Child-Friendly Dining: 15 Ways Restaurants Are Welcoming Young Kids to the Table

Sassafraz may be kid friendly, but they’re certainly not kidding around when it comes to their cuisine.

The topic of babies and children in restaurants is a highly divisive one. Whenever we raise the issue on social media, the debate is heated, scorchingly so — and split down the middle. Many folks don’t think infants, toddlers, or young kids, well-behaved or not, belong in restaurants at all, while other diners are raising enthusiastic eaters by introducing them to the joys of fine dining at a very young age. Cry babies aside, a meal out at a restaurant can provide a few hours of respite to harried parents and help instill good table manners in little ones. Countless restaurants have taken note and are upping the ante on hospitality for parties that include young (and presumably well-behaved) children. From happily stashing strollers and providing slings to serving up creative cuisine for the Crayola set, here’s how 15 establishments have helped provide stellar dining experiences for hungry families, according to recent OpenTable restaurant reviews.

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, Columbus, Ohio: “We have a 4-month old baby, and brunch at Cap City was a breeze. They had a sling available, and the background noise kept the little one content.”

Cedar Restaurant, Washington, D.C.: “I reserved a table for six, hoping they’d be okay that one guest was a baby. We were skeptical at first because they don’t have an elevator, but as soon as we got the baby and his necessary gear down to the restaurant, they were nothing but helpful. They stowed his stroller, brought a high chair (even though we said we could just put his car seat on a regular chair), and were even interested to know about the baby himself. [When leaving], they even let us use the service elevator they have.”

Clay Pit, Austin, Texas: “The best authentic Indian food in Austin, for sure. We went for an early dinner with our 10-month old and our server was so pleasant to him. Love a place that makes us feel welcome with a rambunctious kiddo!”

Dish on Market, Louisville, Kentucky: “I went to Dish with my 3-week old, son and the staff was amazingly kind. They sat us where there was room for my stroller. No one treated me like a pariah for dining with a baby. Both restrooms have large changing areas, too.”

Firestone Restaurant and Bar, Lethbridge, Alberta: “I had written in my reservation notes that we were two adults with two small children plus a baby who needed a high chair, and it was all ready when we arrived. The meals were all delivered in a very timely manner.”

Great Maple, San Diego, California: “My husband and I have been here many times and invited our friends and two kids (6 months and 3 years old) to join us for brunch last Saturday. Great Maple was very accommodating, and we had a great corner table outside with plenty of room for the stroller. Crayons and a paper menu for the little ones to stay entertained. Delicious food. Our waiter was very friendly and accommodating of our somewhat slow-to-get-it-all-together party (Hard to do with two kids and parents eating in shifts while trying to keep a baby from meltdown status!).”

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina: “Service was outstanding! We reserved a table early (5:45pm) since we had my 11-month old with us. I was happy to see other babies there, too. The service staff were so accommodating and professional. I didn’t feel judged at all, and the server even offered to get my daughter some water, juice, or crackers…whatever she needed. ”

* Hapa Izakaya, Vancouver, British Columbia: “As soon as I got in the door, the service was top notch! The manager wanted to make sure our baby was safe, and I wanted to make sure she was out of everybody’s way, too! Majority of the female staff loved playing with our baby, as she giggled, laughed, and waved to whoever wanted to say hi.”

Landmarc at the Time Warner Center, New York, New York: “When we got off the elevator and approached the entrance to Landmarc, my daughter commented, ‘See, Dad? They do encourage kids at this restaurant.’ Lined up against the wall were all sorts and sizes of baby strollers. We parked our double wide in the row and went in. The food was outstanding, and the staff was over the top, especially when our 1-year-old granddaughter reached out and pulled a couple of wine glasses off the shelf behind her.”

One Midtown Kitchen, Atlanta, Georgia: “The service was OUTSTANDING! Our server could not have been nicer. Made sure the kids (8, 6, and 6 months) were handled, asked if we wanted their cheese pizza first, and essentially went out of his way to make our entire party feel welcome and respected. He even smiled and talked with the baby. Simply great.”

Park Tavern, San Francisco, California: “Our family (four generations, from 4 months to 93 years old) gathered for a special dinner and we had a wonderful evening! Our server was incredibly attentive, providing a spoon for the baby to teethe on, checking to be sure our food was as ordered and expected and made us feel that our enjoyment was important to her. ”

Pascal and Sabine, Asbury Park, New Jersey: “My wife, 8-month old and I enjoyed a Sunday dinner after a weekend at the shore. Despite the trending bar scene and hip locals, the restaurant staff and patrons were accepting of a couple dining with a baby. The staff from being seated through service were all very friendly and helpful, we never felt rushed nor like we were waiting.”

Roxy Restaurant & Bar, Sacramento, California: “There were three of us for brunch and a baby. The wait staff could not have been more helpful, to meet the baby’s needs . . . high chair, baby spoon, and creamy cheesy grits (which were yummy, by the way).”

Sassafraz, Toronto, Ontario: “Having a 4-month old baby, it is difficult to find places to eat. But the staff here were wonderful and accommodating to our need of stroller space, etc. They even had a little dessert treat to make our dinner memorable.”

* Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, Dallas, Texas: “We took our 20-month old for an early dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday. The food was great, but what impressed me more was the preparation for a toddler. The menu was much more extensive than grilled cheese. His shrimp dinner was brought out with the appetizers, preventing him from getting bored or hungry. His food was just as high of quality as ours (We might have even stolen a shrimp!). They even brought him Oreo cookies at the end, while we enjoyed our custard. My husband and I were able to enjoy a nice dinner out along with the toddler.”








The End of Farm-to-Table; Moms to Take Back Grilled Cheese from Restaurants; A Day in the Busy Life of Danny Meyer; Babies Are Diners, Too; Hef Planks at Dinner

Ari Gold reacts to being told the restaurant has run out of the night's specials.

Dining and food news you need to know…

* And you don’t stop. At least not if you’re restaurateur Danny Meyer. Be warned: Just reading about everything he does will make you feel tired. And also, wildly under-accomplished. [The New York Times]

* Awww, shucks. Friday is National Oyster Day. [The Street]

* Invasion of the grilled cheese snatchers. Restaurants have wrested an American classic from moms’ hands — and Josh Ozersky thinks it’s time they took it back. [TIME]

* This is how the farm-to-table movement ends. Not with a bang, but with a snicker. [Macleans]

* What vintage is that apple juice? Baby food finds its way onto restaurant menus. [WSJ]

* The Doubles. Unlike Dostoevsky’s The Double, though, these chef lookalikes are equally successful. [Eater NY]

* Meet Ari Gold’s newest nemesis. Bobby Flay — or at least his name — gets a close up on Entourage. [GrubStreet LA]

* Speaking of close-ups. Here are six actual celeb chef cameos that are, interestingly, a lot more boring than Flay’s faux cameo. Go figure. [Forbes]

* Can a restaurant owner drink at his own bar? Heck, yes! Isn’t that the whole point of owning a restaurant? Okay, maybe that’s just one of them. But, still. [The New York Times]

* Why Jacques Pepin rules. He’s all about the technique, not his own ego. [Mercury News]

* Single diners in Singapore need OpenTable. Who wants to use tissue packets to save a seat? [AsiaOne]

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