HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


Kid Tolerant Restaurants in Toronto

I have family visiting next week - two adults with one son who will be five years old in December. He is used to dining out at nice restaurants [he lives in Belgium and travels a lot for a four year old - he has been many places in Europe and also to Japan!], but he is four years old and a bit of a "table slider." He is not an overly fussy eater - but likes pretty basic things.

I'm looking for some suggestions for restaurants that are kid tolerant [the term kid friendly makes me think of some really horrific restaurant chains] - as we adults would like to eat semi-decent food [it is a holiday after all], but not feel like everyone in the restaurant is staring at us because we have a child with us. They will be staying at the Sheraton on Queen Street, but any restaurants that are downtown are okay. Cost is not such an issue, but it would be nice to have a sliding scale...as well as options for all meals [they will be here for over a week].

Please save us from the Rainforest cafe!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Don't worry about the kid! Any restaurant with good service will serve you nicely with the child, and any one with crappy service will not. My only suggestion is wherever you are going, go early, i.e. 5:30, so that you can be seated and served quickly before the kid loses interest. Also any restaurant will make something plain i.e. pasta with just tomato sauce etc so don't worry about a kids menu. If you must go during prime dinner hours then maybe you can expect some stares, but otherwise I wouldn't even give it a second though.

    If you want a sure bet, the studio cafe in the four seasons is great for kids, they even have kids menus for different ages. Another option, although touristy, is the Il Fornello at Harbourfront, obviously not fine dining by any stretch but the food was perfectly acceptable and the location and view from the outside tables are great.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ddelicious

      Thanks for the suggestions - the Studio Cafe is great @ lunch and in my neighbourhood [for work] as well. Il Fornello is a good suggestion as well - I usually go to the Il Fornello that isn't anymore...on Elm? I like their pizzas and the location is nice.

      I've been surprised when travelling with him how accommodating some restaurants are as we generally don't eat places that have a kid's menu. And yes, we do plan to eat @ 6pm to hopefully avoid some crowds and such.

    2. My stand-by list for kid friendly and decent food (though not on the higher $ end)
      Salad King on Gould at Yonge - depends on his adaptability to Thai, but I always like it there and the cafeteria style room means he can be a bit noisy and not worry at all.
      Olympic Pizza on Gloucester at Yonge - great pizza, outdoor patio if weather permits.
      Patrician Grill on King East - old school diner breakfast
      Mezes on Danforth, east of Chester - my favourite Greek place in the hood (along with Avli at Chester, but a smaller menu there). Greek places all seem to be great with kids.
      Julie's Cuban on Dovercourt, south of Dundas. All about the patio. Very neighbourhood-y with some delicious food and fantastic drinks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Julie McCoy

        I think I'm probably more fussy than he is, to be honest. I don't really like Thai food and have never had Greek food in Toronto...I'm also vegetarian [okay - sushi-tarian].

        Looks like I'm going to have to be a bit adventurous.

        1. re: Tabinet

          My son LOVES, likes cries for! Butter chicken on rice, he's all over Ghandi rotis... whoo-hoo! At-a-boy!

      2. I took my son to the Rainforest Cafe, he's 2, we had to go (fine by me!!) cuz he freaked when the gorillas started howling and the lights dim and thunder + lightning strikes, every once in awhile I mention going to a cafe for a coffee and he gets all serious and says he doesn't want to go to the gorillas...pretty much childhood trauma, when he needs an reason to rebel at 14 I wonder if this'll come up? Sorry dude!....although he still loves the zoo...anyway, I digress, alot...I often see a table of 2 adults and 2 young kids (pizza!) eating at Terroni...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Recyclor

          It's true - you never know what kids will be scared of - including things aimed @ kids! I really hated the Smurf Village @ Wonderland when I was little - too scary.

          But you are right - pizza is always a winner!

          1. re: Recyclor

            We had almost the same experience except my daughter wanted to leave just beause the gorilla was there so I thought I best leave before it starts screaming! I was thankful to leave - $12.99 for a kids menu with no other choice for a drink other than pop or juice (no milk!) and choices like frozen pizza or chicken fingers. Ridiculous. We were at Yorkdale so we walked over to Milestone's and were pleasantly surprised. $6.99 for kids menu that includes an actual chicken breast or leg with rice, veggies and unlimited milk. While it is a chain it does have a better rep in my head than places like East Side Marios (ie. no crayons to draw all over the table with). And I believe there is one downtown on John Street. Not half bad choices for adults either.

            1. re: Recyclor

              Hahahaha. My 90 year old mother was scared at the Rainforest Cafe. We went there because there were little kiddies in the group but the young ones were terrified and cried when the thunderstorm started and my mother was completely freaked and refused to eat anything. Never again. Never.

            2. Don't Forget Gretzky's, owned by the great one himself. They even brand a 99 on the burger. While it may not be the greatest food in Toronto, its certainly not the worst. If he gets bored, he can look at the little Wayne museum by the bathrooms.


              2 Replies
              1. re: Ira.B

                I'm sure he doesn't know what hockey is [I barely do and I was born/raised in small town Ontario]! However, we are going to a Jays game and that is in the neighbourhood.

                1. re: Tabinet

                  life long ranger's fan. sorry.

              2. In general, the restaurants in Little India (Gerrard, between Coxwell and Greenwood) are also very kid-tolerant, even kid-friendly. And great for vegetarians too.

                1. No need for Rainforest (eeeeh!)

                  Terroni and Queen & Victoria is a good spot, excellent pizza and pasta. (and one of my faves..) Romania Mia on Front street is pretty good too. The recommendations for the Studio Cafe is excellent.

                  Really in the downtown core you will find that most people are really very tolerant! Since you are at the Sheraton there is Great Cooks on the eighth floor at the Bay which is quite nice. On top of that most Chinese restaurants are really very kid friendly with lots of selection. I have seen lots of kids at Lai Wai Heen for dim sum if you want to do something really luxurious.

                  Tons of places! I hope you have a wonderful time!

                  1. Most kids like italian. I would suggest Seven numbers on eglinton or Marcello's (St.Clair/Dufferin). Both places have a good selection of food items and very kid friendly. I have two boys 5 and 3 and never worry about taking them there. Good luck.

                    1. My kids (4 and 2) love Dim Sum - but only when there are carts - they can't wait to see what the next cart is going to bring, it's almost like theatre for them. The carts also hold their attention and we can spend far more time in a restaurant than we could normally get away with (in Dim Sum places with menus, they're far less enthusiastic and usually are ready to split about 20 minutes into the meal). We've also found all the Dim Sum places around Spadina and Dundas to be extremely kid friendly.

                      Gallery Grill (Hart House at U of T) is suprisingly good with kids for weekend brunch (reservations recommended). It was a favourite of ours before we had kids and it was a pleasant surprise to be able to keep going after the little ones arrived.

                      I'll second (third?) the Il Fornello recommendation...

                      1. First, any of the nearby Chinese places on Spadina or Dundas happily accomodate kids. If you don't like Chinese, the Pickle Barrel on Yonge just north of Dundas is also kid-friendly.

                        And finally, I amazed no one has mentioned the "Movenpick Marche" on Yonge - it's between Queen and King, but I'm not sure what street - Adelaide or Richmond? You get a card when you go in, and then there are 15 or so food stations - one for seafood, one for grills, one for salads, one for pasta, etc. - and when you pick up a dish, you get your card stamped, and then pay on the way out. Kids love the place, the food is fine (not gourmet quality, but not at all bad), and the prices are reasonable. And, just for you, they have many vegetarian (and sushi) options available.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: KevinB

                          I don't know if it is the same or has changed, but I went to Le Marche once, food was lousy, I felt overpriced, has been off my radar since, the location in the mall beside a Mcdonalds as part of the food court doesn't reallynhelp sell it either...But, good point, I imagine kids would love it, feel like they are somewhere really special...

                          1. re: KevinB

                            in regards to the marche, I do think kids would love it, but with all those choices right infront of their eyes (including rediculous desserts and ice cream) they might just want everything, and the marche is very expensive for the quality, not to mention extremely noisy and busy

                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              ...is that not the same place you recommended??...my son is almost 3, eventually I will need to know this...*sigh*

                            2. re: KevinB

                              Didn't Movenpick close Marche? It's called something else now IIRC.

                              1. re: Dimbulb

                                Movenpick is now Richtree. Same set-up, same food. It's on Yonge between Front and Wellington, not King/Queen. But despite there being lots of options, it's not somewhere I'd take a small child. With everyone bussing their own trays, cafeteria style, it's hard to keep track of big people let alone particularly short ones, and there's lots of stuff to get into.

                                1. re: SherylKirby

                                  ..good advice, and thanks for the info....

                            3. Yes avoid the rainforest cafe at all costs. Oh the horror. Not only is the experience deafening and terrifying, the food is even more frightening. Absolutely shockingly awful, words can't describe.

                              1. There were some kids at Canoe when I was there for Summerlicious lunch. I say take them wherever you'd like. If only I could do that with my dog....

                                1. Really any place where you can eat on a patio will be fine as you have all the other distractions of street noise and people walking by. Which not only gove the kid something to look at but masks his noise (if needed) :-)

                                  1. When I was little, I liked those Japanese places where they flip the salt shakers around, etc... I 'm sorry, the name of this type of cooking with communal seating is completely defying me at the moment. There is/was one in Yorkville.... It was entertaining for me anyways....... :)

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: kawarthagirl

                                      Teppanyaki? A friend of mine celebrates all her kids birthdays at the one in Yorkville ....on Bellair...can't remember the name....anyway they love it.

                                    2. Thanks everyone for all of your suggestions! Some of them I thought of myself, but it's good to have confirmation that they are good places and suitable for kids.

                                      1. If you end up in the Beach neighbourhood, Green Eggplant is great for kids (on Queen about three blocks west of Woodbine). Their kid's entrees are $5 and include a beautifully cooked boneless chicken breast with garlic smashed potatoes. They're so good, my 4 year old ignores the fact the skins are smashed into them. The grown-up food is not high end but it's good and the drinks are reasonable (okay wine list and martinis for $6). It can be busy and there are usually lots of families with kids.

                                        5 Replies
                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                            Varied menu. Not Thai, though the name might suggest it is. I suspect the cooks are Greek. Mainly pastas, grilled salmon, chicken dishes.

                                            1. re: Helina

                                              hm sounds good, thanks for the tip. I just took a peak at their menu, what are the prices like (theyre not listed)

                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                This is from an earlier posting (to be found if you search 'green eggplant queen'):

                                                The price of mains ranged from about $8 (for sandwiches and wraps) to about $14 (for pasta) to about $17 (for various fish and meat dishes). These prices included the salad. Wines were $7 per glass.

                                        1. Oh another idea. Bairrada - Portuguese BBQ on College. There's perfectly identifiable grilled or BBQ chicken, pretty decent fish, potatoes, the usual stuff - and a beautiful big patio out back completely enclosed like a garden where kids can wander off without ending up in traffic.