Kid Friendly Restaurants – The Readers’ Guide

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions on kid friendly restaurants. Reading them, it seemed obvious that rather than letting these great ideas languish in the land of comments, we create a readers’ guide to kid friendly restaurants around the world.

So here goes with the first installment. I’ve listed them alphabetically and geographically.

Keep em coming and, in the meantime, I’ll devise some better structured way to run this on-going feature on Gastrokid.

Austin, Texas

Vespaio in Austin is a fine dining destination that is very accomodating to small children. They were very gracious and very wonderful to our four-year-old. They had no problem fixing her a bowl of plain spaghetti, and made sure to serve the adults at the table in a prompt but not rushed manner – acknowledging that we did not want to linger overly long, but never making us feel unwelcome or hurried.

Vespaio also has a small cafe next door that offers a wonderful assortment of interesting Italian "tapas" as well as pizza, etc. We went there the night after dining in the main restaurant and quickly realized that our child was over-tired and we should not have gone out. The waitress was completely understanding and gracious and boxed our meal so that we could take the rest of our dinner back to the hotel. Sure, most restaurants will do that. What we will remember was that, rather than being annoyed at us, the wait staff were truly kind and sympathetic and assured us that they hoped we would bring our child back another night.

- Liz

Bay Area, CA

In the SF bay area there is a restaurant called Chow’s which is very kid friendly. Excellent organic food with a very relaxed atmosphere. Upscale funky. Local artists on the walls. Kids menu and coloring stuff. We are usually at the location in Lafayette in the East Bay but there is also one in SF.

Posted by: susan

Boston MA

I’m not surprised by the dearth of Boston postings; our best bets tend to be mega-menued chain restaurants (that said, The Cheesecake Factory has enough selection to please even the pickiest eaters). For a change of pace, we head up to Somerville for live jazz brunch at Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant. The music club vibe will make you pine for your (probably long-gone) late-night, live-music days, and the food is fantastic. Baby and I can enjoy their creamy dress-your own oatmeal — his plain, mine with brown sugar and maple. My 3 year-old loves the huge, fluffy pancakes and has been known to eat more of my husband’s huge omelettes than their intended recipient! The bloody marys own up to their "famous" status, and there’s yummy hot chocolate and fresh juice for the young’uns.

Brooklyn, NY

We live in brooklyn and have a 6 yr old and a 3 yr old. brooklyn may be one of the kid-friendliest places on earth that doesn’t want to make you want to barf. Most restaurants are very kid friendly – even the fine dining ones (though for those you should go on the early side).

A few that come to mind -

Belleville in Park Slope – solid french bistro food, kids eat free on thursdays

Bar-B-Q in Greenwood Heights – Bar that serves good BBQ and smoked meats, good sides like mac and cheese, baked beans, potato salad, collards – my daughter loves their ribsd and mac and cheese, but they also have a $1.50 peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the menu for picky kids.

The Chip Shop – there are 2 locations one in Park Slope one in Boerum Hill- it’s basically a fish and chips place, but well done. though they serve other English pub food as well – good beers, etc. They have kids portions

Song – park slope – a hip thai restaurant, my 6 year old daughter favorite restaurant of all time. It’s roomy and they have a dj spinning tunes. They food is really good and there is a little stone bar where the kids can sit and watch the thai chefs cook on the line – both of my kids think this is fascinating

Bubby’s in DUMBO – huge space, huge menu – all standard american fare but everything is made in house from the hamburger buns to the mustard to the pies. lots of things kids love and there is a big park right outside to run around in after you eat (or before if you want to tire them out)

that’s just a few, there are really so many more here in brooklyn – where all manhattanites come to breed.

Posted by: amy

Charlotte N.C.

Brixx Wood-Fired Pizza with several locations.

Owned by local businessmen with kids – a kid-friendly place that adults can appreciate too. Great servers who understand and like kids and remember all the extras: crayons and kids menu with good healthy food, cups with lids, actually glad to see your children. And for the grownups, lots of wine by the glass, ice cold microbrews on tap and very good food from brick oven pizzas to pastas and salads. They always make me feel welcome even with a pile of kids.

Posted by: Jennifer Horsley

Jamesport, Long Island, NY

There is a GREAT small town restaurant called the JAMESPORT COUNTRY KITCHEN where they serve "homemade" fresh, local fare. On our most recent outting B adored the spinich & ricotta ravioli in a pesto & the waitstaff was thrilled! This restaurant is in no way a "kid" restaurant but they make you feel wanted when you have a child & pay special attention to their little guests.

- Kerry

Long Island & Westchester, NY

I love the Jamesport Country Kitchen (amazed to find it on a web site) but must warn parents it is VERY small and tables don’t always turn quickly, so be prepared for a wait sometimes. That said, the food is amazing, especially the soups, made with fresh LI ingredients.

I also find most Italian-red-sauce-type places to be kid friendly – there’s a bunch in Westchester county where I live, including Pastina’s in Hartsdale and Bastone’s in New Rochelle. I have a child with allergies, and they do a great job of identifying ingredients and helping to make sure we stay safe.

Posted by: Ellen

Los Angeles, CA

We love John O’Groats in Los Angeles for any kind of breakfast experience.

Their pumpkin pancakes, applesauce pancakes, lemon curd pancakes (suspect a trend?) are awesome.

I love their vegetarian hash (sans apples) with a side of bacon. the husband usually gets corn beef hash or steel cut oatmeal.

Their biscuits are divine.

The ambiance is noisy and fun- weekend mornings are kid central- if you get there after nine, it’s best to call ahead and get your name on the list (owner Paul is obliging.) free coffee for people waiting on the sidewalk.

Posted by: Lisa

Los Angeles has some great places for families to eat. My favorite is a local restaurant in the Pacific Palisades called Pearl Dragon. We’ve been taking my daughter there since she was a baby. Now she’s 3 and is a regular at the sushi bar. The chefs love to impress her. She loves to watch them make the rolls and she loves eating the sliced ginger, edamame, mandarin oranges and california rolls. The place is full of families with kids of all ages until 7pm when more adults and couples come to enjoy the great food. Another Palisades favorite is Beech Street Cafe– the thin pizza is to die for and they offer crayons and cool cups with lids for the kids. The kids menu also has chicken breast and vegetables on it, along with pizza and pasta. Just one more mention– I could go on and on…. Urth Cafe (there are a few in LA). Very healthy fare, great food and coffees and it’s easy to make a quick exit with a screaming kid if you need to because you order and pay when you walk in and they bring the food out to you (very quickly).

Posted by: Dawn

Memphis

Here in Memphis, one of our favorite places is Soul Fish Cafe, in the funky Cooper-Young neighborhood. They’re happy to make adjustments to your kids taste, but the fried catfish nuggets, fresh veggies and sea-themed coloring menus might make that unnecessary. Check out the cool fishing lures in the bar in the back.

Posted by: The Diva

Portland, Oregon

Portland has THE best family friendly restaurants in the world, hands down. I write a local Family Friendly blog (http://familyfriendly.blogs.www.oregonlive.com) and run a mamapreneur organization and am admittedly super picky about reportedly "family friendly" restaurants.

Some of my favorites:

PB & Ellie’s Cafe – featured in national mags and the Food Network, this restaurant is owned by a local mom and caters to both kids and parents. Fun menu that is full of organic, locally produced food with creative names and adorable presentation to make the food appealing to kids, a train table with tons of trains and puzzles, a chalkboard wall, books, nursing nook, etc. The decor is decidely kid-appealing but the atmosphere is mom-approved :)

Laurelwood Brewpubs – We Portlanders LOVE our microbrews and these brewpubs offer awesome traditional yet slightly upscale pub food plus they have a kids play area. Their kids menu has a lot of offerings and the servers are used to serving beer with kids running a foot. Great place to meet friends with kids and pretend you are still hip and have a life.

Sip & Kranz – ultra modern decor in the main vast space is joined by a separate, large, uber hip & stylishly decorated kid friendly play space. LOTS of room for kids to play on comfy carpeting. Great coffee and pastries. Free Wi-Fi for us parents who have mobile offices. I have almost all of my meetings here and my son hangs out in the play space where I can keep an eye on him easily, or he just sits in one of the large super cool chairs next to me and reads.

Each place has its ups and downs but they all rock in their own family friendly way. Cheers!

Posted by: Marlynn

San Francisco, CA

Our neighborhood restaurant Chenery Park, in San Francisco, has Kids Night every Tuesday. We often run into neighbors, but families from across the city come here on Tuesdays because they are so welcoming. They have a special kids menu, and of course crayons and a placemat to color.

When you call to make a reservation on a Tuesday, they let you know that it’s Kids Night, and discourage you from coming that night if you’re not comfortable being around kids. It’s nice knowing that the other diners knew what they were getting into if your baby is fussing a bit or your toddler is running laps around the tables.

Oh, and the food is really good, too!

Posted by: Jill

Seattle, WA

My favorite kids menu is at Cutters Bayhouse in the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle WA. My kids love getting their kids’ sized portion of wild salmon and seasonal veggies.

Posted by: Audra

The World

Geneva, Switzerland

I own a restaurant in Geneva switzerland and I think it will fit as child friendly …. I let you check it out for yourself:

www.babyslounge.ch

Posted by: Audrey

Taipei, Taiwan

There are some kid friendly/baby friendly restaurants here in Taipei, Taiwan- such as most of the American restaurants like Chili’s or Macaroni Grill. I try to note if the restaurant is especially baby/kid friendly or not on my food blog

http://hungryintaipei.blogspot.com

looking forward to checking out the kid friendly places in LA

Posted by: joanh

Tokyo, Japan

www.fujimaams.com

in downtown tokyo
6-3-2 Jingumae
Shibuya Tokyo 150-0001
email us at info@fujimamas.com

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15 Responses to Kid Friendly Restaurants – The Readers’ Guide

  1. Sucar says:

    Central North Carolina has tons of places where top notch food is served AND children are welcomed. Actually, I take my child pretty much everywhere but I’m posting the places that work as a destination as much as a meal.
    The Weathervane at Southern Season, Chapel Hill NC (http://www.southernseason.com/cafe.asp)
    Southern Season is a gourmet food and wine specialty store on steroids. They also have a lovely restaurant. In the summer, nothing beats eating on the perfectly landscaped patio. Inside, there’s usually a pianist. The noise level is right, the children’s menu is varied and cheap. My son loves the macaroni and cheese even though the noodle and the sauce change constantly.
    The Old Granary Restaurant at Fearrington Village (http://www.fearrington.com/village/granarymenus.asp)
    Fearrington Village is a top notch destination and idyllic scenery. There are Belted Galloway cows (oreo cows!) grazing in verdant fields. A charming little village with a bookstore and a toy shop plus gourmet food markets. I like going to the Old Granary restuarant because it’s informal but still feels classy. The sandwiches are HUGE and tasty. But save room for dessert-ice cream or cookies are also yummy.
    Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery
    2000 Fairview Rd
    Raleigh, NC 27608
    (919) 856-8551
    This one is a little trickier. The points neighborhood in Raleigh could not be more charming. But, the parking is sometimes challenging. Pay attention to the tow away zone (they do). That being said, you cannot find a better (or bigger) cake than at Hayes Barton. Dessert is what they are known for but their meals are just as scrumptious. Kitchsy decor with a 1940′s vibe feels cozy. It’s a neighborhood favorite so go early or on a nice night when you can peruse the other shops around.
    Whole Foods(http://wholefoods.com/)
    All of our whole foods markets have cafes. They have loads of variety and are visually interesting enough to keep little minds interested.
    Pops (http://www.pops-durham.com/) This a locally owned trattatoria with a laid back vibe. The kitchen is open, the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and the food is seasonal and locally grown. My son likes the pizza but has been known to eat other things there too. The owners of pops just opened a new restaurant in Durham that I’ve yet to try but looks promising for kids. Rue Cler (http://ruecler.blogspot.com/) is a french restaurant with a bakery beside. We’re going to try it out ASAP and if it’s terrible, I’ll let you know to amend this post.
    There are tons more-if you’re ever in North Caroline with children, let me know and we’ll join you!

  2. cindy says:

    hi i’m new here, and i live in Brooklyn and go to Song quite often, and I have to say that it is NOT usually really family friendly – it is very dark and very loud. its a great date place though, and the food is superb! i would recommend ordering in (if they answer their phone!)

  3. cindy says:

    oh and ps i used to live in Durham – Southern Season is fabulous – great for gift baskets too. In Durham check out Vin Rouge (if its still open) and of course Elmos diner. George’s Garage is great too, but go early before the college crowd arrives.
    In Chapel Hill there aren’t too many family friendly places on Franklin St., I would suggest sticking to the places in the strip malls on 15-501.

  4. Erin says:

    I may rethink this once I have a toddler on my hands but these are our favorite Cambridge area family eats:
    Jasper White’s Summer Shack (at least the one in Cambridge is swarming with kids checking out the lobster tanks and giant steamers)
    Full Moon (Huron Village, Cambridge)
    Jose’s (Busy enough to distract a baby but not overwhelmingly so)
    The Watertown Diner (Diner food, but healthier)

  5. Lorraine says:

    Atlanta, GA:
    Crescent Moon: Great weekend brunch, and the family groups can usually beat the 11am rush since they open so early. Cheese Grits are the best I’ve ever had, and their skillet meals can easily be shared between a kid and parent. (http://www.crescentmooneatery.com/directions.php)
    Vancouver BC:
    Burgoo: Yummiest food we’ve found in this city. Pick and choose antipasto plate is perfect for the little ones (bocconcini, cornichons and biscuits are our favourite)(http://www.burgoo.ca/)
    CafeCrepe: Cheap and fast. Savoury and sweet options as well as “foot long” hotdogs with bernaise sauce for the overachieving kid! UBC location has the most room and is quiet on weekend mornings. (http://www.dinehere.ca/restaurant.asp?r=1399)
    Chicago Il:
    Parthenon: First took our little one here when he was 2wks old. Great food, great people watching. VERY kid friendly and loud. Saganaki (Opa cheese) and Calamari are the staples. (http://www.theparthenon.com/)
    Calliope: LincolnPark/Lakeview sandwich joint…not too many tables, but very kid friendly..a few years ago, they used to have their little one in behind the counter too. (http://www.calliopecafe.net/)

  6. Meg says:

    We used to live in San Francisco (and, oh, how we miss the food!), and there were dozens of great places to go. But one of our favorites was Giorgio’s pizza on Clement, around 2nd or 3rd Ave. GREAT pizza and, as long as you go on the early side (before 7, say), it is a very kid-friendly spot. The server will give your kid a little ball of dough to play with and there will definitely be a bunch of other kids in the restaurant, too. And on Wed., from 4-6, is Kids’ Happy Hour: Make Your Own Pizza Night. http://www.giorgiospizza.com
    We now live in San Diego and our #1 recommendation would have to be En Fuego, in Del Mar, at 1342 Camino Del Mar. Although it also is a great happy hour spot, my daughter always has a blast here. The chips and salsa are yummy, the entrees are delicious (lobster burritos, chile rellenos, chicken mole, etc.), the margaritas are stellar, and I’ve even had a great dessert here (a caramel banana cheesecake), on the one occasion when I actually saved room for a bite of sweet. My daughter is always thrilled to eat a plate of their black beans mixed up with canela rice, which is just a 75-cent side dish on the menu, but tastes so good that is usually forced to share some with her mom and dad. And when the kids are tired of sitting at the table, take them downstairs to visit the koi pond and waterfall in the bar area. (No, I have no idea why a Mexican restaurant has a koi pond!) And to top it all off, you are eating outside, enjoying San Diego’s weather and Del Mar’s small-town feel, under tons of bougainvillea blossoms. http://www.enfuegodelmar.signonsandiego.com

  7. Kim says:

    Last year I started Scrambled Cake, a blog about Eating Around Chicago with Kids. In Feb. 2007 I’ll be posting the reviews at Chicago Parent magazine’s revamped website. I hope you’ll stop by.
    I will be in touch with you regarding the Google map.

  8. Sarah says:

    I have two kids under 5 and live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here’s where we graze:
    Afternoon Delight-they serve lunch and breakfast. I’ve never been there for breakfast, but their lunch is great! It’s small and busy, so noise is no worry (but not too loud.) Yummy healthy chioces: PB&J on wheat, awesome tuna sandwiches, salad bar, delish muffins, and a free frozen yogurt w/sprinkles for the wee ones.
    Seva- veggie place. Nice atmosphere, all non-smoking. Good eats for the kids and a box of duplos to play with while you wait.
    Kosmo Deli in the Kerrytown Shops-good cheeseburgers, bi bim bop, sides of tofu, veggie fries. Comfortable, but sometimes a little crowded with high
    schoolers, during the week (interesting viewing though.)

  9. kathryn says:

    Love the google map idea. From my local area – the inner west of Sydney (Australia), I’m voting for Hopscotch in Annandale and The Barn in Rozelle. Both very free and relaxed, welcoming to kids, chilled out staff, with space to move around and toys to play with.
    They also have GOOD kid’s menus – way beyond the usual chicken nuggets and chips.

  10. Google mapping child-friendly restaurants

    Gastrokid.com are putting together a world-wide guide to kid-friendly restaurants and theyre going to include a google map, pointing to all the sites.
    What an excellent idea.
    Ive just nominated two Sydney places (Hopscotch in Annandale an…

  11. kathryn says:

    The Sydney Morning Herald is a reliable source of restaurant / eating info and according to their article (http://www.smh.com.au/news/Good-Living/Children-welcome/2005/04/18/1113676695888.html) I should have also included:
    * Il Goloso in Haberfield – 9716 4344
    * Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point – 9357 1744
    * Golden Star Palace Chinese Restaurant in Cabramatta – 9725 7282
    * Art Gallery of NSW in The Domain – 9225 1759
    * Pompei’s in Bondi – 9365 1233
    And outdoor cafes:
    * Parsley Bay Kiosk in Vaucluse – 9388 8326
    * Echo on the Marina Cafe in Roseville Chase – 9417 4422
    * Centennial Park Kiosk – 9380 6922
    * Botanic Gardens Restaurant & Cafe in Sydney City – 9241 2419
    * Bather’s Pavilion Kiosk in Balmoral – 9969 5050

  12. Lisa says:

    Around (but not in) Boston
    Sounbites 708 Broadway Somerville, MA 02144- hands down – the best breakfast in the Boston area is in Somerville. The waits can be long but if you have a real little one (or are pregnant) the supposedly cranky (but truly lovely) owner never makes you wait. Their food is absolutely delicious – the no-place-like homefries are a mashed potato version that is sure to be any kid’s dream come true. Great fruit, fresh ingredients no place is better.
    Zaftig’s 335 Harvard St Brookline, MA 02446 – nice family place. Delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner and breakfast can be had all day long. Nice kids menu. Crayons & placemats for coloring provided.
    Johnny D’s – 17 Holland St Somerville, MA 02144 – nice place but don’t go on a Sunday morning. The places they can put a highchair are extremely limited and you may find yourself waiting an extra long time if you need one. Saturdays are usually easier. Food is great, oatmeal is delicious and pancakes a favorite. And live music on Sat & Sun is great to keep the kiddies entertained.
    Deluxe Town Diner – 627 Mount Auburn St, Watertown – Great food all day long – some things you wouldn’t expect on a diner menu, I guess that’s why they added Deluxe to their name. Pancakes are great – you can even buy their special pancake mix. This is one of the 1st places we took our daughter after she was born. They love children and as she’s grown she’s loved all the different kinds of food we’ve shared with her here.

  13. bluestar says:

    Bay Burger in Sag Harbor! They have delicious burgers, fries, and tots, as well as home made ice cream. All of that in a casual, family friendly atmosphere! The address is 1742 Sag Harbor Tpke, Sag Harbor

  14. Cynthia718 says:

    Brooklyn, NY
    Burrito Bar and Kitchen – 307 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn 11217
    Huge space, laid back atmosphere, Mexican food.
    Zaytoons – 594 Vanderbilt Avenue
    Middle Eastern food, outdoor garden, friendly, combo platter of hummus, grape leaves, etc., plus their version of a pizza (pitzas) with lots of veggies and a thin crust. All great.
    Olive Vine Cafe – 54 7th Ave, Brooklyn 11217
    Middle Eastern food, huge outdoor space. Similar combo plate and pitzas. Free dessert.

  15. Tracy says:

    Our favorite local Twin Cities food columnist Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl wrote a great article about dining out with kids in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.
    http://articles.citypages.com/2007-10-31/restaurants/waiter-more-crayons/full/

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