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MSP-Fav place for dinner w/ toddler

As my daughter has gotten older, we've actually had a tougher time figuring out where to go on Friday nights. It was so easy when she was in an infant seat and just eating strained peas.

Please share your favorite places to go with child in tow.


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  1. Context: two toddlers, one a 'good' eater, one a picky one...

    So, in no particular order:
    Jun Bo for dim sum
    Evergreen or the Tea House, too, for plain old Chinese meals.
    On the chain front: Panera
    Bryant Lake Bowl (there's bowling to watch if the meal takes a while to get there)
    Longfellow Grill/Edina Grill

    I'm sure I'll think of more the minute I hit "post"...

    1. Midtown Global Market. Great food, a FABULOUS play area in the SW corner, and even booster seats if you hunt around. Best, a noisy toddler won't be noticed in all the other ambient noise. Go - you'll love it.

      We have most of our family parties at U Garden Restaurant - our local neighborhood Chinese place - because they have a nice buffet (instant food, hooray!), great order-from-the menu food (try the whole fish steamed with ginger and garlic), and because the owner is a parent himself so quite understands classic toddler behavior. Plus, they have a liquor license...

      Anne (the doting aunt of a hyperactive toddler niece and nephew)

      1. We have a toddler and take him out to eat almost every weekend. Live in SW Mpls, so tend to stick closer to home when we take him out. Most child-friendly have been:
        Edina Grill
        D'amico and Sons-kids eat free Sundays
        Cafe Twenty Eight

        Although Cafe Maude does not have a kid's menu, they have fun non-alcoholic drinks (that can keep your toddler entertained), and will modify recipes (mac and cheese) for kids. It's loud enough in there, so if your toddler is noisy, no one notices.
        We've also had good luck with Grand Cafe. They made grilled cheese last time and had a variety of toys tucked away that they brought out. Food/wine is delicious for adults.

        2 Replies
        1. re: karakutie

          I can't imagine toddlers at Cafe Maude unless you fed them before going or brought snacks to tide the toddler over while waiting a good while for your food. And I really can't envision a wait person at Maude being in any way accommodating to the parent of a toddler as every staff person I've encountered the three times I've dined there has seemed pained to do anything. My one special request? I once asked for a water refill and was met with the heavy sigh eyeroll combo I so enjoy. Yeah, not so much a fan of Cafe Maude.

          1. re: MplsM ary

            Sorry to hear of your experience at Cafe Maude; in the three times I've been there, service has always been friendly, though slow beverage-wise (never had what I considered an above-average wait for food, but drinks took ten minutes once). Food would seem to me to be relatively kid-friendly, too.

        2. Agree with most of karakutie's suggestions as we live in Uptown and visit the same haunts.

          I'd add:
          Quang (or any other Vietnamese restaurant)
          Bad Waitress
          Bar Abilene (kids eat free and have a kids menu)
          Broder's Cucina (not pasta bar) although seating may be at a premium during peak hours.
          Amazing Thailand
          First Wok

          We tend to eat out earlier, so your mileage may vary on seating and kitchen speed.

          1. We take our 18 mo old to Blackbird frequently and they're very accomodating. They'll make special dishes for her, have lots of kid's books on hand and, most importantly, are very understanding. They even stow the stroller for you...

            1. Punch Pizza, fast service at all locations except Highland.
              Almost any chinese restaurant.
              Almost any vietnamese restaurant.

              1. I feel like a broken record lately, mostly because we are too busy to try many new places these days. But the places we like to bring our kids (11 mo and 3 1/2 yrs) are:

                Shamrocks - it's noisy, the food is good, the 3 y/o loves the fries, and kids eat free on Sundays
                Birchwood Cafe - it's noisy, there's always something on the menu that a kid will like (fruit cup if nothing else), and the food is good
                Cafe Latte - (insert comments from Birchwood Cafe here)

                And yes, I know kids can eat food other than fries and fruit. When she was 18 months old, my (now 3 y/o) daughter ate everything and Everest was her favorite restaurant. But these days, she is picky as can be. We are told this is a phase that usually passes. I hope your toddler still loves whatever you put in front of her!

                1. Thanks for all the great suggestions.

                  For the record, this topic started after my DH dragged me to the Cheesecake Factory. I was STUNNED that they didn't have a kids menu and that they directed me to 'full price/full size' entrees that other kids liked. My 22 m/o eats very small portions, and I doubt she wanted any of the fish tacos I ordered...

                  In the end we got her 'breakfast' and that went over well. I however, am still a bit steamed.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MayrMN

                    Midtown Market, Moose & Sadies downtown, Common Roots Cafe. Sea Salt last weekend was a huge hit though my 2-yr old will eat anything, including fish tacos. Not a believer in kids meals. We've had to take her to a few "fancy" places and have phoned ahead with a heads up. Best...Corner Table where we arrived very early and they were thrilled to have us and Chambers Kitchen was fantastic and seated us and the grandparents out of the way of others. Christo's on Nicollet. Rice and kids = mess and they were fantastic. Pizza Nea on E. Hennepin - more room to move around than Punch in Highland.

                  2. We have TWO toddlers--sons are almost 3 and 16m. We love the Birchwood, Midtown Global Market and Good Earth--super kid-friendly. Also, Indian places tend to be kid-friendly and my kids are not overly adventurous but they like Indian food. Some of the lunch buffets let little ones eat free.

                    Although "family-style" restaurants like Applebee's are supposedly kid-friendly, we hate the food and when we do eat at places like that, we are not impressed with the kid-friendliness. I find small places more welcoming (not Carmelo's on Snelling, though) esp. if you go around 5 or 5:30 and leave if kids get fussy.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sweetpig

                      I have driven by Carmelo's on Snelling about a million times, but have never eaten there. HOw is it?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        IMO Carmelo's is very "meh." Service isn't particularly professional, the ambience is a bit stale, and the food's just OK. When dining in that budget range, there are about 100 places I'd prefer.

                        1. re: diesel

                          Thanks diesel. I think I'll keep passing it without stopping.


                    2. Of all the places I've brought my kids the three spots where the staff seemed truly delighted to see them were: Grand Cafe (in nice weather you can sit outside in a fully gated, cute enclosed patio and one of the owners, Mary, drags a suitcase full of toys out for you to pick through), Black Sheep pizza, and Los Andes. That said, I often find that at Latin American places kids can do no wrong.
                      Other kid friendly go-to's: Fuji-Ya, especially if you reserve the fully enclosed tatami rooms with the rice-paper screens, new walkers love standing next to the table and doing that little bouncy leg-bend thing they do, and older toddlers like lying down, fidgeting, etc. without being told not to, also it just decreases parental stress levels when other people can't see your kids being kids! Dim sum brunch at Mandarin Kitchen, the noise level is so high you can bring screaming colicky babies and no one can tell. Convention Grill: They've seen it all! Wall a kid in so they can stand on the wooden-benched booth and watch other kids over the top, that's wonderful. Downside: No beer for mom & dad. Oh, and Brasa of course. Oh, and Mai Vilage, especially nice for taking little ones on trips to the bridge to look at the koi pond. Downside: Hard to get some kids off the bridge because they want to look at the Koi pond..

                      1. Crave Mall of America is very suitable on an early Friday night w/typical toddler fare. Although, last time I went with my niece & nephews they ditched their food and shared the Pita & Spreads appetizer I ordered.

                        1. Lots of good options already have been mentioned - but I'll resurrect the thread and add a few. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old and we dine out a lot. :)

                          The Chatterbox in St. Paul (lots of games, kid meals & very kid friendly).
                          Galactic Pizza (small section of dine in tables, possibility of seeing superheros coming and going)
                          Sen Yai Sen Lek - they have a kid's menu that is yummy small thai dishes
                          Chang Mai Thai
                          La Perla Del Pacifico - servers are soooo kid friendly
                          The Malt Shop
                          Bagu (outdoor seating, edamame, sushi on a boat)
                          Hard Times Cafe (some people would think I'm crazy, but my toddler loves the fish tanks and is treated very well there)
                          Victors 1959
                          Jun Bo
                          Holy Land
                          Common Roots
                          One I'm not necessarily proud of is QCumbers - it is barely a step up from Old Country Buffet but if you need a place that is 110% kid friendly, where you can go even if your toddler is having a rotten day, this is the place. No waiting (it is a salad buffet), kids under 3 eat free, lots of items on the salad bar that would please a toddler even on their pickiest day - peas, cottage cheese, goldfish, jello, cherry tomatoes, fresh fruits, noodles etc. (For similar reasons the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays at MOA has provided a quick in and out meal when holiday shopping).

                          The biggest problem we have eating out at this stage is time - if the service or cooking is really slow it can be hard. For example, we love Ecopolitan and they are super friendly to our babies, but they are awfully slow on toddler-time. And I don't mind slow if it just me and dh, but with kids it is a different story..