Kid-friendly Restaurants: Taking a Toddler Out to Eat Can be Humbling…unless you go prix fixe

You know that phrase, the “terrible two’s,” I hate it.   I think it’s a pretty harsh descriptor of those traits that kids start to exhibit when they hit this magical age where they start to talk back and learn to smoke cloves (just kidding mom).  I understand why kids exhibit some of these early traits – mainly because they can finally comprehend things like interpersonal relationships and Dora the Explorer, but still believe the world revolves completely around them (uh, and do we really ever realize that it doesn’t?).  Sure, they rely too heavily on the word “no” and in general are quite precocious, but they are by no means terrible people for it.

Until that is, the first time you take them to a restaurant expecting their “usual” behavior (happy to eat crayons and make the busser’s job a living hell), but they end up acting like a total jerk.  They’re bored easily, only want to eat your food and spill your wine (or boiler maker), and have no patience for bad service.  This happened with AT at about 20 months, and I’ll admit, they are awful human beings when they hit the point of no-return (to that particular restaurant at least) – or PONRTTPRAL.

This is what the restaurant floor looks like after we leave…. sorry!

Luckily, AT is pretty cute, and the down economy is effecting the restaurant business, so servers and bussers are generally much more tolerant – especially when you go to the places that are kid-friendly, like Mexican Food Restaurants, Breakfast spots (before they turn into brunch spots), or Ice-cream-for-lunch locales, but that doesn’t make the experience completely… pleasant.

So without further adieu, here are my favorite kid-friendly restaurants from the afore-mentioned categories.

ROSITA’s near Greenlake:  Best Kid-Friendly Mexican

This was one of the first places I brought AT after I realized she was a monster at restaurants and I love it for the 2 reasons I love and great Mexican restaurant in general:  1) they have great chips and salsa (no waiting to eat!), and 2) great scratch margaritas.  Having grown up in California, I won’t pretend that it’s super authentico, but it’s on par with Seattle’s best Mexi-merican (except La Carta de Oaxaca), and the staff seems to genuinely love kids and being around them.

Rosita's Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Macrina Bakery in Belltown or Queen Anne:

The thing that makes this place so kid-friendly is not just that they have great breads and pastries that kids love (parents too), but that their staff really seems to love little kids – even when they are screaming, “I’m peeing daddy!” while they are still sitting in their chair.  The coffee is amazing, and really that is kinda the biggest deal when planning a place for breakfast – and the sandwiches can please the discerning parent as well as the risk-averse toddler.  I’d recommend not going at a brunch or standard eating time or it does get a bit dicey.

Macrina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Macrina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Molly Moon’s – Wallingford

Molly Moon’s is by far the best and most popular ice cream spot in the history of 5 dollar ice cream cones, and deservedly so.  The salted caramel ice cream has been raved about by gourmands better than me, so I won’t get too deep into how good n’ salty it is.  I’ll just say I love me some salt.  There are also some more banal flavors, like vanilla, that are more suitable to the offspring and AT has lapped-it-up it every time we’ve been.  However, the reason this is on my list for Seattle is not the award winning ice cream, it’s the people-watching.  There is a line at Molly Moon’s… 100% of the time.  Don’t fool yourself, going at 2 pm on Tuesday in February is not going to avoid a line.  A great benefit of the awareness that comes with the advancing age of a toddler (which then declines precipitously almost immediately after you reach 16), is that they love people watching -and most fun for the parents, they can make whatever innapropriate comment you wish you could as loud as they want!  Molly Moon’s is an uber-popular date spot, and while it’s mostly teenagers and younger folks, sometimes you get the giant age disparity couple.  We are all congregating in line and AT loves calling them out on it.  Just last week she screamed with joy, “Look daddy, that girl’s daddy has a beard too!”  An innoucous comment for sure, if this wasn’t some 50 year old out with someone that looked 22.

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream on Urbanspoon


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4 thoughts on “Kid-friendly Restaurants: Taking a Toddler Out to Eat Can be Humbling…unless you go prix fixe

  1. Eric Burgess August 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm Reply

    Nice list. And, nice Urbanspoon plug. 😀

    Here are some of mine: The Barking Dog, Blue Sea Sushi at U-Village, Stanford’s at Northgate (they give kids free sundaes) and Razzi’s in Greenwood. All great places to make a mess and have a good time with your kid(s).

    • seattlekungfoolery August 13, 2012 at 11:51 am Reply

      Thanks EB, you want to plug here? I’m all for plugs mate. Blue C sushi for kids? Hadn’t thought of that, but she does actually like nigiri. Hope you and the brood are doing well.

  2. Kate November 6, 2012 at 10:21 am Reply

    I’ve found that places with great decor can help too! It’s easier to distract a toddler when you can point to the wall and say something like “Look, it’s a motorcycle”, or “Do you see that ski?” Then you’ve got a couple minutes where your child wants to point at things for you to look at, giving you time to shove food in your mouth and do a wide-eyed nod! I also like this thing that I found at where one of the suggestions for eating out with a toddler actually shows you how to connect a suction cup on a book. That way you can hand your child the book and not have to worry about it being dropped ten times or thrown at someone 2 booths over!

    • kungfoolery November 7, 2012 at 8:31 am Reply

      Hi Kate,

      Thanks for posting such good advice! Eating with a toddler seems to be all about picking the opportune time to jam food in your face while the kiddo is distracted. Thanks too for post that site – great resource. Do you have interest in doing a guest post for our other site, You can id yourself as a mommy (perhaps even the world’s best) 😉


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