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toddler friendly dallas chow

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We have some good friends that are coming to visit in the next few weeks with a toddler (2 years old). Does anybody have any good recommendations for good food in a kid friendly environment in Dallas? I realize that this is sort of a can of worms since people have really strong feelings about children at restaurants. Obviously we won't be able to go out for five star food, but at the same time, I would like to be able to go out to eat at a restaurant that is not some variation of Chuck E Cheese. Last year we went to Yutaka at 5 pm on a Saturday, and that worked out very well because the restaurant is fairly casual adn no one else was there -- I am looking for similar ideas or secrets. Does anyone know of any family nights at decent restaurants in town? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I've got a 20 month old and I've found that Dallas is a very child friendly city. I have found any place that isn't child friendly. From thai to indian to hamburgers, I would be surprised if you didn't find a place that's child friendly.

    1. Dream Cafe has a children's play area outside and a healthy, global cuisine.
      I also have had good luck with Trinity Hall for years in getting kid-friendly dishes, but had a bad experience a few weeks back with a waitress who was far less than helpful and the owner never stopping by. Their niche-like set up makes having little people around hardly noticeable, though, and the food is fabulous.

      Here are some I haven't tried that Guidelive recommends as being family-friendly and good food. Maybe others could give their experiences there?

      Stans Lakeview Taphouse/Grill
      Shinsei
      Ozona Grill and Bar
      Bin 555
      Extreme Pizza
      McCarty's Restaurant and Tavern
      Love Shack
      Ciao Chow
      Boston's The Gourmet Pizza
      Golden Moon Chinese Restaurant
      Plato Loco
      Azteca Mexican Restaurant
      Country Kitchen
      Catfish & Co
      Khaki's
      Thanh Tri
      Evergreen Super Buffet
      Ton's Garden
      Mi Mexico Rico
      Plato Loco
      Campo Verde
      Trail Dust Steak House

      1 Reply
      1. re: CookingKatie

        Stans and McCarty's are both bars, and I've never seen kids at either. The food at Ozona is decent and kid friendly, but real bad service. Lot of young kids work there. Scalini's in Lakewood is kid friendly Italian with good food and reasonable prices.

      2. We have a five-year-old and we eat out somewhat regularly. Places we frequent are:

        Teppo for sushi (they have tons of grilled items that she loves and they are wonderful with kids).

        Matt's Rancho Martinez, Chuy's, and Mi Cocina (warning - the margaritas are $8 apiece) for Mexican. Matt's has a great patio.

        Big Shucks on Mockingbird for fried seafood and a really great Mexican style shrimp cocktail (get it spicy) and $7.50 pitchers of beer before 6.30pm. They have a huge fenced in outside area with picnic tables that is wonderful with a child because they can run around a bit. I'm not normally a fan of letting my child run around, but we're usually there when there are maybe three other people, so there is no one near us. They have another location on Greenville, but it is much smaller and can get loud with too many drunks.

        There are three extremely child-friendly restaurants in Snider Plaza near SMU that we like. Peggy Sue BBQ has decent BBQ. We really like Amore for Italian, but you will need a reservation - you can just call that day, but it fills up last minute. Keep in mind that they will do a half order of most things. And the last is Cisco Grill, which is one of those great neighborhood finds that no one ever talks about. They have your normal burgers and salads, but they also do a good steak and they have good crabcakes. They are also really happy to do things like give you half orders on crabcakes and such so you could make a meal out of a salad and one crabcake.

        Be careful of Dream Cafe. It's great for breakfast, but for dinner we've never had a good experience. The service is always unreasonably slow (45 minutes for food to appear when we're the only people in the place), which is a no go with a small child.

        Breadwinners is hit or miss. They have a nice kid menu, and it's fun because your child can get pancakes with fruit at any time of the day, but many of their kid items have waaaaaaaaay too much food. The "mini-hamburgers" are not little sliders but rather small hamburgers and come three to a plate. My child can eat one and then I have to take the other two home - not always what I want.

        We love Bistro N at Nordstrom. They have good food and it's fairly sophisticated, especially at night. The bistro isn't just in the name. The service tends to be reasonably quick and I feel that they step it up a bit when you are with a child. They have a wonderful grilled chicken served with frites and asparagus that I can split with my daughter.

        Also in Northpark is Neiman Marcus which has a great cafe downstairs (The Mermaid Bar). They have one of the more well-priced kid menus in town - a huge, high quality hot dog with chips is $2.95. I think they are open until early evening.

        Our secrets would be Cafe Madrid and Hola for tapas. Taverna (same area) for Italian will make you a half order of any of the pastas and are more than willing to make a small order of pasta with butter for my child. (Granted, they charged me 6 bucks for it, but our baby sitter is $10 an hour, so what the heck.) Taverna has great pizza as well.

        The real key in Dallas is to go early. Almost everywhere will be more than happy to accommodate you at 5.30 or 6, whereas later, places can get very loud and slow.

        Shinsei is OK for kids, but it can get really, really loud and at those prices I kind of want an adult evening.

        Obviously, pretty much any Asian restaurant will be more than happy to see your child.

        I agree with Trinity Hall, but the service is never very quick there, so it probably would be better for a slightly older child. (My experience is that two-year-olds are in the NOW phase.)

        And, while I haven't taken my child there, I'll bet The Grape on Greenville might be good.I know they'd be fine for Sunday brunch, but I don't see why they would have a problem for an early dinner as well. You will need a reservation - keep that in mind. They have really great bistro food. One of the former chefs from a few years ago bought the place last month and it's just great.

        1. Hey, we took our 18 month old to the French Room a month ago. No problem at all. Like you, I always go early (earlier the better) but I've yet to find a restaurant that won't accommodate a toddler.

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