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Which high-end restaurants tolerate kids best?

Very good friends of ours are coming in from NYC the week after next and bringing their 5-year-old twin girls. They are staying at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills. I need a Hollywood/Beverly Hills/West Side/Santa Monica restaurant with an excellent dinner menu which is also tolerant of small children. These people are serious foodies, and yeah, we've already tried and struck out at Mozza (their only remaining midweek reservation was at 11 pm).

Where can we go? I'm sure these little girls are well-behaved (and have probably dined in a few upscale Manhattan restaurants already), but I also want a place in which they will enjoy themselves AND which won't treat us badly because we dared to bring children.

Any ideas?

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  1. OK, a couple of thoughts. Obviously your friends enjoy a certain level of discretionary funds, staying at the Peninsula. And coming from NYC, you just can't win trying to impress them. We have Urasawa (not that I'm saying that's where I'd go with kids) but they have Masa's. For our Providence they have Per Se. So I think you need to redefine what you want in "high-end" and focus on what L.A. can provide that they can't easily get at home.

    They probably want to see the Getty. The Restaurant at the Getty gets lots of families, and the tram, gardens and view certainly can entertain kids. Wow, if you go in the afternoon and then settle in for a very early dinner to catch the sunset -- that means starting your meal at 4:30 or 5, it could be a memorable experience. The most cutting-edge food in town? No. But overall -- priceless.

    Of the high-end restaurants, gotta go with Spago. Might see a star or two. Great food, Wolfgang Puck's flagship, some dishes the kids would like, could work. So could Chinois on Main, with its over-the-top decorations, fairly high noise level, and shared dishes -- kids would like the ribs, raddichio cups with lamb, any rock shrimp or rolls or potstickers they fry.

    But two or three areas we clearly excel in (over NYC) are easy: Mexican -- you could go to Monte Alban on Santa Monica Blvd. at Brockton in WLA for excellent Oaxacan. And stop into El Super Taco a door away for a buck carnitas taco just to have a taste of the habanero salsa. Thai -- when does the Thai Elvis sing his first set at Palm Thai on Hollywood? May be too late for the kids. Then just go to Jitlada. Chinese -- even westside Chinese is better than almost all NYC, but perhaps a late morning trip to the SGV for dim sum or an afternoon drive (before rush hour) for soup dumplings.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nosh

      I think LA is a very kid-friendly city, more so than NYC. I know people who take their kids to Urasawa, and Hiro san is willing to accommodate them with kid-friendly menu.

      I've never dined at the Getty, but sounds like a perfect place to take visitors. Personally I do not think Spago deserves all the praises, but had dined there with kids, and they are quite accommodating.

    2. I think the Restaurant at the Getty Center is a great suggestion.

      Thanksgiving dinner at the Michelin-starred Joe's in Veince had its share of kids, though obviously it was Thanksgiving.

      Spago seems like a great choice since it's a very warm and boisterous atmosphere, but glancing at the menu, I'm not entirely sure what I'd order for the kids.

      For Italian, I'd say that you should forget about Mozza and try out Osteria La Buca instead.

      In all honesty, any restaurant would be happy to serve any respectful and courteous customer of all ages. I've seen plenty of grown adults that needed chaperoning. But certainly, Italian is a great bet owing to its kid-friendly options.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SauceSupreme

        I agree regarding Osteria Mozza. But Pizzeria Mozza is very kid-friendly, but foodwise and atmosphere-wise. I often see lots of kids there, and they often seem to be having a good time.

        I'd expect Jar is a good option with kids, too. If the kids like seafood, The Hungry Cat might not be a bad mid-priced option.

      2. Mid high end or high mid end, but Angeli Caffe on Melrose has the BEST attitude towards kids I have seen. Not only do they welcome them, they treat them as humans and not little animals. They provide crayons and paper, yes, but also give each kid her own lump of their famous bread in dough form. The kids can form their own loaves, which will be baked and given back to them. The staff loves kids! Of course, parent are expected to have well behaved children and not be the type to let them wander around unsupervised, or yell, or such things. I'm sure these little girls are well behaved!

        Here's a link to the website, but be aware that it need updating here and there.


        1. We have always had a great time at Providence with our two kids (4 and 2), but we do get the chef's table when we go....It keeps them entertained and since we are in the kitchen it is noisy anyways.

          Angelinin Osteria (SP) has always been good also for kids.

          1. I've had good experiences bringing children to Campanile. I know the place sometimes gets mixed reviews on this board but I have always been impressed by both the food and the service, and I never experienced any attitude with respect to my kids. I've taken them only on weeknights and not on a Friday or Saturday. There's a little water fountain at the front of the restaurant, and if the five-year olds get restless, they might enjoy a little trip to see the fish in the fountain. Also, Thursday night's Grilled Cheese night might be fun for both adults and kids -- the noise level certainly is such that any kid fussiness will go unnoticed, and both the regular dinner menu and the excellent grilled cheese menu are available.

            1. Believe it or not, I actually had dinner at Koi with friends and their two young kids at Koi! I'm not kidding! We sat in a booth. It was fine. No problems at all.

              I've also seen young kids at Matsuhisa.

              Considering these restaurants can handle some pretty demanding adult patrons, I'm sure a couple well-behaved youngins will be no problem for them.

              1. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful suggestions! For the record, we're leaning toward Campanile's grilled cheese night, Angeli Caffe and Spago (although I think our friends have been there multiple times on previous visits, but when they were still childless).

                Thanks again!

                2 Replies
                1. re: soyarra

                  Update: our friends did some research on their own, and now we're going to Border Grill in Santa Monica. I forgot that the best Mexican in NYC is still pretty lousy by our standards [::ducks::] and while they're not exactly a taco truck kind of family, they do want decent Mexican while they're out here. So it's off to Mary Sue and Susan's we go.

                  Thanks again for all the terrific suggestions!

                  1. re: soyarra

                    Nothing wrong with that suggestion, especially with kids in tow. The street performers on the Promenade should also make for a good way to entertain the kids while allowing the adults to catch up.

                2. It's not exactly a foodie heaven, but Trader Vic's is right around the corner from the Peninsula and it's a definite winner for the kids. The grown-ups will have fun with the drinks and the food isn't bad if you arrive in the right mood for silly Polynesian.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: purplescout

                    Trader Vic's has been gone since May. The restaurant was closed to make way for condos and the Waldorf-Astoria. All that remains now is a redecorated lounge inside the Beverly Hilton, but a lounge really isn't what I'd consider "kid-friendly."

                    1. re: Woolsey

                      I have taken my kids to grilled cheese night at Campanile and it has been wonderful. Also, Toscana in Brentwood has wonderful italian food and they seem to be great with kids--they have pizza and pasta along with fish/meat etc. Once we were there on a date night away from the kids and there were so many families that we started to refer to it as a rich man's CPK. The food is much better than California Pizza Kitchen, however, and one can enjoy a great foodie dinner alongside the kids. During the day, you must go or send them to the Fountain Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It is a 50' s style counter/ diner with the best breakfast, burgers, salads, milshakes etc. in L.A. Also, Korean BBQ is fun with kids-perhaps Woo Lae Oak on La Cienega?

                  2. If they're staying at the Peninsula, why doesn't the Peninsula get a table at Mozza?
                    What about Josie for higher end or The Hungry Cat for more lively?
                    Nanbankan on Santa Monica at Sawtelle for a different experience maybe?
                    The restaurant at the Peninsula is very good, and can accommodate just about any request.

                    1. I've seen Spago being really good with kids. A lil guy, maybe 2, came in and they made him special spaghetti and a ridiculously good looking ice cream sandwich. I wanted the ice cream sandwich for dessert...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: trojandude

                        Spago does serve some of Wolfgang Puck's favorite dishes from his childhood. Just ask the waiter!