The play area at Super Bueno. Credit: Suzi Platt
Enjoying a restaurant meal with small children can be a tall order. Many a squirmy kid runs out of sitting-still patience before the server even comes by. Thankfully, that doesn’t sentence you to dining in forever. Restaurants of many types, located all over the greater Seattle area, offer play areas for the tots. They range from a corner with a few toys to a full-on kid-pit. Kids play, you relax, everyone eats dinner.
1. Super Bueno, Seattle
Ethan Stowell took a first turn toward the kid-friendly with his Frelard Pizza Company, where there's a whole walled-off section for kids to go nuts in, but at Super Bueno, he combines the idea of a play space with a slightly higher-end, more adult-feeling dining room — and tacos. The menu offers playful spins on Mexican classics like street corn, burritos and even a watermelon salad with pop rocks. The sprawling, brightly colored play area — complete with playhouse, tables, felt walls and toys — has everything a kid could want.
2. Vios, Seattle
Though Vios is currently up for sale, with its future in flux, the Capitol Hill staple was opened by a single dad looking for a way to build a family-friendly restaurant for people like him. The kids' play area in the corner, now partitioned off to provide more peaceful meals for adult guests, has plenty of room for kids. Bounce around, play with the toys or read the books on the shelf. Meanwhile, adults and kids alike can dig into the menu of Greek and Mediterranean specialties, such as lamb souvlaki sandwiches and avgolémono soup. The kids' menu offers a chicken meze plate with hummus and pita, as well as standards like mac and cheese. Fingers crossed that Vios continues to welcome families for years.
3. Proletariat Pizza, Seattle
Pizza places tend to be a good bet in general for kid-friendly fun, but this White Center spot leans hard into making families feel welcome. For younger kids, the playroom section sports a blackboard wall, as well as a roll of butcher paper to indulge creativity. There’s also a play kitchen along with assorted other toys. For older kids, the back of the restaurant has a few arcade games, too. And the pizza? Well, it's pretty great, too, with specialties like the White Center White and high-quality toppings such as Zoe’s meats. Proletariat also offers a gluten-free crust for restricted diets and a kid’s appetizer plate for hungry little ones.
4. Teasome, Seattle
Once upon a time, Mae’s Phinney Ridge Café was a top spot to bring little kids, but the pancakes, spud feasts and cow-themed décor have been gone for more than half a decade now. Yet, a different kid-friendly spot is in its place, this one serving hand-pulled noodles, dumplings and fried rice. The sprawling spot serves bubble tea and poké from a counter in the front while the back hosts a sit-down restaurant — with a train set in the kids’ corner. And, unbeknownst to much of the neighborhood, it also serves some of the best traditional-style Chinese food for miles, from well-known standards like spring rolls to winter melon pork bone soup.
5. Cafe Flora
Madison Valley’s 25-year-old vegetarian staple caters to people looking for a fancy, meat-free meal. It caters just as well to area families looking for a place to relax over brunch. The play space here is small, but located in a central area, which makes it easy to watch the little ones from nearly any table. But for omnitarian households, that’s all bonus, because the main draw here is the menu that makes meat-eaters in the family just as happy as the vegetarians. While there is a kids’ menu, the entire spread is pretty kid-friendly, from breakfast quesadillas to yam fries to cheese Florentine pizzas.
6. Chainline Brewing Company, Kirkland
Throughout the greater Seattle area, breweries have taken on an outsized role as a third place for families with kids and dogs. Chainline is particularly notable for its location along Kirkland’s bike corridor, just north of a large, new park. There’s a big deck area, and throughout the building, kids roam free. A small selection of games is available for playing, and water and juice is supplied for those not old enough for beer. Each night, a different food truck parks in front (check the schedule on the website), making this a great place for a quick, casual dinner when the kids don't want to settle down — or you don't want to try to make them.
7. The Pizza Coop & Ale House, Woodinville
Woodinville’s best-kept pizza secret, this family-friendly spot is named for the owners' son, Cooper. The restaurant serves Detroit-style pizza, right here in the Northwest, and also has one of the most extensive play areas around. One corner holds tot toys, but this play space is for all ages. There’s a foosball table, Golden Tee and even a tabletop arcade Pac-Man game. Some pizzas are named for local sports references, such as “Cano’s Long Bomb,” and “Every Day I’m Russell’n.” Order in size small, large or “Cooper style,” which is Detroit-style Sicilian deep-dish with a crispy-edged crust that's light and fluffy inside. This spot also offers gluten-free crusts and a kids' menu featuring a peanut butter and jelly pizza.
8. Mox Boarding House, Bellevue
While there are several restaurants around town with play areas geared towards younger guests, Mox is a great space for families with kids of game-playing age. The full-service restaurant (which differentiates it from the cafe space at Mox's Seattle branch) welcomes diners to come in and check out a game from the game library to play while they eat. It's a great way to test-drive new family board games that you might want to own. Mox's menu covers kid favorites, including tacos, buttered pasta and grilled cheese, but there’s plenty of grown-up treats, too, from roasted red pepper bisque to half-pound rib-eye steaks.
9. Resonate Brewery + Pizza, Bellevue
These days, breweries mostly conjure up images of wide-open industrial spaces, perhaps short on ambiance. But Resonate is closer to the classic brewpub than that. The Newport Hills restaurant offers pizzas made with long-fermented dough, a proofing process that gives the crust a nice chew. Dedicated kids' pizzas mean you don’t have to convince them they want to share your surf and turf pizza (bacon and clams). There’s also a nice design to the space, including a corner with toys and books for the little ones, along with coloring supplies. But the beer is still the star here — for parents to drink or for little ones to admire the machinery that makes it.
10. Pinkabella Cupcakes, Bellevue
Okay, so the cupcake shop itself doesn’t have a play space, but the Pinkabella branch inside Bellevue Square is located directly in front of the mall’s Kids Cove play area, so it’s as close as it might be in any restaurant. Kids Cove, or as your kids might know it, the tugboat play area, is on the third floor of Bellevue Square, and it has plenty of soft climbing toys, a crawl-through ferry and a whole maritime-themed collection of things to play with or on. There’s not much that can pry kids away from a play area, but the cupcakes at Pinkabella — especially in fun flavors like Butterfinger and root beer float — can do it. Or, while the kids play, enjoy an interrupted moment over coffee with a friend.
More dining spots
These places don't necessarily have play areas, but you may be able to get a moment of peace, at least when the kids have a big bite of pastry in their mouths...