If you have kids like mine, you're used to seeing them cringe and jeer every time food appears that they haven't seen before. It has taken a lot of deliberate cooking to introduce my children to new grains, vegetables and spices (we're vegetarians and love spice!). For more great places to eat out with children, see 99 restaurants loved by kids and East Bay breweries that welcome families.
Thank goodness for these family-friendly restaurants who have helped our kids learn to love new flavors by making it accessible and delicious.
Kid-friendly Thai restaurants: Thai-nk you!
Not all Thai food is spicy-spicy. We find that the spice combinations make different tastes my children enjoy rather than just that fiery feeling. Our favorite Thai restaurants offer a variety of fresh, local veggies.
- Yimm Thai (Rockridge) – Try the fried pumpkin, fried oyster mushroom/avocado, Mee Cook, a cold rice noodle dish and the spicy avocado green curry. For kids, swap the green curry for a milder yellow curry. The fried veggie appetizers let our kids dip into the yummy peanut and sweet and sour sauces. Website >
- Farmhouse Thai (Jack London Square) – We love the incredible views and family-friendly vibe of Jack London Square; my kids like to drink coconut water out of actual coconuts; the decor is fun and colorful; and you can hang out on the Marina boardwalk while waiting for your food. Website >
- Daughter Thai (Montclair) – Daughter is my go-to spot for vegan and gluten-free Thai. I like to get the vegetable yellow curry or red curry, the fresh rolls, and Thai Vacation for dessert! The outdoor patio is in a magical purple floral garden! Website >
Family-friendly Indian favorites: Get to these restaurants in a curry!
I love any kind of food that encourages us to eat with our hands, because it is often more fun to eat.
- Vik's Chaat House (West Berkeley) – Vik's is authentic, fast, Indian street food. This place is huge and always has seating available and the best part is next door they have an Indian grocery store so we can satisfy all our spice needs for cooking at home. Website >
- Breads of India (Berkeley) – Raita (yogurt) and samosas (deep fried patties with veggies) are always a great start to trying Indian cuisine. Website >
- Namaste Pizza (North Oakland) – try this place for a twist of delicious Indian flavors on pizza. Get the spicy minty bread, kale paneer and mango monsoon. Website >
Tasty Japanese restaurants for kids: Wasabi? Roll in here.
Who says little ones can't love sushi? The squishy burst in your mouth is actually akin to a gummy for kids and the reason my little ones have fallen in love with sushi as well as bubble tea!
- Shirasoni (Alameda) – You can sit at the teppanyaki tables to catch food in your mouth hot off the cooking surface. Shirasoni provides kids' chopsticks which are tied in the middle to help them pick up their food. Website >
- Yojimbo (Alameda) – Yojimbo is a tiny but long restaurant with very cool artwork to entertain your little ones. Website >
- Kirala (Berkeley) – Kirala makes sushi look so good you won't want to eat it, but hopefully your kids will. Website >
Pro tip: Sushi boat restaurants (AKA sushi bune) allow you to watch sushi flow through the restaurant on an ever-changing conveyor belt and are a ton of fun for children!
Incredible Ethiopian restaurants: In-joy injera? You will at these!
Though injera, a flatbread made with teff (gluten-free grain) is thought to have a slight fermented sour taste, it's so easy to rip and chew, so even the littlest teethings ones can enjoy it!
- Ensarro (Oakland) – the most authentic and traditional food, but it is small so skip the strollers. Website >
- Blue Nile (Lake Merritt) – have a mint tea, relax on the cushy sofas and enjoy the super cute decor. Website >
- Addis (Rockridge) – order a veggie platter to share, honey wine and ethiopian beer for the parents! Website >
Family-friendly Fusion: No More Mr. Rice Guy
Fusion food combines flavors and techniques from more than one region, so there's variety for the whole family.
- Cafe Umami (Lower Dimond) – My children like the mushroom toast, umami bowl and vege-power bowl. Website >
- Fusion Kitchen (Upper Dimond) – Japanese cooking with a little extra. Adventurous eaters will like the fried brussel sprouts, cajun fries, and pineapple fried rice. Tamer eaters can try the chicken skewer with no sauce or a side order of white rice. Website >
- Spice Monkey (Oakland) – Spice Monkey globally inspired comfort food from Italy and the Mediterranean back to Asia and around again. There are so many great options to pick from. Website >
[Photo credit as indicated, no promotional consideration was paid for any of my picks]