Parents of small children know well the just-smelled-a-fart look a restaurant host gets when they realize that your reservation for a party of four is actually two adults and two (gasp) children (i.e., noisy little liabilities unlikely to eat much or consume a drop of liquor). You are then offered a table next to the bathroom, and if that isn’t to your liking, they have a “perfect” table right next to the swinging kitchen doors. Bon appetit!
Look, I’m not one of those clueless a-holes who thinks my kids belong everywhere. (Like these Brooklynites who brought a CRIB to a restaurant.) It’s lovely when restaurants, airlines and museums are accommodating towards families, but I get that the world doesn’t revolve around my kids. There are certain places where elegance and atmosphere should be respected. Just because I procreated doesn’t mean your dinner should include the vocal stylings of my toddler.
But, having children doesn’t mean I should be dining at home for the next 18 years, either, which is why honest-to-goodness, family-friendly restaurants are such treasures. Here are Priss & Vinegar’s favorites that we visit again and again:
1. Giorgio’s Pizzeria. Giorgio’s has been happily feeding San Franciscan families for ages and it totally shows: a sippy cup of milk and a ball of pizza dough for playing are on your table inside of a minute, the kids’ entrees come out first (and FAST), and they will have you happily fed and out the door in 45 minutes. The interior is classic Italian kitsch with red vinyl booths and vine-covered ceilings (where I once convincingly fibbed to my toddler that her Elf on a Shelf was hiding). The pizza is, even by my husband’s exacting New York standards, quite good. (Priss & Vinegar’s favorite is “The Corsican”, with feta, red peppers, sausage and fresh basil.) I’ve also enjoyed some good pizza and terrific, family-friendly service on Tuesday “Family Night” at Paxti’s Marina location featuring animated movies and snack-size pizzas for the kiddos.
2. Off the Grid. The ideal place to feed messy toddlers is outside, so (weather-permitting) Off the Grid makes all the sense in the world. My toddler devours Little Green Cyclo‘s garlic noodles, chicken sisig with rice from Señor Sisig, and cupcakes from Cupkate’s (a perfect treat/bribe for good behavior). She also thinks tipping troubadours is hilarious and loves sporadic public dance parties, so the free live music is a total value-add. Another great thing about Off the Grid is that they’re pretty much happening allthefreakingtime so it’s nearly as reliable as a proper brick-and-mortar restaurant.
3. Tacko. Mexican food and toddlers were made for one another, as even the pickiest little jerk will be happy with a cheese quesadilla. Tortilla Heights used to be my favorite, but changes in the kitchen meant no more Nick’s-style tacos, so I was delighted when Nick himself opened up Tacko, a Nantucket-inspired (really) taqueria. The carne asada and fish dishes are excellent, and my toddler can’t get enough of their “not spicy” guacamole. If, like me, Mexican food is your jam, I also highly recommend Padrecito and both Nopalito locations for authentic food with ultra-family-friendly treatment.