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Jan 28, 2008 05:03 AM

Decent food in Raleigh/Cary with Kids?

I've got a 4 year old and a baby. Occasionally we end up in Raleigh and I would love to know about some decent places to take them to eat. When I say "decent" I really mean something good and I would prefer no chains. I know about Lilly's Pizza - any other recommendations?

Also, what about places that would accommodate a large group, including kids? Thanks!

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  1. Sorry to be picky, but does "decent" mean the food is good or the atmosphere for a kid is good? We've taken our 5-year-old just about anywhere we go, short of adult nights outs.

    Red Palace on New Bern might fit your bill if you like Chinese. Truly authentic very tasty Szechuan cooking if you avoid the buffet and order off the menu.

    Any of the taquerias/Mexican restaurants could work. Vallarta on Capital has some interesting menu selections that go beyond the usual 2 tacos and a burrito and Los Cuates on North Market Drive is a little small but good quality.

    We do well at sushi bars (Waraji on Duraleigh is our favorite). Our daughter loves to sit at the sushi bar or in a tatami room but she can eat us under the table when it comes to sushi so the bill tends to run high.

    The fish restaurant at the Farmers' Market is great if you like fried everything but cole slaw. Fresh fish freshly fried and good hushpuppies. What's not to like?

    Hard Times on Glenwood south was a good choice, especially when she was younger.

    That's all that's coming to mind first thing on a Monday morning. I may think of more later. Did you have a particular part of Raleigh that you'd like to focus on?

    5 Replies
    1. re: rockycat

      By decent, I meant the food is good ;) Thanks for asking! Also, my son is pretty energetic, so I need a place that the customers and wait staff aren't going to freak out if he is a little loud occasionally. And, I guess I should mention, has decent vegetarian food since we are vegetarians. Thanks for your suggestions! We've been to Hard Times a couple of times and that worked pretty well.

      1. re: NGraysmith

        You may like Neomonde on Beryl, which is off of Hillsborough. Turn near the Waffle House. It's a very casual Lebanese restaurant. Lots of vegetarian options. Really good food. Neo-China is a really good Chinese place on Glenwood near where Pleasant Valley intersects. Royal India on Capital is very nice, has great Indian food and is kid friendly. Of course, I have one child who is not particularly loud, so in the past when I have recommended places that I think are kid friendly others w/more energetic kids often disagree.

        1. re: pecan

          pecan, while I love your choices of restaurants for the food, I would respectfully disagree with you in calling any of those places particularly kid-friendly in either atmosphere or menu, unless NG's kids are pretty adventurous eaters.

          NG, have you been to Hayes Barton for lunch? Neat atmosphere - lots of old photos and memorabilia - and food that's simple but good (sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.) It's right around the corner from Lilly's. In that same area I'd try Armadillo Grill and Mellow Mushroom (although that's a chain), too.

          As far as Cary goes, the Food Factory on E. Chatham might be an interesting choice. I like their food and the place is usually bustling, so there would be lots of activity to keep the young'uns engaged.

          1. re: Suzy Q

            Hmm, I can't speak to taking kids to Neo-China or Royal India, but I'd agree that Neomonde is absolutely kid friendly. We had our kids (2&4) there this weekend. We could get plain cheese on bread, and that's all we need for our older kid. The other loved the opportunity to "dip" in labneh and hummus. They also liked the murals on the walls.

            On the other hand, Hayes Barton fails on one of my major kid-friendly requirements: the ability to get in and out fast. I have had major waits there. The line was huge at 1:30 this past Saturday. We went to Nofo at the Pig, which is very kid-friendly and fun.

            1. re: jkw

              jkw, I've never been on the weekend. During the week if you hit it before noon, there's not usually that much of a wait. Ironically enough, I've had slower/worse service at NOFO every time we try to go.

              Parking in that area, though...that's ANOTHER story entirely!

    2. If your looking for a good sandwich on homemade italian bread and rolls try Romas Italian on Harrison Ave in Cary. All food is home made and the pizza is excellent. Check them out on

      1. My son went where we went to eat, except for special occasions, since he *could* eat.

        I never know what people mean when they talk about "kid-friendly" (not the OP, but some of the posters herein). Quiet well-behaved children and their parents will find that a lot more places are "kid-friendly" than those whose children aren't.

        But with regards to types of food, my son ate it all, Indian, Burmese, Dim-Sum, Sushi, Steak houses, Seafood -- everything. Royal India was one of his favorites as a small child. I've often wondered about people who don't think children can eat "soandso" cuisine, what do they think the children in those countries eat?

        We limited ourselves to not taking him to places where we were unlikely to see any other children, or events where gowns / suits were proper dress. (until he was 7, that is, after that he wore his suit.) Other than that, we never had any problems.

        Anyway, all of my recommendations below presume that the child(ren) are capable of sitting at the table without yelling or throwing food, without running around screaming, or crawling on the floor around other folks or needing to be "entertained" while at the dinner table. It presumes that a 4 year old knows the words "please" and "thank you" even if they have to be prompted sometimes, and also knows the words "ma'am" and "sir". And that their parents will remove them as necessary from the dining hall if a rare crying jag should occur.

        While I normally don't go to Magnolia Grill, because of the density of the tables and the crowded feel of the atmosphere, these very features allowed us to go out for great food with the child when he was youngish, and we never felt snobbed by the staff. Other places with echoing acoustics might be good, like Piedmont (also in Durham, alas), though several of the upscale trendy restaurants in Raleigh and Cary are similar in atmosphere (like the PIT).

        Angus Barn always welcomes children -- I was disappointed the last couple of times we went to find they are no longer a "jacket & tie" / "dress" Required restaurant (when I was a child, I got to go, but always in a Suit or a Tuxedo), but the food is still good. and well.'s the Angus Barn.

        Lunches and a field trip to the Farmers Market in Raleigh makes a nice expedition to see the food, then eat it cooked.

        Cooper's BBQ has pig-ears at the front counter, as a treat for the eye and the enjoyment of your dog when you get home.

        Amedeo's Pizza is a Raleigh institution, and does well with children.

        Good luck, and have fun.