When Henry was a baby, we plopped him in his infant carrier and enjoyed nice, leisurely dinners, escaping from the land of dirty diapers, bottles, and – let’s face it – the whole dang house.
But now that he’s a toddler, I die a little inside at the thought of trying to get through a meal with friends where I am expected to socialize like a normal person but also keep an anxious toddler from pouring out the entire salt shaker on top of his pancake because it looks like snow.
I only agree to restaurant invitations where: 1. the cups come with lids and straws (preferably bendy), 2. the servers tell me how adorable my kid is and do not eye the scene on the floor under the table that they will soon have to clean up, and 3. the Yelp reviews include things like “it’s got amazing food, but you can’t hear the person next to you because there are so many kids yelling.”
Here are my top spots in KC:
Classic Cookie (Waldo)
Only open for breakfast and lunch, this small gem is perfect if you can avoid the crowd. Dessert before lunch is OK just this once as a basket of muffins and cookies arrives at your table BEFORE your meal. The breakfast rocks and the lunch features reminders of mom’s best comfort foods.
Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop (Crossroads)
Noodles are always a win, and you can choose your level of hotness. The decor is funky enough that there is much to look at while waiting for your food, which comes out quick. The portions are large so splitting a dish is easy. Stick around for the Thai fortune cookie at the end of your meal.
El Patron (Southwest Boulevard)
We pretty much always default to Mexican because our child could live on chips and salsa. Though El Patron isn’t as casual as my second favorite Rudy’s (Westport), the food here is superior and the staff is always super-accommodating to my little chips and salsa hoarder.
Catcus Grill (Leawood)
Featuring a similar menu to its owner Jose Peppers, it’s cheap, standard Mexican food. But the kids treatment is unmatched. A basket of Teddy Grahams pouches are available for kids while they wait for a table. The drinks are kid-sized, complete with lids and straws. (Seriously, key.) The kid menu is simple and accommodating to those of you who have chicken-nugget-only eating children. When you leave, your kids can pick their color of balloon.
Waldo Pizza (Waldo)
My review would include something like: “I walked in and every other table had a highchair, and I was so relieved!” If you don’t want to brave a restaurant and just really want good pizza, you can drive up to their pick up lane and they will bring it to your car, avoiding the whole car seat in and out drama.
Winsteads (various metro locations)
I know you want me to write about how great Fritz’s train restaurant at Crown Center is. The trains! The basket of food that drops onto your table! The trains! It’s good for tourists who don’t care about food and just really want to see some choo-choos (and wait in line an hour). But for non-gourmet burgers, salty fries, and a thick milkshake, we head to Winsteads. It’s super kid-friendly, you can go in your pajamas, and their limeade is my most favorite thing ever.
What’s on your list for a low-stress eating out experience with the whole family? We’d love to hear about it!