For the generation of kids raised in the 1980s, the term “fine dining” often meant crawling though tubes and diving into ball pits at a McDonald's Play Place. Now parents with kids themselves, they want better options for dining out with their own tykes, and local restaurateurs have heard their clarion call.
In and around Baltimore, there are dozens of restaurants that cater to kids—and their parents—in myriad ways: from offering free childcare to gourmet kiddie fare and enticing toys. “The culture has definitely changed from the ‘children-should-be- seen-and-not-heard’ attitude,” says Jason Daniloski, chef and co-owner of Silver Queen Cafe in Hamilton. “The food doesn’t have to be secondary anymore.”
It’s always play time at these area restaurants.
Woodberry Kitchen pro- vides every pint-sized pa- tron with a tin of play dough made on the premises and, in keeping with its farm-to- table aesthetic, seats them in rustic, wooden high chairs with leather belts.
SILVER QUEEN CAFE
The mini kitchen is the most popular toy at Silver Queen Cafe’s cozy nook, where little ones can cook “dinner” while Daniloski preps the real thing nearby. Plastic dinosaurs, dolls, and a Star Wars Millennium Falcon also keep kids occupied so parents can enjoy a relaxing meal.
Parents often request booths along the back wall of Iron Rooster in Hunt Valley so their little ones have easy access to the enclosed, pirate-themed play set out- side before or after the meal.
MISS SHIRLEY’S CAFÉ
Miss Shirley’s Café has some of the most kid-friendly fare around, and their stack of breakfast-themed children's books like Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and Green Eggs and Ham help pass the wait times for tables. Once seated, kids can channel their inner Picasso with mini Etch A Sketches.
Children love to sit and eat at (and also climb) the tiny tables and chairs at Remington's R House. And with a bar at one end and 10 stalls selling every- thing from beef bulgogi to baba ghanoush, there’s plenty of options for parents to have fun, too.
Mahaffey’s Pub co-owner Alice Kistner (who has a 4-year-old son) converts a corner of her Canton pub’s upstairs dining room into a kids’ play area on Sun- days and Mondays. One of the three TVs is tuned to cartoons, while the other two show sports, so everyone gets to watch what they want.
Haute Kids’ Cuisine
Goodbye chicken nuggets, hello benne seed fried chicken—these area restaurants feed the kiddies with air.
Avocado Roll with a side of tots at Sticky Rice ($10)
Vegan Pepperoni French Bread Pizza at GreatSage ($6)
Hopi Cake with crème fraîche and pine nuts at Golden West Café ($6)
Benne Seed Fried Chickenat Miss Shirley’s Café ($8.88)
Petite Steak with Frites at Gunther & Co. ($10)
Virgin mojitos at Little Havana ($4)
The Babysitter’s Club
Several times a year, The Point in Towson hosts “Family Craft Nights,” hiring extra staff to watch, feed, and entertain kids. Moppet minders help the kids make spooky spiders at Halloween and ornaments at Christmas.