San Francisco is home to a diverse and vibrant range of ethnic communities, many of which are represented in the wide array of food shops, restaurants, cafes, and other foodie destinations.
Culinary adventures or field trips to these places are a great way to introduce your kids to international cultures and communities. Visits to the following destinations would be fun for kids of all ages. They would also be a great way to kick off discussions with older children about the impact of international cuisines on our city and peek into the history of various communities within the city!
A visit to the famous Japanese Tea Garden, accompanied by a cup of tea and snack in the tea house, is a great way to introduce Japanese culture to your kids. Read about the history of the garden, Makoto Hagiwara, and the fortune cookie story told by members of Mr. Hagiwara’s family before visiting.
A visit to this humble fortune cookie factory to see how the cookies are made could be a fun and delicious follow-up trip to the Japanese Tea Garden. For older kids, this adventure could spark off discussions about how some foods that have a popular perception of belonging to a particular culture may have their roots right here in the city.
Choose two or three recommended restaurants, such as Tacolicious, La Taqueria on Mission Street, the vegan Gracias Madres (or taco trucks, such as El Tonayense) in the Mission and order a small amount of food at each place to share. You can focus on one particular dish or choose a specialty of each restaurant, and encourage your kid to compare and contrast the various culinary offerings. This adventure would be a great chance to sample and discuss another ethnic food that has roots here in the city—the Mission-style burrito!
For a one-stop round the world culinary adventure, take your kid to an Off the Grid event, the SOMA StrEat Food Park, or another food cart venue. Sample foods from different carts on every visit, or pick a single dish from a few carts to sample and share. Many food carts offer fusion food, which can be the source of more food-related discussions with your kids. ‘Food Trucks: A Lift-the-Flap Meal on Wheels’ by Jeffrey Burton is a fun book to read before embarking on your food truck adventures!
San Francisco has no shortage of English-style tea rooms which are a fun and delicious way to sample a little bit of English culture. Two of the more quintessentially English offerings are Lovejoy’s Tea Room and The Crown and Crumpet, both of which have a special kid’s tea on the menu!
Living in san Francisco you probably already know that Dim Sum refers to an array of bite-sized dishes, including dumplings, buns, wraps and noodles, which are baked, fried or steamed and eaten for brunch or lunch. The most fun way to introduce these delights to kids is to choose a dim sum restaurant with traditional food carts. Kids will enjoy choosing interesting offerings from the carts. Popular Dim Sum restaurants for families with kids include Yank Sing, Hong Kong Lounge, Canton Restaurant, and Ton Kiang.
Thanks to the following people for their help with this list:
Stacie Dong, Co-founder of A Little Yumminess
Vanessa Silver and Janine Gee, Co-founder and Program Director of Culinary Artistas
To learn even more about introducing your kids to international cuisine, read the World on a Plate: Introducing your Child to the World through Food in the December/January 2017 edition of the GGMG Magazine
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