Foodies with young kids.. favorites?
It seemed like yesterday - long casual dinners beginning late at night, driving hours for a place you heard from "a guy" had good Carne Asada or eating Dosa at 4 different places, in one night, looking for perfection.
Times have changed - we now have kids. For most of us the date night out is rare, and when we cant arrange for a sitter there is always the opportunity to go out and take the kids along. For those of us with high energy kids, the options are really limited.
Great food and atmosphere that can occupy kids?
Zubies Dry Dock - HB - Nautical motif and huge fish tank is a good start. Order at the counter, also good - kids lose it after about 40 min at the table. Salad bar is a hit - pile it up with veggies they might actually eat. Solid seafood menu, full booze for mom and dad, video games nearby (but not too many). Calamari, fish filets and fish and chips are all good.
Corn dog cart - Disneyland. You know the one I mean...right in front of the locker room at the end of main street - right hand side. Is there a better corn dog anywhere????
San Pedro Fish Market (main building) - This place is wild. Fish counter as you walk in... pick your seafood and have it prepared right there. They will take your fish, clams, shrimp..etc and prepare them by fried or grilled and serve with potatoes and garlic bread...another counter will make fried favorites (not from fish counter) for kitties - mine like the clams and chips. Sit outside and watch the massive tanker trucks flow by. Mariachi bands, telescopes to watch the ships, or just chasing crabs keeps the kids busy while you finish your chow.
One of our favorites was the Malibu Country Mart -- food available from the natural foods sandwich place or several other choices, and they can play in the playground while you sit and eat.
Alegria is one of those places that everyone seems to either love or hate... they have a kids menu, and usually there are a lot of families with small children there earlier in the evening.
I've been dragging my pups around to different chow spots for the last few years, but I mostly favor dives, so noisy kids aren't usually an issue.
I found that dim sum with carts can be good with kids. It's noisy and bustling, the kids love to play with the chopsticks and watch the carts, and you can usually find one or two things for them to gnaw on. Best if you can get a table near fishtanks, then you're set. However, they may decide that they're gonna use the chopsticks on the dim sum...then it can get tricky. I had one pup finally spear a dumpling with his stick, and hold it up proudly. I quickly reached for it because I could see that the filling was threatening to gush out. The pup instinctively and quickly jerked the dumpling away, sending it arcing gracefully across the dining hall. My heart stopped. Fortunately, it landed in an aisle rather than raining shrimpy shrapnel on someone's table, but still... (Note: if you have energetic kids who like to wander, a cart-place may not be good.)
The Thai Temple is great on weekends. My pups love the satays and sausages and sticky rice with the spicy dipping sauce. Also has room to roam for energetic kids, plus they like to purchase and hold the tokens themselves.
Krua Thai is also good. The pups love the smoothies and will happily suck on them while I get the good stuff.
Any place with a conveyor-belt tortilla machine is magic for kids (e.g., Grand Central Market, Vallarta, etc.).
Banh mi shops are also good. Kids love baguettes and soy milk/boba/smoothie drinks. Plus, the kids like the TV screens with the numbered orders called out. Regular Vietnamese places can also good if your pups like fresh veg. Get something with a salad platter and they'll munch on carrots and herbs and whatnot.
Northern Chinese breakfast shops are great. My pups love the soy milk, steamed plain buns (mantou), and other things there.
'Course, sometimes dining out with kids can be a challenge. Like the time at a taqueria when I noticed that my pups had been diligently picking each lime from the condiment cart, licking 'em and putting 'em back. Grrr...bad parenting to blame, no doubt.
Thanks for the ideas.
Don't worry, I just got back from picking up a pizza and a coffee to go from next door. As were driving home I notice my 4 y/o counting out his new $6 in singes - yup, raided the tip jar again.
Despite my misgivings due to the inflated price of my coffee, we had to take it back.
We took our kids regularly to Asahi Ramen, Hide Sushi, some dim sum places in SGV, Taqueria Sanchez. Good food, enjoyed by all present, kids flirted with the staff and vice versa, and everyone left happy and full.