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Amy Graff of 'The Mommy Files' on Her Bay Area Family Favorites

This is our weekly guest-blog post from the moms behind Red Tricycle, a site that focuses on the "lighter side" of parenting. Every week, they'll be bringing us their picks of stuff to do around the Bay Area with kids.

We’re big fans of the The Mommy Files, SFGate’s fun and always thought-provoking blog, written by Amy Graff. Amy also blogs at The SF K-Files, a lively forum for discussion of all educational topics in the Bay Area, and is a contributor blogger at Babycenter. Amy is one of the Bay Area’s favorite mom voices and here she shares her family favorites with us.

RT: What is your favorite family ritual?

AG: Most of our rituals happen in the evening as my husband and I both work full-time and the kids are in after-school together. We try to eat dinner together every night and take turns sharing news from our day. I like asking my kids to tell me about the silliest thing that happened during the day–it gets us all laughing. My son likes games and so we often play Sorry or Uno before he goes to bed. My daughter and I always take a walk after my son has gone to bed. We walk from our house near Dolores Park to Noe Valley’s 24th St. and sometimes we go to Bi-Rite for an ice cream cone. We both like the malted vanilla crunch best.

RT: Where do you and your husband like to go for date night?

AG: We just had a date night at Bar Tartine in the Mission, as the restaurant generously donated a gift certificate to our kids’ school auction and we won it. Everything–from the sparkling rose to the creamy nettle soup to the pan-fried trout–was delicious. We didn’t have a reservation but were able to get counter seating, which I like better anyway because it’s more intimate. But mostly a date for us is just a long walk through the city because it’s expensive to pay for both a babysitter and the price of a meal. I like walking through North Beach at night, up to Coit Tower, down the Telegraph Hill steps, and then onto the Embarcadero where you can stroll along the waterfront. Before kids, we used to spend entire Saturdays walking from neighborhood to neighborhood. We’d walk until our legs felt like rubber-bands and then park ourselves in a bar until it was time to meet friends for dinner. Those days are over!

RT: What are a few of your favorite parks & places to visit with kids around town?

AG: Right now our kids are into biking. We often ride in Golden Gate Park, along Ocean Beach, at Crissy Field, or on the bayfront path in Tiburon. They love riding their bikes during Sunday Streets events, and they first learned to ride without training wheels at the park next to Aptos Middle School, with a massive stretch of blacktop.

When our kids were little, they used to love checking out the honeybees at the Randall Museum, looking for turtles in the pond at the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, and painting the windows at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. We also used to spend a lot of time at the SFMOMA and attended most of their family days with kid friendly gallery tours and art projects. But these days, my kids want to be outdoors on the trail, in the water, on the ski slopes.

RT: Where do you like to catch a bite with the little one in tow?

AG: We like going to Noe Valley Bakery for maple walnut scones; Arizmendi for pizza topped with veggies; A La Turka for creamy hummus served with fresh baked pita bread; Bodega Bistro for big bowls of steaming pho, Chloes for pancakes; Papalote for burritos, El Delfin for homemade guacamole; Xiao Loong for lemon chicken and sizzling rice soup; Little Star for thick-crusted pizza, and Gialina for thin crust. And my kids hands-down favorite restaurant in San Francisco is La Ciccia because the owners Lorella and Massimo greet children with open arms. They even let our kids go into the back and make their own pizzas once. But mostly we eat at home–and nothing fancy: quesadillas, chili, turkey burgers, green salads.

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