Going out to eat with children can be somewhat challenging. If you have a baby, you may be concerned if there is enough room for a stroller, if your child will cry during your entire meal, or how it may look to others if you breastfeed at your table. If you have a toddler, you may be concerned that you’ll be chasing them around the restaurant during your meal or that they’ll make a big mess that will make you tip extra because you feel so guilty about the clean up. And if you have a school-aged child, you may feel judged if they have a technological device at any point or if the restaurant has a decently priced kids menu that is also enough to fill them up.
As a mom of two small children, going out to eat can be a little stressful, but if you go to the right place and eliminate as many obstacles as you can control, the better your experience will be. If you know where to go to make your experience more family friendly, you will feel more at ease and might even be able to enjoy your meal while it’s hot and while you are sitting down.
Whether you reside in San Diego or are coming for a visit, here is a list of my favorite family friendly restaurants! Some of which you would least expect! I tried to pick a restaurant in each part of the city, so whether you live in North County, Downtown, Inland, or East County you will find a restaurant close to home. And these restaurants will still make you feel like you are on a date with your partner even though you are at a place that knows a thing to two about caring fo children and the entire family!
I am so excited to also announce that a second location is coming soon to Encinitas. And did you know that their culinary team is led by coach Richard Blais, the winner of Top Chef All Stars? My husband even met him one night while eating there.
What I love: The Firebird sandwich and fries. No really, you will thank me later. Also, the entire restaurant is outdoors. They have a giant chicken in the middle of the restaurant that you’ll have to get a selfie with and the kids can play in the sand area where they have outdoor games. Their menu is somewhat on the small side but good things come in small packages, right? They have one item on their kids menu. The meal costs $7 but it is HUGE! You will definitely have leftovers or will be able to share it with your little if you want. It comes with 3 nuggets, petite fries, a juice box, and a cookie.
One con is the airplanes that fly overhead. The airport is nearby so the planes fly low and are very loud and literally fly right over the restaurant, which may scare young children. Another con is parking. I have only parked on the street when I’ve gone, and went midday on a weekday so I was lucky, but at a busier time I would assume it would be more difficult.
What I love: For adults, you will love the ambiance of the restaurant. Also- the beef stroganoff is amazing, trust me, you will become obsessed. They have a farm to table approach and an extensive gluten free menu, too. They also offer a large kids menu. The staff is very friendly with children and accommodating for all ages. They have classic meals like pizza, burgers, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, and pasta as well as a salmon option and a steak option. These meals range from $5.95-$13.95 (for the 4oz filet mignon). We have had very positive experiences going there for dinner with our toddler and are already planning on going back!
There are six locations in and around the San Diego area including Miramar, Scripps Ranch, Little Italy, Home Brew Mart off of Linda Vista Road, Temecula, and Long Beach. Each one is a little different and has its own charm but the location in Temecula is very family friendly.
What I love: There is an outdoor area in the back that lends itself to families with children. I have eaten there a few times and each time I have gone I have witnessed multiple families, strollers, and small children. We even brought our own toddler and felt very comfortable in doing so. They have highchairs and enough choices on their menu that kids would like.
The only con is that you have to order your food and beverages at the bar inside, so I wouldn’t suggest a parent going alone to the restaurant with children. You need one point person to go inside to order and pay for the food and one person to stay at the table with the children. Once you order, a server will deliver the food to your table.
There is a second location at Liberty Station, but I am more familiar and more of a fan of the original location. My husband and I used to joke that this restaurant is “the Disneyland of Beers” as we would meet colleagues there for happy hour years ago, but as we became parents, we realized that the outdoor area was perfect for a family friendly meal. Children can often be seen running around the back area and exploring the outdoor garden area. You definitely don’t have to worry about being too loud when you sit outside. The restaurant is always buzzing with people and there are plenty of spaces to spread out and have your own space.
What I love: They have a kids menu that includes comfort favorites like macaroni and cheese as well as grilled cheese and rigatoni and pasta. But as a mom, I love my children eating on the healthier side, so there are also child portions of grilled chicken and veggies and salmon teriyaki. All child portions are $8 and beverages are $3. They even sell a “Stone ‘Anti High Fructose Corn Syrup’ Soda!
What I love: They have an enclosed child play area! How cool is that? Any restaurant that has a built in area for children is family friendly in my book! They have an extensive menu but the only con is that some of the meals are priced on the higher side. With their menu, you are bound to find a delicious meal for your entire family!
What I love: Their child’s menu items only cost $3!! Yes, $3! Menu options include grilled cheese, hot dog, and tofu dog. And then you can get a side of tater tots, fries, or sweet potato fries for another $3 or less depending on the size. There is also a designated outdoor sandbox children’s play area with chalkboards and a train car for children to play in while parents can watch at a nearby picnic style table.
What are some family friendly restaurants that you love? Share them with us in the comments below!