When you’re lucky enough to snag a lunch date out on the town with your busy babes, they’re not exactly going to go gaga over ahi tuna salads and roast chicken with parsnips. They want kid food; the ooey gooey, fried-o-licious, colorful, fun-filled foods that small-pint palates enjoy. Armed with these destinations, they’ll think you’re the best date around. For a few more years, at least.

Carneys 4photo: Carney’s via Facebook

Carney’s
A love of burgers and hot dogs is built into almost every kid’s DNA, along with a love of trains. So what do you get when you combine the two and take little ones to LA’s legendary Carney’s? The “parent of the year award,” that’s what! Hop aboard the yellow Union Pacific rail car at either the Studio City or Sunset Strip locations and tikes are in for a grease-filled feast. From bomb-diggity burgers to heavenly chili dogs and fries, tots will love eating inside the train car or outside on the sunlit patio. If you manage to leave room for dessert, be sure to check out Carney’s chocolate dipped frozen bananas. (That totally counts as fruit.)

8351 W. Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood
323-654-8300

12601 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City
818-761-8300
Online: carneytrain.comMac-O-Licious

photo: Mac-O-Licious


Mac-O-Licious

Who under 4″ tall doesn’t love mac and cheese? Mac-O-Licious is the place to take littles who are jonesing for the creamy dreamy good stuff. Owner, Kelly Chapman, has been serving up to to-die-for mac and cheese since her farmers market days. Now, with an adorably inviting Valley Village restaurant of her own, small-pints have plenty of delish dishes to choose from for lunch. The only problem is picking which yummy variety to try first. Items like the “Maine Mac” (a blend of cheddar and gruyere cheese melted over Maine Lobster) appeal to parents, or subtly expand those little palates, while the “Original Southern Mac” has enough cheddar to satisfy the biggest cheese-head.  And if you need well balanced to feel like a good parent, the “Kids Meal” (triple cheddar mac with carrots and applesauce on the side) keeps everyone happy.

5217 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Valley Village
818-824-3802
Online: macolicious.comRTSpreadPBcheckingoutmenu

photo: Jolie Loeb

Spread PB
Do you hear the words “peanut butter and jelly” on a never-ending loop in your house? We do. Thank goodness two best friends, Dustin Alpert and Katie Kerr, shared a similar love affair with PB&J growing up and decided to open a Studio City shop devoted to building the ultimate peanut butter sandwich of your dreams. With inventive concoctions like the “Give Me S’More” (dark chocolate peanut butter on white with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate sauce and marshmallows) and “The Elvis” (maple bacon peanut butter on white or wheat with honey, bananas and bacon) your mini-me’s mouths will be watering. The shop also features amazing peanut butter smoothies, oatmeal and snacks.

12215 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City
818-980-2472
Online: spreadpb.com

Mix N Munch via facebook 5photo: Mix N’ Munch via Facebook

Mix N’ Munch 
If your cereal loving rugrats toss and turn with delicious dreams of Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam and Captain Crunch, perhaps it’s time to take them out for a treat. Mix N’ Munch in South Pasadena takes comfort food up a notch by offering an assortment of 25 different cereals you can mix and match with additional mix-ins and a variety of milks. Specialty bowls like the “Rock ‘N Roll Circus Bowl” feature Captain Crunch, Froot Loops, circus animal cookies and rainbow sprinkles. Or maybe your cuties are cookie fans and would dig “The Cookie Bowl” with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, Cookie Crisp and Oreos. The restaurant also offers incredible grilled cheese sandwiches, oatmeal and yogurt parfaits. They’re grrrrrrrreat!

1005 Mission St.
South Pasadena
626-441-8808
Online: mixnmunch.com

Greenspan's Grilled Cheese via facebookphoto: Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese via Facebook

Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese
There’s hardly any food more closely associated with childhood than grilled cheese. Luckily, rockstar chef Eric Greenspan has mastered the melt and taken grilled cheese to a whole other level, so you can enjoy it, too. Located on a busy stretch of Melrose Ave., Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese serves up some of the tastiest sandwiches in town. From the “Classic” (good old American served on white, which your pickiest eater will devour) to “The Champ” (Taleggio, beef short ribs, apricot caper puree and dried tomato on raisin walnut bread, seriously divine and defying the simple moniker “grilled cheese”) there’s something for every cheese lover. Littles can even create their own concoctions from a wide variety of breads, cheeses, veggies, spreads, meats and sweets. The atmosphere is super casual and tots will love people watching from the sidewalk tables in front.

7461 Melrose Ave.
Mid-City
323-591-0177
Online: greenspansgrilledcheese.com

What are some other spots in town that feature your kiddos’ fave foods? We’d love to hear in the comments section below!

—Jennifer O’Brien