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Kid friendly with food that doesn't suck in Portland?

We just adopted a sweet little 4 year old, and all of a sudden the places we used to eat arn't going to work so well. Are there any places in Portland/Vancouver area that are decent food, but also work well for children?

I'm trying to avoid the Chuck-E-Cheese and McDonalds play area.

Any ideas would be great.

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  1. When my son was born my wife and I found ourselves in a very similar situation. Suddenly the cute little cafes and bistros were not going to work so much for us.

    The one place that we have been able to go consistently is La Provence Bistro in Lake Oswego. We have been for breakfast and lunch; both are amazing. The service staff has always been very patient with our little one, he is 14 months now.

    The dining room is large and there is plenty of space between the tables where I don't feel like we are in the way with a high chair. I really can't say too many good things about this restaurant. They are fantastc.

    1. Red Tricycle http://www.redtri.com/portland is a pretty site good for this sort of thing. You can't go too wrong with Mexican, food carts or pizza, though.

      1. Old Wives Tale has a kid's playroom.

        2 Replies
          1. re: mochathedog97221

            Also, the playroom is out of visual range of most tables (unless they've remodeled in the last three years)

          2. I see lots of kids at Nostrana and the food there is awesome.

            1401 SE Morrison St, Portland, OR 97214

            1 Reply
            1. re: JillO

              My son does well at Nostrana, especially at an outdoor table on a nice warm day. They'll keep bringing you bread, if you just ask.

              Urban Farmer is great for a kid friendly brunch. They've got crayons, a kids' menu, a large open space and the $5 bloody Mary bar.

            2. Go Asian. Ocean City dim sum. Pho Van on 82nd. Silk in the Pearl. I had my first son when I was living in New York, and all of a sudden Babbo wasn't looking so fun. We hit Chinatown hard, and they welcomed our boy everywhere we went. Of course, you'll run out of places a lot quicker here than in NY, but it's someplace to start.

              Also, Lauro (and Pix across the street afterwards). Genie's. Maybe Broder.

              It always helps to eat dinner at 5 or 5:30 too, before there's a wait and it gets crowded.

              Pho Van
              1919 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97216

              Ocean City Restaurant
              3016 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266

              1. Country Cat is good if you're on the east side. The kid menu is tasty and well balanced. A bowl of seasonal veggies that is large enough for the whole table is available at a very reasonable price (reasonable = cheap)

                1 Reply
                1. re: sebetti

                  We went to Country Cat for brunch this morning and were thinking it would be great for a 4 year old. Just enough noise to mask any random squawks from the peanut gallery, mellow setting with benches and lots of windows and easy going staff. Didn't even take the kids menu into account, good to know!

                2. I'd think you can take a 4 year old to any restaurants in Portland with only a few exceptions. My daughter is 7 now, but we have taken her to everywhere since she was born and nobody gave us a funny look. The key is--not the place, but you. Bring along sketchbook and crayons or colored pencils. Take a bunch of books with you. The hardest part is the time that you are waiting for the food, so bring some edamame from home.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: gumi

                    I think I agree with you in spirit but not in practice. I took my 4 year old to Lauro a few months ago and although I count the evening as a success (i.e. no other patrons were disturbed and nothing was broken or spilled), it was just too much work and we didn't get the relaxing evening out that we wanted.

                    Also, we checked out Ken's Artisan Pizza a few weeks ago to check out the wait time and I swear the whole room gave us the look of death when we walked in with a child...probably because it was cocktail hour on a Saturday but still...

                    Ken's Artisan Pizza
                    304 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

                    1. re: sebetti

                      Congratulations on being an adoptive parent.

                      When our adopted daughter was 3 1/2 years old, living in Germany, we took her to Paris for impressionist paintings and Euro Disney. She never ate from the kids menu, we found it easier to get her a plate and share what we had. She had a hard time understanding why other kids didn't know about veal heart, rabbit, curries, etc. when she started school in the States.

                      We struck a deal with her. One day would be a Mommy and Daddy day, the next would be hers. We hit the small galleries and museums, she chose playgrounds and street fairs. We did restaurants and bistros, she did picnics in parks and for our last night in Paris, we ate at MacDonalds. All were patient as we knew our turn would come.

                      She is now 21 and we still bargain this way. I listen to rap and top 40 in the car while she listens to both country and western. And we tone our food down when her boyfriend is with us, although she is steadly improving his palette.

                      She is still a Disney freak, like her Dad. We just don't go for the food.

                        1. re: chickennosenshi


                          Definitely agree with the not ordering from the kids' menu, which I find patronizing and generally just empty calories. Also, if your child is new to American flavours, why introduce her/him to poorly made mac & cheese, or whatever?

                          I would suggest Asian restaurants -- they tend to be quicker on service (not talking Pok Pok here, of course), and will have rice for "busy work"! Child centric cultures also. Do you have a local Thai or Indian restaurant that you enjoy?

                          Definitely take crayons, small dolls, or some other diversion. Once my kids were old enough we would play hangman or some other word game while we waited - still do. And if your child is antsy and you know it's a while til the food/bill will come,definitely take them down from the table for a while - go outside for a while, walk around the restaurant if they are not disturbing people. The change of scene will work wonders. One parent will be alone at the table for a while, but maybe that's not such a bad thing!

                          Finally, tip your waitstaff well! Kids make a lot of mess when they're little, even if they weren't disruptive during the meal.

                          Do not give into the peer pressure you will get and go the McD etc route!

                          Pok Pok
                          3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

                    2. re: gumi

                      Keep in mind our daughter is adopted- so her pallet isn't as developed as if we had her the while thing, and her habits and behavior are still adjusting to living in her new home. This makes eating out a little bit different then if a child was trained from birth to eat out, and able to sit still.

                    3. We have had nice meals with our 2 year old at the outdoor carts on 10th, Ring of Fire, Podnah's, Bunk, Pok Pok, Apizza, and Olympic Provisions when we've been in pdx. The lowest we've sunk in terms of kid friendly is Lucky Lab and Chipotle, I just can't face ChuckECheese or McDonalds.

                      I think it depends on how into eating your little one is. He's our kid, so he likes to eat. The hardest part is waiting for the food, he's not too into that. We take turns taking walks outside with him while the food gets to the table, bring fruit and other snacks (like raisins) to amuse him if he isn't into walking or gets done before we do. That being said, it really is mood dependent with ours, sometimes we've had a horrible time out with him and get home and tell each other we're never doing that again, because it's so stressful. We're self-conscious about not wrecking other people's experience so the stress can get a little high, but we always end up trying again because when he's game, it can be pretty enjoyable. I think you do have to go into it with lower expectations then when it was just the two of you, and be willing to pack up and leave if it just doesn't work out. The bonus is you get a kid who knows how to behave in a nice restaurant when they're of age.

                      Pok Pok
                      3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

                      1948 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201

                      Olympic Provisions
                      107 SE Washington St, Portland, OR 97214

                      1. We have three littles - 10 months, 3 and 5. The oldest eagerly eats her way through the farmer's market weekly, the middle would survive on boxed mac n cheese if we'd let him, and the baby has serious food intolerances. Suffice it to say, restaurant meals can be a challenge.

                        Not sure what area of Portland is your typical, but we have had amazing experiences at Scratch in Lake Oswego. Chef Patrick is a dream - he's a dad to two littles who loves kids, has a fun and funky personality, and is shockingly flexible in his kitchen. We've popped in for lunch on a Saturday morning to find him tableside within a few minutes, chatting up our kids and asking them what they like to eat. He'll happily whip up scratch pancakes for one and mac n cheese for another while feeding us handmade duck sausage eggs benedict. My in-laws had the same experience one night when they dropped in for dinner and he made my niece fish and chips that had my in-laws drooling. The man loves to feed people, and I've never seen anyone make kids feel so welcome. It might be out of the way for you, but if your sweet little is having trouble sitting still or feeling at home in a restaurant setting, Chef Patrick could help you bridge that transition. Plus, his food knocks my socks off time and time again. Menu changes monthly, but don't miss the cinnamon chicken is he has it available. Congrats on your growing family.

                        1. ANother place I realized, recently, is Country Cat. They even have a kids menu. Even if they didn't, you could order the chicken wings with the sauce on the side (as I always do anyway), or any number of things off the regular menu to share.

                          1. I'm a little late to this discussion.... just discovered it.
                            Highly recommend that you try Beaches Restaurant in Vancouver, on the River about 1 mile east of the I-5 bridge. Food is good, LOTS of variety and the view is spectacular. Not only do they have a really cool kids menu but they have a Treasure Chest they take the kids to after lunch/dinner and let them pick their own Treasure, then make their own desert.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Cosby

                              Thanks for the tip! We are actually in West Vancouver, but never hit beaches. I guess we will have to give them a second look now that we have her.

                            2. I'd suggest Enat's Kitchen on Killingsworth if you want to try ethiopian with your lil one. Very kid friendly and a pretty wide range of flavorist to try. plus they get to eat with their hands and thats always fun.

                              My wife and I adopted a little girl from Ethiopia this year and this is one of our go to spots with here. Thats said, we take her lots of places - though she just turned 1 this month, so we haven't hit public tantrum phase as yet :)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tybeean

                                What a great idea! She is still mastering the fork so eating with her hands would be a welcome change for her.

                              2. I know the owner of the country cat-he has two kids and encourages parents to take their little ones out. I was really impressed with Laurelhurst Market when we went with our 11 month old for my husband's birthday. When she lost her patience and we had to take turns holding her outside and eat in shifts they actually bought my dinner for me because it was cold by the time I got to eat it. That's pretty amazing!
                                The summer is easier because the patios are always easier with the kids. I find I take my now 18 month old to those sushi go round places when we just need to eat but we can't handle the full dining experience.
                                The food isn't superb, but Hopworks has great beer and a nice little play area in the dining room. I really do like their chicken strips and Jo does too- it makes for a nice stress free night with her.

                                1. We've recently discovered the laurelwood brew pub in battle ground washington (not sure if the portland location has this or not) that has a play area for the kids, and kid falafel on the menu. It's great for my little girl. She plays, she eats something besides mac and cheese and she really enjoys it. Just thought I would share with all of those area parents out there.

                                  1. I've never been, but Amalfi's in NE is supposed to be super kid/family friendly. It's an Italian joint which does free plates of spaghetti for kids under 6 and dinners come with free ice-cream. I heard it described as an "Olive Garden" with soul.

                                    1. Ate-oh-ate is very nice and accomodating to families with kids. Was in there last week and there were two families with kids under 2 there who were really well-behaved and enjoying it all. The folks next to us were feeding their 15 month old little bits of poke and she was loving it - yay parents who are raising chowhounds!

                                      What kid doesn't like chicken teriyaki and white rice and mac salad?? And theirs is really good, even for grown-ups.

                                      But adults can enjoy super-powerful mai tais (they limit you to 2 - have a couple and see why ;o) and tombo poke or a burger or fried saimin noodles with pork belly...or a whole host of Hawaiian plate classics.

                                      1. I bring my kids to Bollywood Theater for Indian food a lot and there always seems to be other kids around. And there is ice cream at Salt and Straw next door.