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Guide to Eating Out in SF with a Baby!?!

Eating-In-San-Francisco-with-Baby

If you’ve been to San Francisco, you know it’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world. Feel free to name a few of your faves below. You’ve got your appetite, your wallet, your recommendation for the hot new place to try, but what if you have a baby with you? A baby spinach salad with goat cheese and some fancy vinaigrette? Yum. An actual baby by your side? Um, not so fun.

I LOVE San Francisco, but it’s not exactly a baby-friendly city, so here’s my guide to eating out in any city that should help you to avoid eye-rolls, enjoy your meal and not disturb other patrons. We’ve eaten in restaurants countless times with Wilhelmina in Switzerland, Dallas and San Francisco with a 90% success rate. There have been a couple absolute fails, but I have some tips to help new parents looking to sneak out for a quick date night or a romantic lunch with a drooling, giggling, plus one. Here’s 5 Tips from an afternoon lunch with my husband in my boring new mom uniform at one of my favorite restaurants in SOMA – Marlowe…

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  1. Assess Your Munchkin – You know your baby best and can avoid major headaches once you know his/or her patterns. If she’s super tired, walk her around the block a few times and if you’re lucky, she’ll go to sleep instead of throwing a fit in the restaurant. I always try to feed her after ordering as we wait, so she’s not hungry once the food arrives.

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2. Do Your Research – Depending on the restaurant, call ahead for reservations and always mention a baby. You’ll know immediately whether it’s baby-friendly restaurant by how they respond. Especially in SF, they’ll want to organize a comfortable table in the restaurant – if you need a high-chair, or have a stroller (which may need to be parked in a hidden spot like coat check). Request a booth if possible (especially if your baby is in sleeping mode) then you can lay her down on a blanket.

Marlowe-San-Francisco-burger

3. Split Your Meal – This is a personal preference and diet secret. I always offer to split or share with my husband because I’m not going to fully enjoy the meal anyway thanks to baby distractions (holding, feeding, letting her sip water, picking toys off the floor, etc), so I savor each bite. Try to enjoy as much as you can, which is usually about 1/3 – 1/2 of an actual meal.

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Shout-Out to Marlowe – This is a classic San Francisco fave for me (they even split the little gem salad starter for us). Although Marlowe has only been around since 2010, it’s been voted one of the Top 100 Restaurants in SF by the San Francisco Chronicle for the past 3 years!

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4. Always Bring a Distraction* – I always have a couple of her toys stuffed in my purse to keep her occupied. Spoons, plastic cups, and my bracelets have worked when I forget. I also just got a tip from a parent to ask for celery at restaurants once she starts teething (but before she has actual teeth).

Marlowe-San-Francisco-eating

5. When is the Best Time to Eat? – Depending on the neighborhood, lunch spots in San Francisco can be packed! I recommend a late lunch around 2 or 3 pm to miss the lunch crowd. However, busy, loud restaurants can also be more comfortable during dinner if you want to spend more time eating. The louder and busier the restaurant, the less they will hear or notice your baby.

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*Don’t Forget – To check for toys that may have dropped on the ground or and clean any mess the baby made. Perhaps it was years of working in restaurants through high-school and college, but I always try to pick up any silverware, papers or food she may have dropped to save staff the extra work. Finally – I never put her back in the stroller inside the restaurant as we leave. Chances are she’ll have a melt-down that nobody wants to hear, so I hold her until we’re in the lobby or outside.

Do you have any tips or thoughts on eating at restaurants with babies? Have a great weekend!

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4 Comments

Comments

  1. Dale could she be any cuter? Oh my gosh she’s a doll! great advice here. We did the same as you when our guys were babies. We ate early also when there were less crowds, brought little books and toys and had low expectations. We also always cleaned the ground and the table. I cannot believe the bad manners of some people leaving a disaster on the floor and table and just walking away. Terrible. As the kids got older we continued to bring them to nice places and expected them to use their manners, no phones to IPads, and converse properly. It’s not perfect, but if you have expectations your kids will rise to them and if they cannot they need to eat at home. I don’t understand these people parking their kid in front of an IPad or phone. I’m glad you are doing well. You look great too. Have a good weekend! xo Kim

  2. That is wonderful that you can actually take your little one out while you are having a meal… my youngest was a sweet baby, easy going but going out for dinner or lunch with her was a little trying so I rarely did it… maybe it was the new surrounding she wasn’t good with… not sure. I have total understanding for people that take their children out with them, I think we all need time out 🙂 xox

    Your little one is so adorable Dale xox

  3. Great tips! My tip is to rotate your “going out toys” frequently so that she won’t get bored with them too quickly (especially as she is getting older). Simple things that are not familiar, like stickers, etc., can be wonderful distractions that provide entertainment for quite some time…

    I love the photos of you and Wilhelmina!

  4. Dale, you’re an awesome MOM!!! These are excellent tips that are both beneficial for others as well as yourself. She is such a cutie! Love that SMILE she gives in the second to last photo. Too cute.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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