Thursday, June 26, 2008

Toddler-Friendly Restaurants

Are there any toddler-friendly restaurants? Better yet, are there any restaurant-friendly toddlers? Hmm.... For those brave enough to attempt going out to eat with young children, here are our family favorites (in no particular order):
  1. Buffets (we have a Chinese buffet we particularly like; food is practically instant; you can get small servings of only the foods the toddler might like; most have SOMETHING your toddler can/will eat; our Chinese one only charges about $1/year of age... truly a bargain!)
  2. Fast Food: most have healthy kids' meal choices now, especially Wendy's, Chick-Fil-A, and McDonald's. Chicken nuggets or even a cheeseburger paired with fruit and milk isn't too bad a deal. McDonald's has the BEST toys; Chick-Fil-A will let you substitute a small ice dream cone for the toy; Firehouse Subs even gives away kid-sized fireman hats. Chick-Fil-A wins this family's top vote, however, because they have bent over backwards to accommodate my crew--bringing us placemats that stick to the table, refilling our drinks (while we're at the table), etc. Three cheers for customer service and yummy food!!
  3. Mexican Burrito Bars (Moe's, Salsaritas, Chipotle to name a few): these operate like Subway, only with burritos/tacos/quesadillas. Almost any toddler loves a cheese quesadilla and the prices for these are often pretty reasonable. Again, you get your food quickly.
  4. Pizza Buffets: CiCi's is the best known one here. The pizza isn't outstanding, but again, you get your food quickly and in toddler amounts.
  5. Small or Family-Owned Ethnic Restaurants: Believe it or not, many smaller ethnic restaurants are very accomodating to young children. Rice, beans, tortillas, etc. all are accessible to young children and generally available at ethnic restaurants. Go early and you'll likely get great customer service. It's also a fun chance to encourage your child to try something new. Our daughter once wolfed down a considerable portion of Chinese pork dumplings--who knew?!

1 comment:

alli said...

CiCi's is how we introduced Fuller to restaurant behavior. It was food we knew he would eat and he was free (bonus!).

Taking Fuller to the burrito bar type restaurants can be tricky (we like Qdoba here). He doesn't get the standing in line and if he gets the kids quesadilla it sometimes takes longer than my food, so he gets upset when we sit down and his food isn't there.

"Happy Donald's" is probably Fuller's favorite, if only for the indoor playground. If we are traveling, we like to stop there and let him stretch his legs. We eat while he plays. Then when we pile back in the car, he can eat his happy meal while we hit the road.