Oh, the joys of dining out with children. We bring them to a restaurant and expect that every eating rule we’ve ever taught them will be keenly followed (read: the salt is not for arts and crafts). No wonder the restaurant take-out business is thriving.
You shouldn’t give up on dining out with the kids, though. Our list of child-friendly restaurants is meant to get you comfortably back out there. After all, practice makes perfect.
The patrons at The Sister, this very casual Parkdale restaurant, love it because it’s got it all going on. From food to art and live music (though the bands don’t usually come on until later in the evening), there is lots of entertainment. On Wednesdays, kids eat free from their menu and enjoy a scoop of ice cream afterwards, when an accompanying adult orders an entrée. Open at 4 pm on weekdays and 10 am on weekends, you don’t need to worry about the occasional loud yell or tantrum. The staff is likely used to such outbursts—from both pint-sized patrons and moody musicians.
The Burger Cellar is North Toronto’s foray into the gourmet burger/bar world that’s great for a date night but also keeps families in mind. We love that they have healthy choices for kids like the grilled chicken plate, and that they make their ketchup in-house, which means less sugar than conventional brands. Besides the expected burger and grilled-cheese options, they offer Angus, Kobe and local organic meat burgers as well as lamb, turkey and veggie burgers on whole wheat buns. More of a burger bistro than a burger joint, The Burger Cellar still doesn’t take itself too seriously—just like our kids.
If Anthropologie isn’t enough of a draw to Shops at Don Mills for you, Glow Fresh Grill and Wine Bar, the Pickle Barrel chain’s more glamorous cousin, is a great destination for eating out with the kids, especially in the winter months. With one whole side of the large restaurant looking out over the outdoor Skating Oval that (weather permitting) usually opens from early December to March, it’s a great way to enjoy an upscale dinner out (for those winter special occasions). Watch the crowds on the ice during a meal, or take the kids skating first (bring your skates—no shoes allowed on the ice).