When you become a parent, there are a host of enjoyable things that have to be put on the backburner or even given up until your brood is a little older and more self-sufficient. While enjoying a meal out on the town may seem like one of those things, that isn’t necessarily true. You only have to choose the right restaurant, one that is open, friendly and welcoming to pint-sized patrons. Hunting down a selection of kid-friendly eateries in your area isn’t always easy, but it can be done and will allow you to enjoy the luxury of having the occasional meal prepared for you.
Make Sure There Are Kid-Friendly Amenities
Before you show up to your chosen dinner hot-spot, it’s wise to call ahead to check on their kid-friendly amenities. Finding out whether they keep high chairs, booster seats and kid’s cups on hand and if they have a kids’ menu will let you know if they’re truly kid friendly. Some restaurants may tout their ability to welcome guests of the younger persuasion, only to reveal their complete lack of accommodations for kids after you arrive. The presence of these basic dining amenities for kids can help you figure out where a restaurant truly stands on the kid spectrum.
Find One With Some Down-Time
A crowded dining room may be loud enough to mask the excited shouts and exclamations of your children better than a quiet, sedate room, but it’s also more likely to excite them more and exacerbate their hyperactivity. A wildly popular restaurant that’s has a wait list from the moment the doors open every day until the last meal is served at night might be a swanky choice, but it probably isn’t right for parties with kids. Finding a restaurant where business tends to lull between lunch and dinner might force you to eat a bit earlier than you’d like, but you’ll be able to have more of the dining room to yourself.
Check Out Reviews
Once upon a time, you had to rely upon word of mouth or your own firsthand experiences to find out whether or not a restaurant was kid-friendly and enjoyable for adults. These days, it seems like every diner thinks they’re a reviewer. The upshot of this attitude is that you can peruse those reviews from the comfort of home, using them as an indicator for how well your child’s needs are likely to be met in a particular restaurant.
Consider Holding off on Fine Dining For a While
Unless you can get a reliable sitter, you’ll probably want to wait until your kids are a bit older before enjoying high-end fine dining. In addition to the stuffy atmosphere that will be off-putting and boring for younger kids, other diners aren’t likely to welcome them with open arms and the rich, refined tastes offered by menu items will probably be unappetizing to kids.
Look For Restaurants That Ban Smoking
If you live in a city that has instituted a smoking ban, then this rule of thumb is a bit less effective. In less progressive cities that don’t have city-wide bans on smoking, however, you can spot a restaurant that’s truly kid-friendly by finding one that doesn’t allow smoking inside.
Network With Other Parents in Your Area
When you’re new to the area or new to parenting, kid-friendly restaurants are only one of the things that you may have trouble locating. Getting to know other parents and networking with them will allow you to track down all of the best restaurants for grabbing a quick bite with kids in tow. Play dates and trips to the playground are great places to meet other parents, make friends and learn more about parenting in your area.
Keep Cuisine in Mind
No matter how well-behaved your child is, there are some things that will still make dining in certain restaurants with him impossible. Quiet and mannerly kids still may not take kindly to exotic foods, unusual tastes or things that they can’t easily identify. Before you settle on a restaurant to visit with your brood or a group of other families, make sure you carefully consider whether or not your child is ready for sushi or tikka masala.
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