Mission Local compiled a list of some of the most family-friendly restaurants in the area. Friendly staff was our top priority, followed by ambiance and accommodations. This list will be updated periodically.

On weekend afternoons in the Mission, families come out to play, and after they play, they eat.

But before they pack their diaper bags or plan a trip for their tiny food critics, they want to know what is in store for them. Websites such as Yelp provide many restaurant reviews, but only a “yes” or “no” when it comes to letting parents know if a restaurant is good for kids. What does that mean?

Families currently represent 43 percent of the Mission’s households in the 94110 zip code and 27 percent in the 94103 area, according to the most recent census data.

While talking to parents out on their afternoon stroll, Mission Local found that many had questions regarding the restaurant’s ambiance: Is it a quiet, romantic space that they don’t want to interrupt, or a place where their kids can make some noise? Is it so trendy that they will feel out of place? Will they have crayons or something entertaining for the kids to do while they are waiting for a meal? Will they pass out bread or something for the kids to snack on if they get hungry before the food arrives?

Most parents in the Mission had given up on finding a restaurant with diaper-changing stations.

“I use the stroller for that, so I can’t go to a restaurant that is too small,” said one mom on 22nd Street. “Price and portions are important. I have four boys.”

Two dads on Valencia Street said they go to wherever they see other families.

“That way people are more understanding if your kid has a meltdown,” one said.

Mothers at Mission Playground on Valencia and 19th streets had their own checklists.

Anna Bennett, the mother of two, wants some elbow room.

“We look for a place that has booths for seating, where you can have a little bit of privacy from your neighbors,” said Bennett, her 5-month-old in a sling on her chest. She adds that when she takes her baby and 9-year-old daughter out, restaurant owners have been very accommodating and “neighborly.”

On the same playground, Maysa Carvalho, 34, an assistant preschool teacher and resident of the Mission, said that with all the trendy restaurants it can be challenging for her to find a place where her toddler son will be comfortable.

“Valencia has changed a lot,” she said. “Most of them [restaurants] are not kid-friendly and they are too modern and not the right environment.” Every time she goes out to eat, she wonders whether she should bring her 2-year-old son, who played in the playground’s sprinklers just a few feet away. Like others, she appreciates small accommodations, such as room for strollers and highchairs.

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Guisel Contreras credits her keen sense of smell for her love of food. Her super-sniffer led her off the street and into Dandelion Chocolate, where the “Madagascar” won her heart. “I’m excited to go beyond the typical [restaurant] review.” Follow her nose on Mission Local.

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  1. A few more:
    La Traviata was very accommodating when we brought multiple toddlers. Ask for a corner.

    Mi Lindo Peru is great with kids.

    Blue Plate has lots of small rooms but the patio dining is especially nice for kids.

  2. Schmidts is also very friendly; there are often numerous families between 6 and 7:30.
    The Company on Guerrero is also very accommodating.
    Indeed, I really have had no issues with taking my kid to restaurants in the area.

  3. I am just amazed that people think it is enjoyable to take kids out to eat. The times I chose to do so, our family would go to La Taquiria or small, simple Asian spots.
    It is totally boring for kids to sit through a restaurant meal. Pack lunch an go to the zoo or Point Reyes.
    Save the dining out for grow ups.

    1. While I don’t necessarily think it is enjoyable eating out with my toddler (at least much of the time), I do think it is important, and often necessary. In my opinion kids need to learn to function out in public and socialize with adults in different settings. Also, my wife and I don’t have time to cook during the week, and its nice to get a healthy meal out as opposed to frozen food at home. If the restaurant is very kid friendly and our son gets a lot of positive attention from the staff, it can be a very fun experience for everyone.

    2. Actually with the advent of iphones etc. it is pretty easy to keep kids entertained during the inevitable waits that are part of restaurant dining. so the experience can be quite pleasant.

  4. Boogaloos any early morning is great for families. Kids can be as loud as they want. A balloon-making guy used to show up on the weekends, not sure if he still does.

  5. Hog and Rocks should be on the list of places where the staff is super friendly/helpful to families. Their bench seating is limited but our daughter loved their in seat high chair (the only type she’d actually sit in). One weekend afternoon they let her order the pickles during brunch instead of making her wait 20 minutes.