Ahhh…remember those pre-kiddo days? Getting gussied up for dinner at the hippest fancy pants restaurants, indulging in the cronut and ramen burger crazes before anyone else, using real cloth napkins (cloth!). Now, with tiny tots in tow, your dining experience has changed a bit. “Gussied up” means dressing a step above Nick Nolte’s mugshot, and the gastronomic delights of LA’s hottest chefs have been replaced by the gas-inducing frights of Chef Boyardee. Fear not, foodie friends, your kids might actually dig the five-star boîtes you frequented in days of yore (or at least their more casual and affordable counterparts). So we’ve rounded up the grooviest places in town to treat your littles to LA’s rockstar chefs – for less.
Michael Voltaggio’s ink is still one of the most coveted meal tickets around. The act of childbirth is often easier than nabbing a table at this LA hotspot. Lucky for us, this Top Chef powerhouse and father of two, opened a more kid-friendly sandwich shop just a few doors down. Ink.sack is the perfect spot for pint-sized eaters to expand their palates via creative sandwiches that showcase unique flavor combinations and ingredients. Tike faves include the cold fried chicken sandwich and cheese sandwich with layers of delectable camembert, swiss, mostarda and arugala. Grabbing a bite is easy on the wallet too with sandwiches ranging $5 to $8 a pop. And you can’t leave without trying a Mexican chocolate chip cookie for dessert. Muy bueno!
Seating Sitch: Seating is quite limited, but kids can easily nosh in their strollers while you “window shop” for Marc Jacobs bags across the street. Win-win for everyone!
8360 Melrose Ave. #107
Los Angeles, Ca 90069
Phone: (323) 655-7225
Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe
Chef Zoe Nathan and her hubby, Josh Loeb, aren’t content to run just one of LA’s top eating spots. Between them, they own the elegant Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen, Milo and Olive, Sweet Rose Creamery and Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe. That’s when they’re not busy chasing after their toddler son, Milo, or prepping for baby number two on the way. Whew! We’re exhausted just thinking about it all. But their overachievement is our gain, especially when it comes to the cozy casual atmosphere at Huckleberry. Kids will flip over the fried egg sandwiches, homemade hot chocolate and one of their most yumtastic dishes, green eggs and ham. Even that persnickety Sam-I-Am would find something to love on this ever-evolving menu. On your way out, be sure to grab one of Nathan’s mind-blowing desserts to go. You’ll thank us later.
Seating Sitch: There’s ample seating inside and out and high chairs aplenty for the taking.
1014 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, Ca 90401
Phone: (310) 451-2311
Connie and Ted’s
Award-winning chef and busy father of two, Michael Cimarusti, is pretty much Poseidon when it comes to all things seafood. From his critically acclaimed restaurant, Providence, to his newest venture, the more casual Connie and Ted’s, his overwhelming passion for cooking comes through in every last mouthwatering morsel. If your kids aren’t normally fish fans, that’s guaranteed to change. Connie and Ted’s offers beautifully prepared, authentic New England seafood in a lively open concept setting where tots can watch the hustle and bustle of the kitchen nearby. Menu showstoppers include the lobster roll, fried clam dinner, fried cod sandwich and mac-n-cheese. If you have any room left at the end of your meal, be sure to check out the whoopie pies, house-made ice cream and chocolate cake. Yea, you can wipe the drool from your chin now.
Seating Sitch: High chairs and booster seats are available upon request and there’s oodles of room for storing strollers.
8171 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, Ca 90046
Phone: (323) 848-CRAB
The Sycamore Kitchen
Culinary wizards, Karen and Quinn Hatfield, flawlessly run the urban bakery-eatery Sycamore Kitchen while simultaneously helming Hatfield’s, one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, nay, the world. Did we mention they do all this while raising two kids?! Uh-huh, they give us a complex too. This dynamic duo created Sycamore Kitchen out of love and dedication to the hood they call home, and you truly feel it the second you walk through the door. On weekday mornings, you’ll likely find moms sipping Stumptown Coffee while tikes tug on their Lululemon pant legs, and weekends are bustling with families. Ravenous rugrats can stuff their angelic faces with everything from oatmeal brown butter scones and buttermilk rye pancakes to roasted turkey sandwiches with cherry mostarda. Crayons and chalk are also provided for kiddos to draw on the blackboard wall, giving them a chance to show off their artistic prowess and you a chance to exhale.
Seating Sitch: High chairs are at the ready for both indoor and outdoor dining, and there’s tons of stroller parking as well.
143 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, Ca 90036
Phone: (323) 939-0151
The Larder at Burton Way
James Beard Award-winning chef, Suzanne Goin’s, legendary creations are synonymous with the sounds “mmmm” and “nummy num num.” Goin makes Ryan Seacrest look like a slacker when it comes to the number of projects she’s involved in. This hard-working mother of three oversees Lucques, Tavern, A.O.C, The Hungry Cat, The Larder at Maple Drive and opened The Larder at Burton Way earlier this year. With its airy dining room, super relaxed atmosphere and outdoor patio to boot, The Larder at Burton Way instantly makes families feel at home – no stink eyes here for bringing in munchkins. Kiddos will devour menu standouts like the grand fromage, chicken paillard, lemon ricotta pancakes and challah french toast. And what visit would be complete without a quick detour past a pastry display so deliciously stunning, it may actually blind you? Seriously, it’s that good.
Seating Sitch: High chairs are available at the drop of a hat and there’s plenty of room for strollers.
8500 Burton Way
Los Angeles, Ca 90048
Phone: (310) 278-8060
Foodie Alert: Executive pastry chef extraordinaire, Sherry Yard, of Spago fame is set to open a bakery/innovative dining experience at Culver City’s Helms Bakery complex in 2014. Stay tuned for what’s sure to be the new heavenly go-to in town!
What happening restaurants have you checked out lately that gladly welcome kiddos? Give us a shout!
Photo Credits: Jennifer O’Brien, Ink.Sack, Huckleberry, Noe Montes via Connie and Ted’s, The Sycamore Kitchen, and Aaron Cook|AACK Studio via The Larder at Burton Way