HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Looking for casual (non-chain) dining for friends and infant...North Reading area

Lately, we've been venturing out to restaurants with the new baby...and it's been generally a good experience (good to get out of the house...baby seems to enjoy staring up at the ceiling...etc etc).

Last night, however, some friends (who live in Lowell) wanted to grab a bite to eat and we all, collectively, panicked and ended up at...sigh...Chili's (in the parking lot of the massive Jordan's off 128). Sigh.

Anyways, don't want that to happen again...so...does anyone have any suggestions for casual places to grab dinner with friends and our baby in the North Reading/Reading/Stoneham/north-ish area? Some place that has a comfortable vibe and won't mind if we tote in a baby in a car seat (who, so far, hasn't had a major melt-down). Booths also tend to be nice for more discrete nursing, if needed.

We've had good luck with the Bluefin in Middleton...but other than that, locally I am drawing a blank.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Horseshoe Cafe in North Reading is a good option- we've brought ours there and they have booths, crayons and friendly servers.

    1. Hi

      If you want to try a place that is very casual yet has very good food I would syggest the Swanton Street Diner in Winchester. It is very easy to get to off Rte 93 and it is very family friendly. They have a variety of food for just about anyone's tastes all at reasonable prices. They range from seafood (all of which is very fesh), meats, pastas, sandwichs and salads. I am sure you would be OK bringing and infant. It is right on Swanton St and I feel that they should change the name to something like the Bistro or Cafe rather than diner because it is really much more that what you think a diner is. Give it a try I think you will enjoy it.

      1. Howdy,

        Congrats on the new baby! My wife and I long for the days when we could tote our little one into restaurants in his car seat... he's now 3 years old and we mostly eat in!!

        Anyhow, we really like Ristorante Molise in Wakefield center. Pretty large place with an extensive menu run by two sisters. *Very* nice people. It gets ridiculously crowded during prime time (Friday and Saturday nights) but otherwise would be a good choice.

        For decent pub food, Dailey's pub in Middleton is pretty good. Don't expect gourmet, but a comfortable place to hang out.

        Much more casual places for decent food, though cafeteria style, are Brother's Deli in Wakefield (pretty good, though not as good as the Salem MA location) and Capri Pizza (they do have more than just pizza!) in Reading. Both very kid friendly and food that is better than the chain restaurants.

        Hope this helps!


        PS. At the risk of being berated :^) ... *I* would not mind hitting Kitty's in North Reading.... I grew up in Wilmington and the only place my (working class... ie POOR) family would go out to eat was at Kitty's.... that was 30+ years ago... and the place hasn't changed a bit.... grouchy waitresses... mediocre food... but it does have a place in my heart!

        1. I would agree with Horse Shoe CAfe. I would avoid Kitty's and Daniela's in North REading. There is a Portugese Restaurant in Wakefield that is good- Portabello's on Main Street in the Greenwood section of Wakefield. It is usually quiet on weeknights, and the food is great. Also- Mario's in Norht REading used to have really good pizza. I have not been there in years, but I serve dinner, too.

          1. One other to add- Big Dog on Rte 28 in Reading- very casual, kids are fine and they make a good burger.

            I'm not sure I'd bring kids to Portobello because it can be so slow.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chris VR

              I go by the big dog a lot, but have never stopped in. For some reason, I thought it was a dive!! Have absolutely no basis for that thougth!! I will have to try it some time!!
              And you are right about protabellos- never gave a thought to how long dinner takes- no more little ones areound!

            2. While it may be too casual, the Lobster Claw has great bisque (I think on Tuesdays and select other days) and they're one of the better fried seafood places. They also do a killer lobster roll.

              I also lived in Wilmington (and have memories of Kitty's, it has definately gotten worse), there really isn't a whole lot to eat around there.

              1. Thanks all for the suggestions! A few comments:

                Dailey's seems like a place i'd like to try (the big animated lit sign out front promoting "LIVER AND ONIONS" always catches my attention)...we're not expecting gourmet by any means, so I think Dailey's would be good. If we get there i'll try and report back.

                And I haven't been to the Lobster Claw since I was kid...and I need to go back. By no means is that too casual :)

                As for the Horseshoe Grille in N. Reading, we've actually been there quite a bit, but (my opinion), I really liked it a lot more prior to the rebuild. It was a lot more comfortable (comfortably "rough'n tumble") and low-key before...now it just strikes me as too... "nice" inside. Elegant little sconced lighting and fancy furniture...I miss the shiny vinyl booths! But the food is still good...we get takeout quite a bit.

                The Big Dog - this is my new place to catch many football games. Not sure about it as a regular restaurant, but it fits the bill when I want burgers, beer, and football. I, too, thought it was a dive when we moved out to the area, but was pleasantly surprised.

                1. Zaleck's in Wakefield too. They are nice folks with young kids of their own. I bet it would fit the bill. Search the board for rec's.

                  I love the Lobster Claw. Just basic fried seafood but always a good value.

                  Skip Kitty's unless you want to plunge into a deep depresssion.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yumyum

                    I enthusiatically second Zalek's

                  2. i see the Zalek's fan club is out full force! We love that place too, and the owners are great! It doesnt have booths.. looks like a sandwich place but nicer but its still comfy and i usually only like booth places. Search here for info on the food..Its worth reading about..great fresh seafood. You are closer to Twin Seafoods but it's very tiny for eat in. It's fun when the cooks start singing.. Cafe Capri in Reading is definitely the most comfortable booth place around.Family Italian and pizza fairly standard and a bit overpriced but some good food and friendly staff. Love the pasta and veggies. Hubby loves the calzones. The front is take out and restaurant is in back, with waitress service after 5. Mario's in N. Reading was great the first time we went, Regina's style pizza , great shrimp dish, but disappointed the second time. Its a sub joint with a fixed up romantic area on one side, No booths though. China Moon is very old time chinese in stoneham with booths. I never thought it would be good but they actually have some decent food. Been disappointed lately in Sato II. China Pearl dim sum in Woburn is fun. If you want to go all the way to Melrose and like real Mexican you will love Mexico Lindo. and booths too.Mariachis on Wed maybe too loud for the baby. North Ave Diner in Wakefield is boothy but somewhat small. Very casual, decent breakfast and good mashed and spinach pie. Mandarin Reading was always a favorite but not good lately. anyone else felt that? Sushi Island is good. no booths but the great quiet jazz on weekends might get the baby sleepy so you can have a date nite.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chompie

                      Wow, you've got a thing for booths, huh?

                      1. re: Joanie

                        The original poster prefers booths for privacy.

                    2. Some of the best booths around are at Exchange Street Bistro on Malden- they are huge and the backs go all the way up to the ceiling. We haven't brought our infant there yet but I think it would be ideal. More upscale than casual but good for a nice night out.

                      1. Wineak, thanks for defending my presentation of booths to someone who asked for them! So Clampants, have you had a chance to sit at any of them? Was at Zalek's again and it just as great as ever! For you meat eaters, they are gonna expand to steak too.