99 East Bay restaurants loved by kids

Where to eat with kids in Oakland

If you’re a parent in Berkeley, Oakland, or some other part of the East Bay, odds are pretty good that you’ve been to at least five of the following restaurants with your kids. Over and over! And over!

510Families.com has profiled many of these spots within our archives, but consider this your community-generated cheat sheet to kid-centric eats. I love the diversity of flavors represented; it bears little resemblance to the stuff I grew up eating. We invite you to branch out and try a new place. And let us know about it.

Mexican Restaurants & More

The smallest of new eaters can usually manage some mashed up avocado or soft black beans. Even picky toddlers will go for quesadillas. Your favorite taquerías:

  1. Cactus (N. Berkeley + Rockridge) | Cactus is my go-to. Those tiny burritos and the great prices bring me back over and over again. It is the place I turn to when I don’t want to cook. - Whitney  {see also Picante smackdown} Website.
  2. Cancun  (Berkeley)
  3. Cosecha Oakland Website
  4. Juan’s Place (W. Berkeley) | My son had a beef taco and he LITERALLY attempted to lick the plate clean until I told him it wasn’t polite. - Lisa
  5. La Penza Azul (Alameda) | My daughters love the chips. – Rebecca. And they offer online ordering. Website.
  6. La Piñata (Fremont, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro) Website.
  7. Los Cantaros  (Oakland)
  8. Picante (Berkeley) | {see also Cactus smackdown} I am personally in love with the online ordering and curbside pickup – Heather. Website.
  9. Rubio’s (Emeryville + El Cerrito) | Fresh and fast Mexican; known for fish tacos; kids activities on the placemat. Website.
  10. Taco Trucks (various) | Taco trucks are perfect wherever we can find them. We like one by Golden Gate Fields and another near Fruitvale/International Blvd. My son gets carne asada tacos and my daughter likes the quesadillas. – Sarah
  11. Tacubaya (Berkeley) | 4th street taqueria is a delicious respite from shopping and errands. Outdoor seating lets sound escape and don’t forget the trainspotting. ~ Heather Website.

 

Pizza & Italian

Can’t go wrong with cheese pizza, am I right? Well not for my son but for 79.5% of East Bay kids, it is the easy choice. Parents and kids like these place for getting tomato sauce on their faces:

  1. Benchmark Pizza (Kensington) – Menu aimed at kids and adults. Mini whiteboards are delivered with markers to help pass the time at the table.
  2. Bobby G’s (Downtown Berkeley) | Website 
  3. Build (Berkeley) | Have it your way down to the number of cheese chunks; kids might even get experimental and try a topping. {See our review of Build}
  4. California Pizza Kitchen (Emeryville or Walnut Creek)
  5. Cato’s (Oakland) | This pub on Piedmont Ave has just the right blend of kid-friendly while still being cool enough when you leave them at home; and the pizza’s pretty good too!
  6. Cheeseboard (N. Berkeley) | The refined tastes might be too much for some little ones but the noisy grab-and-go ambiance can’t be beat. You can often ask for toppings to be left off, but not the core cheese or sauce. Check the pizza flavor before you go. Bring your pie to the Epicurious Garden across the street if the seats are taken.
  7. Gioia (N. Berkeley) | Take-out New York-style pizza by the slice.  Squash for the adults. My family lives on this stuff! – Whitney
  8. Hot Italian (Emeryville) | Casual, good for a group. Website.
  9. Lanesplitter (Berkeley, Oakland) | Slices for kids, salad & wine for me. – Sarah M {See also Good value, Lanesplitter’s kids meals}
  10. Little Star Pizza (Albany) | Definitely my kids’ first pick. – Holly L
  11. Lo Coco’s Ristorante (Piedmont) | Authentic Sicilian and pizza place. Website.
  12. Macaroni Grill (El Cerrito) | Chain restaurant Italian, can handle large groups. Half-price wine during the summer. Website.
  13. Mission Pizza + Pub (Fremont) | With a huge selection of craft beers and arcade games, you’ll all have fun. Plus gluten-free pizza and beer. Website.
  14. Pasta Pomodoro (Emeryville, El Cerrito + Rockridge) | Kids eat free every Tuesday with adult entree purchase. – Sarah. Website.
  15. Pizzaiolo (Temescal) | Bocce ball, a fountain and chickens, oh my. – Tiffanie. Website.
  16. Zachary’s (Berkeley + Oakland) | My family’s favorite deep-dish place offers half-baked pizzas to cut short the waiting game. - Heather. Website.

Burgers & dogs

My own kids love the local burger shops. Many of our sit-down dinners are to these places:

  1. Barney’s Burgers (N. Berkeley + Rockridge) | Burgers are made with high grade beef, other options include chicken, turkey burgers, portobello. Kids’ menu also includes a decent hot dog. Sweet potato fries cost extra.
  2. Casper’s Hot Dogs (Oakland) | Website.
  3. In-N-Out Burgers (Oakland, San Leandro, Pinole) | My hands-down favorite fast food burger place; I have a location-finding app on my phone so I know when we’re nearby. – Heather.
  4. Oscar’s (Berkeley) | Burgers and hot dogs with a big window for people watching.
  5. Phil’s Sliders  (Downtown Berkeley) | These mini burgers are perfectly child-sized. Chalkboard walls give bored kids something to do. Bacon upgrade is tasty but expensive. - Heather Website.
  6. Top Dog (Berkeley + Oakland) | The Top Dog in CVS at Pleasant Valley is Old SKOOL in the best way – Sarah. Website.
  7. True Burger (Oakland) | Website.

eat and play at Emeryville Public Market

Asian

You guys had way more go-to sushi joints than I was expecting with a strong emphasis on the boats (AKA bune). Growing up in Ohio, Asian food only meant Chinese, but no more.  Kid-favorite noodle and rice joints:

  1. Anzu (Berkeley) |  Website.
  2. Bowl’d (Albany) | Korean. I love that they give little smoothies and kid chopsticks and bowls. - Anne C. Website.
  3. Burma Superstar (Alameda + Oakland) | My children will both eat coconut rice and mango slices. Protein? No thank you. But the grown ups are more than happy, so it’s all good. – Whitney. Website.
  4. Chang’s (San Leandro) | This Asian favorite offers online ordering.
  5. Chefs (El Cerrito) | Eat in or carry out Chinese.
  6. Café Raj (Albany) | N. Indian + Pakistani. My daughter will eat Chana Masala and my son will eat something out of our fridge. – Whitney. Website.
  7. Elephant Bar (Emeryville + Fremont) Website.
  8. Genki Sushi (Berkeley)
  9. Hana Japan (Berkeley marina) | Kids love the chef show. – Donna. {Our take on Hana Japan}
  10. Juhu Beach Club (Oakland) | Love the well-presented kids’ meals & yummy Mumbai street food. – Ruby K. Website.
  11. Mint Leaf (W. Berkeley) | Vietnamese restaurant, try the Cha Gio rolls. Website.
  12. Miyozen Sushi (Emeryville) | The sushi belt is always a hit. – Donna C. There is also a dedicated play room where children can watch a show or read a book. Website.
  13. Noodle Theory (Oakland) | Website.
  14. Ohgane Korean (Oakland) | Korean BBQ cooks meat in the center of the table. Website.
  15. Panda Express (El Cerrito + Oakland) | Takeout Chinese. Just keeping it real. – Wendy
  16. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (Emeryville) | Asian Fusion Chain. Dine in and kids get crayons and puzzles or you can try to order online or with their new app and take advantage of Bay Street’s 15 minute free parking for food carryout. Website.
  17. Renee’s Place (Albany) | Wonderful neighborhood restaurant where Renee herself enjoys greeting the regulars of all ages, and knows how to accommodate multi-generational parties very well. – Holly L. Website.
  18. Rikyu Sushi (Rockridge) | Website.
  19. Samurai Sushi Boat (Oakland)
  20. Shen Hua (Elmwood) | Tasty and noisy Chinese where your child’s voice blends into the background. – Heather
  21. Shimizu Sushi (Oakland) | Website.
  22. Sushi Solano (Albany) | Website.
  23. Takara Sushi (Rockridge) | Another floaty boat place to delight your kids and serve them quickly.
  24. Toss Noodle Bar (Berkeley) | Dress your noodles however you like. {See Whitney’s review of Toss}
  25. Tsuru Sushi (San Leandro) | Website.
  26. Vik’s Chaat House (Berkeley) | Website.
  27. Yojimbo Sushi (Alameda) | We love it for for the yummy sushi, anime art all over the walls, kid friendly vibe and awesome Japanese animated movies viewable from every table. – Chrissy C. Website. 

Diners & Cafes (more than just a coffee shop!)

  1. Au Coquelet (Berkeley) | My family sometimes goes just for the steamed milk. - Wendy Y
  2. Berkeley Bagels on Gilman | Our go-to breakfast on the weekends. – Whitney (and she’s a bagel snob!)
  3. Bette’s Oceanview Diner | My totally favorite breakfast indulgence is perfect for early-rising families since they open at 6:30am. Late risers, wait in line. – Heather {See also Bette’s is best for early risers}
  4. Black Bear Diner  (Emeryville) | Don’t miss the ice cream concierge. - Lisa T. Website.
  5. Cafe Clem | Perfectly situated near the main Berkeley library, Habitot, YMCA, and the weekend Farmer’s Market, this little sister of La Note is a delicious treat. – Heather
  6. Fat Apples (Berkeley + El Cerrito) | Known for breakfast, burgers, and baked goods, this old-fashioned diner has lots of choices for food and even more for dessert (consider yourself warned). The El Cerrito location has much more dining space and parking.
  7. Homemade Cafe (Berkeley) | A friendly place for eggs and baked goods with bottomless coffee. Small inside so there’s often a line on weekends. – Heather  Website.
  8. Guerilla Café (Berkeley)
  9. Jimmy Beans (Berkeley) | Magically delicious pancakes and plenty of other items on the menu. A big stack of shared coloring books to entertain the kiddos. {See also Breakfast for dinner at Jimmy Beans}
  10. Rick and Ann’s (Elmwood) | Always a line. {See also Bette’s Oceanview Smackdown}
  11. Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (Oakland + Emeryville) With early and late hours, you can eat here all the time. Placemat and crayons. Servers bring a bowl of cheerios to toddlers. {See also hipster smackdown} Website.

Other favorite places (from Louisiana to Ethiopia)

  1. Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen (Berkeley) | Website.
  2. Asmara (Oakland) | Asmara at 51st has a very friendly family atmosphere – its our goto for great Ethiopian/Eritrean food. – @UUBerkeley
  3. Bacheeso’s | We pair this organic Middle Eastern joint with a trip to Fairyland. - Kim D
  4. Cafe Colucci (Oakland) | Ethiopian. Cafe Colucci has always been great for us. – Dave Website.
  5. Cafe Romanat (Oakland) | Ethiopian. Cafe Romanat is our favorite Ethiopian with kids. – Erika Website.
  6. Chop Bar (Oakland) | For a less hectic vibe, come before 5:30.
  7. The Junket (El Cerrito) | Combines German and English food. Website
  8. Crepevine (Berkeley + Rockridge) | Many flavors to pick from as well as the basics. The N. Berkeley location passes out Wikki Stix instead of crayons to mix it up further. Website.
  9. Emeryville Public Market (Emeryville) | Pictured above, this food court has many flavors, a bunch of televisions, and a ball pit. {Our write up}Website.
  10. Fenton’s Creamery (Oakland) | Of course kids love it here, they know their meal will end with a huge sundae! Pretty standard diner food. {Our write up on Fenton’s}  Website.
  11. Holy Land (Oakland) | Terrific felafel and easy hummus plates. Website.
  12. Homeroom (Oakland) Mac + Cheese but fancy, now has a drive-through when you pre-order on a special app. Thank you! Website. {See also Homeroom sounds family friendly}
  13. Kensington Circus Pub (Kensington) | Enjoy a pint and some pub grub while your toddler explores the play area. Good times.
  14. La Fable (N. Berkeley) | Taking over the old Chester’s location, La Fable is fresh French food.
  15. McGee’s Black Skillet (Alameda) | Bar + grill food with many televisions. Website.
  16. Poulet (Berkeley) | Eat in or carry out chicken and tasty side dishes. Poulet is where I get fancy salads or frozen, oven meals for me and my husband and the kids will have plain pasta that night. – Whitney. Website.
  17. Pyramid Brewery (N. Berkeley) | Kids love the pasta, fries, and the cheese pizza; we love the beer. – Rebecca. Website.
  18. Saturn Cafe (downtown Berkeley) | Vegetarian with lots of gluten-free choices; reasonably-priced kids’ menu. Website.
  19. Saul’s Deli (N. Berkeley) | Large Jewish deli with many tasty options; favorites include matzo ball soup, potato latkes and applesauce. Website.
  20. Subway (multiple) Whenever my kids can talk me into it. – Anon.
  21. Sweet Tomatoes (Fremont) | Extensive salad and soup bar. The kid likes his fruit & Mac n cheese. – Tiffanie
  22. Telegraph (Oakland) | Family- and dog-friendly beer garden where the ‘rents can grab a coffee OR beer (and food) on the patio and my daughter sweet talks the cooks into fancy-shaped pancakes. – Ruby. Website.
  23. WhipOut Food Truck (various) | We ate at Whip Out with a friend. My kids each had a slider (one burger, one BBQ pork no coleslaw) and shared bbq fries and chicken “lolipops”. I had fried chicken and bbq brisket sliders. All good! – Wendy. On Facebook.
  24. Yayu (Oakland) | Yayu on lakeshore has been good for us for family-friendly Ethiopian. – Morgan. Website.

 

Eating out with kids in the East Bay

Were you counting along and noticed only 96 places? Did we miss your kid’s favorite meal? Please share in the comments!