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Family Dining - Restaurants that are Good for All Age Groups


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My family and I will be visiting DC and staying in Old Town Alexandria for a week starting this Friday. We won't have a vehicle but will get around by using the metro rail. I've got 2 teenagers and an 8-year-old so I'd like to have some suggestions for good to great family dining in the area. We will be looking for some great seafood also. Any suggestions?

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King Street Blues - Haven't been to King Street Blues in years but this is comfort food served in Southern Roadhouse style! Kids should love it, parents too! I seem to remember the garlic mashed potatoes are great, and the portions are Big - come hungry! A little Foodie Aside - the Old Town Whole Foods is worth a visit - it's bigger than most and has really great prepared foods, you could visit it and have lunch there. The bad news is Old Town is still full of touristy average restaurants, but upscale dining is very good. Oh, and Tapas, you can go chain La Tasca, or homegrown Las Tapas - I would prefer the latter, they have darn good Sangria and during the week I think they have a Flamenco night? Here's a pretty good restaurant guide: Old Town Crier Restaurant List - have fun!
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Austin Grill on King Street in Old Town is good for families, has decent food and is reasonably priced.
Is this still true? Rocks wrote in December:
“I swear this place was good when it first opened, and Ann Cashion was the head chef,” a friend just told me, but he wasn’t talking about Cashion’s Eat Place, he was talking about Austin Grill, which has shrunk from being a single, good restaurant in 1988 to being a chain of six locations serving disgusting, industrial food products for the uncritical masses, exhibit A, the Texas Sampler ($14.29) at the Silver Spring location, “a platter of wings, taquitos, beef nachos, chorizo quesadillas, and queso,” was about ten-pounds of cholesterol-ridden glop, to this day I cannot figure out what was inside the taquitos, nor do I want to know, however dismissing this food as “pig slop” wouldn’t be accurate, mainly because I would never knowingly eat any pork product where the pig had been inhumanely treated by being raised on this swill
Granted, he was specifically talking about the Silver Spring branch, but still. The Glover Park restaurant before it closed was certainly godawful.
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Is this still true? Rocks wrote in December:

Granted, he was specifically talking about the Silver Spring branch, but still. The Glover Park restaurant before it closed was certainly godawful.

Decent - not awful - not great. Always seems to have a lot of families there, so that is why it popped into my mind.

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Love your avatar Spiral Stairs. AB's is my favorite KC BBQ joint.

Rock chalk Jayhawk! (Grew up outside KC.)

Word of advice: Don't even try the barbecue around here. You will be disappointed. (Unless, apparently, you drive to some random place in Richmond, Virginia, which is receiving so much praise in another thread that I am starting to wonder if there's an inside joke I'm out of.)

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My family's restaurant dining frequency has greatly reduced. Not because of the economy, though. It's kids. Those darn kids. Adding three of those wonderful things to our family and the wife not working equals less restaurant dining. (It was quite the disappointment when we realized we were no longer a one-pizza family after the second child.) However, I think we could easily increase our restaurant dining frequency a little if we didn't have to drop an extra $15 (food, drinks, tax, and tip) for the kids.

Last night at Picante, we noticed Monday night is Kids Eat Free. We really enjoyed our meal and will probably go back on a Monday. Their regular-priced kids meals aren't too bad at $4.95 (drinks were an extra $0.95). But, I'd guess on a Monday night, we could go for about $25 instead of the $40 we spent last night.

Jason's Deli has cheap kids meals. A few of their items are only $1.99 and the portions are fairly large. That price even includes a drink and a soft serve ice cream cone. The one time I went there (the Fairfax/Fair Lakes location), I didn't think it was great but it was passable and affordable. I'd say a family of four could eat there for $20.

So, what else is out there? Where and when can you go for free kids meals? Any places that have really cheap kids meals?

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Currently, the kid's plate is chopped roast beef, steamed carrots and sliced bananas. We also have a "baby care room" for diaper changes, mothers that need to feed (yes, there's a newly upholstered antique armchair in there) and the little ones that can't stop crying (the heavy, security-rated door is a great sound barrier from the dining room).

We are trying to be as family-friendly as we can be and are hoping that those families grace us with their early evening business and frankly, also vacate when the young ones get restless so other people with "special evening" thoughts aren't put off.

I have a 3 year old daughter. My partner, Nick Langman, has two boys, 4 & 1 1/2 ish. Nick Freshman, my AGM, has a 1 1/2 year old daughter. Steve, the bar manager, has a 1 1/2 year old son. Glen, our wine director, has a little chunky monkey of his own...a 6 month old daughter.

We feel a special kinship with young families and want them to have a nice place to go where their kids aren't shunned...just leave when/if your kids get unruly. We do!

Kudos to your team for providing a kid's menu that is not limited to chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese, burgers, or hot dogs. At most restaurants, our daughter orders from the adult menu because we aren't interested in feeding her a bowl of fat. So many restaurants fail to consider that they might actually provide the kids with a smaller, kid-friendly version of some of their signature dishes. Case in point: the kid's menu at Red Hot & Blue in Herndon has no barbeque!

To get back to the original post, most of our dining is at inexpensive Asian restaurants in the region, where we can always find something reasonably priced and delicious for the kid.

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We rarely ordered a separate meal for our daughter until she was 10 or 11. Even if there was a kids' menu, she didn't find anything appealing on it. When she was little we would get an extra plate and just give her some of our food. As she got older, she would order an appetizer as her main and share our food. She sometimes still does this. Admittedly, this strategy would be a challenge with more than one child.

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To get back to the original post, most of our dining is at inexpensive Asian restaurants in the region, where we can always find something reasonably priced and delicious for the kid.

Yes, we'll do that sometimes, too. Usually a large bowl of pho and some other dish will do a decent job feeding our family.

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We have a 1.5 year old and I'm interested in suggestions for family-friendly dining with decent food. Right now, our circuit is limited to pizza places (2 Amys, Comet, Pete's) and Cactus Cantina, Tackle Box. I'm looking for places where it will be acceptable if our kid is a little loud (e.g. the place is already pretty noisy) and will have high chairs, etc. Of course, we are eating at 5pm. I'm wondering if there are places that are basically all families at 5pm anyway.

Thanks so much!

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I happened upon Sarah Masterson's DC Baby book this past weekend, which has an entire chapter on family-friendly eating. It does list 2 Amy's. Other than that, she was really high on Austin Grill. She also mentions Jaleo, with the caveat that late dining or during happy hour would make it more difficult.

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At 18 months I remember we were dining at Dino and Ray's the Steaks. Palena did not have high chairs at the time--don't know if they do now. I think they do better with slightly older kids. For the love of g-d, do not dine at Austin Grill. It is inedible. Jaleo was a big hit at that age too. Oh, and all of the Clyde's places are super kid friendly.

We tried really hard to balance good food with teaching the little guy how to eat out and trying to avoid places that would turn up their noses at at his enthusiasm. We also had food allergies (thankfully outgrown) so we avoided places where there might be language barriers.

For us the hardest time to dine out was between 4-8 months--he wasn't a sleeping blob, he wasn't really ready for the table food we were eating and he had discovered his voice. And then I realized if I brought a banana he could be happy for 20 minutes or more.

Good luck!

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In my neighborhood we've found Pearl Dive, Taylor Gourmet, Coppi's Organic, and Bistro la Bonne welcoming and friendly for our baby. All have high chairs. I worry about him being loud a bit more at the latter two than Pearl Dive (already very loud) or Taylor (very casual). Masa 14 also has high chairs (though I've gotten mixed vibes from staff and patrons being there with a baby) as does Bar Pillar (at least it did before the renovation).

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Funny that this topic and its recommendations would come up this morning. My sister and her 14 year old were staying in Crystal City and I decided that the best option for joining up for dinner with Peanut and Edgy in tow was Jaleo. I would suggest mainly not to worry too much. Outside of the temples of fine dining, just about any restaurant worth its salt will be family friendly.* I've found this to be especially the case for mom and pop Asian and Mexican/Salvadoran/South American restaurants.

*And I say that more because it is an unreasonable expectation to ask a young child to sit through a 2+ hour meal than because bringing a child into a fine dining establishment would cause them to give you the stink-eye.

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Another nod to Dino. If you wait until the weather warms up, you can get patio seating which allows for a quick getaway if you need it. (BTDT.) They have always been very welcoming to us and there is a decent noise buzz which gives a bit of breathing room. Medium Rare across the street is also nice for kids although they don't have a separate kids menu (we feed our toddler from our plates, and there is plenty of food).

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Another vote for Jaleo (for what it's worth, I've found the Bethesda outposts of restaurants to be generally family friendly). I will also say that we did Brasserie Beck at a slightly older age and the staff were very welcoming.

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When our daughter was 7 months old, we took her to Dino and it was definitely kid-appropriate. though when she acted up a bit, I took her outside. Not in the district, but we've taken her frequently (she's now 11 months old) to Minh's and Ray's the Third. Also the Guapo's in Shirlington and Bethesda. I'd imagine the one in Tenleytown would be similar.

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Our large party recently visited Firefly. There, they give each kid an unbaked gingerbread man-looking cookie to decorate with sprinkles, candies, and the like. You send back the decorated cookie once the kid's entree arrives, and after the kid finishes the main, the baked cookie is served as dessert! Kinda fun.

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Don, when I emailed my friend, I told her where the recommendations came from, and that this was a terrific board for specific questions like that, as well as things like "I'm going to be in X place tomorrow with two small children, where can I get delicious but kid-friendly food?"

We started one here and maybe here.
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