Whether you’re celebrating a birthday over pizza pie, learning how to use chopsticks at the local sushi joint or simply avoiding doing dishes for a night, it’s great to share a family meal at a place that knows the fine art of catering to kids. Eating out is supposed to be fun, but it takes a special place to know the tricks and tips that keep hungry kids — and parents — happy until the check arrives.
Winner: Red Robin
With various locations throughout Western Washington, it’s easy to see why you chose Red Robin as your all-time favorite digs for grabbing a burger out with your kids. And really, we get it – endless fries, fun birthday songs, free balloons, oodles of gourmet burgers with all the fixin’s... We’re getting hungry just thinking about it. Overall, voters had plenty to say about this favorite family burger joint, commenting on Red Robin’s “fast and friendly service,” “great kids’ menu” and how its servers are “especially patient and tolerant” when it comes to helping your hungry (and sometimes cranky) little ones.
A Seattle favorite, Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub found plenty of praise among voters, including one parent that said, “High quality food, diverse kids' menu, welcoming to families and great food for parents!”
Geraldine’s Counter, located in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood, was noted as having a “great supportive staff, fast service” and fun “tableside distractions.”
It’s no wonder that Seattle’s Sandpoint Grill was a favorite among voters, as kids can chow down on organic seasonal dishes for free from 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday.
Tutta Bella, with three Seattle locations and one Issaquah location, is a go-to fave among voters because it's got dough for kids to play with, “great food and great service.”
Offering two Seattle locations, Vios Café features authentic Greek food and earns praise for its kids’ play space, “awesome food” and “incredibly family-friendly staff.”
Kid-Friendly Ethnic Restaurant
Winner: Vios Café
A favorite from last year’s voting, the beloved Vios Café is once again a top restaurant pick for the tots. Featuring locations on Capitol Hill and Ravenna (inside Third Place Books), excellent service and kid-friendly play areas, Vios Café has long been a go-to authentic Greek restaurant for Seattle families. Voters said they love how Vios “encourages families to bring their kids,” that it has an “awesome play area” and most importantly, that it “tolerates messes, noise levels, custom orders and forgotten credit cards.... All with a smile!”
With its six Seattle-area locations, it’s no wonder parents love taking their tots to Blue C Sushi, where kids can be easily fascinated by using chop sticks and watching the conveyor belt endlessly serving up kid-sized plates of sushi — and tasty desserts, as well. As one voter put it, “You can’t beat the sushi conveyor belt and quick service, with adult-friendly beverages as well!”
Columbia City’s El Sombrero was also a favorite among voters for its “friendly staff,” “fast service” and “great tableside distractions.”
Agua Verde, with its kayak rentals downstairs and casual waterfront location near the Montlake Cut, has “great Mexican food” and is “noisy enough so kids don’t have to be super quiet.”
Well-known Mexican food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill also ranked high among voters for its “healthy and tasty food,” inexpensive kids’ meals and because it’s downright quick and easy.
Another Mexican favorite, Rosita’s Mexican Grill (located in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood), serves up fresh handmade tortillas with “overall fast service” and a friendly wait staff that’s never worried about the dinner messes left behind.
Winner: Tutta Bella
Tutta Bella, with three Seattle locations and one in Issaquah, has won national awards for its authentic Neapolitan pizza, and now it has won your vote for the best place to enjoy a pizza pie with kids in tow. Tutta Bella is perhaps best known among the parental set for letting kids play with pizza dough while waiting for their meals — just as good as Play-Doh. (While most kids love it, we know one adorable but confused 3-year-old who asked, “Can I eat the regular pizza, please, Daddy?”) Add a few Wikki Stix for more pre-meal kid creativity, cups with lids and straws, fast service and a lively atmosphere where “you don’t have to worry about your kids being the only ‘loud ones,’” and you’re in business for a fun night out.
With over 15 Seattle-area locations, it’s no wonder that voters picked Pagliacci as a go-to choice for its “easy going atmosphere,” “free delivery service” and “super friendly staff.”
Another favorite among voters, Seattle’s Snoose Junction Pizzeria, offers pies and slices in a family-friendly setting with a train table, pinball machines and a staff that makes kids feel genuinely welcome.
With several Seattle-area locations, Zeeks Pizza ranked high with voters for its “friendly staff, quick service and kid-friendly menu.”
Proletariat Pizza in White Center is another favorite among families, with one voter commenting that it’s “very kid friendly” and that it offers a great play area for the little ones.
Voters also raved about Seattle’s All Purpose Pizza for its “fun kids’ kitchen with dough,” “warm staff and terrific pizza.”
Kid-Friendly Coffee Shop
Winner: Twirl Café
A favorite Seattle spot for both parents and kids, Twirl Café is much more than just your average coffee shop. It boasts a play area, an upstairs gym and a café where Mom can enjoy an espresso while kids can snack on healthy options. Twirl Café also features a variety of weekly classes for all ages, including parent and child playtimes, parenting workshops, baby disco, story times with nearby Queen Anne Books, yoga classes, supervised play times and much more. Though there’s plenty to love about Twirl Café, voters commented on the fact that it offers a “fun, clean play space for kids,” a “friendly staff” and overall, that it’s a huge relief “to have a nice healthy lunch with a friend while sitting at the bar overlooking the play area where [your kids are] playing happily.” (Pretty ideal, right?)
Cloud City Coffee, located in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood, is well known for its kids’ play area, “kid-friendly staff” and the great PB&Js that it serves up daily.
Housed in Seattle’s Sugar Rush Baking Company, Coffee to a Tea is a favorite among voters for its “awesome play area,” healthy kid-friendly snacks and darn good coffee for Mom and Dad.
Seattle’s Mosaic Coffeehouse features delicious coffee beverages for a “pay-what-you-will” price, and offers a huge kids’ play area along with parenting classes and other family-friendly events.
With plenty of locations throughout Western Washington, Starbucks is a go-to java stop for many parents with kids in tow.
Tougo Coffee Company, located in Seattle’s vibrant Central District neighborhood, was nominated as finalist among voters for its “awesome owner and staff,” “great kids’ play area” and “wonderful cultivation of community.”
Winner: Trophy Cupcakes and Party
Hands down, Trophy Cupcakes and Party is your top choice for where to grab up the best cupcakes in town. Featuring monthly creative flavors – such as the “chocolate graham cracker” or the “snickerdoodle” – and all of the go-to classics, Trophy Cupcakes and Party has received plenty of sweet acclaim from cupcake lovers in the area – and not to mention the likes of Martha Stewart! Voters had plenty to say about Trophy, including how they love the “moist cake with light and fluffy frosting” choices, that it offers “cupcakes that taste as good as they look” and our favorite: “Just look at your child’s eyes when they walk in.”
Cupcake D’Lish, located in Renton, wins kudos among voters for its “kid-friendly, yet elegant” cupcake selections, “creative flavors” and “wholesome ingredients.”
Seattle favorite Cupcake Royale is a go-to finalist for voters with its “delicious frosting shots,” “good politics” and just-the-right-size baby cakes.
With four locations in the Seattle area, PinkaBella Cupcakes features a variety of tasty flavors, party planning services and more.
Seattle’s Stuffed Cakes is known for its customized special orders, build-a-cake services and tasty, special-occasion cupcakes.
The Sugar Rush Baking Company, based in Seattle and also a finalist for kid-friendly coffee shops, offers up must-have mini cupcakes, cakes and desserts for when you’re in need of a quick sweet-tooth fix.
Winner: Bakery Nouveau
The heat was on in this category. You love your local bakery, where you buy your daily bread or pop in for a treat with the kids. Your praise for West Seattle’s small Bakery Nouveau -- which creates “outstanding,” gotta-have-that-right-now macaroons, tarts, cakes, breads and pastries -- was giddy. You love the bakery’s croissants and have noticed its “kid-friendly case” and the staff’s sweet way with children. “OMG. Everything in there is ridiculously good!”
Ballard’s tiny Café Besalu often has lines out the door, and with good reason: “Our three-year-old devours the brioche, ginger biscuits and chocolate croissants.”
“Community minded” Columbia City Bakery, located in Seattle’s historic Columbia City neighborhood, offers “excellent bread and pastries, local and seasonal fruit and ingredients, and supportive staff.” And – bonus for kids! – “new shapes and colors of thematic sugar cookies every day.”
You like Frost Doughnuts in Mill Creek for its reasonable prices, “lots of fun flavors” and “really fast, friendly service.”
Mellow Grateful Bread in Wedgwood is perfect for families: “There is an area with toys and couches so the kids can play…my son loves the bagels but I am partial to the giant cookies!”
Finally, you gave local doughnut-shop-made-good Top Pot Donuts (many locations) what may be the most interesting endorsement we’ve seen: “If they're good enough for the president of the United States of America, they're good enough for my kids.”
Grab-and-Go Food Spot
Winner: PCC Natural Markets
When you need dinner – quick! – for your downright "hangry" family, you want something nutritious that’s not going to blow your weekly allotment of fats and sugars all in one sitting. For that very reason, PCC Natural Markets (many locations) came out on top for grab-and-go food for its deli selections, which range from raw foods to whole-grain salads to vegetarian sandwiches. (OK, there’s pizza, if you must – but it’s organic.) Voters had plenty to say about PCC's variety of food with one parent saying that it's “healthy, quick and [you] can get a little bit of everything for anyone in the family.”
You like Chipotle Mexican Grill (many locations) for its “healthy options, new kids’ menu, and strong community/environmental commitment.
Homegrown fast-food chain Ezell’s Chicken (many locations), isn’t health food, but boy, is it good. Chicken tenders are moist and flavorful, and served with kid-friendly ranch dressing. “Great food, good price, fast and easy and great for picnics.”
Himitsu Teriyaki in Snoqualmie offers “fast, great food and reliable friendly service.”
You give the thumbs up to Magnolia fixture Nikos Gyros, which serves up fast (but delicious) food in a kid-friendly atmosphere. “Try to find a time when families aren’t visiting Nikos. I pick up chicken gyros and fries for the entire family – they’re a big hit.”
Panera Bread (many locations) serves sandwiches, soups, salads and baked goods (including a kids’ menu) in speedy cafeteria style. “Great food, healthy kid meals, fast pick-up service.”
Ice Cream or Yogurt Shop
Winner: Full Tilt Ice Cream
Full Tilt Ice Cream is the cherry on top of the sundae, according to you. You love its friendly owners, ice cream in flavors that range from the familiar to the adventurous and — best of all — the old-school arcade games on which kids can spend their stash of quarters. Oh, and beer for the grownups. “Cheap, really good ice cream. Beer! Pinball!” says one voter, echoing a theme we came across in many of the responses. Full Tilt added two stores — one in the University District and one in Columbia City — to its original shop in White Center, so North Enders don’t have to drive quite as far for a hit of horchata or salted caramel ’cream. One reader succinctly summed up Full Tilt’s appeal: “Happiest kids in America hang out there.”
You’re also loving some Molly Moon’s Ice Cream. The popular local ice cream chain, which boasts two full-size shops, two storefront “micro-shops” and a truck that parks all over town, offers scoops, pints and cups in flavors such as “Scout” mint — made of Girl Scout cookies — and Theo chocolate. The Capitol Hill store is a “bright, light, fun shop with Cal Anderson Park next door,” says one reader. “THE best ice cream,” says another.
At Fainting Goat Gelato in Wallingford, patrons pack in for creamy gelato — made daily in the shop — in 18 flavors that range from the sophisticated to the sweetly simple. “My daughters beg for their gelato,” says one reader. Another called its gelato “amazing.”
Capitol Hill’s Bluebird Microcreamery slings its scoops in a light, airy shop that invites hanging out with its board games, books and plenty of spots to sit. According to one voter, “Moms can eat and schmooze while kids eat and play — it’s a win-win!” But the locally sourced ice cream — in kid-pleasing flavors such as chocolate pudding and snickerdoodle — is the shop’s real draw: “Best ice cream I’ve ever tasted in my life (no kidding)!” raves a reader.
Other finalists include “Seattle oldie but goodie” Baskin-Robbins (many locations) and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt on Queen Anne, where you like that “kids can get exactly what they want and you only pay by the ounce.”
Family Food Blog
Winner: Half Assed Kitchen
Half Assed Kitchen specializes in good food that you can throw together really, really fast. And it’s funny. The blog author rates her recipes as “1/2 assed” or “3/4 assed" and “Truly 1/2 assed” (which applies to the blackberry cobbler shown on the left), depending on the fuss required to pull the ingredients together into a family meal. Recipes are home-tested and fall into easy-to-navigate categories such as “Apps,” “Kid Friendly” and “Easy Dinners.” Parents with kids who have allergies will appreciate the recipes tailored to various dietary needs; look for vegan lemon cake with buttercream frosting and chocolate chip cookies made with silken tofu instead of eggs. Half Assed Kitchen “always inspires me with new ideas, and recipes to try for my 11- year-old son,” says one reader. Another gives the nod to the blog’s “fantastic writing.” We agree.
My Kids Hate My Cooking chronicles one mother’s “sheer stubbornness in trying to force some nutrition into her kids’ meals.” With lots of pictures and personal commentary, the blog reads like a daily diary of family life — with recipes. You call it “funny” and “quirky.”
Cookus Interruptus is another one of your cooking resources. Watch witty, informative videos on every cooking topic imaginable, geared toward families with little time and lots to do. The “Feeding Kids” category contains lunchbox ideas and tips on getting kids to eat their veggies.
Winner: Feeding the Whole Family
OK, in spite of the ubiquity of food blogs, some of us still do consult a real cookbook when we’re looking for quick and easy dinner ideas. Feeding the Whole Family: Whole Foods Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents by Cynthia Lair is your absolute favorite pick for healthy and creative recipe ideas for all ages. One parent raved: “Lovely recipes and overall good ideas.”
Other finalists include healthy cookery standby The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook by Cathy A. Wesler; Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld (a guide to sneaking veggies into your kids’ meals); Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, published by Martha Stewart Magazine; classic cookbook Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer; and The Family Dinner by Laurie David.
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