What makes a kid-friendly restaurant? Free grilled cheeses, highchairs, staff who know you need the check quickly before the kids turn into pumpkins, and of course, places where your kid can make some noise. Those are just a few special somethings that make you want to bring your kid so you can dine out like a normal person for a meal.
Jamaica Plain News asked the JP Families Facebook page for feedback about which restaurants are the most kid-friendly in JP. This article is based upon people's experiences and observations.
Bella Luna -- You know what's great? When kids eat free, especially if your kid chooses to eat, because as parents know, sometimes kids don't want to eat. Or sit down. At Bella Luna, kids eat free on Sunday night. Bella Luna's kids menu "for junior astronauts aged 0-12" includes a free drink (not alcohol) of either milk, chocolate milk, soda and several juice options. Their kids menu is impressive, with also veggie options, including broccoli, carrots, cucumber and a kids rice bowl.
Blue Nile -- If you call ahead to make a reservation, let them know you'll need a highchair, because it will be at your table with a little plastic cup of water waiting for your little one. Editor's note: I saw the owner at the Taste of JP and he asked how come I hadn't come in recently, I pointed to the baby, and he said bring her in. He was making silly faces/smiling at her throughout our meal.
Brassica Kitchen -- The staff is great with kids, and the owner has kids so they know what you're dealing with when dining out with a little one. They'll make food not on the menu for picky toddlers. This is another spot that offers free kids grilled cheeses. And this is key -- there is a large changing table -- which is a heck of a lot better than changing the kid on the floor with your travel changing mat.
Canary Square -- We all know kids can be a little louder than your regular restaurant customer. So it's good to know that Canary Square is big enough that there are enough folks talking, which drain out a noisy toddler. They've also got crayons, which are great to encourage creativity and can provide a distraction. There is a kids menu with the regular kid offerings: hotdogs, burgers, pasta, fries, mac and cheese, chicken tenders and broccoli.
Dogwood -- You don't need to worry about your kid being too loud as this is a spacious restaurant. There's live music on Friday nights, which can be enjoyed by the young and old. There's also a changing table in both bathrooms. Sometimes they're only located in the female bathroom, not in the male bathroom or a gender neutral bathroom.
Doyle's -- Doyle's is one of the most spacious restaurants around, so bring in that stroller. There is a kids menu featuring the regulars -- chicken fingers, hot dogs, French fries, cheeseburgers, spaghetti and meatballs. Remember the regular menu has lots of options for kids, too.
El Oriental de Cuba -- The staff is great with children, and there are lots of menu items for kids like smoothies, cheese empanadas, rice and beans and French fries.
Evergreen -- The owner is a super nice guy, too (he also owns JP Seafood). They are known to make special off-the-menu items like banana and chocolate chip pancakes! They open at 7 am, which is good for those kids who have no respect for your desire to sleep in. Remember this is a sit down restaurant and a takeout cafe, so you can grab a coffee and then head across to the Green Street playground.
The Frogmore -- Children eat free off the kids menu every day of the week from 5 to 6:30 pm, and outside of that window it's $6. The kids menu has some options not regularly seen on your standard kids menu, including a simple green salad and sorghum glazed carrots. Don't worry, the standbys of chicken tenders, cheeseburgers and mac and cheese, are on the kids menu.
The Galway -- The food comes out quickly, the staff understands what it's like to dine with kids and it's loud so that can drown out the kiddos.
JP Licks -- Lots of Centre Street restaurants and businesses do not have changing tables. But JP Licks does and lots of kids are brought here so they can be changed instead of heading home with a dirty diapered dandy, or possibly changing the kid in the car. Of course, there's also ice cream, which can be a blessing or a curse. Can you go in there without getting a kid ice cream? Sounds like an Olympic event.
JP Seafood -- Again, it's the same owner as Evergreen, so it's got the same kid-friendly atmosphere. The staff understand what it's like to dine with kids. And if your kid eats sushi then they will totally look super refined. Also, there are fish tanks, which are great distractions. Editor's note: If you're not going to look at the big fish tank, please try to sit elsewhere so another party, with or without a kid, can stare at it and be able to ignore the rest of the people you're eating with, such as in-laws, annoying relatives or unwanted conversations.
The Real Deal -- There are lots of kid-friendly food options. But unfortunately, and surprisingly, there isn't a changing table -- so it's over to JP Licks.
Tres Gatos -- It may not be the place you'd think to bring a kid, but the owner has a young kid, so they know what it's like to have a kid. In warm weather months sitting outside can be good with the kids for distractions.