When people hear this words combination "Family friendly restaurants" what comes to mind is big chain restaurants (no need to name names) serving junk food, where the kids can go wild, run around and scream from the top of their lungs, where they learn no table manners, and they get wrong idea about what food is and what kinds of food they are supposed to love.
I must say, I am not a big supporter of the kids' menu concept, so this is not a criterion for choosing a family friendly restaurant. I will make a separate post about that topic later on.
What I have in mind when I am looking for a family friendly restaurant is a place where:
* Children can make noises without having other customers staring at them with scary grumpy looks
* Both kids and their parents can enjoy and share good food
* Both kids and their parents can have a good time
* Children do need to sit at the table and participate in a conversation and/or color with crayons until the food is ready (of course you should have different expectation from different age groups; 2-3 year old will have less patience, but 4 year old should be able to sit through dinner, at least until it's dessert time. And when dessert finally arrives, they usually cooperate gladly and sit on their bottoms and eat their dessert quietly and with much concentration).
Here a few of our favorite restaurants:
Vios cafe, Seattle
This is our number one favorite.
I love to eat there. I loved to work there. My son keeps asking to go back and have lunch or dinner there.
AND they have a play area for the kids.
A noisy local restaurant serving good food. It won't make a big difference if your kids are a bit noisy too.
We only went there for lunch. Don't know how dinner time works with kids.
It is very casual at lunch time. Of course they have pasta which kids love. But it's good pasta, not your ordinary fake Mac and Cheese they serve at the junk food places. But don't order pasta with butter and cheese. Instead encourage your children to try something new and/or ask the waiter to add a kids' portion of protein to the dish (fish/chicken/meat, etc).
Barking Frog, Woodinville
They have a great outdoor dining. On a sunny day, sitting at the patio feels like you are in Tuscany. Kids will like it too and it's more casual.
Coho Café, Redmond, Issaquah
We prefer the one in Redmond better than the other in Issaquah. They also have a very nice patio which is always a better option than sitting inside when you dine with children.
I will continue to update this list.
Please share in the comments section your thoughts, ideas, your favorite family friendly restaurants, etc.
Previous posts from me about this topic:
Kids menu – Is it good for them? Is it good for you?
Stuffed peppers – a picky eater's nightmare?
Encourage good eating
NY Times: Picky Eaters? They Get It From You
Backyard Vegetable Garden