Kid Friendly - East Bay and Beyond
I have tried searching this out a bit but have not found much. I just moved to Orinda with my wife and two daughters aged 3 and 6. Would love to hear where folks with kids this age go for a decent dining experience. I want a place casual and loud enough that I can dine in a relaxed mood not worrying that I am disturbing anyone, but I also do not want to be at Chili's. Main goal are places in East Bay - Berkeley and Oakland or Lamorinda. Also SF places for when we are there. Thanks for the help.
If you have not read it, The Chronicle has a blog for parents with younger childresn and they do have some suggestions for restaurants. You can find it at SF Gate and it is called The Poop. They have 1 entry where they suggest some spots in the East Bay and some others with updates.
Great places to eat with kids (mine are also 3 and 6, until #3 comes any day now...):
Picante -- Berkeley, casual Mexican, gets grief on this board, but is well loved by my family.
Pizzaiolo -- N. Oakland, great Italian, esp. good for kids in the early dinner hour (like 5:30), more upscale
Digs Bistro -- Berkeley, small menu pretty much New American. They have a once a month kids' night, where they provide a kid friendly meal and babysitting in one room and dining for adults in the other.
900 Grayson -- Berkeley, great for breakfast/lunch (not currently open for dinner).
We also do well at casual Indian and Chinese restaurants. Because we're mostly vegetarian, we tend to go to Udupi Palace for Indian and Long Life Veggie House (kinda sketchy, I don't know if I'd actually recommend it to families who eat meat and don't have nostalgia for eating there in their college days).
There's a Chow in Lafayette that would work out great, but I've only been there once.
My kids also love to eat at Pasta Pomodoro and California Pizza Kitchen, but I recognize those two aren't many steps above Chili's.
I'm sure there are dozens more on this board...
5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
1901 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
53 Lafayette Cir, Lafayette, CA 94549
Long Life Vegi House
2129 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
1453 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702
1328 6th St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Here are the restaurants marked as "Kid-Friendly" in the Bay Area.
When I was updating restaurant records, I only tagged them as kid-friendly if they had some special feature geared to kids such as a kid's menu. Obviously, as mentioned, Chinese and pizza places can almost all be considered kid-friendly so I didn't mark them as such. However, anyone can update the restuarant records, so there's no one standard for flagging them kid-friendly.
If you are up the Napa/Sonoma way, Ubutu has a special kids menu and there is an outdoor patio area so you don't need to worry about noise. I've seen them make dishes that were not on the kids menu, but requested. Fremont Diner in Sonoma has better than average burger joint / breakfast food using quality ingrediants. It is casual inside and there's a lovely outdoor patio next to a vineyard. The Oxbow Public market is sort of an upscale food court with lots of restaurants. It has outdoor seating a casual indoor area. There should be something that would please anyone in the family at at least one of the restaurants.
On weekend mornings Fonda in Berkeley has a special $9 breakfast with pastries and beverage. For children under a certain age breakfast is free. Not so much a kid place at other times though I have seen kids there for early dinner hours.
Chenery Park in SF is well-known for its special kids night.
I lived near Town's End in SF for about a decade and ate there at the very least monthy. It is a great breakfast spot with a reasonable three-course prix fixe diiner. It is a nice neighborhood place near the ballpark. I have seen them be extrodinary with kids.
For a nicer dinner, the cafe at Chez Panisse is known for being child friendly .. however ... it is upstairs and there's not really an easy out. It is a lively restaurant but I would still say the kids would have to know enough to use indoor voices.
Another option is to search for places with "outdoor seating" as those are usually good for children. Using the search criteria "outdoor seating" "East Bay" will narrow the search to your area.
Clicking on the name of the restaurants in the list will get you to the restaurant record, many of which have websites and linked reports.
How is Casa Orinda for kids? They open early for dinner (4PM) and have stuff to look at although unless your little girls' role model is Annie Oakley, maybe not.
Jimmy Beans is family friendly and you cam get a good meal, and the daily 3-course + wine $12 buck specials are nice. Not sure about the kid menu but nothing is crazy expensive. Not much of a ped area around there but so it goes.
Also might try Aunt Mary's in Temescal, not expensive, new American.
Temescal has a few other options, Lanesplitter Pizza, Burma Superstar, Bakesale Betty and it's not far from highway 24.
Aunt Mary's Cafe
4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
1290 6th St, Berkeley, CA 94710
4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA
While neither of these places are chowish, they are good deals and my daughter who just turned 4 loves them. The first is McCoveys in Walnut Creek where you can get two free kids meals for very adult who eats on Tuesday night. Just went there on a playdate and we had 4 kids between us. The place is loud enough that your kids won't bother anyone and there is lots to look at even if your girls are not into sports. McCovey's gets a lot of flack for their food but I've found the sandwiches and salads to be consistent and enjoyable. And you can't beat eating out for $30 for a family of four with tax, tip and non-alcoholic drinks for all.
Then also in WC is Hubcaps which on Tuesday and Wednesday night has $1.99 kids meals, fun place for the kids.
I also just thought of Kopitiam in Lafayette, I keep meaning to write a post about it but they were wonderful with my daughter. My daughter also got the biggest kick out of having a pancake with peanut butter (ok it was a roti but it looked like a pancake and she still talks about it weeks later) The food for the grownups was excellent too and they have several kid friendly items
3647 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549
1444 North California Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
1548 Bonanza St, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
The Claremont diner (technically Oakland, but near the Berkeley border) has a little train that runs above the tables and also a jukebox with kid friendly songs. I haven't been there in quite a few years, but I believe the food was acceptable.
Spettro, on Lakeshore in Oakland, is a good place for kids. Decent food, relaxed, good kid choices. Used to be no corkage--not sure if that is still the case.
For a nicer place with good wine selections, Bellanico on Park St usually has several tables with kids. My four year old is happy there, and we love the quality of the food.
Pizzaiolo, as others mentioned, is also a good place for quality food and child friendly.