It’s a summer night in LA, and the kids are hungry. It’s too hot to cook, and you’re exhausted from schlepping your visiting relatives around town. The easiest solution seems to be dining out, but how to accommodate everyone? We’re lucky to live in Los Angeles, where so many restaurants ascribe to healthy, sustainable cooking and cheerfully accommodate dietary needs.
It can be an adventure with children, however, when there are more variables to consider. Highchairs, crayons and menus for the little people can make or break a family dining experience, especially when your in-laws are vegan, the twins need booster seats and you’re gluten-free while nursing a newborn. It’s important and helpful to know where you can take the entire family without sacrificing health or your bank account.
Don’t be afraid to call ahead to ask about what you need; not all restaurants have coloring books or changing tables. It never hurts to have a back up kit for those times when a restaurant doesn’t offer them: Some coloring supplies, paper, and granola bars don’t take up much space in the trunk, and can be lifesavers when there’s a wait to be seated or the kitchen is taking too long to finish the food.
These parent-approved spots are amenable to toddlers and tweens alike.
- Square One Dining: When this breakfast spot opens its doors at 8:00am, the early risers are ready and waiting, ruffle-headed toddlers in tow. Enjoy the strong coffee or tea, and ask for children’s pancakes and French toast options not listed on the menu. At this Clean Plates-approved spot all milk, meat and eggs are hormone- and antibiotic-free, so kids can munch away on their favorites. Indulge in a perfectly ripe, seasonal fruit bowl (all produce is organic) that stays true to its word: No cantaloupe here.
- Sage Organic Vegan Bistro: At this Clean Plates-approved bistro, the munchkins can choose from a classic kid’s menu that includes vegan whole foods, and “chicken” tenders if nothing else seems appealing. The knowledgeable staff will walk you through the elaborate selection of healthful, interesting items — and provide high chairs. May we suggest a treat from the KindKreme freezer for good behavior?
- True Food Kitchen: This Clean Plates-rated restaurant popped up on the radar when we polled fellow parents about child-friendly dining on the West Side. This Santa Monica spot proudly designed its menu around Dr. Weil’s Food Pyramid, and provides organic and locally grown food whenever possible. Your kids can choose items like an almond butter, strawberry and banana sandwich or a turkey sloppy joe.
Please share your finds: Where do you take the family?
Image courtesy of David Lytle.