Nothing hits the spot like a warm bowl of superb soup on a brisk winter or spring day, and luckily for Bay Area residents and visitors the region is filled to brim with tempting choices. We’ve explored all around for fantastic phos, compelling clam chowders and a bundle of other broths that are served in family-friendly settings that will bowl you over. Soup’s up!
photo: Project Juice
Project Juice is a good option for fast and healthy soups that kids will savor in addition to its popular juice blends. The soup selection switches up daily and is always seasonal; some current examples ready to be served up include Coconut Dal with Roasted Butternut Soup; Corn Chowder Soup—a great kid-friendly recipe; Cream of Tomato with Cashew Cream; Mediterranean Lentil Soup; and Smokey Split Pea Soup. They also have three bottled soups sold at all stores that can be eaten on-the-go, or brought back home: Miso Mineral Broth, Butternut Lentil and Spiced Cauliflower. In addition to their Hayes Street stop they have several other San Francisco locales and one in Berkeley.
364 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA
Kagawa-Ya Udon Noodle Co.
Just a stone’s throw from City Hall and the Bill Graham Auditorium, this is a casually modern stop that takes its udon seriously, rolling all the noodles from scratch and aging the noodles for two days in a traditional style. The establishment’s name, Kagawa-Ya, pays tribute to Kagawa prefecture, the udon capital of Japan where today there are over 600 udon shops—and the region’s per capita udon consumption is seven times that of the national average.
1455 Market St.
San Francisco, CA
Located right in the Presidio, Arguello pays homage to acclaimed Chef Traci Des Jardins’ Mexican heritage, serving California-inspired Mexican food and drink in a stylish but comfy setting. Their rich and flavorful pozole soup—made with chicken, hominy, cabbage and radish—is a hit with kids and grown-ups alike, and Arguello is just the place to take the kids after a stroll through the gorgeous Presidio. When the sun is shining you can soak in some rays on their roomy outdoor patio.
50 Moraga Ave.
San Francisco, CA
Fog Harbor Fish House
This popular restaurant at Pier 39 actually offers the full gamut of seafood delights, but on a windy San Francisco day nothing beats their award-winning chowder—which can be served in a bowl, cup or special fresh-baked sourdough bread bowl. Another possibility is their hearty cioppino, served in a tomato broth brimming with fish and shellfish, and views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge add to the ambiance.
202 Pier 39
San Francisco, CA
Berkeley’s Gather has always been a family-friendly restaurant, devoted to ensuring that everyone happily eats their local, organic veggies at lunch, weekend brunch and dinner. As part of this mission, the establishment also showcases a micro-seasonally changing soup. Whether it’s a winter lentil with spinach or an early spring cream of asparagus, Gather knows how to satisfy picky eaters of all ages.
2200 Oxford St.
Part of the authentically Asian Pacific East Mall—with plenty of offbeat shops kids will love—DAIMO offers up some of the East Bay’s best Chinese fare, including some mouthwateringly good soups that are perfect for family sharing. While the noodle soups appeal to all, for something with a bit more flair order a large bowl of their fabulous war wonton, with prawns, pork, veggies and much more.
3288 Pierce St.
Sam’s Chowder House
A slice of New England on the Half Moon Bay coast, this bustling seafood eatery offers all the expected treats from the ocean, including a raw bar. But it’s hard to beat their warm chowders while sitting on the deck and taking in the sweeping ocean views.
“We serve two kinds of clam chowder, ‘white’ and ‘red,’” says co-owner Julie Shenkman. “We serve them in both a cup or a bowl–note that our cup is huge and the size of most restaurants bowls! We serve them with traditional oyster crackers, as well as sourdough bread, baked fresh daily by a local baker. Both styles of chowders are extremely popular with our guests and we are making chowder constantly to keep up with the demand.”
4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy,
Half Moon Bay, CA
Heralded as one of the South Bay’s best Japanese dining spots, Bushido will entice adults with its impeccable cuisine and modern setting and delight kids with its colorful servings and amazing soups. Their udons can come with tempura on top, in special curry broths or even with sliced rib-eye and Napa cabbage. Another kid favorite here is the bento boxes at lunchtime, which all come with rice, soup and salad—plus an entrée—in snazzy ‘divided’ serving boxes.
156 Castro Street,
Mountain View, CA
photo: Left Bank/Leila Seppa
This charming enclave of live music and inviting outdoor spaces boasts a varied menu that is as healthy as it is delicious. A tasty ‘soup of the day’ varies constantly but is always superb, and the well-liked cioppino is always on the menu.
100 Yacht Club Dr.
San Rafael, CA
Left Bank Brasserie
This casually elegant restaurant offers French flavors and a lively setting, with a large menu showcasing authentic Parisian dishes of all kinds. A soup du jour varies, but the real favorite is a French onion soup highlighted by a toasted slice of baguette and melted emmental cheese atop a delicious onion broth.
507 Magnolia Avenue
Other locations: Menlo Park and San Jose
Where’s your favorite spot to warm up with a bowl of soup? Share it below!