On the road with your kiddos or looking for a quickie lunch on the go? These days there are plenty of family-friendly fast food restaurants that cut out trans fats and load you up with healthy, tasty, fresh ingredients instead. So join the food revolution and skip the mega calories, sodium, and saturated fats while you dine on the fly. We’ve gathered a list with options, aplenty!


 Photo: VeganBurg by @amberoo

San Francisco

You know you’re on the right track when you share the same fave burger joint with Sir Paul McCartney. Welcome to SF’s first vegan burger joint: it’s fast, casual, and 100% eco-friendly with a plant only based menu—and no naughty GMO’s. Spoiler alert: it’s also pretty darn delicious. Yummy, addictive buns are made from wheat but there are other options, too, made inventively from walnut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, or quinoa. You and yours can sink your teeth into meat- and dairy-free interpretations of classic burger combinations, all while earning karma points. Highlights include: Hawaiian Teriyaki (teriyaki-glazed soy patty complete with pan-grilled pineapple slice) and Smoky BBQ (mushroom patty and barbecue sauce). What if you don’t want a VeganBurg? You’re in luck: in addition to a plethora of burgers, these guys offer a menu of “Sidekicks” ranging from Smoked Franks to Granny’s Comfort Soup to Seaweed Fries. While the location is prime (in the Haight, GGP adjacent), there’s also delivery and online ordering, too, for mega convenience.

1466 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
Phone: 415-548-8000
Online: veganburg.com


gracias madre

 Photo: Gracias Madre

Gracias Madre
From the good folks who brought you the eternally feel-good Café Gratitude (RIP!), this funky newer outpost in the heart of the Mission serves up organic, vegan tacos and Mexican fare. Everything is 100% plant-based, non-GMO, and beyond delicious. The cantina-style interior makes this a visual dining experience for the entire gang while you nosh on sour cream and cheeses made from cashews and dishes featuring mushrooms, chiles and nopales (cactus). There are also tasty, über-healthy smoothies instead of soda pop. There’s definitely a family-friendly vibe here, although you’ll feel like the cool kids as you rub elbows with all the hispters who have already discovered this tempting joint. Bonus: their guac even caught the attention of the fancy-schamncy Zagat national food reviewers so dip into it yourselves and see what all the buzz is about. Pair it with Madre’s warm, organic tortillas made from their special heirloom corn, and feel good about what they call their “Devotion to the Earth.” Plus, you know we gotta love a joint that literally means “Thanks Mom.”

2211 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca
Phone: 415-683-1346
Online: gracias-madre.com


peasant piesPhoto: Peasant Pies

Peasant Pies
With three outposts dotted across SF and pies baked fresh daily, this spot serves up a truly healthy and flavorful alternative to fast-food. Their handheld selections of warm homespun goodies harken back to the days of 18th-century “fisherman’s pies” and they are perfect for little fingers. Each restaurant is well-equipped with high chairs and plenty of room for stroller parking. We recommend Spinach & Feta, a mouthwatering Sausage, Potatoes & Scrambled Egg, and a spicy Garbanzo Bean & Curry, or all the way from Ham & Egg to Blueberry and back. Fuel up here and then stroll the various ‘hoods with a full belly.

1039 Irving Street
San Francisco, Ca
Phone: 415-731-1978

4108 24th Street
San Francisco, Ca
Phone: 415-642-1316

550 Gene Friend Way
San Francisco, Ca
Phone: 415-934-1400
Online: peasantpies.com

East Bay


Flickr photo_Diner_by Melissa

Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food
Here is another place where you can find fast-food favorites like burgers, sandwiches and  fries with a health-conscious twist. The creative, healthy and vegan fare chez Alec’s will leave you craving more. No need to go off the grid on bustling Telegraph Avenue, with the free wifi at Smart Alec’s, you can surf the web, too. The feast is fun and mellow for you and your little daredevils while you dine on low-fat (natch!) savory vegan Caesar salads to accompany your Smart Fries, airbaked and super tasty like the best fast food fries should be, served up regular, garlic or veggie chili cheese.  But, most importantly, that soy-protein Smart Burger, a homemade veggie patty, and you can have it your way served up traditionally with mustard and ketchup topped with fresh tomatoes, pickles, lettuce and red onions, or with melty Monterey Jack cheese or even topped with bright avocado . Hint: there’s also an herbaceous, basil-marinated chicken breast or a big beef burger for little carnivores, too. Finish the whole shebang off with delectable vegan, gluten-free brownies. You’ll be in good company for people watching alongside the Berkeley students. Peace, Man.

2355 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley, Ca
Phone: 510-704-4000
Online: smart-alecs.info






Amy’s Drive Thru
For pure vegetarian burger bliss, drive on up to one of our perennial favorites. Here you’ll find one of the first organic, vegetarian drive-thru restaurants in the country (and probably the only one with a living roof!). And while “Drive Thru” may be in the name, diners are also invited to park and dine onsite, either inside the cozy cafe or outside, where several large redwood picnic tables are perfect for family meals. While you wait, your little Picasso can get the creative juices flowing with lovely coloring pages and colored pencils to pass the time. For anyone with food restrictions who has struggled to order at a fast-food restaurant, this menu will be music to your ears, er…mouth. Every item is vegetarian, and all can be served vegan, gluten-free or dairy free—from traditional fast food fare veggie burgers, burritos, pizza, salads, to chili fries, and even milkshakes. Let’s not forget the recipe that started it all for Amy’s: that super delicious, organic Mac & Cheese, now a staple in family freezers everywhere. It’s even better prepared fresh on-site and served piping hot. You can opt for a rice flour pasta, nutty dairy-free cheese or even add some veggies in, like bright green broccoli florets. Deelicous and nutritious.

58 Golf Course Drive West
Rohnert Park, Ca
Phone: 707-755-3629
Online: amysdrivethru.com


Starbird.Breakfast spread

Photo: Starbird

The Peninsula

Fast food chicken for here or to go, that is the question. Organic Petaluma Poultry or Hodo soy “chicken”? Ok, that’s a slightly deeper question. To gluten, or not to gluten? They got that here, too, with plenty of choices. The concept here is: the bird is the shining star, mos’ def’, and it’s irresistible for the kiddos. Pick it up and bite into it, munch it between a bun or nestled into a gluten-free corn tortilla wrap, or snack on it over crunchy, organic green salads. Crispy chicken is addictive any way you slice it, and it’s all good, here. Tech rules in the Silicon Valley and so if you open an app to place your order: your food is brought to your car door or table within five minutes of parking in the lot. Here, the traditional drive-thru has been re-imagined to eliminate the line of cars waiting in the pick-up lane and replaced with mobile ordering and payment through that app you can download and use anywhere. Then, when you and the gang arrives, select “I’m here!” on the app and pull into a numbered parking spot where food is delivered. Within. Five. Minutes. Literally, doesn’t get any faster than that!

1241 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, Ca
Phone: 650-988-6630
Online: starbirdchicken.com

Where’s your favorite spot to get your on-the-go grub on? Sound off below!

–Mireille Schwartz