Winner: Red Robin
The national gourmet burger chain is no stranger to awards (including Zagat’s Best Burger in the full-service category three years running) and can once again add the esteemed Golden Teddy to its virtual trophy case. Red Robin, which first opened its doors in Seattle in 1969, is known for its masterful mixology and deliciously accessorized burgers, as well as a mix-and-match kids’ menu, table activities, a lively atmosphere and friendly (read: patient) service. You love it because “kids get to pick and choose an entrée, a side and a drink” and because of the “especially healthy” sides such as carrots, steamed broccoli and melon slices. Perhaps the best compliment of all: “Kids eat the food!” Everyone together: Yummmmm!
Once again the chorus sings praise for Seattle’s Vios Café, with locations on Capitol Hill and in Ravenna (inside Third Place Books). Featuring a kids’ play area and healthy, authentic Greek menu options for kids, Vios Café is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, which encourages lingering over fabulous food with family. One reader sums up the appeal of Vios beautifully: “thoughtful.”
The folks at neighborhood favorite Phinney Market Pub make it a point to source the freshest and most sustainable fare from local farmers to keep that distance to your plate as short as possible. And, you tell us, the results are delicious. The menu changes with the season and local availability, and it always offers a “GREAT kids’ menu. Love the little veggie cups with carrots sticks and black olives.”
Not surprisingly, Northwest parents love to get their brewpub on — kids or no kids. Elliott Bay Brewing Company, with locations in West Seattle, Burien and Lake City, brews thirst-quenching suds, paired with equally well-crafted brunch, lunch and dinner fare. All while catering to the needs of the milk-and-apple-juice crowd. We say, “Bottoms up!”
Winner: Tutta Bella
With the modest goal of becoming “the most respected Neapolitan pizzeria in the world, ” Tutta Bella has captured the hearts of ParentMap readers for the second year in a row. The owner, Joe Fugere, earned his certification as a pizzaiolo from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, and his restaurant is one of only a handful in the United States to have earned the prestigious distinction. Tutta Bella’s “controlled chaos” vibe creates a family-style environment where kids can be kids, everyone is welcome, and the whole neighborhood gathers to rip into aromatic, fire-kissed pizza. All really is beautiful at Tutta Bella.
With 10 neighborhood stores dotting the regional landscape, from Ravenna to West Seattle to Issaquah, Zeeks is on many a local speed-dial as the family’s go-to for delivery and pickup. You can also save Zeeks to your favorites and order online or dine in for the full menu, including beer and wine.
Another local chain with a passionate following, Pagliacci Pizza offers seasonal sensations alongside pie classics; its plain cheese pizza, which is anything but plain, is a well-established Northwest tradition. Get a whole pizza to share, and order slices for the wee ones with picky palates.
Proletariat Pizza, in White Center, is ready to occupy your belly — it has a pizza for every man, woman and child, all created with equal awesomeness. Proletariat sells pizzas by the whole or the half, so you can mix and match and stay on budget. These guys make the 99 percent the lucky ones.
Ice Cream or Yogurt Shop
Winner: Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
ParentMap-pers are just, well, over the moon about Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream and bumped it from finalist last year to the top spot this year. One whiff of those house-made waffle cones and you’ll be hooked. It might not even matter which flavor you choose, but oh, let’s talk about the flavors! Molly keeps us guessing by rotating flavors seasonally, taking requests and pushing the boundaries on what we think should be in ice cream. Consider a scoop of Flagship cheddar ice cream snuggled in a cone or cup with Molly’s signature salted caramel! More of a traditionalist? Can’t-fail favorites like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are gloriously Molly-fied with Theo chocolate, vanilla bean and local strawberries from Carnation.
Menchie’s has eight locations in Washington, with more on the way. “Outstanding and creative yogurt selections, with amazing toppings that are fresh. The stores are beautiful and clean, and the staff is always upbeat and helpful,” gushes one reader. Kids love mounding on toppings of choice at the self-serve counter, and parents love the price tag. A win-win!
Full Tilt Ice Cream serves up a little something extra — in addition to “amazing ice cream” (including vegan options), customers can enjoy pinball and arcade games. Thirsty adults can quaff beer on tap. In a word — or four — the resulting experience is “cheap, simple, good, funky.” Hang out and play; you know you want to!
For a more artisan experience, readers recommend Cold Stone Creamery for its unique approach to ice cream. Cold Stone starts with a “super premium” ice cream made daily in-house and adds custom “mix-ins” while you wait. Invent the flavor of your dreams and watch as skilled hands manipulate your creation on a frozen granite stone. Ice cream bliss awaits. pizza.”
Family Breakfast Spot
Winners: The Original Pancake House, IHOP
Apparently, ParentMap readers love pancakes so much they couldn’t decide on a favorite, and we ended up with a tie. The Original Pancake House, with Washington locations in Seattle, Kirkland, Bothell and Puyallup, specializes in baked versions of America’s favorite breakfast food. (Try the apple pancake, with its deliciously rich cinnamon-sugar glaze atop sautéed apples.) One reader cites the appeal of “the most loyal staff ever, homemade whipped cream, chocolate chip pancakes” — what’s not to love here? IHOP slings a chocolate chip pancake too, and it comes standard with a smiley face! This national chain is well known for family-friendly food that makes a minimal impact on your wallet — more than one reader encourages taking advantage of IHOP’s “Kids Eat Free” deal.
Grab yer waffles, kids, and belly up to the berry bar at Portage Bay Cafe, one of the first restaurants on the local, organic and sustainable scene. Start your day right at what one reader describes as the “perfect morning place” for families in Ballard, South Lake Union and Roosevelt.
You can also step up to Geraldine’s Counter in the Columbia City neighborhood for some good ol’-fashioned comfort food and the best of Americana.
Unless you live in Snohomish, you have to drive a spell to get to The Maltby Cafe, but from the size of the weekend crowds, many of you regularly make the trek to enjoy its huge portions, signature cinnamon rolls made daily and a promise of “hearty fare at a fair price.” With “fast service,” “a fun atmosphere” and “a great kids’ menu,” you can hardly go wrong.community.”
Winner: Trophy Cupcakes and Party
When you combine kid-sized tables, balloons, and a frog and turtle fountain just outside the door, it almost wouldn’t matter what the cupcakes tasted like. Almost. The “tasty, tasty,” cupcakes at Trophy Cupcakes in University Village “aren't just pretty — they also taste amazing, even the frosting!” Using only the finest ingredients, like Valrhona cocoa powder, local, RBGH-free dairy products, free-range eggs, and pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, Trophy is known for quality in design and taste with plenty of unique and yummy flavors. Care to try a Hummingbird? It’s a banana-pineapple-coconut cake with cream cheese frosting styled in a “hummingbird swirl” and sprinkled with pink and blue coarse sugar. That’ll get you zipping around at 80 beats per second.
There’s something to please all your peeps at Cupcake Royale. Voters especially love the kid-friendly “very cute,” and “tiny cupcakes.” Gluten-free goodies sweeten the deal and their Sprinkle-Your-Own-Parties are always a hit. They also have a mobile Cupcake Party Cart for events in need of a little cupcake love in addition to the six locations.
If you are looking for a “great alternative to the cupcake craze,” grab a slice at A la Mode Pies Café in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. One reader says, “I don't feel as bad letting my child eat a pie filled with berries.” You can even eat a whole pie with no guilt, just try one of their LolliPies — a silver-dollar-sized, lollipop-inspired pie in three delicious flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Cherries Jubilee and Blue Hawaiian.
PCC Natural Markets has one of the best bakeries around. Known for “delicious cookies, scones, and other treats that are healthier than the norm,” they even have “fabulous fresh-baked wheat-free treats!” PCC bakers eschew high fructose corn syrup and trans fat and “the vegan cupcakes are out of this world!” Don’t forget to take advantage of the free piece of fruit for each visiting kid.
Stuffed Cakes’ small cakes, stuffed with goodness like fruit, candies or caramel sauce, range from little minis to 10-inch cakes for sharing. “The flavors change daily and there’s always gluten-free or vegan options so the kiddos with allergies can go, too!” Mom and designer Donna Lawson presents what she calls “small cakes packed with personality” in her shop in West Seattle.
Kid-Friendly Coffee Shop
Voters in the area named Starbucks as the kid-friendliest place for a double-tall, no-whip, extra shot, half-decaf, skinny, sugar-free latte. It may just be the sheer number of locations — sometimes two to a street — or the drive-thru (because not getting out of the car is sometimes the kid-friendliest option of all), but Starbucks has us covered no matter where we venture. A number of readers gave a special shout-out to the Lakemont/Bellevue store for the “kids’ table with activities, toys and books, so parents can enjoy a chat and kids are kept entertained.”
Firehouse Coffee in Ballard ups the ante with, not just a table, but an entire room to keep the kids busy. Voters love the ”separate room filled with toys and coffee tables for grownups.” One reader put it in single-shot terms: “Toy room, ‘nuff said.”
Twirl Café On Queen Anne “is dreamy ...” and they have “great food and classes,” a “healthy kid menu,” and convenient seating around the play area. If it’s been one of those days, Mom can order something with a little more punch — Twirl serves wine too!
Readers also frequent The Village Bean in Bothell and love it for the “large, kid-friendly play area,” the nearby duck pond, good kid snacks and the “great atmosphere.” Owner (and mother) Karin Resing knows that parents want a cozy place where they can stash the stroller and let the kids get their play on while they relax with a cuppa joe. The whole family can charge up with a wholesome breakfast or lunch.
Best Kids Eat Free Deal
Winner: Pallino’s Pastaria
Pallino’s Pastaria serves up “food the whole family likes, plus wine and beer” and offers a kids eat free deal on Wednesdays and Sundays. With six locations — in University Village, Columbia Center, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville and at Seatac Airport — it’s an easy choice for family mealtime. With their kinder-customers in mind, the restaurants provide “games for kids,” and “some toys for distraction” in addition to their “family-friendly, fast, good food.” Pallino’s honors the Italian-American heritage of founder Harry “Arrigo” Roberts, where every meal “was a lively and loving tribute to authentic Italian food, traditions and family life.”
The Ram squeezes in under the radar in this category — let’s just all agree that in this economy, $1 is the same as free. The Ram also offers a birthday program that gives kids two free meals a year, so we figure they qualify. The Ram is known for crafted brew, juicy burgers, creative cocktails, and all the sports on TV you can stomach. As one voter put it: “Mom and Dad can get a taste of what it's like to be in college again without having to pay a babysitter.”
Two other favorites are Denny’s and IHOP. Kids love these national chain restaurants because they have kid-friendly choices like IHOP’s Smiley Face Pancakes, and Denny’s serves Goldfish crackers. Parents love the value of their meals and free meals for the kids. A number of voters mentioned that these were the only two restaurants they knew of to offer a kids eat free deal and that’s just not right. Check out our full kids-eat-free listing and try something new the next time the wallet feels thin.
Winner: PCC Natural Markets
Locavores unite! Started as a 15-family food co-op in 1953, PCC is now ParentMap readers’ favorite grocery store, with locations in Edmonds, Fremont, Green Lake, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Seward Park, View Ridge and West Seattle. Not only do you love all the local and organic options, you nosh regularly on the bakery, deli, sushi, pizza and other in-house offerings. Every kid can grab and wash a fresh piece of fruit, no charge, to munch on while cruising the aisles with their mini shopping cart. The bright orange Kid Picks labels seen throughout the stores help shoppers find the most kid-approved items — taste-tested by a panel of real-life kids. PCC is also a major donor to the PCC Farmland Trust, a nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving organic and local farmland. “Calm atmosphere, very helpful staff . . . and a great purpose and history in the area, quality food at reasonable prices.”
QFC has locations all over the Puget Sound, although one in particular is a parent favorite. The University Village store has childcare for ages 2 and above in the Quality Fun Center. “The ladies there are so great, and it's free!” Parents also like the “wide corridors,” “race-car shopping carts,” and the “friendly staff.” Kids are big fans of the free cookie they get each time they visit.
Trader Joe’s makes the list for “great buys with lots of healthy options, kids' grocery carts, and a prize for paying attention and finding the special animal.” Offering samples, good customer service, and “great quick dinner options” doesn’t hurt either. “Friendly staff, good place to get healthy snacks, visually fun and charming for kids. Also, really good food.”
Voters also like Whole Foods because of their “healthy grab-and-go meal choices,” and the Kid’s Club bonuses like a free piece of fruit and stickers or prizes at checkout. “It's destination grocery shopping at its finest. I can always convince my kids to go with me and help pick out gorgeous produce and lunch on all the awesome grab-and-go options.”
Kid-Friendly Happy Hour
Winner: Tutta Bella
The hour is happy indeed with specials like $7 dollar pizzas. Tutta Bella is a family go-to anytime, but their daily happy hour from 3–6 p.m. is especially popular. Parents say “the restaurant is super kid-friendly. There is just enough noise to drown out any random outbursts from your child. Best of all, they have great food that's both adult- and kid-friendly.” Try one of their signature cocktails, a glass of wine, or a Tutta Bella Ale, handcrafted by Big Al’s Brewing, to complement one of the wood-fired pizza specials like the Margherita or the Angela with Isernio’s Italian sausage and Mama Lil’s peppers. Is it 3:00 yet?
Northwest parents certainly do love to have a sip and a snack happy hour-style, and these are a few of the local family-friendly faves: Elliot Bay Brewing Company from 3–6 p.m.; Greenlake Bar & Grill from 3–6 p.m.; and The Madrona Eatery and Ale House and the Montlake Ale House weekdays from 4–6 p.m. While not technically happy hours, parents still like to hit the Twirl Café for Whine Wednesdays twice a month from 5–8 p.m.; and the Pine Lake Alehouse.