The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants In AtlantaThese places make sure our lil’ devils are always in heaven at the dinner table.
Before the hate mail rolls in from the Chicken Nuggets vs. Everybody club, let’s make one thing very clear—we have nothing against their prized dish or its bougie cousin, the tender. All we’re saying is that nowhere is it written that those two items are the only foods children like to eat. The following restaurants understand the plight of the tyke and have enough palatable options and table distractions that chicken nuggets can be forever rendered a non-factor. Maybe.
Don’t let the dark, tavern-like inside throw you off. Ammazza is the Edgewood strip’s most family-friendly restaurant. With enough indoor and outdoor seating to fit a whole little league team, this playdate dinner stop makes some of the best pizza in town. Order at the counter and take the short, winding path to the pizzeria’s main dining room and biggest light source—a giant viewing window to the bright kitchen. And like little moths to a flame, there are usually curious kids flocking to the window as chefs stretch dough and pull housemade mozzarella. But the kid’s glitter pizza, which looks like a small cheese pizza dressed up for Mardi Gras, will capture all their attention when it arrives at the table.
What’s not to love about a cherished old restaurant that has a playground just outside its doors and offers obstruction-free views of planes taking off and landing? When you bring your kids for lunch to this Peachtree-Dekalb Airport attraction, try to score one of the outdoor patio spots—if the kid-at-heart adults haven’t hogged the best seats. Between a steady stream of light aircraft activity, tuck into grilled barramundi or a sandwich off the whiteboard specials as your child digs into the usual staples (hot dog, grilled cheese). Nothing here will inspire the youth to do a Top Chef Jr. audition tape, but the setting will have their imagination soaring for days.
Unlike Chicago and Detroit, Atlanta doesn’t have its own pizza style. But in this homegrown institution now with hundreds of national franchises, we do have our own pizza brand. Since the first one opened near Tech back in 1974, Mellow Mushroom has provided good, slightly sweet, stone-baked pizza in a chill atmosphere for all comers. (The mushroom mascot does have this dopey-eyed, tie-dye-wearing thing going, so we’re not sure if he’s more for minors or their parents.) But we do love that the littlest patrons have their own doodle-able menu of fun bites like french bread pizza and pretzel dippers.
Though all 17 area locations of Marietta-born J. Christopher’s have their distinctive wall colors and quirky art, the one thing that resonates across all the breakfast bistros is their love of children. Beyond being observant hosts (Yes, thank you for bringing us a lidded cup without asking), they’re also quite accommodating with their menu. Doesn’t matter if your kid wants an elaborate breakfast (blueberry pancakes and eggs) or a simple lunch (cheese quesadilla), this delightful chain of diners is always clutch for worn-out parents.
At first glance, this buzzy Buckhead stop doesn’t scream “Crayola friendly.” But if you can somehow look past the after-work group chuckling on the patio and ignore the table chugging cantarito, you’ll find a restaurant that adores its little patrons, who will like forking into chipotle ranch-covered corn with you. Items such as angus steak-topped fries are also hits—especially seeing as how they’re delivered in vintage car-shaped containers. By the time the tres leches comes out, you won’t know who’s enjoying themselves more, your kid or that guy on his third mojito.
Eight-year-olds aren’t going to understand a 45-minute wait for eggs and pancakes, no matter how fluffy they are. Our advice for avoiding sidewalk squabbles is beating hungry Inman Park residents to Folk Art’s host stand. Come by 9:30am, and you should easily score a booth in a dining room covered in stickers, knickknacks, and a generally upbeat vibe. Known for taking creative liberties in the kitchen (did someone say grit fritters?), the restaurant tempts the hungry with chocolate s’mores waffles while those craving lunch can go with the slightly tamer hot dog or fried shrimp.
There’s a special place in our heart for spots like La Fonda. No matter if you’re on a date or deciding what to feed your star midfielder after the big game, they always come through. Though there are five locations of the laid-back Mexican-Cuban cantina around town (We miss you, Howell Mill! We see you, East Atlanta!), we generally heed the call to slide over to Ponce on sunny days. We know it has as much to do with our kids enjoying the upstairs patio view as it does them loving the cheese quesadillas more than their tablet. But we understand the sentiment. La Fonda’s arroz con pollo is probably the best in the city.
This Peachtree Street icon has earned a reputation for being a late-night haven (open ‘til 5am Thursday-Saturday), but the eclectic address resembling a Phish fan’s garage sale has its share of loyal patrons during normal business hours. Young ones love chatting it up with the talkative birds in the outdoor cages and usually can’t get enough of the colorful metal art pieces hanging everywhere. Pint-sized French toast, half burgers, and strawberry-agave smoothies always bring out the smiles, too. Oh, and let them find their own way to the bathroom, which is essentially a mini maze through a functioning kitchen.
There are five locations of this ladle lover’s paradise in the metro area, but our favorite for families is on Huff Road because of their cool, foliage-draped outdoor patio. It’s the perfect place for kids to play around after they devour their classic PB&J (made with Georgia-grown peanuts, of course). Speaking of timelessness, My Dad’s Turkey Chili remains the same chunky, delicious treat it’s been at the café for years. Order the lunch combo (said chili with whatever version of turkey sandwich available that day is forever a terrific twosome) and decompress a bit before hopping back in West Midtown traffic.
If playful pineapples dotting the “I” in the outdoor sign or the slushee machine inside aren’t enough of an indicator, the staff at this beloved Briarcliff Road spot make it clear how much they care about its smallest guests. After kids place their order for fried shrimp or chicken teriyaki at the counter, they’re greeted with a high-five. And if the crew is really in a good mood (which is basically all the time), they’ll hand out crayons or even a stuffed animal. It sorta feels like granny’s house, which explains why so many families eat here. Adults will love the special attention given to the children almost as much as they do the tender barbecue beef piled alongside scoops of rice and macaroni salad.
Long lunch and dinner lines at Taqueria del Sol are about as common as steel road plates on 14th Street. We just learn to live with ’em. But at least with the Howell Mill location of this Mexican staple, one parent can impatiently wait in line while the other distracts their child at the cute, harmless pebble garden next door. Once you order your queso and fantastic fried fish tacos (and margarita, depending on how the day’s moving), dust off the rock residue, and find a spot on the covered patio. If your child isn’t full off chips and cheese quesadillas, we fully endorse heading back to the gravel and letting them tire themselves out before bed.