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Orange County birthday dinner with kids

My cousin's birthday is this weekend, and after going through some old CH posts, I found it hard to get down options. I need a Saturday night location for a dinner. We're looking for a family-friendly location as we have 3 boys and she has a little girl. The kids are all under the age of 10, and we're looking to stay away from the chains. We're open to all types of cuisines. They live in Ladera Ranch, we live in south L.A. county...but we're all willing to make the drive so long as the food is good. Bonus points for the place if their desserts are good...my cousin has a sweet tooth.

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  1. I wonder how Park Avenue in Stanton is fairing these days? I do recall they feature parfaits on their dessert list (I'm a sucker for parfaits) and they are definitely "family friendly."


    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Just checked the menu...sorry, no parfaits on the dessert menu at this time. Looks great! Thanks for the rec. If anyone has more, please feel free.

      1. re: attran99

        No parfaits? A total travesty! ;-D>

        ADD: I just took a look at their menu and I did see an "eggnog parfait with pralines and fresh whipped cream" - for $7. So maybe (hopefully) they still have them.

    2. marche moderne - perhaps sit outside (for the kids) and request heat lamps. darya across the street from south coast plaza. somewhere in little saigon - tho since you're probably familiar with that area and maybe you're looking for a little ambience it's perhaps not a consideration.

      1 Reply
      1. re: namstermonster

        I didn't think Marche Moderne could be a possibility. Even with the heat lamps, I think it would still be cold, and I don't think the kids would appreciate the food. Darya seems promising, however the desserts aren't as impressive...looks like they probably order them from a vendor.
        You're right. We're pretty familiar with the Little Saigon area, and go there quite often. I'm looking for something not that.
        Thanks for all the helpful tips!

      2. Not OC but we love Belmont Brewing Company at the Belmont Pier. Sit on the patio which overlooks the beach and the pier with the Queen Mary in the distance. They take reservations so the kids don't get grumpy having to wait. The view provides entertainment. Lobster Bisque is yummy as is the Tuscan Tomato soup and the entrees. Dessert is not spectacular but is good. Our kids love to have dinner here.

        1. Forget gourmet food with 4 kids under 10, the other patrons will thank you.. Go to Buca di Beppo in Huntington Beach, right off the 405. if you have not tried it, you might be surprised. the deserts are actually very good, and the kids will have a good time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: AMC1210

            No offense, but Buca is terrible and a chain. I've been subjected to that enough times, and rarely find anything to my liking. If I wanted any of their food, I could make it at home, and it would be significantly better. Why pay for something sub-par? Outside of the parameters I had originally mentioned. I never said it had to be gourmet...just good and not a chain (and bonus point for great dessert). I find that families with kids are too easily side-lined to chains, and that doesn't have to be the case. Sevorg, namstermonster, and sayrob's suggestions of Park Avenue, Darya, and Belmont show that family-friendly dining doesn't have to be limited to chains.

            1. re: attran99

              I have one other suggestion. We like Gulliver's across from the John Wayne airport. While it used to be a very, very tiny chain (one in Marina Del Rey where Jerry's Deli is now and one up by SF International airport) I think this one is the last location. We still hit it when we are down that way at dinner time: http://www.gulliversrestaurant.com/

          2. Crow bar: http://crowbarcdm.com/ The "pork and beans" made with pork belly is excellent and a steal at $16 for a full entree portion.

            Pizzeria Mozza. Desserts of gelato pie, various gelati, and budino should make everyone happy.

            Pizzeria Ortica. In addition to pizza, you can also get fresh housemade pasta, entrees of fish and chicken, etc.

            1. No, I'm not missing the point. My wife and I just got back from Las Vegas -No Kids. Had dinners at Le Cirque, Joel Robuchon and Circo. With kids under 10-Buca di Beppo

              6 Replies
              1. re: AMC1210

                my family (Italian) adores Buca de Beppo

                1. re: laliz

                  Buca de Beppo is horrible. Better than Olive Garden, but that is about it. If I want chain Italian, I will go to Macaroni Grill, since i can find things on the menu I like. And that is an option for the OP. Good options for the kids, middle of the road options for adults, a full bar, and not terrible desserts, but nothing to write home about either.

                  1. re: ocshooter

                    There's many better Italian options than those that are family friendly:
                    Cucina Alesa - locations in Huntington, Newport,and Laguna Beach
                    Mangia Mangia in Huntington

                    1. re: I got nothin

                      We love Cucina Alesa in Newport but a little compact for a big party. We were hesitant to bring two kids there but they were welcomed by the chef and staff like they did not get many kids. The kids were treated royally! My favorite risotto anywhere and I compare everywhere to my own! Are the other two locations any larger than Newport? If so, I would definitely recommend. One of my favorites in Newport.

                      1. re: sayrob

                        Cucina Alesa is truly a gem. We kept hearing about it and finally went several months ago. Excellent!!!!!

                        Haven't tried the newer location, in Laguna Beach, or the one in Huntington Beach: http://www.cucinaalessa.com/location....

                        1. re: sayrob

                          Cucina Alesa in Huntington is much, much larger than the Newport location; at least twice as big. Two stories, and the tables are much more spread out than they are at Newport

                2. I know you said no chains, but I've always found Roy's pretty reliable when it comes to options with kids.

                  1. How about Roma D' Italia in Tustin or Mama D's in Newport. Orange has some good options with Haven Gastropub, Gabbi's and Johnny Rebs. Those are our "go to" places when we include the kids for family dinner. Good luck!

                    1. How about Charlie Palmer's at the South Coast Plaza? Or Paul Martin's at the Irvine Spectrum? both are on the adult side but I've seen kids there cuz they're both mall restaurants. Or the Melting Pot is fun for a dessert fondue. I know you don't want a chain restaurant but we always end up going the Cheesecake Factory for bdays with our kiddos.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: annabananaoc

                        I don't think I've ever seen kids that young at Charlie Palmer's. Although.............. a dining companion of mine got them to make her a DG burger for dinner a few months ago. The kid's just might really appreciate that. I know I did!!!!

                          1. re: janetplanet

                            Well..... the kids are 18 months older now, so...............

                        1. This is a great list. I can't wait to try them all out one day.
                          We went to Park Avenue Saturday night. Food and service were terrific. My cousin had a great time, and the kids loved their kids' meal choices. And Sevorg, you were right...the parfaits are amazing. Who knew that Stanton could be home to such a great place.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: attran99

                            Glad it worked out. Park Ave was a place that used to get recommended here frequently. Glad it still passes muster. Did you have the egg nog parfait or were there other ones offered that don't show on the menu?

                            1. re: Servorg

                              There was a dark chocolate parfait with salted caramel, fresh whipped cream, and some toffee bits. Delish! I'm a big fan of salted caramel, so I loved it.