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Delicious meals (with a toddler) - any suggestions?

We will be in Boston from Tues-Sat, staying one night in JP and three in Kendall Square (with a car). We've enjoyed meals at Mulan, Matt Murphy's, Friendly Toast, Eastern Standard and some casual places in the North End....and, in pre-baby days, loved meals at Neptune's Oyster, B&G Oysters, The Fireplace, and always meant to try Les Zygomates.

We like places that are slightly off the beaten path and aren't much of a scene.

What new or not so new places you would recommend we try? I'm not averse to traveling outside of the city. Thanks for your help!

Matt Murphy's
14 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

The Friendly Toast
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

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  1. This may not be what you are looking for, but as a mom to an almost 2 1/2 yr old, I love the Dogwood Cafe in JP on Friday nights. If you walk in there at 5:30 on a Friday night, all the tables are filled with families...there's live music (a guitar player), good beer on tap, decent food (the pizza's probably one their best bets, though I generally stick with the pub fare on the menu) and it's a spot where you can enjoy your meal and relax, knowing that everyone else is there with their kids too! It is so anti-chucky cheese and I love it for that. Just a good local place where folks can head with their families and get pretty decent food.
    That being said, I don't think you have to go to a place like this that clearly caters to toddlers and their families, but I do think this type of spot fills a definite void. Plus, you're going to be in JP over the weekend, so even more of a reason to check it out. Advice --if you go on Friday night get there early --ideally by 5:30. Or better yet, make a reservation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twentyoystahs

      I really enjoy the Dogwood as well. The pizzas are quite good, especially the one with steak and gorgonzola cheese. I was so suprised at how tender the steak was. Turkey tips are quite good as well, and yes while it's good for kids, it's also a comfortable place for adults to hang out and have decent food.

    2. My sister used to swear by Full Moon Cafe in Cambridge. Decent food for the adults, good kids meals (w/fruit and veggies instead of fries!), and a toy area where kids can play while grownups relax and eat. I've never been, but it gets a respectable nod on the boards.

      Full Moon
      344 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1. Also in JP is Centre St Cafe - we went there for dinner with my almost 4 year old recently, and they made her the cutest little burger in a tiny brioche bun, and were so kind. They have FANTASTIC nachos. Also take your toddler to JP Licks in JP - a kid mecca. Honestly, our daughter is really behaved, so we bring her to most places - just nothing too stuffy/fancy...

        1 Reply
        1. re: sallyt

          We have friends who like to frequent Centre St Cafe with their (almost) 2 year old....
          I would be slightly concerned b/c it's a really small space and sometimes my girl wants to get up and walk around..not really an option there. But, if, as the PP mentioned, your child is well behaved and will sit in her chair without a problem, I think Centre St is a good choice. And I second JP Licks :)

        2. Highland Kitchen is kid-friendly, but you do have to go early to beat the crowds (like, before 6:30). It would be a quick drive from Kendall.

          Highland Kitchen
          150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

          3 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness

            Thanks to everyone for these promising leads. The only one I'd heard of (though never tried) is Full Moon. I'm excited for our trip and plan to report back!

            I read good things about Ula Cafe and Canto 6. Would you recommend one over the other?

            Full Moon
            344 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

            1. re: Brooklyn Hound

              Just a warning -- Full Moon tends to be very loud and crowded, and unlike "grown-up" restaurants where there's a quiet time early on, people get there right at 5 p.m. for dinner and it stays busy until closing time. It's fun for kids, but a little chaotic.

              Sel de la Terre is surprisingly kid-friendly if you go at an off time and sit in the lounge area. It's also right next door to the aquarium, so it can be a nice combined outing, or if you're not headed to the aquarium you can still walk by the water or head over to the playground a few blocks away.

              Full Moon
              344 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

              1. re: Brooklyn Hound

                I love both Ula Cafe and Canto 6, but Canto 6 only has two tables, so you have to be really lucky to get one... Canto 6 has a much wider (and in my opinion, slightly better) array of pastries, while Ula has more full service stuff like sandwiches, soups, etc. Ula has really good areas for sitting, and nice high chairs, and is perfect for kids - my daughter (almost 4) loves to people watch there... They're close to each other, so sometimes I'll get a pastry at Canto 6 and then go to Ula to get coffee and sit for a bit. If you do go to Ula, they have an amazing egg salad sandwich, and delicious rice pudding. Also, for anyone who lives in Boston, Canto 6 is offering occasional baking classes - I got on their mailing list...

            2. Picco in Boston's South End has terrific pizza and house-made ice cream, and is very kid-friendly. Decent wines by the glass, good service, and a neat, if somewhat loud, vibe.

              I've never been to Ula Cafe, but Canto 6 is fabulous. Be aware, though, that it has very little seating. Maybe others will chime in about places to take your goodies to enjoy outdoors in the area.

              Have a great visit!

              1 Reply
              1. re: bear

                I second Picco. Very kid-friendly and good pizza.
                Ula is great for a casual lunch. Good sandwiches, some good baked goods too. I agree that Canto 6 is in a different league when it comes to pastries, plus they have a much larger assortment. Wouldn't recommend it as a place to sit and linger though (as others have said it's tiny and has just a couple of tiny tables right by the counter.)

              2. In the Kendall area, I suggest Muqueca in Inman Sq.--they moved to a bigger space and there's a lot to look at for kids, plenty of room, delicious food, now they have wine and beer.

                I think the Blue Room could work, too, especially if you are early and also if you sit outside.

                I always suggest Gran Gusto to parents, too, because it's easy to park, right across from an awesome park and playground, and there is a little room off the main dining room where kids can get their yayas out. Awesome Neapolitan food, you would want to make a reservation. The pace is pretty leisurely, so you'd also want to start early so as not to hit the "magic" hour.

                1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                Gran Gusto
                90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                The Blue Room
                Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139