Little known fact: Eating while gazing out the window at picturesque cityscapes and landscapes does wonders for your digestion. Ok, not really, but few things can make you feel like a million bucks more than watching an ocean sunset over a glass of wine. While such pleasant dining experiences may have been commonplace pre-kids, your chances to enjoy a meal out with kids in tow are often far and few between. But we here at Red Tricycle haven’t given up hope; we’ve done our homework and rounded up some Bay Area restaurants that boast amazing views AND are great for families. Many of these restaurants offer outside areas where kids can shake their sillies out and that’s got to be worth something in meltdown prevention. So go ahead and order dessert or a second glass of wine; chances are you’re going to want to stay awhile and savor the scenery.
Looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge and a boat harbor, Greens Restaurant is only steps away from the Marina Green and offers vegetarian food even non-vegetarians rave about. Between the child-friendly menu options and the produce grown at Green Gulch Farm in Marin, the restaurant is as good as the décor is fun. If you can’t score a window table, try to get one of the tables carved out of giant redwood trees by Bay Area artist J.B. Blunk. They’re out of this world and kids love them! Last word of advice: Sunday brunch. Seriously.
Fort Mason, Bldg A
McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood & Steaks
Ok, so you’re probably very familiar with this nationwide chain of restaurants, but we wonder how many of them offer amazing views of the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, Aquatic Park, Angel Island and the marina. Plus, it’s located in the heart of Ghirardelli Square, so a post-dinner trip to grab a few chocolate squares and hot chocolate from Ghirardelli. We highly recommend stopping in for their happy hour, where everything on the menu is less that $7.
900 N Point St
The Cliff House
It’s not what it was in 1906 at the height of its architectural extravagance, but the redesigned Cliff House and killer ocean views wow even the most hardened Mission parents into making the trek to the Outer Richmond. Sitting on top of coastal bluffs battered by raging waves, with a sweeping view of Ocean Beach, the Cliff House is surrounded by a terrace where kids can watch flocks of brown pelicans fly by. With a casual bistro at street level and a formal nautical-themed restaurant downstairs, you can pick your table based on your mood. And before you leave, don’t forget to walk down the bluff to the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Kids love the cave and the loud waters rushing in.
1090 Point Lobos Ave (between Great Hwy & Merrie Way)
Fog Harbor Fish House
Fog Harbor prides itself on serving every meal with a side of Golden Gate Bridge. That’s because this restaurant looks right out onto the water. Perched atop the 2nd level of Pier 39, it offers up the traditional seafood fare that’s on the more generous side for portions. And with Pier 39 below, there are more than a few ways to keep the kiddos entertained. For this same reason, expect to be surrounded by the droves of tourists frequenting the area.
Pier 39 #202
Cheesecake Factory at Macy’s
Oh, you won’t simply come here for the food. The views on Union Square and the San Francisco skyline are unbeatable if you snatch a table on the outside balcony. Known for its massive portions and infamous wait time, this restaurant eases out the wait by handing out funky devices that vibrate and light up when your table is ready. For that alone, kids love it! Of course, the extensive menu features lots of child-friendly options and the location is great for shopping and movies. Just – expect to be a tourist amongst many.
251 Geary Street, 8th Floor
Hog Island Oyster Co, Ferry Plaza
Smack in the back of the Ferry Building with a straight view on the Bay and the Bay Bridge, Hog Island Oyster Co is a dream come true for amateurs of shellfish. Whether you’re here for the oysters, the clam chowder or the famous grilled sandwich, Hog Island Oyster Co’s laid-back vibe is all you need to sit back and relax while the kids watch the ferries and jumbo cargo boats float by. For a budget-friendly outing, come early on Mondays and Thursdays between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm and enjoy the chef’s choice half priced oyster as well as wine and beer specials.
1 Ferry Building, Shop 11
In Montara just south of Pacifica over Devil’s Slide, La Costanera is a striking building perched above the Pacific Ocean. Combine authentic Peruvian cuisine and outdoors fire pits and you have something quite special. Best for a romantic date, the restaurant is still a good choice with kids if you show up on the early side and if your kids like trying new foods. Indeed, Peruvian cuisine is delicious and unique but it’s not Mexican food – it’s actually quite different. From the yucca balls to the fried plantain, the fish ceviche or the seafood paella, it’s an overseas travel experience right there on your plate. Great for a meal after checking out the tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
8150 Cabrillo Highway
Sam’s Chowder House
Before the sun sets over Pillar Point Harbor, make sure to let the kids loose on the sandy beach under the restaurant. This cove protected from the wind is a fantastic place to splash safely. Once the kids are done and hungry, walk up the beach stairs and enjoy one of the most vibrant coastal restaurants south of San Francisco. A Half Moon Bay staple signaled by its giant crab neon sign, Sam’s Chowder House has live bands almost every single night, a great selection of beers on tap and healthy child-menu options. Of course, the signature lobster roll and views of the harbor aren’t half bad either.
4210 North Cabrillo Highway
Half Moon Bay
When fish sustainability collides with excellent food and outdoor seating on the Bay, you get a one-of-a-kind restaurant like Fish. A leader in ocean preservation, the restaurant’s owner knows all the fishermen by name and his choices are reflected on the seasonal menu. The picnic tables (inside and outside), the generous portions and the beer served in mason jars make casual dining fun. Some of the restaurant’s hits include the white anchovy bruschetta, the crab roll and the fish and chips. But make sure to leave some room for dessert – they’re as good as the rest. As for the kids, well, after running around outside to check the docks, they’ll browse the short but efficient menu and then run some more under the sun.
350 Harbor Drive
Mountain Home Inn
This is the only restaurant around Muir Woods, which makes the Mountain Home Inn’s stunning mountain views even more exclusive. Primarily a romantic inn on the flanks of Mount Tamalpais, this restaurant features a dining room with an outside deck and incredible views of Mount Tam. Tip: Best for a date night or for an after-hike meal.
810 Panoramic Highway
Farley’s Bar at Cavallo Point Lodge
Do you know you can walk to the Golden Gate Bridge from the Cavallo Point Lodge? Or to the Bay Area Discovery Museum for that matter, since the lodge is right up the road. Housed in beautiful historic officers’ houses, the Cavallo Point Lodge is a resort and spa with fine dining – all with great views of the bay. For a family outing, Farley’s Bar offers a relaxed atmosphere by a roaring fire with small plates, hot chocolate and leather club chairs. So what will it be – Lookout Cove at the Bay Area Discovery Museum before or after?
601 Murray Cir
Where do take your family when you want to eat out (and enjoy a nice view)?
Photo Credit: Cavallo Point – the Lodge at the Golden Gate. Photograph by Kodiak Greenwood.