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Where do you eat with your young kids?

We all know about Full Moon, and I've also enjoyed Aura's occasional family-friendly nights. These places accommodate kids who have too much energy to sit still through a long meal, and they have good food that's also kid-friendly even for picky eaters. But they're also expensive and unusual in that they're explicitly kid-oriented. Where else do you eat with your kids who are still young enough for high chairs or crayons, and how old are your kids?

We're in Watertown and have an almost-4-year old and a baby on the way. We frequent the Deluxe Town Diner (especially for dinner on weekdays, when the prices are reasonable and it's not crowded), Shiraz (they have an aquarium to keep him occupied while we're waiting for food), the Spot Cafe for breakfast (only if we get out of the house early, otherwise it's way too crowded and we feel rushed), and sometimes Vicki Lee's in Belmont for a weekday breakfast treat. We've taken him to Shangri-La before, but he's pretty picky so that wasn't as successful. We also like Stone Hearth Pizza in Belmont, often followed by a trip to Rancatore's across the street. Sometimes we take the bus to Harvard Square, where we've had success taking our toddler to Cambridge 1, Le's, and Wagamama. Hanmaru in Allston also worked out well for us -- they have a surprisingly kid-friendly children's menu.

When he was a baby we had a much harder time finding suitable places -- I remember Legal Seafood as being very baby-friendly, partly because the space is so big and they have lots of high chairs, but other than that, wherever we went we just hoped he wouldn't start fussing and were always ready to have one of us grab the baby and head outside while the other packed up and paid.

I'm curious to hear about where others take their young kids, especially people who live in different areas -- I bet you have some great neighborhood places that I wouldn't think of.

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Shangri-La
149 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478

Full Moon
344 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Deluxe Town Diner
627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

Vicki Lee's
105 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA

Stone Hearth Pizza
57 Leonard St, Belmont, MA 02478

Wagamama
57 Jfk St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Hanmaru Restaurant
168 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

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  1. We have a 4 1/2 year old, and we eat out pretty frequently. She LOVES the mini burgers at the Met Bar (Dedham), any kind of pizza (Cambridge 1), and recently we've been eating at Citizen Public House - they made her a grilled cheese and she shares my husband's steak. We also like Sophia's Grotto in Roslindale. Rox Diner for breakfast, Bernard's in the Ch Hill Mall for Chinese... My parents take her to Bertucci's all the time - she loves it.

    I recall that 0-6 mths was a golden age for eating (we had a 3 hour anniversary dinner at Oleana when she was 2 mths old and slept in the car seat under the table), 6-12 months was tolerable, and 15 mths - 2 years was too difficult - and then it became easy again.

    Congratulations on the baby on the way!

    -----
    Oleana
    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

    Sophia's Grotto
    22 Birch St, Roslindale, MA 02131

    1. Chinatown, Flour, Hi-Rise, or Galleria Umberto.

      www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

      1. Ours are currently 6 and 4, but both started accompanying us to restaurants when they were about a week old. (I'll take this opportunity to apologize to all of the other diners).

        We try to target an earlier seating (between 5 and 6) or do brunch, and try to pick large places or places that are normally a bit on the noisy side. We also try to double-date with another couple and their kids, so that if a melt-down sidelines a parent for a bit the remaining parent still has some adults to enjoy the meal with.

        Our favorite places for bringing the kids:

        Matt Murphy's, Brookline
        Eastern Standard, Kenmore Sq
        Island Creek Oyster Bar, Kenmore Sq

        We also do pretty well at mom and pop Asian restaurants, but the kids don't have the pallet for this yet, so it's infrequent.

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

        Eastern Standard
        528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

        2 Replies
        1. re: Area Man

          Area Man - I love ICOB - what do your kids eat there?

          1. re: sallyt

            We had brunch there with some friends and their two-year-old son. My wife was handling the ordering at that end of the table, but I saw my kids enjoying a fruit plate and some yogurt with honey. If I recall correctly they had the French toast, as well. If we were to have dinner there we could probably get some fried fish into them, and with enough ketchup perhaps some shrimp depending on their moods.

            The staff there was amazing with our kids, though. There was not even the slightest hint from any of the servers that the kids were an imposition, and in fact most seemed to enjoy their presence.

        2. When my kids were young we ate anywhere we wanted.(Biba, Mills Falls,Isabella, Palm, ) All Asian restaurants have rice, many restaurants have pasta, burgers, fries. It may not be their healthiest meal but they are happy and you get a good meal. Be courteaous and plan dinners early and lunches late as to not annoy the business and/or romantic diner.

          1. When I go out to eat w/children we are a group of 2 kids (currently 2yr) and 6 adults. Because we dine in such a large group, we either call for reservations and mention that we have 2 babies or send one person into the restaurant to see if there is space. The only two restaurants that were unable to accommodate us (mainly due to party size) were Oleana and Tupelo.

            When the boys where still carted around in car seats they successfully slept through dinner @ Banq. The waitress even brought us extra napkins to use at blankets for the boys. Around the same age sat through lunch on the patio at Ristorante Fiore. There the waiter brought pitchers of hot water to heat the baby bottles in. When they were a little older they slept on the bench at Grafton Street while we ate brunch. At about 18 months ate at La Casa De Pedro with them. They put us at the table with the aquarium which kept one of the boys quiet and not the other. And most recently (at about 2 years) ate at Fugakyu where we had a private room. That was great because the boys loved the food and there was plenty of room for them to play.

            -----
            Ristorante Fiore
            250 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

            1. When my now 9 month old was a little younger (0-6 months), we took him pretty much anywhere: Highland Kitchen, East Coast Grill, Posto, Russell House Tavern, Istanbul'lu, Craigie on Main (for brunch), Windsor Dim Sum Cafe, Legal Seafood, the Japanese food court in the Porter Exchange, Qingdao Garden, Greek Corner, Pescatore, Namaskar, Martsa on Elm, and EVOO (for lunch) are the places I can remember at the moment. The main limitation was that we really tried to avoid eating out on Friday or Saturday nights, and usually tried to eat early (for dinner) or late (for lunch or brunch).

              These days we haven't managed to go out nearly as much, but I think most of the places would hold up pretty well for older infants and toddlers.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greenzebra

                does anyone know if watch city brew pub still does the family thing on sundays? thanks

              2. Under six months, a baby is pretty much a nonissue. I didn't love Full Moon--toddlers it's ok, but for elementary school kids, the children's plates are not enough food/interest (at least for my kids), but then there's nothing else but to spend $20 on an adult plate of pasta-- for a 8 year old?

                The places that work best have enough physical room for kids to move around in, moderately priced food, not a formal attitude, so (mostly Camberville): Basta Pasta, Deluxe Town Diner, Neighborhood Restaurant, Kaya (Korean on Mass Ave near Porter), Tupelo, Friendly Toast, Cantina La Mexicana, Muqueca, Tamarind House, Le's, Caffe La Luna, Brookline Lunch, Flour Bakery, Daily Catch, Zoe's, Cafe Belo.

                Places you'd think would be accomodating but get antsy, or serve a 3 year old water in a wine glass, or have no high chair or moderately priced choices that aren't chicken fingers etc.: Kebab Factory, Emma's Pizza, most red sauce places in North End.

                For a special occasion, Gran Gusto or Dali (which the kids like, but I've gotten violently ill after dinner there twice now, so I'm finished with it.)

                -----
                Deluxe Town Diner
                627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                Basta Pasta
                319 Western Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                The Kebab Factory
                414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                Muqueca
                1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                Flour Bakery + Cafe
                12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA

                Tamarind House
                1790 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                Emma's Pizza
                40 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                The Friendly Toast
                1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

                Daily Catch
                441 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                1. My boy is all grown up now, but when he was a tot, we went to Siam Cuisine in Brighton, which is gone now. I see lots of kids at Dokbua, and they're v. family friendly. Tango restaurant in Arlington, I often see multigenerational parties. Bertucci's is a good option. I also see families at Jae's in the Atrium Mall. The bonus there is you have more indoor space to roam in than just the restaurant.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CookieLee

                    Edit to say "Le's in the Atrium Mall".

                  2. Ok, the people who say 0-6 months olds are easy in restaurants have not experienced my kid. :-( my oldest has always been a dream in restaurants, and at age 4 will eat literally anywhere. My 6 month old has been horrible in restaurants (and at mealtime in general) from the day he was born, though in all other aspects of life is so much easier than my first. I realize I'm not adding anything here, just need to vent. :-)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: MrsCheese

                      Ok I'll actually try to add something of value here. Pomodoro in the North End is surprisingly good with a kid in tow despite it's small size. Aka Bistro has a great kids menu with real food. Most kids menus frustrate me because the food is dumbed down to chicken fingers but the only other options are expensive adult portions (and i don't usually want to share my food). We go to Sichuan Gourmet a lot, even with the baby.

                      -----
                      Pomodoro
                      24 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

                      Sichuan Gourmet
                      1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                      1. re: MrsCheese

                        >Most kids menus frustrate me because the food is dumbed down to chicken fingers but the only other options are expensive adult portions (and i don't usually want to share my food).

                        Exactly. What is on AKA Bistro's kids menu?

                        -----
                        AKA Bistro
                        145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773

                        1. re: dulce de leche

                          Sometimes, you can get the kitchen to agree to a 1/2 order. As a lot of our family dining out was Chinese and Thai, there was a lot of sharing. Otherwise, we did go with a plan to just take home what our son left over.

                          1. re: dulce de leche

                            Frogs legs, snails, salmon, steak, "real" mac and cheese...

                      2. Our approach has been to take kids everywhere we wanted to go. We've never particularly sought "kid friendly" places. Indeed, we've avoided them (too many kids). We've also never particularly sought special food for kids. We've fed them blue cheese, olives, pork vindaloo, dim sum, etc., as soon as they could eat solid food. The only drawback is after being brought up on tuna salad with red onion, capers, olives, etc., in it, the first taste of school cafeteria tuna salad in kindergarten comes as a shock. (Although it was reported to us that there was a pickle "for if you want taste.")

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                          I agree, and did the same. When I said "kid friendly", I mean they often have those wooden higher chairs. My son loved calamari from the time he first tried it, around age 4. He also loved to order his own dinner. When he would order the calamari, many times a server would look surprised. One time, the server asked him, "Do you know what calamari is?" , and he looked up and said, " Yes, it's squid". Like he was informing the server, not realizing it was him who was being questioned!

                          1. re: FoodDabbler

                            I think most people on here would agree with your general premise. My kid doesn't like "kid food" either; she likes good food. However it's very useful to know which restaurants have high chairs, can accomodate a stroller, etc. If the kid is to little to at leat kneel in a regular seat, they do have to sit somewhere! And it ain't gonna be on my lap. So I really appreciate all the suggestions.

                              1. re: FoodDabbler

                                Similarly, we try to feed our daughter (now two) whatever we are eating, and it works great. She has developed some favorites: squid with ginger and scallion and unagi sushi are her favorites. The question for me is not about what is available on the menu, but how a restaurant responds when a two year old needs to take a little walk or gets a little fussy. Crayons are great (though I bring my own), as are plastic cups with lids. More than anything it's about the attitude of the staff. Do they grimace at the collection of rice under the highchair? (I always tip extra when dining out with our, girl.) I look for restaurants that seem happy to accommodate the occasionally unexpected behaviors of a toddler. Ashmont Grill and James' Gate are great on that account

                                -----
                                Ashmont Grill
                                555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

                              2. I just posted a similar question on a Mom's blog (not focused on food) and got back the following responses. I was specifically looking for a good place to bring a 15 month old toddler around the West Roxbury area for an early dinner (I find that most places are easy at lunch time). The list that I got back (which I compiled for my husband) is below. Enjoy!

                                Dogwood Cafe (JP) (multiple reccs-- live music)
                                Mandarin Gourmet (Putternam Sq)
                                Sophia’s Grotto (multiple reccs)
                                Robinwood Café (JP Centre Street)
                                Sweet Tomatoes (Newton)
                                Pleasant Cafe (Roslindale)
                                Cafe Rialto
                                Village Sushi (multiple reccs)
                                Birch Street Bistro (Roslindale)
                                Bella Luna (JP)
                                The Hyde (Hyde Park)
                                JP Seafood (JP) (multiple reccs)
                                Le’s in the Atrium Mall (Vietnamese)
                                Center Street Café (JP)
                                Halfway Café (Dedham)
                                Canary Square (JP—more upscale) (multiple reccs)
                                Delfino’s (Roslindale)
                                James’ Gate (JP)
                                Galway House (JP)
                                Orinoco (Brookline)

                                -----
                                Bella Luna Restaurant
                                405 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                Centre Street Cafe
                                669 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                Mandarin Gourmet
                                Brookline, MA, Brookline, MA

                                Delfino Restaurant
                                754 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                Birch Street Bistro
                                14 Birch St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                Galway House
                                720 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                Sweet Tomatoes
                                421 E Falmouth Hwy, East Falmouth, MA 02536

                                Canary Square
                                435 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bostondiner

                                  That is a pretty good list, but I'm surprised it does not include Doyles. When they expanded 20-odd years ago they made the back room non-smoking. Combine that with the booths, the paper placemats and crayons and it became family-land, but with good beer. We still go with the girls when they are back from college, and they still get the steak tips.

                                2. We have taken our son to Toro for brunch several times; he is 8 now. I have seen small babies there each time, but I can't recall if they have high chairs or not. We've also taken our son to Gaslight for brunch a few times.

                                  -----
                                  Toro
                                  1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                                  1. Great topic! We have a 15 month old who we have brought out to get from the get-go. It's getting more difficult, but we are committed!
                                    Some of our faves:
                                    Highland Kitchen- go early on weeknights or for brunch. They are very accommodating and the food is good. They don't really have a kids menu, but we just get her a plate and then take the leftovers home
                                    Redbones- not my favorite place for BBQ, but great for kids. Food comes out FAST, which is a blessing, and there's lots of noise to distract other customers from the squeaks and screams coming from our table!
                                    Deluxe Town Diner- been mentioned here already, but have to give it a big thumbs up. They have awesome clip-on seats for the kids, too. And beer.
                                    JP Seafood- Great brunch bento-boxes, which sound weird but are perfect for kids.
                                    Flatbread Pizza in Davis- the food is eh, but the atmosphere is great for kids. Come here for lunch on a weekend and it's all families. And again, beer.

                                    These are just a few off the top of my head!

                                    -----
                                    Redbones
                                    55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                    Deluxe Town Diner
                                    627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                    Highland Kitchen
                                    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: josied

                                      I'll second Redbones and Flatbread in Davis. Both have been very accommodating when we've taken our 9 month old. Redbones in particular has been great; the servers take a special interest in making sure we are comfortable. Just avoid the busiest times and you'll be golden.

                                      -----
                                      Redbones
                                      55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                    2. We have limited experience thus far as our baby is only 3 months (that's where I've been... turns out it's much easier to waste time on Chowhound now that I'm back at work than when I was home on maternity leave...) but I wanted to put in another plug for Highland Kitchen. Not only do they have nice wood high chairs, they also have a little contraption specifically for an infant car seat to stand in that looks kind of like a tray stand but is actually made for baby car seats. They also give covered drinking cups with straws for kids. The noise level is perfect for sleep-induction for infants, and good for masking general kid noise. And the food is delicious.

                                      We also had a successful meal at Gargoyles in the front bar area, but this would be more infant friendly than toddler, I would think. We haven't been back to Bergamot but when I was pregnant and dining there, they made the best pregertinis and made me promise to come back with the baby.
                                      Dave's Fresh Pasta is okay for toddlers but bad for babies- very difficult for strollers and limited seating. Plus your baby's head will smell like a panini for days. Unless you wash your baby more than we do. Same issue with Anna's- bad for strollers, baby-burrito-head ensues.

                                      Flatbread Pizza/Saco's is also a favorite- the background noise of the bowling alley is a magic soporific for our little one. There's always plenty of room, there's a stroller ramp up to the front door, and for slightly older kids watching the wood fired pizza ovens is cool. However, no changing table...

                                      As for ordering, our little one is not on solids yet but I plan to look at the sides options more than the horrible chicken-finger-french-fry options always on the kids menu. A lot places can do a side of mashed potatoes or various veggies, which seems a better option to me.

                                      -----
                                      Dave's Fresh Pasta
                                      81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                      Highland Kitchen
                                      150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Parsnipity

                                        We are in the same boat, having a 3 month old ourselves.

                                        Fortunately she basically sleeps through everything and falls asleep faster with added noise, so we haven't had to seek out special restaurants. Only difference is that we have stuck to places in our neighborhood (Kendall) for the most part. Places we have dined in the first 3 months though are:

                                        EVOO
                                        Voltage (My wife does lunch here quite often)
                                        Za
                                        Emma's
                                        Snack Bar/O Senhor Ramos
                                        Hungry Mother
                                        Blue Room
                                        Think Tank
                                        Bambara
                                        East Coast Grill
                                        All Star Sandwich Bar
                                        Tupelo

                                        None of the above caused us any issues and I find the service has actually been improved because of having a baby in tow. The best of the bunch above though has to be EVOO, we have been both for lunch and dinner and they have been accommodating beyond expected. My wife also has gone there on her own for lunch with no issues.

                                        Of course I will be watching this thread closely as the little one gets older.

                                        1. re: Matt H

                                          Oh, I forgot about All Star Sandwich Bar -- our 4-year old loved that place the one time we went, and it meets the criteria of moderately priced, kid-friendly menu, and interesting things to look at while you wait. (I think they did bring him a large glass of water with ice, but that's why we carry a sippy cup with us.) Plus Christina's is right there for dessert.

                                          I've been wanting to try Highland Kitchen and Sophia's Grotto -- I thought we'd have to put them on the date night list (which would mean we'll make it some time in the next 5 years or so), so it's good to know they're both family friendly!

                                          -----
                                          All Star Sandwich Bar
                                          1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                          Highland Kitchen
                                          150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                          Sophia's Grotto
                                          22 Birch St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                      2. Places we have been and enjoyed:

                                        Delfino's - Roslindale
                                        Massimino's - North End
                                        Legal's Seafood
                                        50's Diner - Dedham (breakfast only)
                                        Burtons Grill - Fenway
                                        Pomodoro - Brookline

                                        -----
                                        Burtons Grill
                                        1363 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

                                        Pomodoro
                                        24 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                        Massimino's
                                        207 Endicott St, Boston, MA

                                        Delfino Restaurant
                                        754 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                        50's Diner
                                        900 Providence Hwy, Dedham, MA 02026

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: hto44

                                          Definitely second Burtons Grill - the waiter could not have been more charming and engaging with my 4 1/2 year old - as others have said, it helps to go to dinner early (@ 6 pm for us).

                                          -----
                                          Burtons Grill
                                          1363 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

                                        2. In recent memory, we went to Chung Ki Wa (Medford), Koreana (Chung Ki-Wa has better food, but Koreana has nicer ambiance), Golden Garden (Belmont), Little Q Hot Pot (Arlington), and Ronnarong (Somerville). My kids are 2 1/2, nearly 5, and 6 1/2. I haven't had a problem anywhere honestly, since they all love to eat (the server is usually surprised by how much they put away...they eat a lot for kids who aren't very big). We always go early (before the dinner crowd, so around 5:30-5:45 is when we arrive). But I have kids who aren't picky and have happily sat through a 10 course Chinese banquet before. And the last time we went out, I had to order a second round of entrees amid the chorus of "we're still hungry!"

                                          -----
                                          Koreana
                                          154 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                          Chung Ki Wa
                                          27 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                                          Golden Garden
                                          63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: little.tiger

                                            Habesha in Malden! We just took our toddler to lunch there, and were delighted to find that a). the food was as tasty as we remembered from pre-baby days b). spongy, mild injera bread was a huge toddler hit, at least with our daughter and c). some of the stews served on the lunch special plate were spicy enough to provide excitement for the adults, others were mild enough for children/timid palates. In addition, the service was friendly, they have high chairs, and weren't crowded, at least at lunch. They did have one or two kiddie-fried options on the menu, but like other posters, I tend to order adult sides for my daughter, or just give her some of my food. Oh, and a full lunch for 3 was $25... hard to beat!

                                            -----
                                            Habesha Restaurant
                                            535 Main St, Malden, MA

                                            1. re: WilderPenfield

                                              I'll have to put that one on my list of places to try. Injera is filling and will make going out more budget friendly. Are you a Montrealer? (your username made me wonder, my DH used to rent an apartment up the street from Avenue Docteur Penfield ). We used to go to an Ethiopian place in Montreal, but I can't say it's something I've really craved since being in Boston. The food was very tasty, but a bit on the greasy side for me.

                                              1. re: little.tiger

                                                I think my reply just disappeared, but yes, you guessed correctly about the alias!