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Northern VA w/toddler

I'm so depressed...I used to be a regular on this board, but 2 and a half years ago that all changed--I had a kid. Don't get me wrong, he's terrific, but it certainly changed our dining habits. Went from Obelisk to Olive Garden, you know?

Anyway, I'd love to hear some thoughts on where we might go, with the toddler, where we would be welcomed and would have a nice meal. We'd go early, of course (like 5:30 or, at the latest, 6) for both the toddler and the other diners, and would not try to have a lengthy dinner. We'd just like some good food for a change. Toddler eats pretty well, so a regular menu would be fine, but a highchair would be necessary.

Thanks!

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  1. Los Tio's in Del Ray is very family friendly. Very good Mexican/Salvadoran food too as I noted here:
    http://houndstoothgourmet.com/2007/08...

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      They made the best mangorita I have ever had...and I drink a lot of margaritas. Food was delish and atmoshphere was very fun. Even had live music when we went.

    2. I see a lot of families outside on the patio of Sette Bello, although it is sometimes loud inside I suspect at your time in the evening it might be ok, I sat near a very well behaved toddler in a highchair last visit.

      What about Carlyle in Shirlington? They seem rather children friendly.

      The Chart House in Alexandria would probably be family friendly I know the one in Annapolis is, and it has good space for walks just in case.

      I have seen toddlers at Argia in Falls Church, but I don't know that they were in high chairs.

      I will keep thinking...

      1. I'm in the same boat. You could try:

        Rio Grande *outdoor)
        Taqueria Poblano
        Pietanza
        Nam Viet (outdoor)

        1. Hi lidi b, I know exactly where you're coming from. My daughter is 3 1/2 and she has certainly changed our dining schedules. Here's some of the places we like to go, and have had good reactions from servers and other diners.

          Taqueria Poblano (N. Arlington) - Total family place. High chairs and booths. Good crispy tacos and salsa.

          Facia Luna (Clarendon) - High chairs. Good pasta and pizza. Great replacement for Olive Garden.

          2 Amy's (NW DC) - It's not in VA, but it allows you to get sophisticated in a family oriented space. The small dishes are fantastic and the wines by the glass are good too. High chairs.

          Minh's (N. Arlington) - Good Vietnamese. Inside it looks a little more upscale than you'd think, but my daughter always fit in. High chairs.

          Ray's the Steaks (N. Arlington) - I don't think they have high chairs, but the key to Rays with kids is that they will get you in and out in 60 minutes. Try to drop by around 4 to put your name in or you might be stuck with a wait.

          Kotobuki (Palisades) - Another DC place for very good, cheap sushi. They are always great with my daughter (who seems to like everything she gets at Japanese restaurants) and have chopstick cheeters. I don't think they have high chairs, but they have a bench that runs around the outside of the room that might work. Must get there early.

          Tachibana (McLean) - High chairs and boosters. Always happy to bring out some tofu sans miso soup. Expensive, very good Japanese food.

          Lebanese Taverna (Tysons II) - High chairs. Upscale, modern room but loud enough that a child won't be noticeable.

          Any of the Great American Restaurants chain (Sweetwater Tavern, Arties, Coastal Flats) - High chairs, efficient service, good food. Call ahead at Sweetwater or Arties. Do not show up without calling ahead, even early, or you will be stuck with a long wait. Coastal Flats at Tysons is pretty empty early in the evening.

          Old Brogue (Great Falls) - Decent Irish Pub fare. Draft pints of Old Speckled Hen. The Snuggery on the right as you walk up to the restaurant is non-smoking. High Chairs and boosters. Plenty of kids.

          Eamonn's (Alexandria) - Best fish and chips in the area. Chicken nuggets (not kidding) are fantastic too. Very casual. Can be tough to get a seat, though. May not have room for high chairs.

          Cheesecake Factory (everywhere) - As a CH, I have difficulty recommending them, but they can be a parent's best friend. The food can be good, and reasonably fresh. Even better, they have plenty of crayons, bread sticks, veggie sticks and cheese for kids.

          1. A LOT of restaurants in NoVA are kid-friendly prior to 7 pm, and tend to be a bit emptier then, which is a real blessing if your kid gets a bit fussy. When in doubt, just call and ask about a high chair; most restaurants do have them.

            We have yet to find an Asian place in NoVA that wasn't extremely kid-friendly. Just be a bit careful with noodles---our kid loves both udon and soba, but at two and a half, would sometimes start choking on them while she tried to slurp them down faster than she could chew.

            Your neighborhood Thai place might be a great starting point. Many of them offer a virgin mango drink of some sort, which will keep your toddler very happy while you wait for the main courses. We've found that chicken sate is a fairly safe dish for most small kids; you may want to ask for the peanut sauce on the side.

            On the off-chance that you decide to go to a Japanese restaurant that does the tepanyaki steak house experience, be aware that if they do the whole "flame the table" deal, it is likely to terrify your child, turning what ought to be a very kid-friendly meal into a traumatic one.

            You might call Rays The Steaks to see about high chairs; they've seemed quite friendly to kids 4 and up when we've been there but I don't recall seeing high chairs in action. My almost-8 year-old thinks highly of their food. In Western Fairfax County, there's SBC Cafe. Their menu varies weekly, but we have generally been able to find either an appetizer as entree or entree that works for our daughter.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PollyG

              Lidi - I know and I understand. We are in the same boat! A babysitter is always in option??!! But anyway...The following are kid friendly places with high chairs:

              Bonefish- good seafood (new location in Kingstown) about $15-20 an entree

              Yamazato - good Japanese and Thai ( 395 to Little River West, go about half mile, left on beuragard(sp?)

              1. re: PollyG

                I'm in the exact same boat (though now we also have a 4 month old). Polly really helped me a bunch a couple of years ago and we haven't missed too many beats. The Asian places really do - in general - handle kids great.

              2. My favorites in NoVa that are child-friendly:

                Rose Cafe (Persian) in Vienna
                Nam Viet
                Thai Square
                Bombay Curry Company
                Myanmar
                Costa Varde
                Machu Picchu
                Hong Kong Palace
                China Star
                Artie's (Fairfax)
                Vit Goel (AKA Lighthouse Tofu, Korean)
                Shiney's (Pakistani)
                El Pollo Rico

                1. Know what you mean. I'm not sure what area of NoVA you live in b/c that will obviously determine to some extent where you go but I have a 4yo and a 16mon old and we try to go out w/them early so we don't disturb other diners.

                  I concur w/all the Great American restaurant suggestions (Arties, Coastal flats, Sweet Water Tavern), Tachibana, Rio Grande. We've always felt welcomed at all the ethnic places whether Vietnamese, Korean, Peruvian, etc

                  Before we had our daughter, we took my son to 2941 to have appetizers/drinks on the outdoor patio at happy hour during the summer and they were very accommodating. We've had dinner at Oceanaire and it went pretty well--they sat us in the private room and even had high chairs.

                  My other suggestion is to try lunch. We've been to Zaytinya, Lebanese Taverna in Woodley Park and it was fine. We're thinking of taking them to Central for lunch but we're hesitant b/c my daughter is a screamer sometimes.

                  Don't give up! My son's favorite restaurant is Tachibana and anytime he gets to choose where we're going for dinner, his reply is inevitably "sushi!"

                  1. I have a one year old so I know how you feel. Some of the places we have found to be friendly to us and the kid are:

                    Kilroys-American fare in Springfield
                    Asian Bistro-Old Town Alexandria
                    Il Porto-Old Town Alexandria
                    Coastal Flats-Fairfax
                    Buffalo Wing University-Fairfax
                    Maggianos-Tysons Corner
                    Guapo's-Shirlington