Farm-to-Fork Dining: Casual Family Restaurants With Fresh, Local Ingredients

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It’s a wonderful thing to be spoiled. As Bay Area residents, our produce doesn’t need to be shipped across the country before reaching our kitchens. You’re a regular at the farmers market, but when it comes to eating out, wouldn’t it be great to have a pick of restaurants serving food that’s wholesome and made with fresh, local ingredients? Many of the area’s farm-to-fork restaurants cater to the cocktail crowd, but the following are casual and easy, even when your cocktail dress is hanging and you’re out with a gang of kids:

Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, Berkeley
This family-friendly Berkeley establishment is locally owned and operated, celebrating contemporary Jewish cuisine that veers away from the industrial food system. The produce comes from the likes of Happy Boy Farms and Riverdog Farm, the fish comes from the Monterey Market, the dairy comes from the likes of Straus Barista Milk, and the beef and lamb from Marin Sun Farms. Moreover, at Saul’s, conversation and noise are all considered part of the dining experience.

Beautifull, San Francisco
Beautifull touts “real, good food.” Here, the word “super food” can be engrained in your little one’s vocabulary. The Laurel Heights restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from local farms that use environmentally sustainable practices, like raising meat without steroids or hormones. Order at the counter, choosing a favorite like organic spaghetti or almond butter with jam from the kids’ menu.

Brick & Bottle, Corte Madera
Who can argue with simple cooking made with local, sustainable ingredients? For a nice, sit-down meal, Brick & Bottle offers a kids menu with options like petrale sole or skirt steak with seasonal veggies, because the good stuff shouldn’t be for adults alone. The wait staff here does well to accommodate the little beans, offering covered cups and highchairs aplenty.

Summer Kitchen, Berkeley
Speaking of local farms, Summer Kitchen feels as if it belongs in one. Its décor is light and airy and as an environmentally responsible business, you can bet Summer Kitchen works with local growers and producers. Lots of kids’ faves here, from soup to salad to brick-oven pizza, but seating is limited, so be prepared to take it with you.

Station House Café, Marin
Station House Café’s been a Pt. Reyes staple for decades. In addition to the happy hour and live music, there’s good food with locally sourced ingredients and a community vibe where families feel welcome.

Bumble, Los Altos
Did you know there was a place open seven days a week until 8:00 pm, with a playroom for the kids and breakfast, lunch, or dinner that includes macchiatos, wine, or beer for mom and dad? Bumble’s staffed playroom costs extra, but it’s a good way to bribe the kids into finishing their farm-to-table fare.

Slow, Berkeley
Take your home-brewed iced tea with seasonal fruit toppings out into Slow’s back patio, where the kids can romp by an award-winning rose garden. This Berkeley restaurant features local ingredients and slow-cooked gourmet offerings, including kid-friendly comfort foods, for a fair price and a low-key vibe.

Local Café, Oakland
Head over to the Piedmont strip for an informal café-like setting with an artisanal touch that caters to local farmers. Kids and their grown-ups flock here in high numbers to treat themselves with a four-course dinner, with Tara’s organic ice cream for dessert.

Café du Cirque, San Rafael
The kids’ menu is ripe with organic options, and the playroom offers a lovely respite for tired moms. Come for a healthy lunch – Café du Cirque closes early.

Tell us about your favorite, farm-to-fork spot!

— Renee Macalino Rutledge

Photos courtesy of the Facebook pages of Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, Brick and Bottle,  Bumble Los Altos and Cafe du Cirque.