Dreaming of the day your kiddies are old enough to take them travelling internationally? The good news is that the Bay Area has one of the most diverse food scenes anywhere, and it’s constantly growing and branching out. You don’t have to settle for takeout Chinese or plain spaghetti and meatballs when there’s so many restaurants eager to introduce you to the specialties of their country’s cuisine. Here are some of our favorite restaurants that let you take a culinary world tour and also welcome the kids as well.
Aurum Indian Bistro | Los Altos
Families looking for Indian food with a modern flair should order up some delivery from Aurum Indian Bistro in downtown Los Altos. The restaurant is a joint project from Chef Manish Tyagi, formerly the Executive Chef of August (1) Five in San Francisco, and Anupam Bhatia, owner of Broadway Masala in Redwood City. You'll find the menu includes favorites like saag paneer, lamb biryani and naan, along with unique fusion options like the pulled pork thepla taco. Our kid tasters loved the RaGa Kofta, the Chorizo & Bacon Kulcha and of course, the Butter Chicken (it was everyone's favorite). Don't skip out on dessert as the Heaven Can Wait Toffee Pudding was our favorite.
132 State St.
Los Altos, CA
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung, one of the most famous restaurant franchises in Asia, is known for their eastern Chinese cuisine and especially their soup dumplings, called xiaolongbao. The good news is along with the dumplings, much of their menu is kid-friendly, including a wide selection of fried rice and noodles. The tough news is Din Tai Fung’s first Bay Area outpost in Valley Fair is super popular; they accept limited reservations for parties of up to four people, or arrive early before the lines get too long.
2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. #1259 (in the Valley Fair Mall)
Santa Clara, CA
A bierhaus may not sound like the most family friendly place, but Wursthall’s modern take on a beer hall welcomes kids with their own menu that features kinderwurst (hot dog) and grilled cheese with apple juice or milk. The adult menu offers updated German cuisine, some with a Korean twist; this really is a beer hall Bay Area-style. Parents, enjoy the excellent beer and bratwurst selection and don’t overlook the chicken schnitzel or the crispy fried potatoes.
310 Baldwin Ave.
San Mateo, CA
Goku Korean BBQ
If you’re a barbecue lover and you haven’t been to a Korean BBQ restaurant, you’re in for a treat at Goku. You can choose from all kinds of prepared meats from short ribs to chicken wings to pork belly to salmon, many of them marinated Korean-style, and cook them yourself over the grill at your table. It’s great fun and kids love picking out what to cook. Goku is an all-you-can-eat style BBQ, so bring your appetite. Kids under four eat free.
3085 Meridian Ave.
San Jose, CA
Although many equate Peru with a land of adventure, their food is amazingly accessible and appealing, like roast chicken, lomo saltado (stir fried beef with fries and rice), and ceviche. Limon provides a great overview of Peruvian cuisine and kids will be as big a fan of their signature rotisserie chicken as you. Everything is served family style, so it’s a great place for a casual family meal.
1001 S Van Ness
524 Valencia St.
1524 Locust St.
Walnut Creek, CA
1101 Burlingame Ave.
There’s more to Japanese noodles than ramen; don’t forget about udon, which features thicker, chewier wheat noodles in a dashi broth. Marugame Udon’s sleek assembly line-style noodle shop specializes in udon and lets you customize your bowl just how you like it. Start with the base bowl, then add toppings and side appetizers like tempura or onigiri. The beef udon is an easy and filling favorite for kids.
1919 Shattuck Ave. Ste 103
3251 20th Ave. (in the Stonestown Galleria mall)
San Francisco, CA
The gorgeous, colorful interiors of Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine will transport you to Thailand. Their signature dish is panang neua, a whole slow roasted short rib that’s fall-off-the-bone tender. The kid’s menu includes fried chicken and rice noodles with egg and broccoli (highly recommended), and many of the dishes on the main menu are kid-friendly as well, including the crab fried rice, pad thai and chicken noodle soup.
336 Water St.
710 Florida St.
Dim sum houses can seem noisy and overwhelming to the uninitiated, but once you’ve got the ordering process down and you know your favorite dishes it’s a fantastic way to experience Cantonese cuisine. Dragon Beaux has friendly service and all the dim sum classics, plus creative versions of them like the five color xialongbao (soup dumplings), sea bass dumplings and egg yolk “lava” buns. They also offer hot pot at dinner time, another fun Chinese restaurant experience.
5700 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA
Achilles offers delicious Mediterranean food customized to your taste. The menu has endless options: choose your protein, then choose if you want it on a plate, in a wrap, or a pita pocket. Then you can get crazy with the sides, which include sauces like tahini and tzatziki, veggies, hummus, etc. Everything is super fresh and the workers are very helpful in explaining everything. Kids will love the beef gyro or chicken shawarma, and watching the workers carve them off the vertical rotisseries.
2521 Newhall St.
San Jose, CA
This longtime beloved San Francisco pop-up has made a permanent home in Oakland, so now you can more easily get to their version of homey Filipino cuisine. The Shanghai lumpia (pork spring rolls), lechon (pork belly) and adobo fried rice are big favorites, while the homemade spam with rice and fried egg will be a hit with the kiddies. Don’t skip the macapono (young coconut) ice cream for dessert if it’s on the menu! FOB Kitchen is open for brunch on weekends only, the best time to take the family.
5179 Telegraph Ave.
Scandinavian cuisine is particularly family-friendly and we love the homey atmosphere that you find at Pläj. Located within walking distance of the Civic Center, Pläj is a great spot for your pre- or post-theater meal when everyone's all dressed up. We love the smoked fish croquettes and chicken liver more, while kids will definitely want to dig in to the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam. On Sundays in December you can enjoy their traditional julbord meal. If you head up to Petaluma, don't miss their more casual sister restaurant, Stockhome (their Swedish candy selection is epic!).
333 Fulton St.
Named for Francis Coppola's venerable production company, American Zoetrope, Cafe Zoetrope is located in the majestic Sentinel Building, a San Francisco historic landmark in the heart of North Beach. We love it for it's quirky decor, small tables and totally kid-friendly dining. You can't go wrong with the Pizza Sofia (topped with arugula, prosciutto and shaved parmesan) and the spaghetti and meatballs will make any kid (or adult) both full and happy.
916 Kearny St.
—Anita Chu & Kate Loweth