There are a number of markers by which I judge restaurants. They all stem from one question, “How kid-friendly is the restaurant?” It’s rare that a restaurant meets every mark, but in my opinion, for families with kids two and under, there is one essential item that can trump all!
My Top 5 Kid-Friendly Restaurant Must-Haves are:
- Entertainment for the kids – I don’t need mariachi bands dancing around the table, but menus to color, a kid’s area to run in, or even dough to play with can go a long way.
- Noise – Kids make noise. They are paying patrons and I try not to worry about their volume unless it’s excessive. However, it’s always nice when the restaurant is loud enough to muffle some of my kids’ excited squealing.
- Experienced servers – Knowledge is gained through experience, but if I could offer two helpful hints to novice servers … 1 – don’t put the scalding hot plate in front of a toddler and 2- don’t mention ice cream loud enough for the 3 year old to hear when we are clearly trying to pack up and exit, not stick around for dessert.
- Kid’s Menu – I envy parents who have kids that will enjoy the grilled chicken with veggies and couscous, but my kids aren’t interested in eating if it doesn’t involve loads of carbs and cheese, with perhaps of smidge of protein. For the love of all sane parents, put a grilled cheese and chicken nuggets on the menu.
- Now the number 1 must-have for a kid-friendly restaurant…HIGH CHAIRS!
As a mother of one year old twins and an almost four year old, containment is key when my husband and I are out numbered at a restaurant. The all important high chair can make or break our dining experience. I’d venture to say that 80% of the time we are given a high chair that doesn’t actually buckle. Sure, my kids can sit at table level, but at the risk of them breaking bones as they try to jump out of the thing that is supposed to secure them. Then there are the high chairs that probably haven’t been cleaned since they first opened the restaurant. My kids gnawing on the food that has been caked on to the chair for who knows how long makes my stomach turn just thinking about it. Oh, and there are those restaurants that keep a whooping ONE high chair for the entire place. I love showing up to find that their single high chair is in use. Basically, my ultimate judgment of a restaurant these days revolves around where the two little tushes in tow will sit.
Hopdoddy, the Austin, TX-based burger joint located on Scottsdale Road just north of Shea Boulevard with a new second location at The Shops at Town and Country on Camelback Road.
The majority of the tables in the restaurant are high-tops, but they have high chairs to accommodate this (pictured above). The high chair attaches directly to the table. Their chairs keep kids secure because of the deep seat and five-point harness; there is no wiggling out of it. Plus, kids sit right up to the table. There are no table legs or chairs obstructing how close they can get to the table. And they are easy to wipe down. Not that other high chairs are difficult to wipe down, but we never been given a dirty chair in the 8+ times we’ve been there.
So families, go forth and dine comfortably knowing your little ones will enjoy themselves too!