Preschoolers may be some of the pickiest and most fickle eaters on the planet, but a fun foodie adventure might just be the thing to snap them out of it. Hitting some of San Francisco's gastronomic hotspots with a preschooler is not only possible, it's a great basis for a play date with friends or a special outing with your little one before they head off to kindergarten. Excursioning on quieter weekdays and off hours takes much of the headache out of an urban adventure. Easier parking, less crowds, more laid back ambiance = more fun.
Plan a Dim Sum Play Date
More is better when it comes to dim sum so grab some friends and go. Dim sum is a perfect food adventure for preschoolers because of the variety and the fun of ordering food off a cart and other kids are often the best motivators to get pickier peers to dive in. A tip for parents, a small pair of scissors are the perfect tool for cutting dim sum items into the perfect-sized bites (much better than wrestling with chopsticks), so tuck some into your bag before you. You may not be given a menu, but you can always order a plate of noodles or fried rice, something more familiar to fill in alongside new tastes. Try Ton Kiang and Good Luck Dim Sum (for take out) in the Richmond, Hang Ah or Gold Mountain in Chinatown or All Season Restaurant in Diamond Heights (easy, free parking in the shopping center lot).
Take a Snack Time Tour of San Francisco's Newest Attractions: Parklets
What could be better than snacking al fresco? Take five at one of San Francisco's newest public spaces, mini parklets scattered around the city. Parklets are an idea imported from New York City: mini piazzas, sponsored by local businesses, carved out of sidewalks and other excess urban spaces. They may be tiny, but they have some great amenities. The Noe Valley parklet outside of Just for Fun on 24th Street has a kids painting station and a cool, rotating gear toy built right into the structure; the parklet fronting the always delicious Arimendi Bakery on 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset has cool curvy benches; the North Beach parklet in front of Café Greco will transport you straight to Italy. Find out more about parklets at Pavement to Parks.
Chase Down a Food Truck
Food trucks continue to be one of the biggest foodie trends and happen to be tailor made for dining out with little ones (you can eat outside, make a mess, squirm!). Luckily, they also happen to offer some of the best international and creative eats around. You can find it all from Filipino lumpia, to hybrid Indian-Mexican burritos, to Jamaican jerk plates—and of course cupcakes, ice cream and other sweet treats. The best ways to plan a food truck adventure are to visit one of the meet ups like Off the Grid (multiple locations throughout the Bay Area) or Truckstop SF, or to consult the Street Food Finder from the SF Cart Project or Mobi Munch. Food truck chasing is a bit of a hit-or-miss expedition, but that's just part of the fun. It's best to have a "plan B" in mind by packing a back-up snack, or have a nearby "traditional" place to eat in mind. (Mom Maps is a handy free mobile app for finding kid-friendly restaurants, parks and attractions when you need a plan B.)
Pay Homage to a San Francisco Favorite
Not just a slice of San Francisco history, sourdough bread is nearly impossible to resist, especially warm and just out of the oven. The kids will love watching it being made into traditional loaves and fancy shapes and doing their own taste test at the Boudin Bakery flagship store in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. This is a fun lunch date for you and your preschooler with tons of nearby post-lunch play options. Try walking to Aquatic Park, climbing aboard a historic ship at the Hyde Street Pier, visiting the sea lions at Pier 39 or trying out antique games at the Musee Mechanique.
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are the San Francisco Bay-Area moms behind A Little Yumminess, a family food blog featuring spiced-up recipes and kid-friendly food adventures. You might like these articles on our blog:
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