If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting the Little Dude, you’d know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to loving good food (seriously, he enjoys salmon, asparagus, gourmet cheese, lamb burgers, chicken curry, carnitas, coconut gelato…you name it, he’s game to try it). And thankfully due to my son’s shared appreciation for a variety of cuisines, my husband and I have not had to ditch our DINK foodie ways in favor of always-eating-Thai-takeout-at home-now-that-we’re-parents days (although we’re definitely not above that, either—Natalee Thai Dumpling Soup anyone?).
Because we’re still learning the lay of the LA foodstuffs land, I cannot claim to be an authority on all family-friendly eateries this side of the 10 (which, for those residing outside the Golden State, is an infamous freeway). However, it has been my experience that most LA restaurants welcome and accommodate wee ones, as my family has never been greeted by a stink eye or sneer upon pulling up a high chair (thank you celebrities for making babies a cool dinner date). So when we close our kitchen to enjoy the occasional restaurant food fix, we more often than not head to these eating “tot” spots:
The Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax remains one of our favorite places to eat as a family. While it's not a glamorous five star restaurant and the meals may not always be something to write home about, we thoroughly enjoy the variety of good eats (and people watching) available at this famous LA landmark. The site is appealing because there is definitely something to please the most discerning and picky palettes, it's quick and easy on the wallet, high-chairs are available, and it's a generally fun atmosphere where kids can be kids (bonus: Nordstrom's lounges are nearby for an easy diaper change). Kid-tasted-mother-approved dishes include Loteria Grill tacos, The French Crepe Company crepes, and freshly pressed watermelon juice (of course there are pizza, donuts, and frozen yogurt too).
Downtown Culver City. We're lucky enough to live a hop, skip, and a jump from Culver City's little gem of downtown that boasts a restaurant row with plenty of options to suit our ever-changing foodie moods. Because we literally live less than five minutes away, we usually end up dining in Culver City on a whim and we have yet to be turned away for our lack of planning, no reservations, and a toddler with his own set of wheels (I guess it doesn't hurt that we're arriving with the 530 dinner crowd...yeah, "what crowd?" is right). Our fave tot spots are: Akasha (this is as close as my husband and I get to a dinner date with the Little Dude in tow); Ford's Filling Station (this Gastro Pub has very friendly staff, great riffs on comfort food classics like mac'n'cheese, an ample beer selection for the 'rents of course, and maybe an occasional Indiana Jones sighting); and Ugo (quick, affordable, great patio seating, and gelato for the walk to the car).
Yoshi's Sushi. I was so excited to return to the West Coast to finally get me some "real" sushi (okay, I know I'm not dining in Tokyo but I'm a helluva lot closer to Japan than I was in DC), but sadly I have only sampled it at one restaurant during our time in LA. Nevertheless, Yoshi's Sushi in West Hollywood—which we came by via a friend's rec—didn't disappoint. While it's not Nobu (who knows, it could be better?), the sushi is fresh, tasty, and arrives fast to your table. The restaurant was happy to indulge my request for items not featured on the menu (they don't have a kids' menu), although in hindsight this was unnecessary as the Little Dude was happy to devour the entire bowl of edamame.
Fast Casual Is A Way of Life. Anyone with kids knows that speed is of the essence when dinner is slowly creeping toward bedtime, so we like to eat at the fast casual chains Le Pain Quotidien, Native Foods, and The Counter when we want a wholesome, tasty meal in flash so we can then make the mad dash home for the
hubby's Little Dude's bath.
Wow, I don't know about you, but reading and writing about food makes me hungry. Time to go prepare a "Weelicious" meal for the fam (doesn't the baked coconut shrimp look yummy)!
It would probably be easier for me to list the restaurants in Paducah that are NOT kid-friendly. It would be a short list. Very short. As in, I can think of two.
That is one of the many benefits of living in small town America. If you want your restaurant to succeed, it better have a kid's menu. Sure, it's the land of chain restaurants but the upside of chains is you know exactly what to expect, which when you are dining with children is a top priority.
I didn't realize how much I'd come to depend on every restaurant being kid-friendly until our recent visit to D.C. All of a sudden, making lunch and dinner plans took on an added layer of complexity. At least half of our favorite places to eat were out of the question because we had our new toddler dining companion tagging along. We managed but I came back with a whole new appreciation for coloring place mats and changing tables.
Of course, I was explaining the downside of our current arrangement to my friend in D.C., who was jealously commenting on all the family members available to babysit at a drop of a hat. Sure, we have endless babysitters. Plus, even if we have to take Griffin out, there are very few restaurants that aren't kid-friendly. However, spoiled by the food riches of D.C., we find ourselves eating out less and less because the food here doesn't quite measure up...to say the least.
Although Paducah is about to get it's first Indian restaurant! And I'm confident it will be kid-friendly.