Chowing with Kids in Toronto
We will shortly be taking out our young niece and nephews for dinner. This got me thinking on the subject where one can go in Toronto with our young out-of-towners that they'll enjoy and still get decent food. A post-dinner trip to somewhere like Gregs for ice cream seems like a no-brainer, but another meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory doesn't really inspire. We are looking for somewhere that would be fun for both adults and single digit aged children, in addition to being accepting of both. What are your experiences and recommendations?
I'll throw one find of one of ours into the fray. Marcello's at St. Clair and Dufferin. It's a good inexpensive Italian restaurant/pizzeria that welcomes children. The early dinner rush is usually awash with families. They also have, as one friend described, "wonderful staff and a space-age high chair that's even better than ours."
1163 St Clair W
I've always found Chinese restaurants (particularly during dim sum hours) to be very family-friendly. It's rather nice to see big, happy, noisy families eating together, with little kids walking about.
I don't know what kind of food your niece and nephews have been exposed to, but I reckon most dim sum items are pretty non-weird for most little kids. And it may be fun for them to see the trays of food coming their way, and being able to choose what looks good to them. And if they don't like the siu mai or the pork buns, there's always fried rice to fall back on.
This is terrible, but I usually look for a family-run place that is almost empty. We eat early anyway, when the rest of the world is only thinking about going out. That way, my son can run around without bumping into the staff. Recently, we ate a place called Mariachi Loco in the Eglinton and Bathurst area. It was fabulous Mexican food, made with heart and fresh ingredients! My son especially loved the guacamole, which was truly wonderful. However, he didn't like the tomatillo sauce on the enchiladas - too sour (the adults liked it). We were the only people there, which was good for us, but not good for them!
You might want to try the so-called "7 Numbers" on Eglinton just W. of Avenue Rd. (Look for the place on the corner with a series of 7 numbers on its marquee). It is a moderately priced tiny, chaotic Italian place that is really fun. The menu is written on torn up paper bags, the decor is mismatched kitchen chairs, and the food is ordered one portion at a time, so your kids can pick only what they will eat. It's loud and crazy. The food is really good. They don't take reservations but if you go early at "kid dinner" time there shouldn't be much of a wait. They have a patio if the weather is nice.
Dipamo's Bar-b-que on Eglinton near Ave. Road is casual, delicious and fun for kids. Great chicken fingers that taste homemade, brisket, corn on the cob, smokey beans, etc. Free popsicles when you leave.
Surprised no one else mentioned this, but the Marche
at Yonge and Richmond(?) is a great place for kids.
They get to wander around, look at lots of different foods, and have a chance to try many things in a place where there is no snobbery or attitude. Plus, there's a great dessert bar with waffles, sundaes, ice cream, cakes, pies, etc. that will make any child's heart (and most adults!) sing.
Many great breads, etc. available for takeout as well.