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Originally published June 9, 2011 at 7:03 PM | Page modified June 10, 2011 at 5:39 AM

Nancy Leson

Restaurants where the welcome mat is out for kids

Nancy Leson, Seattle Times food writer, asked her readers to share their favorite kid-friendly restaurants. To their list she added some suggestions of her own.

Seattle Time food writer

quotes Wonderful! A list of places I will NEVER go to! thanks! Read more
quotes I'd have to add a couple that are better than most on this list: Portage Bay Cafe in... Read more
quotes Awesome, Rusty Nail, we won't miss you. RN can have all the overly snooty places... Read more

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Kids, these days! When I grew up, a swell dinner out was a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken shared with my siblings. Not my one-and-only, who cut his (baby) teeth on dim sum and kaiten sushi, and can often be heard begging "Mom, can we pa-lease go to Delancey for pizza?" (Yours might prefer the uber kid-friendly Tutta Bella; www.tuttabellapizza.com.) He's clearly not the only youngster with well-developed taste buds. When I asked my Eaters where their children deigned to dine, they complied with a (nother) laundry list of options. Did we miss your family's hot-spot? Put your napkin on your lap, stop playing with your food, and come over to the blog to share it: seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat.

Looking for an indoor jungle-themed treehouse to land the tykes while you and a gal-pal sip wine and/or split an (excellent) panini? Twirl Cafe on Queen Anne Hill, built expressly for the moms-'n'-me club, has your number. It's got your kid's number, too ($5 to take advantage of the clean, well-appointed play space, or you might park junior up front and sit alongside him in the free play area). Jamie Oliver would approve of the mindfully chosen foodstuffs: Macrina treats, soups, salads, sandwiches and a gamut of good-for-them goodies worthy of the Sunflower butter-and-fruit-spread crowd (www.twirlcafe.com).

"When I have guests with kids, it is always Vios," said a fan of the Capitol Hill favorite, offering family-style menus at lunch and dinner. Three cheers went up for the modern Greek restaurant's large play area, its community spirit and (not insignificantly) its "big bathrooms." The Ravenna branch, adjacent to Third Place Books, caters to families, too (vioscafe.com).

"The Chow Foods chain is awesome for kids," say parents high-five-ing it for the comfort-food kitchens at the 5 Spot (Queen Anne), Endolyne Joe's (West Seattle) and the Hi-Life (Ballard) where "they can design their own cookies for dessert" (www.chowfoods.com). Circa Neighborhood Grill and Alehouse (www.circawestseattle.com) impresses one mom who's willing to drive her brood from Shoreline to West Seattle and sent me her 4-year-old's crayon'd kids menu to prove it. "On one income, we can't afford to experiment with trendy places and an attitude," she wrote (in pencil). "It's a trek, but it's worth every bite."

Since owner Alcena Plum bought Louisa's Cafe & Bakery on Eastlake, family comes first. Plum recently instituted a Wednesday Family Night, turning the cafe into a kiddie-carnival of "AWESOME" (with half-off the kids menu). At breakfast, lunch or dinner, expect "sophisticated adult food beside plenty for the PB&J palate." And if your kids lose it on-premise, notes one kindly parent, "Rogers Playfield across the street offers a parental bailout option" (www.louisascafe.com).

The South End has some good kid-friendly options that also serve great food, according to one local whose kids give two thumbs up for the Japanese food at Miyabi Sushi in Southcenter (www.miyabisushi.com). Southcenter's also home to one of the many Blue C Sushi locations, a favorite for kiddie-kaiten (conveyor-belt sushi). "I have a 7- and a 3-year-old, so we rarely eat out, but when we do, we like Blue C Sushi for small portions, fast dining, fun atmosphere and a variety of menu items so even the picky-eater can choose," notes one mom (www.bluecsushi.com).

Bluefin Sushi & Seafood Buffet at Northgate, one of my son's favorites, offers a cross-cultural bonanza of Asian-food options. Plus, they charge half-price for kids under 5-feet tall, points out one savvy dad. It's $2 if they don't exceed a yardstick (www.bluefinseattle.com).

Buffets are certainly a draw for kids, and Indian buffets are good options for vegetarian families (among them, my lunchtime favorite, Spice Route in Bellevue, www.spiceroutecuisine.com). On the other end of the stick is Brazilian rodizio, where a buffet spread is secondary to the rounds of sizzling meats, sliced-to-order tableside by sword-bearing servers: try Ipanema Brazilian Grill (www.ipanemabraziliangrill.us) or Bellevue's Brazilian newcomer, Novilhos (www.novilhos.com).

What kid doesn't like pizza? Not to get political, but Bellevue's Pogacha gets the nod from State Representative Ross Hunter, whose kids grew up on that longtimer's Croatian-style pizza (there's a second Pogacha in Issaquah, www.pogacha.com). Others save their kiddie-kudos for White Center's Proletariat Pizza (www.proletariatpizza.com). "It is always full of families with toddlers and reminds me of a day-care center," says one childless fan who opts for pizza-to-go. Speaking of, I was blown away by the crisp-crusted pie I walked out with at Madrona's brand-new family-centric Pritty Boys Pizza (1430 34th Ave., Seattle), home to a kiddie-corner play area and an arcade room with pinball, Wii and Xbox options for the tweens.

And lest we fail to sing "On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese," a big Italian kiss goes out to Ravenna's unsung Casa D'Italia, where chef/owner Anthony Donatone and family welcome you and yours to their own private Little Italy (www.casaditaliaseattle.com). "We've been going there since before my son was born," says the mother of a 12- and 7-year-old with food allergies the New York-talkin' chef is always happy to accommodate. "They absolutely love it!"

Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or nleson@seattletimes.com. Read Leson's blog at seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat and listen to her on KPLU-FM (88.5)

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About Nancy Leson

Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants. Check her latest thoughts in her All You Can Eat blog. Her column appears each Wednesday. Her restaurant roundups appear monthly, on Fridays, in the Restaurants and Entertainment sections.
nancyleson@seattletimes.com | 206-464-8838 | Blog

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