Buffet/ kid friendly restaurant in the DC, Northern Virginia area.
Hello...I'm going to visit DC next month with my 7 year old daughter and my elderly mother. We are planning to visit a few sites including the National Zoo....I was looking for some help in finding a few kid friendly and/ or buffet restaurant in the DC, Northern Virginia area. We'll probably stay in the City if it's not too expensive, I want to use the Metro as much as possible due to the limited parking and traffic.. It has been over 15 years since I've been in that area and I dont know anything...smile....thanks
How adventurous is your daughter? I've taken kids to places like Jaleo, which is tapas, but only if they're pretty bold tykes. On the Mall, the Museum of the American Indian has an excellent cafeteria. Teaism is another good lunch spot, perhaps. For dinner, I hate to say it, but Clyde's would probably be a good choice because they have a little of everything. Also, DC-3 just opened on 8th Street SE, near Eastern Market. It's a hot dog restaurant!
2009 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009
I think the Matchbox, DC-3 and Ted's (all owned by the same people) all fit the bill really well for kid-friendly places. I also think Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza (both owned by Spike from Top Chef) are good for kids. The former three are accessible by Eastern Market Metro, the latter two by Capitol South or Easter Market Metros.
Also, as kate said, it really depends on how adventurous your daughter is. If she's more willing to try different tastes, Penn Quarter has a lot of good options, including Jaleo and Zaytinya (although, with a 7-year-old, I'd probably stick to Zaytinya for lunch only). Oyamel might be good, as well.
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC
The Clyde's chain gets kudos for having a decent kid's menu that is not just limited to chicken fingers and mac-n-cheese. Jaleo's menu has some offerings that are not too challenging, such as grilled cheese and tuna salad at lunch and a cheese plate at dinner.
The big not-so-secret around here is that nearly all restaurants are kid-friendly if you arrive during the "family" time-slot, which is prior to 7 pm or so. Just try to avoid fine dining that is paced for a 2 hour meal. That's too long for a 7 year-old.
My now 11 year-old has been eating out since birth. The region's ethnic eateries seem to be particularly child friendly, but might be too much for your mother. On the other hand, my parents are in their 70's and enjoy the region's Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese offerings. They also enjoyed the Jaleo in Crystal City.
The Museum of the American Indian did not seem to engage my daughter all that much. The Natural History Museum's food court is NOTHING like the lightless basement cafeteria of my youth and you can get a pretty decent rotisserie chicken there. Likewise, the National Gallery now has edible offerings. Our kid-friendly National Gallery West Wing game is "spot the bug in the Dutch still-life." It may appall some museum-goers, but it will hook your daughter into the gallery.
Food offerings at the National Zoo are pretty dismal, though if you are lucky you might be there on a weekend when there is a festival with extra food booths. I dream of one day finding a Bahn Mi or dim sum shop near the new Asia walk, but alas, they are mere dreams. There is a Lebanese Taverna within walking distance of the Zoo, and there are some threads here about food near the Zoo, such as
If you are willing to take the Metro, including a change at Rosslyn from the Blue Line to the Orange Line, Liberty Tavern about a block from the Clarendon Metro is an excellent spot for both kid- and adult-friendly food. If the chidl doesn't like any "adventurous" possibilities, the thin-crusted pizza is an excellent fall-back option.
The Liberty Tavern
3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201