I have a love/hate relationship with dining out with the kids. On the one hand, I love saving my kitchen the mess of cooking for the family, and having someone else make the meals is also a plus. But on the other hand, I hate scarfing down my food cause I have a two-year old running around the restaurant, she may or may not have pants on at this point (I can guarantee she doesn’t have any shoes on), plus someone is whining about something, and I had to pay for this whole experience? Nevertheless, about once a week I still load up the kids and take them out for lunch or dinner, most of the time by myself. So here are my top choices for taking the kids for a meal where I can somewhat handle all three by myself and I can keep them occupied enough that hopefully everyone keeps their clothes on for the whole meal . . . maybe.
Chick-fil-A is an obvious pick for this kind of list. The kids love this place and I do not have to do much to get them to be good here. I only mention it because it took me years of dining there to figure out that you can trade in the kids meal toys for ice cream, and since my kids don’t really like the Chick-fil-A toys, they are always very happy to trade them in (only if they are good and keep their clothes on). They also have a Kids’ Night once a week with a fun activity for the kids, as you can see from the picture, this night they had a fantastic balloon animal guy. It varies from location on what night of the week is the Kids’ Night, the Paradise Valley Mall location where we go is on Wednesday night.
Jason’s Deli may be a less obvious pick, but they have a lot of options on their menu. What I really like about this place is that they have lots of freebies. They have free muffins and crackers that are perfect for the little ones to keep them busy while you wait for the food. They also have free frozen yogurt for dessert, which is used for more bribery to keep everyone good during the meal.
My mom friends and I have discovered that our kids love breakfast best, no big surprise there, so we go to places that serve breakfast all day. Sometimes if the kids are happy, the moms are happy, and that in itself is all you need. My favorite place is called Perk Eatery, which is by the Safeway on Greenway and 64th Street. We can walk there from our house, so we get a little exercise before we go eat delicious pancakes. I also like Mimi’s Café because they will bring out a little plate of cheerios and fruit for the toddlers to keep them happy as soon as you sit down.
Lastly, I really like Wildflower Bread Company as the sort of perfect mix of just enough kid friendly food but also really good food choices for me as well. I feel like I can take the kids there for breakfast, lunch or dinner and they would be happy and eat well with the menu variety from pancakes to sandwiches and pasta – yum.
I am all about trying new places, so if a new one opens up, I load up the kids and check it out. Sometimes it goes well. Other times, I wonder, “what was I thinking?” and have to tip the waiters extra. But someday we will all get better at this, right? And the two year old will grow out of taking off her clothes in public, hopefully.
So what are your favorite restaurants to take the kids? Anyone have any new places I need to check out next?
Angela has loved living in Scottsdale for the last 10 years with her husband, Tom, plus a dog whose full name is Edward James Barako and two cats, Ollie and Pima. They have twin five-year old daughters and a two-year old daughter who doesn’t like shoes or clothing but we are saying it is a phase. She currently serves on the Board of Paradise Valley Mothers of Multiples (or PVMOM), a local not-for-profit multiples club. She also likes to read lots of books, is a big college football fan (Go Big Red and Sun Devils!), tries to keep up on scrapbooking, is becoming a runner, attempts to garden, and loves reality TV. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @angelabarako