgers & BBQ

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705 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 231-6993
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Wood-fired barbecue pits churn out smoked brisket, ribs, and sausages to go with twists on kid favorites like bacon-wrapped hot dogs and the frankaroni (deep-fried mac ’n cheese with hot dogs inside) in this NOPA mainstay. Dig in on a patio picnic table or take it to nearby Alamo Square instead.

11. Spark Social SF

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601 Mission Bay Boulevard North
San Francisco, CA 94158

These two food truck parks in Mission Bay are directly across the street from each other and have enough options that even the pickiest eaters will find something they like (and some have online ordering). Lots of picnic benches and turf make this a great place to grab a bite and burn off some excess energy, and there are even bar trucks with beer, wine, and cocktails. Bonus: Stagecoach Greens is located in Parklab Gardens for some mini golf fun.

Aerial view of Spark Social park Spark Social

12. Park Chalet

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1000 Great Hwy
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 386-8439
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Between the landmarks of Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean, the kids’ menu here is a standard one featuring the usual culprits. Wait for a sunny morning and bring your blanket for a picnic on a real grass lawn where location, parking lot, children, and dogs are reasons to come that rate higher than the food and service. You may get lucky nabbing an Adirondack chair while the little ones run around with no fears of being reminded to keep their elbows off the table.

Fish and chips Park Chalet

13. Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen

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401 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 400-5453
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Any kid can tell you it tastes better to eat with your hands, and at Pica Pica they agree. Gluten-free, handmade Venezuelan arepas are the signature dish at this father-daughter owned and operated restaurant. Yuca fries and cachapas (folded sweet corn crepes) provide a twist on classics that little eaters find flavorful and fun.

14. Pacific Catch

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1200 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 504-6905
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This Inner Sunset mainstay is directly across the street from Golden Gate Park when you need a break from the museums or want to grab takeout to eat in the park. Weave your way through strollers to get to indoor dining or the tiki-themed outdoor seating area. Kids can choose between fried food baskets, bowls, or sushi, and grown ups can dine on all manners of seafood from poke to tacos. A second location in the Marina offers sidewalk and parklet seating.

Pacific Catch

15. Zazie

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941 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 564-5332
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The fluffiest of gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd and roasted bosc pears are a crowd pleaser at this neighborhood standout in family-friendly Cole Valley, beloved in particular for its pretty outdoor garden dining patio, high chairs, and children’s menu. Beware a weekend brunch wait that’s too long for even the most patient child, but you can join the wait list through Yelp now.

16. Fiorella Sunset

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1240 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 404-6997
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The butter and cheese pastas on most kids’ menus are dull and flavorless, but Fiorella is a welcome exception. Specializing in pizza and pasta, they make a cheesy pasta for kids that’s so good you’ll wish you could snag a bite. Grownups will appreciate great salads and starters, plus the ability to order wine by the carafe. The original location in the Richmond and the newest location in the Sunset both have lovely patios, and the one on Polk has a few outdoor tables too.

Rooftop patio at Fiorella Sunset Fiorella

17. Yummy Yummy

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1015 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 566-4722
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The owner and his family are often on hand to welcome you and yours to this popular family-style restaurant serving Vietnamese food near Golden Gate Park. When your visit is timed just right, there’s no queue for a table and your first taste of that Hu Tieu Ga (chicken noodle soup) or Bun (vermicelli noodle bowls) that kids love. Parental tip: A tank filled with live seafood in the rear is a good distraction for antsy moments.

18. Tacolicious

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741 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 649-6077
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With a menu full of hits like guacamole and cheese dip, parents are sure to convince children to consume at least a bite or two, especially since there’s a choose-your-own adventure kids’ meal. There are plenty of margaritas, more advanced taco fillings, and patio and parklet seating at both locations (Mission and Marina) of this happy, laid-back, kid-friendly spot that does a fine happy hour and Taco Tuesdays.

Tacolicious

19. Foreign Cinema

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2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-7600
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Nothing makes organic vegetables disappear faster than a movie served up on the giant outdoor wall screen to accompany dinner. The three-course prix fixe kids’ meal (veggie and fruit to start; pasta, chicken, or steak; and ice cream to finish) feels ever so grown up, yet comes with a coloring book and crayons. They also have a brunch menu for the little ones if daytime is more your speed.

Foreign Cinema Foreign Cinema

20. Lovejoy's Tea Room

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1351 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 648-5895
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This cozy British-style tea room gives adults and kids a chance to dress up and nibble on scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets in a space full of antiques and character. Those who don’t feel like the traditional tea service have the option for some pub fare instead. They’ve added a parklet should you want to sip your tea outside, or you can order takeout tea service if you’d rather dine on your own china at home instead.

21. Emmy's Spaghetti Shack

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5007, 3230 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 206-2086
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It is known: Kids love pasketti [sic] and meatballs. But grown-ups do too, and Emmy’s offers something for every age, including wine and beer for the older generation. Besides lovely mounds of noodles and red sauce, Emmy’s has entrees like eggplant parmesan and zoodles (zucchini noodles) for the non-carb-eating crew. Kids eat free on Tuesday evenings with the purchase of adult meals.

Spaghetti with meatballs
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

22. Squat & Gobble

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1 West Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 665-9900
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Kids, crêpes, and a funny name go together at this bright corner in West Portal where you can order breakfast and more anytime of day. They tick all the boxes for kid-related paraphernalia: Patio, high chairs, and booster seats. Order at the counter and find overflow seating upstairs. There’s only indoor seating and a few sidewalk tables at the second, smaller location in the Marina District.

Outdoor patio with kids Squat & Gobble

1. Boudin Bakery Café Baker's Hall

160 Jefferson St., San Francisco, CA 94133

Fisherman’s Wharf kids’ fun equals seeing the famous sourdough bread expertly crafted into animal shapes right before their eyes. Be lured in by the aroma of clam chowder mingled with freshly baked bread and head for the upstairs dining room with a cool mini museum and terrific views over the bay. If the children don’t go for chowder in a bread bowl, there’s a regular kids’ menu as well.

160 Jefferson St.
San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Pier 23 Cafe

Pier 23, San Francisco, CA 94111
Takeout shrimp sandwich Pier 23 Cafe

A couple of piers along, this funky landmark is just right for after an Exploratorium visit. The kids’ menu offers fish ’n chips as well as the standard burger, hot dog, and grilled cheese. Mixing up regulars and tourists for decades, this popular spot has bay views from its huge suntrap patio that’s a magnet in the rear, and complimentary cowboy hats come with the crayons in a Mason jar. Parental tip: Avoid happy hour, though they do make a special kid drink called the Gold Rush that has 7-Up, grenadine, OJ, and whipped cream.

Pier 23
San Francisco, CA 94111

3. MAC'D

3347 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123
MAC’D

Think outside the box at this counter service Russian Hill mac ’n cheese restaurant. Kids will love choosing a cheese sauce, pasta shape (shells or elbows) and mix-ins like bacon and hot dogs (or broccoli and peas if green veggies are their thing). Parents can experiment with ingredients like truffle oil, lobster, or hot Cheetos.

3347 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94123

4. Waterbar

399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

Kids love panoramic bay views, too, and this one even includes a fire boat under the Bay Bridge. The impressive tubular floor-to-ceiling fish tanks substitute for yet another visit to the Cal Academy’s aquarium, or sit outside on the well-shaded patio. The kids’ menu comes with pictures, crayons, word search, and a fish maze to entertain while waiting for a shrimp cocktail, crispy chicken breast, or ricotta cheese ravioli, plus an ice cream sundae for being on best behavior.

399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

5. Yank Sing (Stevenson St.)

49 Stevenson St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Dim sum carts at Yank Sing Yank Sing

Yes, Yank Sing is pricier than most other dim sum restaurants in the city, but what you get is the ability to make a reservation, cart service so that you can pick exactly what you want to eat the minute you’re seated. Opt to dine in the airy atrium to give little ones space to roam while you feast on Cantonese classics. If you prefer to dine outdoors, their second location on Stevenson has a covered patio.

49 Stevenson St
San Francisco, CA 94105

6. Hikari Sushi & Bar

1734 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Give kids another reason to love sushi when it’s delivered by bullet train. Order sushi, noodles, skewers, and more from an iPad, then wait for a high-speed miniature train to whizz by with your food in this dinner-plus-entertainment favorite across from Japantown.

1734 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115

7. Lemonade Yerba Buena

781 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Kids really dig the see-it-and-point concept at this mini-chain of bright, upscale cafeterias imported from Los Angeles. Parents appreciate knowing that everything is freshly made daily on the premises. Get a tray and combine any number of options from the counters displaying cold and hot mains and sides, sandwiches, desserts and drinks like blood orange lemonade before settling into a booth with your trays. Yerba Buena Gardens is right outside to picnic or run around in, and there’s a second location in West Portal.

781 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103

8. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

1 South Park Ave. # 103a, San Francisco, CA 94107
Grilled cheese sandwich American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

The name says it all in two magical words that kids crave: grilled cheese. Buttery and crunchy, it’s an irresistible, old fashioned treat for the ages and for all ages. AGCK is a small place, so get your sandwiches wrapped up to go, especially when the nearby vest pocket-sized South Park has seats in the sun.

1 South Park Ave. # 103a
San Francisco, CA 94107

9. Joe's Ice Cream

5420 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
Patricia Chang

This old-school ice cream shop in the Richmond sports one of the cutest parklets in SF and has scooped homemade ice cream since 1959. Mixed in with familiar flavors like rocky road and cookies and cream are Asian-inspired scoops of sweet red bean, black sesame, and Thai tea. To make it a full meal, order classic burgers and fried sides, or opt for a Korean-inspired bulgogi burger, Seoul-food salad, or gochujang fries instead.

5420 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121

10. 4505 Burgers & BBQ

705 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Wood-fired barbecue pits churn out smoked brisket, ribs, and sausages to go with twists on kid favorites like bacon-wrapped hot dogs and the frankaroni (deep-fried mac ’n cheese with hot dogs inside) in this NOPA mainstay. Dig in on a patio picnic table or take it to nearby Alamo Square instead.

705 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

11. Spark Social SF

601 Mission Bay Boulevard North, San Francisco, CA 94158
Aerial view of Spark Social park Spark Social

These two food truck parks in Mission Bay are directly across the street from each other and have enough options that even the pickiest eaters will find something they like (and some have online ordering). Lots of picnic benches and turf make this a great place to grab a bite and burn off some excess energy, and there are even bar trucks with beer, wine, and cocktails. Bonus: Stagecoach Greens is located in Parklab Gardens for some mini golf fun.

601 Mission Bay Boulevard North
San Francisco, CA 94158

12. Park Chalet

1000 Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94121
Fish and chips Park Chalet

Between the landmarks of Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean, the kids’ menu here is a standard one featuring the usual culprits. Wait for a sunny morning and bring your blanket for a picnic on a real grass lawn where location, parking lot, children, and dogs are reasons to come that rate higher than the food and service. You may get lucky nabbing an Adirondack chair while the little ones run around with no fears of being reminded to keep their elbows off the table.

1000 Great Hwy
San Francisco, CA 94121

13. Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen

401 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Any kid can tell you it tastes better to eat with your hands, and at Pica Pica they agree. Gluten-free, handmade Venezuelan arepas are the signature dish at this father-daughter owned and operated restaurant. Yuca fries and cachapas (folded sweet corn crepes) provide a twist on classics that little eaters find flavorful and fun.

401 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103

14. Pacific Catch

1200 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Pacific Catch

This Inner Sunset mainstay is directly across the street from Golden Gate Park when you need a break from the museums or want to grab takeout to eat in the park. Weave your way through strollers to get to indoor dining or the tiki-themed outdoor seating area. Kids can choose between fried food baskets, bowls, or sushi, and grown ups can dine on all manners of seafood from poke to tacos. A second location in the Marina offers sidewalk and parklet seating.

1200 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

15. Zazie

941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117

The fluffiest of gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd and roasted bosc pears are a crowd pleaser at this neighborhood standout in family-friendly Cole Valley, beloved in particular for its pretty outdoor garden dining patio, high chairs, and children’s menu. Beware a weekend brunch wait that’s too long for even the most patient child, but you can join the wait list through Yelp now.

941 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117

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16. Fiorella Sunset

1240 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Rooftop patio at Fiorella Sunset Fiorella

The butter and cheese pastas on most kids’ menus are dull and flavorless, but Fiorella is a welcome exception. Specializing in pizza and pasta, they make a cheesy pasta for kids that’s so good you’ll wish you could snag a bite. Grownups will appreciate great salads and starters, plus the ability to order wine by the carafe. The original location in the Richmond and the newest location in the Sunset both have lovely patios, and the one on Polk has a few outdoor tables too.

1240 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

17. Yummy Yummy

1015 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

The owner and his family are often on hand to welcome you and yours to this popular family-style restaurant serving Vietnamese food near Golden Gate Park. When your visit is timed just right, there’s no queue for a table and your first taste of that Hu Tieu Ga (chicken noodle soup) or Bun (vermicelli noodle bowls) that kids love. Parental tip: A tank filled with live seafood in the rear is a good distraction for antsy moments.

1015 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122

18. Tacolicious

741 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Tacolicious

With a menu full of hits like guacamole and cheese dip, parents are sure to convince children to consume at least a bite or two, especially since there’s a choose-your-own adventure kids’ meal. There are plenty of margaritas, more advanced taco fillings, and patio and parklet seating at both locations (Mission and Marina) of this happy, laid-back, kid-friendly spot that does a fine happy hour and Taco Tuesdays.

741 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

19. Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Foreign Cinema Foreign Cinema

Nothing makes organic vegetables disappear faster than a movie served up on the giant outdoor wall screen to accompany dinner. The three-course prix fixe kids’ meal (veggie and fruit to start; pasta, chicken, or steak; and ice cream to finish) feels ever so grown up, yet comes with a coloring book and crayons. They also have a brunch menu for the little ones if daytime is more your speed.

2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

20. Lovejoy's Tea Room

1351 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114

This cozy British-style tea room gives adults and kids a chance to dress up and nibble on scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets in a space full of antiques and character. Those who don’t feel like the traditional tea service have the option for some pub fare instead. They’ve added a parklet should you want to sip your tea outside, or you can order takeout tea service if you’d rather dine on your own china at home instead.

1351 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114

21. Emmy's Spaghetti Shack

5007, 3230 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Spaghetti with meatballs
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

It is known: Kids love pasketti [sic] and meatballs. But grown-ups do too, and Emmy’s offers something for every age, including wine and beer for the older generation. Besides lovely mounds of noodles and red sauce, Emmy’s has entrees like eggplant parmesan and zoodles (zucchini noodles) for the non-carb-eating crew. Kids eat free on Tuesday evenings with the purchase of adult meals.

5007, 3230 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

22. Squat & Gobble

1 West Portal Ave, San Francisco, CA 94127
Outdoor patio with kids Squat & Gobble

Kids, crêpes, and a funny name go together at this bright corner in West Portal where you can order breakfast and more anytime of day. They tick all the boxes for kid-related paraphernalia: Patio, high chairs, and booster seats. Order at the counter and find overflow seating upstairs. There’s only indoor seating and a few sidewalk tables at the second, smaller location in the Marina District.

1 West Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127

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