If you’ve ever glanced down at the “kids menu” of a restaurant, thinking that a plate of chicken fingers or a Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake sounded pretty good, you’re definitely not alone. There’s no shame in wanting a dish that is ambiguously only meant for kids—after all, we all enjoyed eating them at some point in our lives. Who says age should limit you from enjoying what the child version of you used to eat?
The good news is there are several Bay Area restaurants that now include reimagined childhood dishes that are a bit more geared towards a (hopefully more refined) adult palette. While it’s not quite like ordering from the kids menu, these dishes are not only delicious but will definitely remind you of those good ol’ days from your childhood. Whether savory or sweet, you'll find below a small collection of dishes that should satisfy that kiddy hankering, all while reminding you why you loved these dishes in the first place. We can’t guarantee a cup of crayons and a coloring book, but we can promise all of these will be really tasty.
There are two classic combos that will never go out of style and will always be in good taste (pun intended): milk and cookies and peanut butter and jelly.
Stones Throw, the Russian Hill outpost from the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group—which includes San Francisco favorites Trestle, Fat Angel, and Corridor—offers two whimsical and delectable tastes on these childhood favorites.
First, the Milk and Cookies. It’s a sight to behold, beautifully plated and going way beyond a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. This classic combo is transformed into something completely new with a milk sorbet, housemade cookie dough, cookies and cream tuile, and a strawberry sauce to tie it all together. It’s one of those dishes where it feels almost too pretty to eat, but trust us, it’s worth digging into.
Second is the Peanut Butter and Jelly, which instead of being a sandwich is now in the form of beignets. Milk chocolate sauce, concord grapes, peanuts and vanilla adorn the plate. While you probably can’t bring this to lunch with you, it’s fitting as the dessert to end any great meal.
Dreamed up by Pastry Chef Tara Lewis, the rest of Stones Throw’s dessert menu includes other childhood classics like Peaches & Cream, which include peach custard, jasmine creme, almonds, and prosecco; and the Rocky Road, which has chocolate cake with toasted marshmallows along with bing cherries and walnuts.
Chicken noodle soup has become a home remedy for feeling under the weather, no matter your age. It is comfort delivered in the form of a delicious savory broth with tender chicken and toothsome noodles.
Thankfully, the chicken noodle soup from Hai Ky Mi Gia is something you can order even when you’re not feeling sick, maybe when you just have a craving for your traditional chicken noodle soup with an Asian twist!
Hai Ky Mi Gia, located in Little Saigon in San Francisco, specializes in Teochew food—a type of cuisine that originated from the Chaoshan region in the eastern part of Guandong province in China. This style of cuisine pulls a lot from Fujian and Cantonese food and the result is hearty and deeply flavorful dishes, like Hai Ky Mi Gia’s shredded chicken noodle soup.
The stock is intensely rich with umami, and served with perfectly cooked pieces of chicken and your choice of thick rice noodles or thin egg noodles. While we can’t recommend this soup dish enough, this long-time hole in the wall is also famous for its dry pho dish and braised duck noodle soup.
The restaurant opens early at 8am and closes at 6pm, so it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, and an early dinner. It is also cash only, but you shouldn’t need much of it as many of the dishes are very reasonably priced.
The hallmark of a good kids menu has got to be its availability of tots. There’s really nothing like the perfectly fried tater tot and the perfect dipping sauces to go along with it. Whether bought frozen from the grocery store or served up fresh at a restaurant, there’s something about these fried potato cubes that will never get old.
Jamber Wine Pub has elevated the time-tested tater tot by making them out of another star in the tuber world: mashed potatoes. The Parmesan and Rosemary Mashed Potato Tots are perfectly fried and crispy on the outside, with a smooth and warm mashed potato-y inside. The dish even swaps out the typical ketchup with your choice of bacon jam or cranberry-walnut jam. We recommend ordering both, though, because it’s only an extra dollar to get the other jam, and why shouldn’t you treat yourself to both?
While it’s not on the Jamber happy hour menu, we encourage you to swing by during their happy hour time of 3:30-7:30pm to enjoy the other dishes that are discounted, like their mini poutine and pickle fries.
Whether in oblong shapes from a fast food drive-thru or in the shape of dinosaurs from a frozen bag, chicken nuggets have very likely made some kind of appearance on all childhood dinner plates.
Tried and true, chicken nuggets can be tough to screw up, but it can also be tough to make them even better—enter Trick Dog with their version of chicken nuggets.
People likely know Trick Dog for their seasonally rotating menu of cocktails where everything from the menu design to the decor changes, but their food menu is nothing to scoff at either.
The chicken nuggets are lightly coated and fried to peak crispiness and the inside is succulently moist. Coming in an option of 9 or 13 nuggets, both sizes are served with a trio of sauces: sweet and sour, honey mustard, and BBQ. To upgrade to the 13 nuggets is just $3—a pretty delicious deal for an extra four nuggets!
The current menu is a “Joy of Cocktails” cookbook theme, with a selection of creative cocktails formulated by some of the best chefs in the city including Dominique Crenn, Brandon Jew, and Gabriela Camara.
If you're looking for a vegetarian version of nuggets, check out the nuggets from Enjoy Vegetarian.
The grab-and-go breakfast (and after-school snack and occasional dessert) of a Pop Tart takes on a much more sophisticated format thanks to the minds of Hillside Supper Club.
The Hillside Pop Tart has been a mainstay of the restaurant’s brunch menu for quite some time and is definitely a fan favorite.
The flavor of the Pop Tart rotates with whatever is in season and is baked into a nice flaky crust. There’s no icing on top, but for an additional three dollars, you can order it with a scoop of homemade ice cream on top instead!
Hillside is one of the few brunch places that allows you to make a reservation online, guaranteeing you won’t need to brave any long lines that are found all over SF on a Sunday morning. They also have unlimited mimosas, so while you’re already eating ice cream and a pop tart for breakfast, you might as well go for some day drinking as well.