Favorite restaurant to take the kids (that's popular with adults, too)
Yet again, the unlimited servings of fries, plus thick shakes, burgers and adult-pleasing salads and beverages win out: National chain (but founded in Seattle) Red Robin is the overwhelming favorite of ParentMap readers for two years running. Runner up (also for the second year): Atlas Foods in University Village (206-522-6025, www.chowfoods.com).
Favorite place to grab a latte with kids
It's true: Starbucks IS taking over the world. The coffee shop chain got more votes than any other category winner in our 2005 Favorites poll. Readers particularly noted their appreciation for Starbucks drive-through locations -- not a surprise for busy parents who need their caffeine -- NOW! Runner up: My Coffeehouse in Madison Valley (2818 E. Madison St., Seattle, 206-568-7509) known for its well-stocked children's play area.
Favorite ice cream shop
Four strong favorites emerged among readers casting votes for the best place to buy ice cream: Tied for first were national chains Baskin-Robbins and Ben & Jerry's, with chain store Cold Stone Creamery and locally owned Husky Deli in West Seattle (4721 California Ave. S.W., 206-937-2810) close behind.
Favorite place for a quick, healthy meal
Quick: The kids are hungry and you're tired of the burger-and-chicken nugget scene. Where can you stop for healthy, fast food? ParentMap readers named World Wrapps (www.worldwrapps.com), with 13 Seattle and Eastside locations, as a favorite spot for a fast, nutritious meal, along with the deli at PCC Natural Markets (www.pccnaturalmarkets.com), also with several Seattle and Eastside locations. Runners up: National chains Subway and Taco del Mar.
Favorite kid-friendly weekend brunch
When it comes to family friendly brunch, readers have many different favorites. Three Seattle Chow Foods restaurants -- 5 Spot, Endolyne Joe's and Atlas Cafe (menus and locations at www.chowfoods.com) -- were among the top vote-getters, as were the Hi Spot Cafe, (1410 34th Ave., Seattle, 206-325-7905, www.hispotcafe.com) and Chace's Pancake Corral, 1606 Bellevue Way SE, Bellevue, 425-454-8888). Another suggestion worth mentioning: the Brown Bag Cafes (www.brownbagcafes.com) in Redmond (8412 164th Ave. N.E.) and Kirkland (12217 N.E. 116th St.), with "huge portions of anything breakfast served all day and at cheap prices," one reader wrote. Several readers also mentioned national chains the Original Pancake House and IHOP.
Staff Favorites: Families & Food
Favorite mall restaurant
Whether it's the fake thunderstorms, cascading waterfalls, giant aquariums or surprisingly edible food, the "Disneyesque" atmosphere at the Rainforest Cafe (633 Southcenter, Tukwila, 206-248-8882) appeals to both toddlers and teens. Perfect for kid birthday parties, soccer team get-togethers or a fun family night out, the Rainforest Cafe's eclectic menu offers a selection of Mexican, Asian, Italian and Caribbean-inspired food. Kids love the smoothies and adults will enjoy the exotic alcoholic concoctions.
Favorite special occasion restaurant with teens
If you're celebrating a graduation, significant birthday or just want an opportunity to spend a few uninterrupted hours with your teen, an evening of fondue at The Melting Pot (Seattle: 14 Mercer St., 206-378-1208; Bellevue: 302 108th Ave. N.E., 425-646-2744) is worth the financial investment. During this elegant but incredibly fun dining adventure, diners basically cook their own meal -- you chose chicken, seafood, beef or a combination -- in a fondue pot in middle of the table. Dinners can take several hours, especially if you finish with the chocolate fondue for dessert. But the leisurely meal inspires conversation, offers something to do and creates wonderful memories. Not recommended for children under 12 because of the expense (about $30 per person) and hot pots of oil.
Favorite Greek restaurant
Opa! A sophisticated but charming neighborhood restaurant on Capitol Hill, Vios Cafe and Marketplace (903 19th Ave. E.; Seattle; 206-329-3236) is so kid- friendly that it has an indoor play area -- complete with a toy kitchen, dollhouse and books. Painted in vibrant Mediterranean colors and featuring long pine tables for communal dining, Vios serves robust, carefully prepared Greek food in a warm and inviting ambiance. Kids can opt for mac and cheese or meatballs but parents will enjoy the traditional lamb dishes, fresh Greek salads and appetizers. Best for lunch when the prices are more reasonable and the menu also includes sandwiches.
Favorite dim sum
Instead of going to yet another predictable brunch, take your family on a culinary adventure by trying dim sum at Top Gun Seafood (12450 S.E. 38th, Factoria; 425-641-3386). Top Gun is consistently one of the best places to sample dim sum and also offers friendly service in a large, nicely appointed but not fancy dining room. Unlike a regular Chinese meal, dim sum items are brought directly to your table on carts and you just point to what looks interesting -- steamed buns filled with barbecued pork, plus crispy egg rolls, bite-size spare ribs, potstickers and sticky rice. Children are fascinated by the parade of carts and may even be inspired to try something new. Because dim sum meals are noisy and full of energy, they're perfect for young children (although toddlers need to stay seated so they won't interfere with the carts).
While there's absolutely no connection between this restaurant and Pumbaa, the quirky warthog from The Lion King, your family will still love Warthog Barbeque Pit (4921 20th St. E., Fife; 253-896-5091). Located in a log cabin (actually a converted log demo house) in the middle of an industrial area off I-5, Warthog Barbeque Pit is the perfect place to stop if you're driving from Seattle to Olympia. But be forewarned -- you might start making the trip just for an excuse to enjoy the Warthog's down-home, messy and incredibly delicious barbecue. There's a kids' menu, and adults who can't decide should try the Moo, Cluck and Oink sampler plate. Save room for the homemade cornbread, pies and cobblers. Several stuffed warthogs decorate the small but inviting dining norm; on a nice day, you also can eat in the open-air red barn. -- Deborah Ashin
Favorite vegetarian fare
If your family is vegetarian or you have a child who has suddenly declared herself a non-meat eater, here's a new place to try: The Bamboo Garden (364 Roy Street, Seattle, 206-282-6616. www.bamboogarden.net). Conveniently located at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill, just a block north of the Seattle Center, this out-of-the-ordinary Chinese restaurant features traditional dishes (including almond chicken, sweet and sour pork and smoked salmon) made completely from vegetable protein products. According to the restaurant menu, the origin of this vegetarian fare goes back thousands of years to China's early imperial dynasties. The royal chef learned to create vegetarian copies of favorite dishes for the emperor, who was required to practice strict vegetarianism for seven weeks before making his annual prayer for the kingdom's prosperity. The food satisfies (and in some cases even fools) non-vegetarians, and service is quick for families with tickets to Seattle Center events. In addition, Bamboo Garden will prepare dishes with no sugar, salt or oil or meet other dietary restrictions on request, and the menu is certified kosher. Casual atmosphere and free parking (an unusual feature for restaurants in this Queen Anne neighborhood); reservations recommended. -- Teresa Wippel