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Toddler-Friendly Restaurants in DC that Would Appeal to a Professional Chef


bettyjoan
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My whole family is converging upon DC during the beginning of April (basically the 6th through the 11th), and I'm starting to think about our food options.  Since I don't have kids, I'm not really in the know in terms of family-friendly restaurants - the good news is, my nephew (who will be about 22 months old at the time of the visit) is a good eater and is generally well-behaved and pleasant in restaurants.

My brother-in-law is a Michelin-starred chef (seriously, saying that never gets old - we are so proud of him), so standards are high!  We also would prefer places where we can make reservations, since we are a larger group (6 adults plus the little one) and my parents won't want to stand around and wait for too long.

Red Hen came immediately to mind (my parents have been, but I'm sure they would be willing to go again), and my sister mentioned Jaleo.  Other than that, I'm pretty much out of ideas.  Any thoughts?  Our "home base" will be Hill East/Capitol Hill, but we don't care as much about location because we are willing to Metro/Uber.

Thank you!!!

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I don't think there's anything about Convivial's space that screams "family friendly" but the staff treated our toddler son quite well and we enjoyed a fairly stress-free dinner. He really liked the tartiflette and pot au feu!  Would definitely go back with him.

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Speaking as a dad of 2 kids, I can say: Literally everywhere.  If the kids are well-behaved, you make a reservation, and eat on the early side (I'd say before 7 to be safe), everywhere is fair game.

We frequent Thip Khao, Red Hen, Maketto, Boundary Road, Dino's, & Sushi Capitol.  We've had great experiences with kids at Garrison, Etto, Le Diplomate, Estadio, Ghibellina, Osteria Morini, Menomale, Daikaya (upstairs), Casa Luca, Mintwood Place, & all of the Jose Andres places.

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I recall in one of Michel Richard's books, he says something to the effect that if you are going to meet a fashion designer, just wear black instead of trying to make a fashion statement.  Likewise, if you are going to cook for a chef, just a simple roast chicken with potatoes instead of something elaborate.

With that, I would suggest Izakaya Seki (seen plenty of kids there before, and brought my own) or something along those lines.  I think Rappahannock Oyster Bar is hard to beat too for simple presentations.

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Speaking as a dad of 2 kids, I can say: Literally everywhere.  If the kids are well-behaved, you make a reservation, and eat on the early side (I'd say before 7 to be safe), everywhere is fair game.

We frequent Thip Khao, Red Hen, Maketto, Boundary Road, Dino's, & Sushi Capitol.  We've had great experiences with kids at Garrison, Etto, Le Diplomate, Estadio, Ghibellina, Osteria Morini, Menomale, Daikaya (upstairs), Casa Luca, Mintwood Place, & all of the Jose Andres places.

I disagree with Jose Andres specifically (I was going to say avoid his restaurants).  He does not have changing table in the bathrooms.  When my daughter was diaper age, I remember having to awkwardly balance her in the bathroom to get the diaper changed.  Certainly a big deal at that point in my life.

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I recall in one of Michel Richard's books, he says something to the effect that if you are going to meet a fashion designer, just wear black instead of trying to make a fashion statement.  Likewise, if you are going to cook for a chef, just a simple roast chicken with potatoes instead of something elaborate.

With that, I would suggest Izakaya Seki (seen plenty of kids there before, and brought my own) or something along those lines.  I think Rappahannock Oyster Bar is hard to beat too for simple presentations.

We've done both of those with good results.  Just make sure you have reservations for Seki.

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I disagree with Jose Andres specifically (I was going to say avoid his restaurants).  He does not have changing table in the bathrooms.  When my daughter was diaper age, I remember having to awkwardly balance her in the bathroom to get the diaper changed.  Certainly a big deal at that point in my life.

Yeah, I can't say for sure which restaurants in my list actually have changing tables.  I can think of one memorably frustrating episode, but that was at Dino's, where the excellent kid's menu made up for the lack of changing table.

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We had a really nice dinner at Bar Civita with my nephew, at the time he was probably about 16 months, they had high chair, not sure if I recall changing tables as I don't think we needed them that evening.  Lots of good suggestions above.  I believe their babe has also been to Mintwood Place and Dino's Grotto.

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Sometimes "interesting" is more important to a chef than "haute" - I'm thinking places like ABC Canteen, Max's Kosher Cafe, Ching Ching Cha, Pupatella, Queen of Sheba, BreadFurst, Ren's Ramen, Baked and Wired, Bub & Pop's, etc.

Alcohol is also an excellent pacifier (for the chef, not the toddler).

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Our kids are now out of the toddler range, but we have taken them to pretty much any number of restaurants, though sometimes it meant one of us taking an unruly kid out of the restaurant when they couldn't behave. Mentioned above, Mintwood has a children's menu, which is always a good sign that a place is actually welcoming kids. Dino's of course is a popular place for any family.

Izakaya Seki is very popular among families during their first seatings around 5-6:00. Our daughter has requested Seki for her birthday dinner the past three years running, she turns 7 in a couple weeks so I assume we'll be back, though there's always competition from Sushi Taro or Ogawa (haven't been there, but she loves Sushi Capitol). Sushi Taro used to have booster seats, but not sure if they still have them. They're website is notably discouraging towards families with young children. I would think Sushi Capitol would be your best bet since you're based on Cap. Hill. if you want sushi, though Seki is a totally different experience from Sushi Capitol.

Crane and Turtle is another favorite for both kids both for regular dinner and their new ramen Tuesdays. Interestingly we went there without the kids once seated at the counter and the chefs commented on how fast we ate our courses, which we attributed to often eating out with the kids. The counter is fun for kids too as both kids were fascinated watching all the different components getting put together in the various dishes.

We went to Kinship a few weeks ago and were seated in one of the booths which was perfect for our family of four, though might be a little crowded for a group of 6+1. The challenge there is also the length of the meal. We got what amounted to three courses plus dessert and were there for nearly 3 hours which, no matter how well behaved a 22 month is, probably would stretch their tolerances, though I'm sure they would speed things up if you requested.

One place that we have enjoyed that might not seem obvious for bringing kids is Volt for brunch if you want to make your way up to Frederick. It's more laid back and since only 3 courses, a fast enough meal that small kids can make it through.

At 22 months, I'm guessing he'll probably still need a booster seat or high chair, so that might be one of the factors in deciding where to go, unless you're OK with keeping the kid on soemone's lap throughout the meal and passing him around taking turns. Could also look into getting a portable high chair if restaurants that don't have their own allow you to use. We had an Inglesina Fast chair which worked fairly well in most situations.

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I disagree with Jose Andres specifically (I was going to say avoid his restaurants).  He does not have changing table in the bathrooms.  When my daughter was diaper age, I remember having to awkwardly balance her in the bathroom to get the diaper changed.  Certainly a big deal at that point in my life.

While I loved Garrison and think it would be a great place to take a Michelin-starred chef, those bathrooms would be very frustrating places to try to change a baby or especially an active toddler.

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My whole family is converging upon DC during the beginning of April (basically the 6th through the 11th), and I'm starting to think about our food options.  Since I don't have kids, I'm not really in the know in terms of family-friendly restaurants - the good news is, my nephew (who will be about 22 months old at the time of the visit) is a good eater and is generally well-behaved and pleasant in restaurants.

Our son is almost 22 months and unfortunately at the beginning of the year, he started to get very antsy in restaurants. You may want to keep in mind choosing a place where there is a safe and walkable space away from the table or even restaurant itself.

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This is not for a proper meal, but one of the cool places in Hill East to take millennial type people with kids is Mia's Coffeehouse at 15th and A, NE.  There are neighborhood people with strollers in there all the time.

The owner used to cook at tacquerias in LA, if I've followed the narrative correctly.  They're closed Tuesdays. On weekend mornings they have long lines.  I've rarely tried the food, but I see a lot of people getting it.  It's a mom and pop on par with Pretzel Bakery but on the other side of East Capitol. They have juice boxes for kids and a number of coffee drinks, in addition to pastries and breakfast sandwiches and barbacoa bowls and such.  I'm in there maybe 4 or 5 times a week for coffee.

It's a cool neighborhood find, along the lines of what Don was saying.

(Or maybe you've been there in this is totally extraneous.)

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