If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re looking to plan a dinner out with kids. Maybe your own kids, maybe your friends’ kids, maybe your kids’ kids. Whoever these kids are, you need a place where everyone (including you) can eat some tasty food without throwing temper tantrums. So here’s a guide to 12 restaurants in Seattle that make things easy - whether you’re in the company of picky eaters, aspiring MasterChef competitors, or both. If all else fails, you can even print this out and bring it along for the children to absolutely destroy with some crayons. We don’t mind.
Ma’ono was pretty much made for family-friendly meals. Order some tasty fried chicken for the whole table, and add Hawaiian sides like kimchi mac and cheese, corn on the cob with miso caramel, and homemade sweet rolls. If the kids in your party refuse to eat any of these things, just shove a giant slice of banana cream pie in front of them until they quit whining. (This works for adults, too.)
Nine Pies is a New York-style pizzeria in the middle of Sodo with colorful Vespa scooters on the walls and a huge garage door that opens up when it’s nice out. The pies here work for everyone - and there are really good pesto breadsticks that will entertain a child and/or your 30-year-old brother while they wait for more food to hit the table, too.
Up there with dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, slices of cheese, Legos, and other stuff kids really like to eat is the illustrious dish that is butter pasta. At Spinasse, all of the upscale Italian food is very good, but their fresh pasta with butter, sage, and parmesan cheese is one of the best noodle-y things a child or a child’s chaperone could eat, period. Not to mention that the space is classy, but also lively enough to drown out your five-year-old’s lengthy explanation of the bubblegum scandal that went down today at recess.
The combination of little kids and scalding hot grills is usually a hard no, but if you’re with a slightly older bunch, try Korean BBQ at Trove - after all, they’re going to need to learn to cook sometime. The marinated meats here, like kalbi steak and garlic-cured pork belly, are guaranteed crowd-pleasers, and a bibimbap rice bowl is also not a bad idea. No matter how full everyone inevitably gets, you should finish off the meal with a soft serve parfait.
Frelard is another one of our favorite spots for a giant New York-style pizza alongside some charcuterie, olives, and Italian chopped salads. You can order whole pies here, but what’s really important is that you can also get slices - which is good if Sally wants plain cheese but you want yours loaded with coppa ham and onion. There’s also a “kid pit” where the little ones can distract themselves until the pizza arrives.
One of our favorite Mexican restaurants in the city also happens to be one of the most kid-friendly spots. The tacoarte platter for two people could probably feed three kindergarteners, and it’s a DIY operation - so the children can go nuts making their own tacos. The grown-ups can have their own fun with a plate of cheesy garlic butter shrimp tacos or some carne asada and a round of margaritas.
OK, Tapas Lab is a counter-service wine bar. But it’s actually a nice space to hang out with other adults and their younger dining companions. The tapas plates here are delicious - we like the chicken teriyaki skewers, bulgogi pinchos with parmesan cheese, and chorizo-stuffed meatballs, but there’s really something here for everyone. Best of luck setting a positive example for the kids by being a good sharer.
Stoneburner has a nice space that’s pretty loud and energetic - so use it to your advantage by pretending you can’t hear Max when he demands gummy bears for dinner the 18th time this month. Instead, order some delicious wood-fired pizzas ranging from a basic margherita to the spicy pie with pepperoni, pickled serrano, and honey. The pastas also tend to be a little bland, which is ideal for picky kids, if not their parents.
This brasserie in Laurelhurst is one of those all-purpose places that’s good to have in your back pocket for a casual dinner with the whole family. They also do a great brunch and Happy Hour. On the kids’ menu are the usual suspects - chicken tenders, grilled cheese, cheeseburgers, and mac and cheese. On the non-kids’ dinner menu, you’ll find really tasty pasta, sandwiches, fish and chips, and roasted chicken.
The excellent pizza at Independent Pizzeria is like a nice button-down shirt. You could dress it up with some accessories (or in this case, a bottle of red and some charcuterie), or keep things casual with sneakers and a pair of jeans (cider tall boys and caesar salads). If you have more than four people with you, be sure to shoot the restaurant an email in advance to reserve a table, as the cozy space fills up quickly.
French restaurants are typically not our first choice for children, but Bastille really works. The space is elegant enough to trick you into thinking you’re having a nice night out, but not fancy enough for you to be mortified if your six-year-old nephew starts reciting all the swear words he’s ever heard at an uncomfortably loud volume. Food-wise, we like the steak frites and the lemongrass sausage banh mi, but there’s also a kids’ menu with things like hamburgers and grilled cheeses.
If you’re planning a special occasion dinner with a bunch of people including kids, Cortina is a great upscale place do it. The homemade pastas are delicious - we like the garganelli with peas and prosciutto and the spicy squid ink spaghetti with lobster. For the less daring, there are also some very good wood-fired pizzas. Another plus: the service here is really friendly.