If the only restaurants you hit up with the family feature a red-haired clown, a red-haired girl, or just a red hat that serves “all the meats”, you’re missing out. Many ofThe same “fancy” establishments across the country that do haute cuisine or have white tablecloths are starting to offer plentiful stroller parking, live entertainment, and kids menus that don’t just melt cheese on bread and call it a day.
We talked to food writers and restaurant critics in cities from New York to Los Angeles about where they take their own kids when they want to have both a great dinner and a family dinner. These 9 restaurants will welcome all of you with open arms, and without a single ball pit or giant singing mouse.
Gramercy Tavern, NYC Flickr / Jocelyn & Cathy
Danny Meyer’s Michelin-starred crown jewel has been where the elite meet to eat in NYC since it opened in the early 90s. But Meyer also invented the Shake Shack burger and has a quartet of his own kids, so it should surprise that his upscale eatery has a stroller check-in and gives out free milk and cookies.
Cecconi’s, Los Angeles Flickr / E Simpraim
Named one of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Top 25 Places To Power Lunch, lawyers, agents, and Ellen make way for all the common breeders on Sunday afternoons. That’s when Cecconi’s opens up the private party room that doubles as a staffed daycare. Word on the street is that they even have a magician! His best trick? Allowing you to enjoy your entree without being interrupted.
Trummer’s On Main, Clifton, VA
Get Junior prepared for a lifetime of impressing his dates. Trummer’s On Main is about an hour outside of D.C., and boasts a James Beard Foundation rising star who serves a pre fixe for preschoolers called the “Petit Gourmand Menu.” For $38 your kid will be wined and dined with “mocktails” (juice box, straight up), beef stroganoff, and a build-your-own sundae. What? No Kool-Aid digestif?
Trummers On Main
Food 101, Atlanta
Not only did Zagat call Food 101 one of Atlanta’s best brunch spots, but according to an ATL-dwelling dad with a toddler, “this place has a great kids menu that they don’t post online, so no one really knows it’s kid-friendly.” Sorry to blow up your spot Food 101, but parents who are up at 6 AM on a Sunday must know there are plates of bone marrow, smoked short ribs, and cocktails like “Menace to Sobriety” awaiting them.
It’s always a challenge to master high-brow, low-brow (like lobster stuffed with tacos), but this Italian trattoria nails it. Zagat readers call it a “gastronomic gem,” so who are you to argue? It has a charming, down-home vibe that makes dinner feel like dining, even with your tiny third (or fourth, fifth, sixth …) wheel in the highchair next to you. Also, a former Scarpetta chef is in the kitchen, so you know that lasagna rivals Chef Boyardee.
Davanti Enoteca, Chicago
Typically, when restaurant menus describe entrees as being plated on a “bed” of something, it’s code for “your kids will spit this out.” Don’t they know that Scott Harris is kind of a food legend in Chicago? His restaurant, Davanti Enoteca, is an Italian spot where you can get down with adult fare like mascarpone polenta while they can twirl a bowl of spaghetti that sprays everyone in a 10-foot radius.
Hotel restaurants can be totally hit or miss (Holiday Inn Express, you call this “continental”?), but Chef Gary Lopez knows his locally sourced food isn’t some crappy steam table brunch (It’s the reason why the whole Seattle Sounders FC eats there). And despite the trendy downtown ambiance and decadent king crab legs, Lopez isn’t above serving your kids the most gourmet version of Ants on a Log they’ve ever had.
Red Hill Station, San Francisco Yelp / Kathy B.
If you have adventurous eaters, test their limits with a kid’s menu that has fried prawns, oyster “pot pie”, and carbonara pasta on it. If they respond by tossing everything on the floor and screaming for an hour, remind them Zagat named Red Hill Station a ” hidden gem.” Nothing? Perhaps you’d be interested to know they have a great selection of spirits and craft beers.
Red Hill Station
Court Of The Two Sisters, New Orleans Flickr / Opacity
If you’ve heard of the French Quarter, you’ve heard of Court of The Two Sisters. Annually named the best brunch in New Orleans (which makes it elligible for best brunch in the world), the massive courtyard also hosts weekly live jazz and socially lubricated people. Despite the close proximity to Bourbon Street, there’s little to no chance your child will be hit with beads.
The Court of the Two Sisters