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Nov 9, 2012 09:11 AM

Kid-friendly in Eagan/Mendota area?


My husband and I are looking for a place for dinner for today to bring our almost- 3 year old to.
Very family-friendly, laid-back is what we are looking for.

We've been to IKEA's cafe by MOA and really liked that, just want to try some other places as well. We live near Mendota but anywhere around Eagan or 20 min. drive or so in the Twin Cities area is fine, just want to find some new places in the area to bring a toddler to and not leave feeling frazzled- a more kid-friendly place is preferable.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. Its not mindblowing in terms of food (in fact, some CH'ers do not like it all all), but Chatterbox in Highland Park in Saint Paul has worked well for us with almost two year old.

    Also, there is seating at the Buon Giorno Italian Market in Lilydale. The food was okay when we went a few years ago (pre-toddler), but I have often seen families there when we go to to I Nonni next door (without the kiddo, of course). Its cafeteria style, if that makes a difference.

    2 Replies
    1. re: eajohnso2000

      Also, here is a thread about baby and toddler friendly places. Its more focused on Minneapolis/St. Paul but you mentioned you are okay with a 20 minute drive or so.


      1. re: eajohnso2000

        I agree on Chatterbox. And Highland Grill across the street is also kid-friendly and has some very nice food.

      2. This may not seem "Chow Worthy" but within your 20-minute range is Joe's Crab Shack in Roseville. They are no-frills, just steamed seafood...but it is one of the most kid-friendly restaurants that actually serves something tasty in the area. In warmer weather, you can even sit on the patio and let your kid run wild in an enclosed playground. I am a foodie...but when it comes to a bucket of steamed clams and crab legs, there is only so much you can do...and they do it well...

        3 Replies
        1. re: gryffindor249

          Oh, and I just spoke to my BFF, a Mendota Heights mom...she suggested:

          Teresa's Mexican on 110 and Dodd. She says they are very accommodating with children and the food is wonderful.

          Lucky 13's on Highway 13. She says it is upscale bar food...and it is raucous enough that kids can be kids. Plus, they bring popcorn to the table right away. http://www.luckys13pub.com/

          I also like Moose Country on Highway 13....seems kid-friendly, but I have never been there at night. I definitely recommend the brunch with Tiger Toast. http://moosecountrybar.com/

          1. re: gryffindor249

            Have been to Luckys 13 and Moose Country both many times. I don't have kids, but the food is decent and it's pretty kid friendly. Eagan is pretty much a sea of chains, which always seem to be kid friendly, but not overwhelmingly exciting.

          2. re: gryffindor249

            Oh, I didn't know they had a playground! Can you avoid the conga line singing stuff by sitting on the patio? Blog with attitude and photos linked hereL http://dumpystripmalls.com/2009/07/jo...


          3. Thank you eajohnso2000 and everyone, we appreciate the responses!

            We ended up going to Chatterbox in Highland Park. I had a chicken salad and my hubby and our daughter had fish and chips, the food was good and the menu had a lot of different options, also great drinks- both alcoholic and non-alcohlic- I had a cranberry spritzer with lime juice- very good. It was definitely a very fun-loving, exciting place, and we saw plenty of children and families coming in and out. But they were extra busy on Friday night and we were seated behind the bar. A couple was seated at the bar and they kept turning around and staring at us whenever our daughter would talk or be a bit noisy even though there were 3 t.v.s mounted above the bar and plenty of talking and noise everywhere. We didn't ask to be seated behind the bar, there was just no where else to be seated on a Friday night. Anyway, I don't think it would have mattered how kid-friendly the place was (and this place was very much so) our child just didn't really want to eat and sit still. So were were able to walk around and we played some video games and that was cool. The servers were friendly, service was good, definitely will keep Chatterbox on our list. We'll definitely go back-just without our toddler next time, she used to be okay going out to eat, but I think she's just not up to it nowadays.

            Thank you for the other suggestions as well, we have a good list going now!

            8 Replies
            1. re: chocolatemint

              Sorry to hear about the couple at the bar--sounds like they were being a little oversensitive given the setting. Chatterbox Pub on Ford Parkway goes out of its way to appeal to families, I think.

              I just scanned this thread linked above http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7689... and would say it's still pretty current if you want to eat in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I don't know Eagan/Mendota at all. Our favorites are Brasa and the patio at Salut (but not this time of year for the patio alas), both on Grand Ave. Both have small parking lots, but you can find a spot if you go early, which we always do.

              I surprise myself by recommending Salut because it was never a favorite in the past, but they have very responsive service. (Ie., if you need your check NOW, etc.... they are well-staffed to accommodate you.) They are also next to Red Balloon bookstore. We haven't loved indoors at Salut, though I can't put my finger on exactly why--it just seems a little stark and echo-y, which is not ideal acoustically when you've got a toddler in tow, but maybe it deserves a re-visit.

              We also like the patios at Longfellow and at Burger Moe's for acceptable food and family-friendly setting. We've never been indoors at Burger Moe's, though it's probably fine. I don't know if these are too far for you. I'd say any of the "blue plate" restaurants would suit you, except that I had a very child-unfriendly experience with Scusi.

              But, really, for the intersection of great food and family-friendly setting, Brasa.

              I find it's easier to take the little one out to eat when the weather is nice and you can find a nice patio. People (including mommy) seem so more much relaxed if kiddos starts pounding his spoon on the table and you're sitting on a patio, than if you're sitting indoors.

              Now that we're well into fall, I'm going to have to start thinking of indoor places to go again. I suppose Midtown Global Market is too far? Someone in the other thread mentioned Turtle Bread/Pizza Biga, which I've never done with my toddler, but should. I'm guessing that's too far for you? Turtle Bread/Biga are right up the street from Sovereign Grounds Coffee Shop/"Indoor Playground." Sovereign Grounds might skew a little young for a 3-years old (not sure) and it closes early, but if you did an early dinner you could do both. We've done the Sovereign Grounds/Pepitos combo. Family friendly for sure, food only okay. (I do love that Pepitos mild salsa though.)

              Would the Los Ocampo on Suburban in St. Paul work for you? (Sorry, I'm a little freeway challenged...) If so, then maybe also Tea House there, though I haven't personally taken my toddler to that location.

              We take our little one out often and 7 out of 8 times (okay, that's a weird ratio, don't know why I chose it, ha!) he's great, but every once in awhile he's just a pickle, not in the mood. Two particular situations come to mind: one was when we were meeting an out of town friend for dinner and the other was our wedding anniversary. On both occasions we were going out because we were determined to go out. In hindsight, for those occasions, hire a sitter or order in. We have the best luck when he's in a great mood and will be ready to eat soon but isn't starving yet now and we decide, "Let's go to dinner. RIGHT NOW." and hustle out the door. We don't do as well if we have to be somewhere at an appointed time (to meet a friend or because we've made reservations.)


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Thank you so much The Dairy Queen, we'll definitely check these out!

                Thank you for the details about each place, this will help out tons as we decide where to go when.

                And it's nice to hear some stories about taking a toddler out to eat! It's strange, we even took her to breakfast out some months ago, there was hardly anyone there, it was the morning, and she still just didn't want to sit still and didn't want to eat. I am starting to think she doesn't like to sit in a booth (it may be too enclosed for her) I think the patio idea is a great one, that will work better I'm sure, and of course as she gets older it'll be easier for her.

                In the meantime, we'll check out these recommendations you made, I like how there's there some cafes and bakeries among them, those are a personal favorite of mine!

                    1. re: gryffindor249

                      Oh, good to know! I've only been to the Bachman's location, which is the best bakery I've ever been to in a flower store.:) I was trying to think of places the OP could get to from Eagan/Mendota Heights that she could easily access by just hopping on the freeway, hence my Los Ocampo and Tea House on Suburban recs. Is Patrick's accessible in that way, too, or are there a lot of surface streets to cover?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        The location I go to is across from Southdale.

                  1. re: chocolatemint

                    To add to TDQ's rec for Midtown Global Market - they have a program called wee wednesdays when they have specific activities for children, including some elementary cooking classes!


                    1. re: bkmnus

                      Wee Wednesdays is in the morning (just FYI). MGM also hosts Family Fridays or something like that in the early evening. I've never managed to make it to either! But, still, don't they both sound fun?


              2. Italian Pie Shoppe on Yankee Doodle in Eagan ought to be pretty kid friendly.

                If you want something a bit more interesting, I liked Hoban in Silver Bell Plaza (many years ago) for Korean.

                Also, in Highland Park, try Highland Grill. We used to take our toddlers there (a decade ago).

                1. Thanks everyone for the replies. My husband's birthday is tomorrow and we were going to go to a place for dessert called Pardon My French cafe/bakery in Eagan that we liked, but I just found out they suddenly closed!!!! Really a bummer, it was a very nice, comfy place. So I will be looking at this list again for a good dessert place to go near Mendota Heights, Eagan, West St. Paul area. Still open for suggestions-I will go through these recommendations as well!

                  Also, I read a thread on here regarding taking kids out to eat and I realize now that if your child's eating habits aren't the best at home, it'll be the same when you eat out, so we're working on that with our little one. (we resorted to just eating on the couch, but now we want to start bringing her to the table again) Thanks again everyone!

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: chocolatemint

                    A lot of people were surprised and saddened by Pardon My French's closing. Though we live in South Minneapolis, PMF in Eagan was a regular for us. I'm really hoping they spring back to life somewhere.

                    I'd echo TDQ's Turtle Bread Company / Pizza Biga, on Chicago in S. MPLS. Depending on where you are in Eagan, It's a surprisingly quick trip to Turtle Bread - straight down 77/Cedar Ave, left on Minnehaha Parkway, right on Chicago for about 4 blocks. Great ice cream next door at Pumphouse Creamery, to boot! It's uncommon to not see families with young children there; I would regularly take my daughter there, and she was never the only young child.

                    1. re: foreverhungry

                      Thanks foreverhungry, we'll check it out your and TDQ's rec!
                      I appreciate it.

                      I don't know what's going on, we just moved to Mendota Heights about a year ago, and there was a coffee shop down the street from us- they just closed a couple of days ago as well. We can't believe it.

                      It's good to know I have a list of other places to try out, and good 'ol Chowhound for referrals, thanks again!

                      1. re: chocolatemint

                        Are you talking about Fischerville Coffee (or whatever the newer name is for the place across from Mendakota Park)?

                        Also, if you just head north on Dodd and hang a right on Marie Ave, you'll hit South Robert. There are a ton of places over that way to explore as you head north.

                        I'll also throw in a shameless plug for one of my favorites (and now my kids' favorites) -- Stockmen's Truckstop at 494 and Hardman Ave. You're an easy 10 min away via 110/494.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          MSPD- Yes, that's the one Fischerville Coffee, thank you. They were kind of perched on that small hill, and right off Dodd Rd. in a busy area- I always found it difficult to actually drive there.
                          I like to support small businesses and we did go there a couple of times, and I know they advertised, but I wish they could have had a drive- thru, I think it would have helped. But I don't know what they would have (special license, etc.) to have that. It's just too bad to see them gone now. I will add Stockmen's Truckstop to my list- sounds intriguing! We may also check out Italian Pie Shoppe in Eagan for pizza or something tonight for the birthday dinner with my husband and toddler. (I originally thought that was a dessert place but now I see it's pizza!)

                          I will also note South Robert Ave., I don't know whether we have explored that area or not.

                          I did just remember a cafe we had stopped by called Amore Coffee on Smith Ave. by High Bridge Road I believe it's called? I had totally forgotten about that place, and it's close to us too. Very cozy place, my husband stopped by to get donuts there once and we're definitely going back.

                          Now we just need to work with our daughter on having good eating habits at home so it's not anxiety-ridden when we go out (I never thought I would have a child who would be the one peering over the booth at other diners, but it's happened unfortunately)

                          There's one place too that is always the back-up for us that I can always rely on as a great place for kids- IKEA's cafe in Bloomington. The huge amount of space they have, the cushy chairs, the t.v.s everywhere, it's much easier for me to keep an eye on my child, I really appreciate all that room. And they do have some good eats there too, not to mention nice shopping. It's a bit far from Mendota Heights, but still definitley worth the trip if you have kids.

                          Thanks again for the suggestions, these are super helpful!

                          1. re: chocolatemint

                            Well, you'll never have to worry about peering over the booth at Stockmen's. Actually even a small child can see the whole place from their seat.

                            You may also want to consider heading up into Highland Park for the Highland Grill. It's fairly quick jaunt across the Mendota Bridge, east on 5, then take the Edgecumbe exit (turning left onto St. Paul Avenue which becomes Cleveland....it's actually easier than it sounds.) It's very kid-friendly (they give buckets of action figures and toys), the food comes fairly quickly, and the menu appeals to adults and kids alike. We frequently drive up there from Burnsville, and even did when the kids used to be toddlers (they're 6, 9 and 10 now).

                            Chatterbox Pub is at that intersection as well (Ford Pkwy and Cleveland)...that place is known for their games, etc.

                            Good luck...I know it's tough when you're in the moment, but those behavior "stages" tend to disappear before you know it. Pretty soon, you'll have a little Chowhound on your hands!

                            1. re: MSPD

                              Thanks MSPD! I'll add these to the list.

                              And yes, we did go to Chatterbox a couple of months ago- and loved it!!! Great character, and definitely a lively place that's wonderful for kids-and really good food too.

                              Thanks for the advice on eating out with kids, we're working with her at home and yes, at some point this will be just a phase that we look back on and be glad is over!

                              1. re: chocolatemint

                                I would put the pasta bar at Buon Giorno in the category of "vibe" as Turtle bread, but I would rather drive there than Turtle bread/biga which is 6 blocks from my house. I don't get the adulation for TB. Poorly executed bread, soups, sammies, and service. Oh and the most overpriced place in town, for the win.

                                1. re: mitch cumstein

                                  Thank you Mitch, Buon Giorno sounds delicious. And I don't think we've been to a pasta bar yet, thought I have heard of them, just never have gotten around to going, so we'll have to do that, thank you for the recommendation.

                                  1. re: chocolatemint

                                    Buon Giorno is much more than a pasta bar. It's also a deli and Italian market.