Searching for an exotic culinary treasure in the Civic Center neighborhood? The next time you and the kids are downtown, stop by the beautiful Asian Art Museum and have lunch at Café Asia. This hidden gem will take you on a culinary tour of Asia in the gritty heart of San Francisco.
There is a dish from almost every region of Asia, and for every palate to boot. The children’s menu offers Chicken Kara-age, Japanese “chicken nuggets” or Chinese vegetable chow mein. While the kids’ menu is limited, there is plenty more for the kids to try off the regular menu—a New Delhi chicken curry for a taste of India, or Shanghai dumplings filled with pork and shrimp. And the best part is that you get to eat a sophisticated yet affordable pan-Asian meal in a kid- and adult-friendly, casual cafeteria setting. Grab a table by the big Buddha in the small dining area off to the side for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle, or head to the outdoor terrace on a sunny day and soak up the view of City Hall.
Café Asia is the perfect spot for lunch after a morning exploring the main campus of the San Francisco Public Library or before a matinee ballet show at the War Memorial Opera House. Better yet, check out the Asian Art Museum itself which hosts a world-class collection of Asian arts, décor and craft. Let the kids explore unique artwork from Chinese ceramics painted with fire-spitting dragons to lotus flowers embroidered onto Japanese silk kimonos.
There is no need to pay admission to dine at the café, just ask for a complimentary café pass at the front desk and visit anytime from 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or 10:00am – 8:30pm Thursday. The museum and café are closed on Mondays.
—Sarah K. Choi