Breeders' Banquet: Dining Out with Kids in SF

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Greenburger’s

on May 25, 2013

When we first moved to San Francisco, we lived in a lovely little house in Glen Park. It had a cast iron spiral staircase and over 30 stairs from the sidewalk to the front door. At a mutual friend’s party in Duboce Triangle, I was discussing the new house and location with our friend Barry.  “Glen Park?” he said, nodding. “It’s all puppies, kittens, strollers, and lattes over there!”

We don’t live in that lovely little house anymore– that charming spiral staircase practically had TODDLER DEATH TRAP welded into its double helix– but what Barry said about Glen Park has always stuck with me. It WAS all puppies, kittens, strollers, and lattes over there. Which brings me to one of the Axioms of San Francisco: when you want something specific, you need to know exactly which neighborhood will have it. Need a pair of assless chaps and a cake shaped like a giant penis? Go to the Castro. Need a pair of $400 pants in size zero? Go to Presidio Heights. Need a taxidermied wolverine and some artisan beef jerky? The Mission is the place for you. How about a used syringe and the best breakfast in town? Tenderloin time!

This axiom explains why we so rarely venture to the Haight (usually divided into the Upper Haight, a.k.a. Haight-Ashbury, and the Lower Haight, a.k.a. Haight-Fillmore). Well, that and the parking, which is terrible. The Haight can meet all of your steampunk-velvet-cape, pit-bull-gutter-punk, and strange-Japanese-toys-with-big-eyes needs; we, whether fortunately or unfortunately, rarely find ourselves lacking in those items.

Which is kind of a shame, because I’d like to come back to Greenburger’s again. We went there on a Saturday afternoon lark with both kids in tow. The experience began with rock-star-parking right out front, with 14 minutes left on the meter. Thanks, parking karma!

A wall of glass with reclaimed wood accents marks the entrance to Greenburger’s, a motif which continues inside. The ceilings are high and the dining room is airy and well-lit. We walked down a gently-sloping ramp to the cash register, where a smiling young woman took our order and handed us a number.

IMG_5472

The dining room.

The menu featured pretty standard burger-joint type fare, elevated in that San Francisco way: the meats and produce were organic and locally sourced, the fish sustainable, and the baked goods from Bakers of Paris, a San Francisco bakery. The children’s menu was pretty standard as well, offering mac & cheese, a small burger, grilled cheese, or a hot dog. The kids’ sandwiches come with fries, though I wish there was a vegetable alternative like salad or baby carrots.

We sat at a four-top near the ice cream bar. The Jaybird was mildly diverted by the crayons and paper she was given at the counter, though she gave more rapt attention to the condiment bar featuring housemade ranch dressing, “fry sauce,” and ketchup as well as fresh lettuce, onions, and tomatoes nestled in hotel pans on a bed of ice.

IMG_5476

The condiment bar.

A large chalkboard map of the United States was painted on the wall cattycorner to the condiment bar. A sign encouraged patrons to add their favorite culinary delicacy from their home state to the map so that Greenburger’s might consider their addition to the menu. Being from Florida, I wrote “beer-battered deep-fried hot dog” but maintain little hope for its future at Greenburger’s. I plucked a standard wooden restaurant high chair from the pile in the corner and returned to our table.

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The chalkboard map.

Our food arrived hot within 10 or 12 minutes and we dug in. The Jaybird’s grilled cheese was toasted rather than fried, which I appreciated; the brioche bread was plenty rich enough for her taste. Naturally, she went straight for the fries, declaring them “OW TOO HOT!!” while simultaneously shoving them into her mouth after introducing them to the ranch dressing pooled on her plate. Preschoolers are nothing if not completely, maddeningly, contradictory. My cheeseburger was perfectly medium-rare and served on a glistening brioche bun that had clearly spent some quality time on the griddle, probably rubbing up against some butter. Mmmmmm. The housemade “fry sauce” proved an excellent accompaniment to my sweet potato fries, which were slightly too thin and underseasoned for my general taste but crispy and not at all greasy. In any case, I ate them all.

Cheeseburger on BRIOCHE BUN.

Cheeseburger on BRIOCHE BUN.

The Doctor’s pulled pork sandwich was also quite good, with some of those crispy bits falling out of the brioche bun (shut up. There is nothing not to love about brioche!) and a slight heat to the sauce. The Bitz managed to eat a considerable portion of my sweet potato fries and at least a quarter of his sister’s GIANT sandwich. Seriously, that was a huge grilled cheese. So huge that we decided not to get any ice cream after all, even though the sundae specials looked insane. Salted caramel fudge sundae? Uh, yes please.

The ice cream bar

The ice cream bar

While we were eating, a man, I assume the proprietor,  in whites and clogs came out to the dining room. He checked the satisfaction levels of several tables around us before disappearing back into the kitchen. It was nice to see that. It really was. Well done, sir.

We will be back to besmirch your spotlessly clean restaurant and partake of your delicious burgers, and, perhaps, some ice cream. I may need a velvet cape or a bong shaped like a skull sooner than I thought.

THE STATS:

Rating: 7 out of 10

  • Changing Table: YES
  • Kids’ menu: YES, standard burger/grilled cheese/mac & cheese options
  • High Chairs: YES, standard restaurant wooden high chairs

Greenburger’s 

518 Haight St. 

San Francisco, CA 94117

415-829-2491

http://www.sfgreenburgers.com

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One response to “Greenburger’s

  1. maryalice28@gmail.com says:

    Yay! Thank you so much for doing this. Recently had a very family friendly meal at Cafe Fiore at 24th and Guerrero if you’re looking for new places to review.

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