Breeders' Banquet: Dining Out with Kids in SF

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Green Chile Kitchen

on June 14, 2013

The other day I took the Bitz along with me to the YMCA while I went to work out. They have a fabulous childcare room and I can plug my headphones into the iPad, climb on the treadmill, and watch Lannisters, Baratheons, Targaereyns, and Starks murder each other in increasingly violent and creative ways. What says “mommy’s me time” like 90 minutes of quasi-medieval bloodshed and conniving eunuchs? Nothing, that’s what.

We arrived a little early so I brought him into the women’s locker room to nurse. If you want to get lots of kindly smiles and unsolicited advice, bring a nursing baby into a room full of naked women in their 6os and 70s. I had more people tell me how adorable the Bitz was today than in the rest of his 10 months of life combined. After the workout I headed over to Trader Joe’s to get some milk and snacks (for some reason watching people get punctured with crossbow quarrels makes me extra hungry), and it happened again. At least five people stopped me to tell me how cute the Bitz was.

Then I realized what was happening. He’s entered the Suicidal Beauty stage. This occurs when babies reach their maximum infant cuteness peak. Evolution has conveniently paired this adorableness with a series of other behaviors that, were said baby NOT so adorable, might drive the parent of this angelic child to near-insanity levels of exasperation. Before he even had breakfast this morning, the Bitz ripped all the cords out of the Doctor’s computer, tried to throw himself off the side of bed, attempted to eat a miniature plastic parasaurolophus, pooped on my arm, tore up three pieces of his sister’s treasured art projects, threw my glasses in the toilet, and almost broke the dog’s leg, right after he tried to lick up the crusty remains of the dog’s dinner from the previous night.

Keeping the Bitz from committing suicide is more than a full-time job. That’s why, last Saturday I threw up my hands (releasing a shower of itty-bitty-teeny-tiny-choking hazards AKA legos at the same time) and said, “That’s enough. We’re going out for lunch today.”

I took the recommendation of a friend and we headed over to Green Chile Kitchen in NoPa (North of the Panhandle). We found parking right across the street from the restaurant’s inviting exterior. (Aside: I think writing this blog has given me some sort of magic Parking Karma. We ALWAYS find parking when we are visiting blog-featured restaurants).

Exterior

Exterior

It was busy for a Saturday afternoon, though apparently this is because of their popular brunch. Copies of the menu rested in a tray on the large wooden table that greets you at the door, next to a mammoth sign indicating the day’s specials and any salient news from the proprietors. There is a small kids’ menu, including tacos, a burrito, or a burrito bowl. The Jaybird ordered a plain cheese quesadilla from the “taqueria classics” portion of the adult menu. Green Chile Kitchen employs the increasingly popular order-at-the-counter-and-be-seated model of service, which was actually quite convenient for us as the Bitz was quite set upon getting his little fingers on the condiments and water self-serve area and I was able to whisk him away from the array of glasses before any damage was done.

Self serve water and condiments

Self serve water and condiments

We had to wait for space to open at one of the communal tables in the center of the dining room; the booths and smaller tables were all occupied. One booth was occupied by these guys:

The Computing Guys

The Computing Guys

All four were operating computers and/or iPads with keyboards. At no point during our entire meal did I see any of them eat anything or talk to one another. I am still trying to figure out if they are roommates who all secretly hate one another, co-workers struggling with an ugly deadline, or a random assemblage of 20- something males who had no prior knowledge of each other.

The Jaybird, the Bitz, and I finally sat down and waited for the Doctor to finish ordering for us. Once he had joined us, our drinks came mere moments later. Behold, one of my new favorite beverages: the green chile lemonade!

Mmmm, spicy lemonade!

Mmmm, spicy lemonade!

The Jaybird also ordered the chile lemonade, which was pleasantly spicy but not so overpoweringly so that her delicate tastebuds were offended. The Doctor ordered a white sangria, which he pronounced “fine.”

Maybe I’m a a weird mom, but I like to feed the Bitz plain guacamole. Avocados are supposedly this amazing superfood for babies, with all kinds of antioxidants and good fats and la la la, but let’s face it: guacamole is their true raison d’etre. GCK’s guac came with a spoon. The Bitz took it straight while the rest of us snacked on  some nicely crispy, fresh, non-greasy tortilla chips. In any case, the guac was fresh, had an assertive lime flavor, and lots of cilantro. Yum!

Guacamole

Guacamole

We attempted to have a conversation regarding our plans for the remainder of the day but it was IMPOSSIBLE to hear one another. Maybe that’s why the computer guys gave up on talking and just whipped out their electronics. GCK’s interior is mostly hard surfaces– wood walls, stainless steel tables, etc– and the sound of the crowd bounced around and echoed unpleasantly. Luckily, we didn’t have long to wait for our food. A pleasant woman brought the the Jaybird’s quesadilla, Doctor’s pork burrito, and my chicken sopapillas within 10 minutes of the drinks. She winked at the Bitz and called him “cutie” while he was trying to dangle off the side of the table, of course.

Sopapillas

Sopapillas

The food was GOOD. Really, really good. The burrito came with grilled summer squash and rice; the sopapillas with black beans and rice. My test of any “Mexican” restaurant is the black beans. These were perfectly cooked– they held together on the fork but melted on the tongue with a pronounced bean-y, not tinny, flavor and just a hint of cumin. I couldn’t spend too much stomach real-estate on the beans, though. I’d never had sopapillas before, but they reminded me of a cross beween Indian frybread and savory beignets, smothered with large chunks of white meat chicken and a green chile sauce. Like much of the food at GCK, they were assertively spiced with a pleasant heat. The Bitz ate several large pieces in between bites of his sister’s quesadilla and my black beans.

I had a bite of the Doctor’s burrito and immediately regretted not choosing the pork for my meat. For each of the dinner plate options you can choose between chicken, pork, steak, or ground beef for carnivores and mixed veggie or red chile tofu. Compared to the flavorful pork, the chicken was bland; the sauce was the real star of the sopapillas.

We “finished” our meals— the portions are so enormous we all had leftovers to bring home. I ate the rest of the sopapillas, rice, and beans for lunch for two days in a row. We also wanted to save some space. You see, just down the street from GCK is their sister restaurant, Chile Pies and Ice Cream.

HOME OF THE PIE SHAKE. Oh, you know what that is, don’t you? It’s an entire piece of pie mashed up into a milkshake. You KNOW you want one.

IMG_5737

Overall, we really enjoyed the food and general ambiance of GCK. The only real complaint was the noise and the lack of a changing table in the restroom. It’s VERY child-friendly and the service was quick, efficient, accurate, and pleasant. I’d highly recommend it for anyone with a hankering for down-home style New Mexican food and a family in tow.

THE STATS:

Rating: 7 out of 10

  • Changing Table: NO
  • Kids’ menu: YES
  • High Chairs: YES, standard restaurant high chairs

Green Chile Kitchen

1801 MacAllister St.  

San Francisco, CA 

415-440-9411

www.greenchilekitchen.com

 

 

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