Sometimes you just can’t let the kids order another plastic grilled cheese, mystery meat nuggets or nuked mac and neon cheese dinner. There has to be a better option, which is why we searched out the best places in the city to take kids for healthy food that they’ll not only devour, but leaves them begging for seconds. These are the very best places to get kids to eat right (without them even noticing!). Bon appétit!
photo: True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen
With new LA locations opening each year, this is honestly one of our favorite things to hit the family dining scene in the last 5 years. It’s incredibly healthy, fresh beautiful food that tastes so good the whole family will look forward to eating here (especially at the Pasadena location, which is our favorite of the spaces). The kids menu has pizza and burger options (organic and grass fed, with flax seed buns) for picky eaters who really won’t venture from the easily recognizable. But it also has a fantastic almond butter banana and apple sandwich that is so sweet and tasty they won’t notice the seeded bread, or that you snuck fruit into them.
For kids who don’t like to eat off the kids menu, the edamame dumplings, kale guacamole and herby hummus are addictive. Parents swoon over menu offerings that taste like they came from a restaurant that’s about 3 times as expensive; not to mention a cocktail menu and beer & wine selections that will have you coming here on date night. Seriously, it’s that good.
Kids menu items range from $6-$8.50.
Locations in Pasadena, Santa Monica, El Segundo and Newport Beach
Reading the menu (even the kids menu) here makes you feel like you went back in time to hippy California. The words millet, tempeh, tofu, sunbutter and brown rice noodles make you think, “No way my kids will eat this.” But they will, and you’ll find yourself trekking to this Highland Park hipster haven more often than you’d imagine, as you wake dreaming of Jo’s Breakfast Sandwich and the Dal Bowl. Super friendly for kids (there’s even a small play area) and dogs, just know that weekend lines get long once the locals are awake, so come early, or pop by in the afternoon for a healthy cookie and coffee treat when your sweet tooth (or theirs) won’t be denied.
Kids menu options range from $4.50-$5.
5904 N. Figueroa St.
photo: Meghan Rose
While sneaking in the veggies has its place (who hasn’t blended spinach into something just to get a hint of green into the daily diet?), you’d also like kids to recognize their nutrients as nature intended. A visit to Café Gratitude will have everyone in the family thankfully gobbling greens and other raw treats. The kids menu itself is small: just 5 items (and the gluten-free buckwheat pancakes are only available at breakfast), but they’re all things that kids eat and recognize with a healthy twist. Kids also love the smoothies and mix and match sides, like avocado, kelp noodles and quinoa or brown rice. And you’ll feel happy knowing that all those goodies are vegan and organic.
Kids menu items range from $5-$7.
Locations on Larchmont Blvd. Mid-City, Arts District Downtown and in Venice.
photo: Meghan Rose
Casual, cute and yummy: that’s a gold medal trifecta when eating with kids. You can all eat super healthy here, and it’s also an easy place to eat if anyone in the family has any dietary restrictions: gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, raw – they’ll help you customize your order however you want it. It’s also our favorite place to bring kids if you’re jump starting your own New Year’s resolution to be super healthy, but you’ve got a steak-or-bust spouse and picky kids. You can add all-natural steak, chicken, tofu or salmon to any salad, sandwich or wrap, and the kids menu is an a fully customizable plate of pick a protein plus two sides (like gluten-free mac & cheese, organic brown rice or oranges & apples), which allows delighted picky people to design their own perfect meals. The kids breakfast option of toast, eggs, fruit & local honey is amazing, too. (And gives you a reason to start your day with the avocado toast, vegan hash and a fabulous fresh juice.)
Kids breakfast is $5, and lunch/dinner is $6.50.
1332 2nd St.
photo: M Café
Once again, the food here is so delicious, kids don’t realize they’re eating healthier. This will be your new go-to for healthy and delicious, eat in or take out food for the whole family. The breakfast offerings range from pancakes (including a chocolate chip option—and keep in mind that everything here is macrobiotic, without any refined sugars, eggs, dairy, red meat or poultry) to scrambled tofu and tempeh bacon. Lunch and dinner offer up options like a baby Big Macro Burger, pictured above, (which will convert even the most ardent McDonald’s lover, which isn’t hyperbole as we’ve put this to the test) or a kid-sized Teriyaki Bento Box that comes with a cookie.
Kids menu items range from $4-$11.
Locations in Mid-City, Brentwood and Beverly Hills
photo: Meghan Rose
Inn of the 7th Ray
While every meal here is fantastic, for kids we find it best to come on the weekend for Saturday lunch or Sunday brunch. That’s because during the daylight, kids can run and play by the mostly dry creek bed, scrambling on rocks, catching frogs and having a blast with new friends. There’s also a better than even chance you can see a wedding. And you’ll need the distraction, because while friendly and sweet, the service typically tends to have a slower pace. So order up some fresh squeezed juices or mimosas and sip and play in the serene setting while the chef whips up your organic meal that can be vegan or gluten free if you so desire. On Sunday, the buffet is a wonderful option that exposes kids to a whole host of things they’ll love: a pastry bar, bagel bar, fruit bar & dessert bar, alongside some seafood and salads you can sneak on the plate.
Sunday brunch is $2.50 per year for kids 4-12, and free for kids under 4.
128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd.
photo: SunCafe Organic via Facebook
Raw. Organic. GMO free. Plant based. Dairy free. Gluten free optional. If all those words sound like they add us to a resounding YUCK from your kids, it’s time to try Sun Café Organic. Order up (to share, as there’s no kids menu, so you’ll want to get things to share for the table) some Sun Nachos (hold the jalapeño for the kids, but they’ll love the nacho “cheese” and guac), pizza (with cashew cheese) and of course, the mac & cheese, pictured above (quinoa pasta with tomato & cashew Mac sauce—try it with added tempeh bacon, too!). Throw in a mint shamrock shake for the kids, where the spinach makes it green, but they won’t notice or care because they’re fighting over it, and a coffee shake for you. The whole family will roll out, amazed at how stuffed and sating healthy food can be.
There’s no kids menu, and food this healthy isn’t cheap. That’s why we say share! Entrees run about $15, and shakes are $9.
10820 Ventura Blvd.
photo: Kris J. via Yelp
Wild Living Foods
This brand new Downtown restaurant has us hooked. They call it “neo-pueblo” inspired raw and vegan food and kids instantly feel at home with the bright décor and painted murals. While there is no kids menu, they want kids to learn to eat clean from the get go, so they’re super flexible and adjust to any special requests. They also are happy to sample juices and ice creams for kids, which is a great enticer to joining the clean plate club. The sushi and pasta (made from kelp noodles) serve as great introductions to “clean eating” for the young and uninitiated. And that vegan ice cream is the perfect way to convince kids that healthy eating can be tasty eating. Their motto of Live Dirty, Eat Clean is one your kids can take to with relish. Vegan, raw relish.
Menu items range from $5-$14.
760 Main St.
Got a tip about a great place to kick off the New Year with healthy, delectable eats for kids? Let us know in the comment section!