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Toronto with young children ???


My wife and I will be traveling to Toronto, from Buffalo, with our two daughters (8 mos & 2 1/2 year olds) at the end of March. We'll be there for 3 or 4 days. And our definate stops will be the Toronto Aquarium and the Toronto Zoo.

Ive done a search on this great site for similar posts, but most threads are with kids a bit older.

Ive been to Toronto many times but mostly for Jays/Yankees games, and then to the bars. I do remember going as a kid and a routine stop was called the Spaghetti Factory, I believe. Is that still worth going to? I thought about the Science Museum, but Im pretty sure thats geared more towards older children.

Also, is Restaurant 360, atop the CN Tower, appropiate to take a 2 1/2 year old and a 8 month old to?

What other things are there that may be age appropiate for my daughters? Im looking for any suggestions, from hotels to stay in, activities/places to go, and most importantly, restaurants to eat at.

Thanks in advance,

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  1. Please keep responses focused on restaurant recommendations and discussion. Discussion of hotels and activities are off topic for Chowhound. Thanks!

    1. The Spaghetti Factory is still there but it's pretty bad, definitely a tourist spot.

      Here are some general downtown recommendations that are kid-friendly. Once you choose your hotel we can focus in better.

      Terroni - great pizza, go before 6:15 or there will be a line up.
      Rol San - great dim sum, go before 11am on a Saturday or Sunday.
      Udupi Palace - in Little India, a fun place to wander around. Kids can eat naan.
      Greek food on the Danforth - we used to go to Omonia when my son was little.

      BTW, the Toronto Aquarium hasn't even broken ground yet.

      8 Replies
      1. re: crawfish

        Ha. Thats very good to know. Thanks. Ive heard great things about Terroni.

        1. re: crawfish

          Good call on Udupi Palace - I recently went in for takeout, and they have this play area at the front, right by the cash. Hilariously loud kids having a ball, not so fun for the guy at cash though! My well documented favourite is the channa bhatura.
          Two other places that are usually lousy with kids are 10 Feet Tall on the Danforth, and Ferraro on Eglinton. You'd be perfectly comfortable with kids in both places, but whether or not the locations (not downtown) or quality are up your alley is your call.

          1. re: sgogo

            I believe 10 feet tall has closed

            1. re: bytepusher

              That's the unfortunate truth. 10 Feet Tall is no more.

          2. re: crawfish

            I'm not farmilliar with most places you want to go or the areas, however I have to somewhat disagree with The Spaghetti Factory being pretty bad.
            It really all depends once you take everything into consideration. The decor(merry go round, streetcar) is eyecatching and has lots of colours to keep kids entertained. Your main dish includes salad or soup, tea or coffee and dessert. Every table also gets fresh bread. We took our teenage daughter there a few months back and she loved it.

            Food is not great, however it is generally good and very kid friendly. Prices are very reasonable for all that is included. Check out their website....should have pics.

            1. re: fryerlover

              It's the Old Spaghetti Factory btw. Cringe-worthy.

              1. re: fryerlover

                One thing I found really odd at my last visit to the Old Spag - no mac n cheese on the kids' menu??? Although they were very accomodating for a chain and made up some penne with butter and cheese. If you order carefully (I like the spaghetti with brown butter and mizthra cheese) it can be okay but not something I'd choose given many other options. Although it is kid-friendly, the decor etc would be lost on kids that young (unlike say the Rainforest Cafe).
                Ten Feet Tall is closed.
                I wouldn't go to 360 simply because the food is bad and overpriced!

            2. Definately not amazing food, but Mövenpick Marché at Brookfield place is a market type restaurant and my kids love going there since there is alot going on, they enjoy looking at all the food and picking what they like. Definately kid friendly too...plus since it's such a large space, the kid produced noise gets lost :)

              1. The Toronto Zoo is located at the very eastern edge of the city (basically near the border of Scarborough and Pickering), so you may want to also search Scarborough in the threads to see if there is anything you want to eat in the area.

                It will be a little bit a drive, especially if you are staying in the downtown area.

                I would not suggest you eat in the zoo -- from what I remember they have a Harvey's and a couple of other fast food places, but they have no problem if you want to bring in your own food.

                Perhaps when you narrow down where in the city you will be staying we can give more focused recommendations as to where to eat. Toronto is a very large city and with two little children you wouldn't want to be driving 45 minutes solely for a meal (except of course if that if there is something specific you want to try that is not as readily available in Buffalo -- ie the excellent Chinese cuisine north of Toronto in Markham/Richmond hill)

                And regarding the Toronto Aquarium -- I was born here and in my 30+ years have never heard of it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: LearningHow

                  I respectfully disagree. Coyote Jack's at the Metro Zoo would be fine for kids. I ate there just this past summer. I'd say if the kids are hungry, then don't make 'em wait.

                  Close to the zoo and good for both the kids and their parents is Fratelli Village Pizzeria. It's small and they don't take reservations, but their pizzas, pastas, and appetizers are all delicious. You don't need to wait until you're downtown to have a good meal.

                  Titus0327, I didn't think Ripley's was opening the Toronto Aquarium until 2013. Either you're really, really prepared or you need to share the location of your aquarium.

                  Fratelli Village Pizzeria
                  384 Old Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M1C1B6, CA

                  1. re: Googs

                    Funny story.... a friend of mine has kids a couple years older than mine, so I routinely hit him up for vacation spots and weekend getaways, etc. Well, the other night were enjoying a couple cocktails at our local watering hole when I mention taking the kids away for a weekend in late March. Without skipping a beat he says, "well it may be a bit chilly for the Toronto Zoo but they have an amazing Aquarium." Never stearing me wrong before I took him at his word. So, I made this post, with great anticipation, and you can imagine my surprise when one of you kind folks politely points out to me that there is no such a place. I quickly called my friend and asked him if he was aware that there is no such thing as the Toronto Aquarium. Of course, he says. When prodded why he might lead me astray, his only response was....I thought it'd be funny.

                    Im beginning to rethink that old saying....you can pick your friends, but you cant pick your family.

                    Anyways, were still following thru with the trip to Toronto, despite no Aquarium, and I look tremendously forward to trying some of these kid friendly restaurants that have been mentioned here. Ecspecially, the large variety of ethnic food that Toronto seems to have when compared to Buffalo.

                    1. re: Titus0327

                      We will have an aquarium it just won't be open until 2015 so he wasn't totally lying :)


                      The Art Gallery of Ontario has a great kids area and it's close to China town so could be combined with dim sum and/or a walk through Kensington Market for empanadas, churros, falafel, burritos, and other great food.

                      1. re: crawfish

                        I am not sure how good the Art Gallery is for kids under 3 - their programs are for bigger kids. We take our kids (2 and 4) to the ROM - they definitely have activities for little ones, including your eight month old. As for food - there is a food court downstairs but our kids like to go to Yamato for Japanese in Yorkville - the chefs cook right at the tables so this is fun. Kids can eat rice, teriyaki etc. Basically, most restaurants in Toronto are good with kids as long as you go early at dinner time - say, 6-6:30 - and don't linger so that the kids start running around.

                2. Restaurant 360 is a place you go to for the view, not for the food. But there is no problem taking young kids there. They do have a kids menu and have been very accommodating to my 2 little ones. If you go to the Ontario Science Centre (which the 2 1/2 year old will love - there is an area for young kids), don't eat there but try Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill which is just up the street from the Science Centre - for make your own stir fries and other fun Chinese buffet items. Or try Congee Star in the same plaza for authentic (and inexpensive) Chinese congee, noodle soups and snacks.

                  1. I would also suggest the Mill Street Brew Pub in the distillery district. Interesting location for a tourist, pleasant pub atmosphere. The food is on the better side for pub food and they have a bunch of beers that are brewed there. I was there on a Sunday lunch and the half the restaurant was parents with kids.

                    1. Our kids are just slightly older than yours, and we've been eating out plenty in the last year, so I guess we've got the experience. Honestly though, we try and stay away from the obvious kid-friendly stuff like Old Spaghetti Factory which is terrible and eat at, you know, good places. Not talking about blowing up someone's romantic candlelit French meal at 8pm, but yeah so many places are great with having families when they show up early before the rush.

                      You can't go wrong bringing kids to a Chinese restaurant, we've even done Peking Duck at Lai Wah Heen with the kids. But if you're headed to the Toronto Zoo, a great spot in Scarborough nearby is Maple Yip, search the board for opinions. One of the best steamed fish dishes you can find. Downtown, we love Le Select for a French bistro meal, they are very accommodating to families and even have a kids menu. Great spot for an early dinner. We also have had nothing but good experiences in terms of the welcome our kids get at 7 Numbers on the Danforth for Italian, it would be a nice spot to visit if you decide to, say, pass through Riverdale Farm. And they also have a 30% coupon on Dining Date Night. Dim sum downtown, Rol San is very good but very crowded with university students and hipster types on the weekend, so keep that weekday, or on the weekend we like to hit Noble Seafood House for decent dim sum and a more relaxed vibe. Finally, if you go the Eaton Centre, which you probably will, the Queen & Beaver pub is a bit pricey but very good, one of the better burgers in the city, and totally fine with kids running around at off-peak hours.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: childofthestorm

                        We have little kids the same age too and find Noble seafood perfect for dimsum, its a lot less crowded than rol san, and the kids can enjoy seeing the fish in the tanks. Also ethiopian restaurants are very kid friendly, we go to lalibela on bloor street. As for the zoo, we always pack a picnic, there's really not much variety at the restaurant. By the way there is an aquarium in toronto?/

                      2. If you go to the ROM (museum - which is huge and so great for kids of all ages) they have a great cafeteria in the basement. For food in the area, Dynasty for dim sum, Sushi Inn for sushi. Yorkville has lots of pubs just north on Prince Arthur which are kid friendly. You can shop your way up and down Bloor - and take the subway to the Danforth where there are lots of easy going Greek restaurants east of Broadview.

                        We have a 3 year old and generally take him anywhere.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: MeMeMe

                          I wouldn't consider $30 for a sandwich and a small salad "great." Convenient, maybe.

                          1. re: iMarilyn

                            What would you suggest to the O/P iMarilyn?

                            1. re: fryerlover

                              Pho Hung across the street. Lunch for under $10 a pop.

                              1. re: iMarilyn

                                Do you have young kids? Sometimes they need to eat NOW and getting their snowsuits out of coatcheck, on them and then 'across the street' is more trouble than it's worth, especially if they want to continue at the museum afterwards. The ROM cafeteria is recently updated and they're trying to have decent food. It certainly didn't cost me $30 to get lunch there when they first opened. And Pho Hung is ho-hum at best.

                                1. re: julesrules

                                  We take our kids to c5 at the rom, tables are far enough apart and there's a separate usually empty lounge area where you can take the kids if they need a change of scene while waiting for food or the bill. And at least you'll have a good meal here

                        2. Agree with MeMeMe. Greek restaurants on the Danforth love babies. Take them to Mezes, Kalyvia, Pan, Pantheon, Megas or the Ouzeri. Sometimes I think guests with children get better service than the guests without.

                          A lot of parents with young children were dining at the Abbot Pub near Yonge & Lawrence during the Sunday morning brunch last weekend.

                          1. I agree with Le Select and Terroni - both are large and loud enough that if a kid gets fussy, it's not too disruptive to others and you can walk around with the child if needed. I also like the Boiler House at the Distillery with kids. Although the food won't blow your mind, they have a brunch buffet Sundays so you can be in and out quickly if your kids don't like sitting too long, plus they have a live jazz band that our kids always loved. There's lots of space and the distillery is car-free, so makes it easy to walk/run around after

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MELCH

                              And, don't forget, Soma Chocolate at the Distillery. Good for the whole family.

                              55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                            2. Allright, we finally narrowed down the hotel that were staying at. We are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown on Peter St. Any tasty (and kid friendly) restaurants that are within walking distance would be greatly appreciated.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Titus0327

                                Le Select for bistro, Rol San for dim sum, Terroni for pizza and pasta, Khao San Road for Thai, Manpuku for Japanese fast food, Bannock for Canadiana comfort food....you're pretty central and have a lot of options within a 15 minute walk.

                                1. re: Titus0327

                                  A stroll through Kensington Market is fun for all with lots of great food options. Most are takeout so you can take them to the playground in the centre of the neighbourhood and all will be happy. Try churros, Agave y Aquacate for Mexican (tucked inside the churro place), Big Fat Burritos or Mexican Salsa'a, Jumbo Empanadas, Akram's falafel, patties and doubles from Patty King, The Grilled Cheese, etc.

                                  And Chinese restaurants are really the most kid friendly of all. Poke around this site for recommendations for downtown Chinese and they will most likely be in strolling distance of your hotel. Many have big fish tanks which are always good for a few minutes of entertainment :)

                                2. Being from Buffalo and only having Buffalo poutine, Ive always thought poutine was fries, gravy, and melted cheap cheddar cheese. Through the wonders of television Ive come to find out that traditional poutine consists of crisp fries, delicious gravy, and wonderfully soft, slightly melted, fresh, cheese curds.

                                  Along with me, my wife and children are french fry junkies. Where is the best place for traditional poutine that is within walking distance of our hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown on Peter St)?


                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Titus0327

                                    I'm not a big poutine eater so I can't say if they're the best but there is a Smoke's Poutinerie down the road from your hotel, maybe a 5 min walk away.

                                    1. re: baabaablacksheep

                                      I second Smoke's. I had it for the first time last week and it was very yummy. My husband and I shared the large pulled pork poutine and it was gone in ten minutes.

                                    2. re: Titus0327

                                      The blue chip truck parked outside of city hall on Queen is about 8 small blocks away from there (just east of York St.) and has satisfying straight-ahead poutine if the weather is nice and you don't mind eating outside. I don't know if their fries are crisp though.

                                      1. re: Titus0327

                                        I really really like the poutine at Bannock, and I'm from Montreal for what that's worth. It's slightly fancy with Monforte Dairy cheese curds, but yeah proper chicken gravy and good fries. I don't like beefy gravy on my poot.