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Santa Rosa with a 3 yr old

Heading up to Santa Rosa on a weekend soon. Will be visiting Charles Schultz Museum, and staying at Safari West for one night.

Looking for your recommendations on where to eat for one lunch and dinner.

The caveat? The 3 yr old doesn't sit still most of the time, eats and gets off the table.
Extra points for places that are kid friendly (crayons and sketch paper a plus but only serves as a hold over until the food arrives). I've read about the Mexican eating places via a search, and that might not work for us. Otherwise open to anything else. That Ethiopean place if viable, sounds interesting but I need more info.

Anyone eaten at the restaurant(s)/cafes at Safari West? Any comments? Website doesn't tell you anything other than a fixed price, which leads me to believe either a buffet or some combo plate type deal.

Thanks.

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  1. That sounds like a fabulous weekend. We've been to Safari West, but not overnight and we didn't stay for the BBQ, though we wished we had. It is a buffet and you need to reserve in advance. The seating is outside, very pleasant, but casual, and there are lots of birds and other caged animals nearby. I think it would be great for a squirmy 3 year old. The grilled chicken and ribs looked good. Don't remember much else, sorry. There is very ordinary-looking cafe in the ice rink next to the Charles Schultz Museum. I only mention it because the 3 year old could watch the skating and it's nice and cool in there.

    1. There are some chains in Santa Rosa that kids tend to like, such as a buffet place and an In N Out. But those aren't very chowish.

      The place my kids adore in that area is a frozen yogurt place, right off the freeway at Mark West Road (or something like that). It's in a strip mall. They love it because it's self-serve, both yogurt and toppings, so you can get exactly what you want. It's quite amusing.

      1. I stayed there with my kids about a year ago. Great experience. The food, however was dreadful. You are closer to Calistoga than Santa Rosa really, so you might want to look into options there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sam B

          Thanks for the suggestions!

          Any recommendations for Calistoga then with the same criteria?

        2. We did the Safari West last year with three kids, the youngest was just 3. Dinner was outdoors, undercover, and served buffet. As you can imagine there are lots of kids there, so kids wandering about are accepted. You just have to keep an eye on them so they don't wander too far. Dinners are a little pricey but you can pick and choose what he (or you) eats. If I remember correctly we didn't pay for the little one and he just ate what he chose. We also tried the imported wine, which was quite good. We also had breakfast there, which was rather limited. Think motel continental breakfast. The hamburgers at Shultz ice rink are very good.

          4 Replies
          1. re: The Old Gal

            Any more details you can share what you had at the dinner buffet?

            Basically I'm torn between that or saving a bit of money and trying this local Thai place Jhanthong Banbua that seems to have good reviews.

            Menu link here: http://www.boorah.com/restaurants/CA/...

            1. re: K K

              I love Jhanthong Banbua! However, I wouldn't bring a restless 3 year old there. I know it looks kind of funky outside (in the hotel parking lot and all) but it's really pretty nice inside. The food is excellent. There are all the usual suspects like satay, pad thai, tom ka gai, etc. but also things you don't typically find at your average Thai place. The service is especially gracious.

              1. re: K K

                It's been a few years since my last visit to Jhanthong Banbua, but I liked nearly all my meals there. As Kathleen mentions, it has some dishes that are outside the usual Thai American litany. Your best bet is to focus on the appetizer section, which has a number of street-y style snacks, such as the meaiang kam and awtang nahtang. The larb is quite good here, or it was a few years ago. Soups are a weak point, and the curries are just standard.

                Sonoma County supports five Thai/Lao grocery stores, so the quality of the Thai restaurants is higher than you might expect in this corner of wine country. I've not had a chance to try the newest ones yet.

                We also have very good Vietnamese restaurants, which is where I head when I want to eat with chopsticks. I really enjoyed Simply Vietnam in Santa Rosa, here's my post, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4583... . It's a cleaned up version of a Story Road pho house with lots of families eating there. The parking lot is too small, but you'll have no problem finding a space on the street.

                Two months ago I had a fun evening at Rosso Pizzeria with a 5 y.o. and a squirmy 18-month old. There's a kids menu here with small size portions and I was impressed by how quickly the kitchen got the kids' order to the table. The older brother took a seat at the bar to watch the soccer game on TV when he was tired of hanging with us. The other patrons helped us entertain the little one.

                You might want to bring your own crayons and coloring books.

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                Jhanthong Banbua
                2400 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

                Simply Vietnam
                966 N Dutton Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

                Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar
                53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, CA

                1. re: K K

                  Link for Savannah Cafe: at Safari West

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                  Savannah Cafe at Safari West
                  3115 Porter Creek Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

              2. How about Cafe St. Rose in Sebastopol if you want really good food plus kidness. You can eat on the back patio, where there's plenty of wandering space. I think I might have seen toys in the adjacent part of the patio.

                I had the Safari West barbecue once. It was just sort of there, but it was convenient and no problem with kids at all.

                Rats, the Chow link didn't get their new address. Here's the website, they've moved from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol
                http://cafesaintrose.blogspot.com/

                3 Replies
                1. re: wearybashful

                  It's all there in the link, you need to spell it out as below to find the Chow Places record with the right address. Google hasn't updated its own database. Have you had a meal at the new spot?

                  However, I think it might be too far for the OP.

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                  Cafe Saint Rose
                  9890 Bodega Hwy, Sebastopol, CA 95472

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Melanie, I've eaten one lunch and one dinner there. In the patio area, even the grownups were wandering around rather than staying in their chairs. I wouldn't go there from Safari West maybe, but from the Schultz museum it's not too far.

                  2. re: wearybashful

                    link

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                    Cafe Saint Rose
                    9890 Bodega Hwy, Sebastopol, CA 95472

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Ended up at the Savannah Cafe at Safari West, just for practicality sake.

                      The food turned out to be quite decent.

                      Appetizers were delivered to tables, of meatballs w/marinara sauce, and bread.

                      Then self help of caesar salad, mixed fruit salad (grapes, strawberries, watermelon, canteloupe, honeydew), mac cheese (perfect for kids), grilled potato wedges, bread rolls and butter, and for dessert bread pudding (one serving per person).

                      BBQ was chicken and smoked pork shoulder. Both were fantastic, especially the pork shoulder that was very tender (though lacking in smokey flavor which was fine).

                      Self help ice water. The pacing of the meal was terrible, they say dinner starts at 6:30. Appetizers were not served until almost 10 mins later. Then at least 30 mins after that was the actual dinner buffet avaialble. It felt like a tactic to get people to order (and pay on top) drinks at the bar which was your typical wine and beer, plus snapple type bottled drinks and canned soft drinks.

                      Maybe next time we'll skip this and hit up the recommendations which I've taken note of. Thanks for those that offered the help.