Dining out with kids can be an adventure. Over the years, we’ve had many spilled drinks, meals wasted, public tantrums, and impromptu take-out orders while dining out with our kids. It happens to all parents. It is part of the journey. Especially when your kids are young.
All of those interrupted dinners in crowded restaurants were super-frustrating. Why did we put ourselves through the pain? Because dining out is what we do. My philosophy about eating out with kids is the same as my philosophy about traveling with kids: We don’t stop enjoying these simple pleasures because we have kids, our kids become a part of our life and we enjoy this journey together. I embrace this philosophy even when the reality is not quite what we had planned.
My husband and I didn’t want parenthood to stifle our passion for satisfying our culinary wanderlust and discovering new chefs and restaurants. So we didn’t. To be clear, this does not mean we took our shrieking toddlers out for white-linen dinner at the finest steak house in our hometown of Seattle; for those adult-only dining experiences, we got a babysitter. But for more casual nights out with the kids, we believed there was more to eating out than suffering through the headache of a singing mouse and his stuffed friends, stale crusted pizza, and warm Coors Light.
In Seattle families can enjoy a great meal out without having to sacrifice quality or vibe. From local chef faves to hip neighborhood hangouts and amazing food trucks, here is just a sampling of the Emerald City’s most kid-friendly restaurants.
Brunch or lunch??
A great way to introduce your little diners to fine dining without the big price tag and fear of disturbing other guests is to take the family out for a fancy brunch or lunch. The atmosphere more laid back at this time of day, and breakfast and brunch menus also offer more kid-friendly menu items, such as pancakes, French Toast, scrambled eggs, and so on. Here are a couple of our downtown Seattle lunch/brunch favorites.
Loulay Kitchen & Bar. Named for Chef Thierry Rautureau’s (a.k.a., The Chef in the Hat) hometown of Saint Hilaire de Loulay, in France, this eatery offers modern French cuisine. I took our girls there for lunch after a morning of shopping and I appreciated the extra attention they gave the girls, bringing out a light snack for them to enjoy while we waited for our entrees. Loulay serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. It also has an amazing dessert menu; we devoured our crunchy profiteroles with salted caramel and butter pecan ice cream.
ART Restaurant at The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. If the views of Elliott Bay from ART Restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows don’t dazzle you, wait until you try the food. Just steps from Pike Place Market, ART is the signature restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, and Chef Kerry Sears and his team serve up fresh, market-to-table meals sourced by local farmers. In true Four Seasons fashion, ART rolls out the red carpet for families in a relaxed, fine dining environment with its special, “Larry Gets Lost in Seattle” kids menu, based on author John Skewes’ Larry Gets Lost picture book series.
For another popular city brunch with Northwest flair, consider Dahlia Lounge, a signature restaurant from renowned Seattle chef, Tom Douglas. Here kids can dig into cinnamon-orange French toast, or get made-to-order doughnuts delivered in a warm paper bag.
Seattle Neighborhood hangouts
Like many urban centers, some of the best food in Seattle also can be found tucked away in a city suburb—in a small historic house, or corner café. Like these.
Coastal Kitchen. Located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Coastal Kitchen is a favorite brunch spot for local Seattleites. This neighborhood fish house and oyster bar also is known for its killer breakfast menu and attracts families from all around the city. Kids can try the gingerbread waffle with honey orange butter, while you carbo load on “The Hipster” eggs served with classic coastal spicy hash browns.
Cactus. If you are craving delicious Mexican food, Cactus serves up some of the best Southwest and Mexican food in Seattle (and some pretty great jalapeno margaritas as well), and can be found tucked away in local boroughs such as Madison Park, South Lake Union, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Alki Beach. Cactus is kid-friendly and even has a gluten-free menu.
Seattle Food Trucks
Looking for a low-key way to sample some of the best of Seattle’s food scene without making a scene in a quiet restaurant with the kids? Check out some of the many Seattle Food Trucks. To hit this scene, sort by neighborhood, cuisine type or location and hunt down your next meal with kids and grab some food on the go.
Viewfinder Tip: Food trucks are a great way to sample Seattle’s restaurant scene while keeping kids on the move.
Seattle Restaurant Week
Another great way to introduce kids to new food is to participate in annual food festivals and events, such as the upcoming Seattle Restaurant Week scheduled from October 19-23 and 26-30, 2014. During this event, chefs at 170 participating Seattle restaurants come together to create three-course dinners for just US$30 apiece, and many two-course lunches for US$15. To take advantage of this deal, all you have to do is visit a participating restaurant during those dates to sample new dishes, try award-winning restaurants and share in the celebration of some of Seattle’s finest eateries. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
In conclusion, I challenge you to get out there and brave that new local restaurant you’ve always wanted to try with your kids. The more practice you have, the easier it will be and the more prepared they will be for trying new foods wherever your family travels take you abroad. We’ve learned this first-hand.
What is your favorite kid-friendly restaurant and why?