Kid-Friendly Dining in Boston
People often ask me where they should eat, and I enjoy solving the puzzle. Last week, I even butted into a conversation between two strangers who were contemplating an overpriced, under-performing North End restaurant. When I get the sense that people are visiting from out of town, it seems like a professional obligation to make sure that they eat well. Kind of a frivolous version of the doctor who must pull over at the sight of an accident.
One of the more common questions that comes up is, “Where can we bring the kids to eat when we’re in the city?” It can be a tough one, but fortunately Boston has good options in most every neighborhood for kid-friendly dining.
Back Bay Jasper White’s Summer Shack 50 Dalton Street The seafood is very good, but there are also hot dogs and grilled cheese. The place is noisy enough to drown out any whining, and lobster-watching will keep them entertained for a little while.
Cambridge Full Moon 344 Huron Avenue The city’s only restaurant specifically designed for kids and their parents. A back corner boasts a train table and other toys and the crowd doesn’t bat an eye at anything other than hitting or outright anarchy. The solid menu is full of tasty fare similar to what you might make at home, only more ambitious and without the cleanup.
Somerville Flatbread Company 45 Day Street Excellent wood-fired pizza plus candlepin bowling. What more can you ask for? Arrive very early to snag a lane, but even if you can’t pull that off (weekends are crowded), the two wood ovens are hypnotic to watch. And there’s live entertainment for kids on Mondays.
Other kid-friendly dining tips:
Brookline, Jamaica Plain, Charlestown, and, increasingly, the South End have large populations of young children, so all but the most formal restaurants tend to be family-friendly.
Hotel restaurants are ideal because if little ones get antsy, they can go run around in the lobby (this is essential in the winter). Also, hotel guests are the core audience, so staff are accustomed to dealing with all ages.
Fast-food, pizza, Chinese, and casual dining restaurants like Bertucci’s are always safe bets, but I’ve found that even moderately priced bistro-style places are fine as long as you show up by 6pm. We avoid formal sit-down places and as a result, we’ve never felt unwelcome.
If the bar takes up more than one-third of the dining room, you’re probably not welcome. Ditto if most of the chairs are high stools.