If you want to dine out with your children, you don’t need to eat at a fast food joint, or one with an arcade. Some of the best restaurants in D.C. happily accept pint-sized diners. Here are five to check out the next time you want to treat yourselves and junior to a memorable meal.
Let an adult stand in line at the Barracks Row trailblazer, so the kids don’t get bored or fussy before they even sit down to eat. Once the table is ready, children are given coloring pages and crayons to keep them amused before their lychee salads arrive. If that’s not enough, there are puzzles and games available. Especially lucky kids might take home an origami creation from general manager Michael Richmond, who has been known to craft Star Wars X-wing starfighters when he’s feeling particularly strong with the Force.
The Petite Gourmand tasting menu allows children to mirror their parents’ experience at the Clifton, Virginia dining destination. The menu revolves regularly, featuring some familiar dishes alongside those intended to challenge children. A recent lineup included chilled cantaloupe soup with crab, arancini, salmon with sweet corn and broccoli, and braised beef short ribs. There’s always a fiery finale in the form of s’mores torched tableside. To keep kids engaged between courses without mom or dad having to turn on a screen, they’re given a pack of bendable WikkiStix so they can embark on some creative projects.
The Bloomingdale restaurant warmly welcomes guests of all ages. Families who decide to bail on cooking at home at the last minute and don’t have a reservation can often score one of the tables saved for walk-ins. Pasta with tomato sauce or cheese and butter are always available by request for diminutive diners. However, there are always plenty of regular menu items that are tyke-friendly, such as crostini daubed with stracciatella and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, cacio e pepe styled arancini, and rigatoni with fennel sausage ragu. Plus, there are desserts perfect for small sweet tooths, including chocolate hazelnut crunch cake and maple custard.
It’s so loud and crowded in the buzzy 14th Street brasserie that no one will ever hear your child making a fuss or notice if he decides to take a nap halfway through meal. The bread basket – especially the walnut cranberry boule - is a boon for little ones waiting for their meals. Speaking of which, there are plenty of Parisian favorites that should go over well with les enfants, including Gruyère gougeres, gloriously gooey French onion soup and rosemary-rubbed roast chicken with whipped potatoes. Don’t forget to save room for pastry chef Fabrice Bendano’s divine desserts – chocolate pot de crème, vanilla crème brûlée and apple tarte tatin.
The team at the convivial red sauce trattoria in Glover Park wants the littlest guests to feel like the biggest VIPs. There are coloring pages and crayons for young artists, while budding chefs who express an interest in the kitchen will often be invited back to make their own pizza. A full kids menu features pizzas, chicken parm, roasted salmon and spaghetti with marinara, pesto, or butter. Dessert options include cannoli, gelato or a warm chocolate chunk cookie with cold milk. For an extra special treat, request made-to-order chocolate milk. Bonus: if your iPad runs out of juice because your bambino has watched too many Wild Kratts episodes, the staff will happily charge it back up for you.