Burgers, pizza, and Mexican food reign supreme in my family. If you want to please my sons, just take them one of these places! They don't go for fancy in breakfast food, either. If the place doesn't serve french toast, then forget about it! Some of my own beloved brunch spots don't make their cut.
We like to hit the Homemade Cafe at Dwight and Sacramento right at opening time, 8am, on weekends. Though they still love to draw on the kids' menu, my big boys outgrew it long ago. They have have been ordering their own plates of french toast since they were preschoolers. Other favorites include the home fries, fruit plates, and any of the coffee cake. My little one orders a slice of bacon and eats the pancakes or toast off our plates.
We are fans of the crazy-big toppings menu for all manners of sandwich (beef, turkey, chicken, veggie, no biggie) but we usually end up ordering burgers. Yum. Milkshakes are a tasty treat. The kids meal also offers hot dogs. We have simple tastes and Barney's does it well. Gourmet Ghetto and Rockridge locations both have outdoor patios for noisy people and crappy street parking. There's no chalkboard wall, but the paper placemats have activities.
We love the burgers and tots, which is lucky since that's about all they serve. Read more about my strong opinions about Phil's Sliders.
These mini burgers are perfectly child-sized. Chalkboard walls give bored kids something to do. Bacon upgrade is tasty but expensive. – Heather Website.
You cannot convince me that any Chicago-style pizza is better than Zachary's; and if you try, I will just lose respect for you. My oldest son has a similar level of passion for his deep dish. We always get spinach and mushroom stuffed — Always! — with half-baked for busy home nights and eat-in when we have time to wait and enjoy it hot out of the oven. Gluten-free pizza is meh by comparison, but I'm glad to know that there's an option.
Our collective pizza snobbery allows room for thin-crust, too. With locations in Oakland, Emeryville, Temescal, and Berkeley, we still mostly eat this pie on our living room floor on a blanket in front of Family Movie Night. My younger sons prefer plain cheese. My older son likes the Herbivore.
Berkeley location has an enclosed back patio for wandering children (though wandering is officially discouraged) and Emeryville has a chalkboard wall. Both on San Pablo.
Last fall, one notable meal at Picante was — ugh! — about $54 and two of my children split a baby-size meal.
The kids got:
- Big kid: a grown-up size burrito with orange rice, cheese, chicken, and avocado (only $1 more than the kid-size and we had leftovers which he will eat)
- Middle and one-year-old split a kid-size quesadilla (plus a few beans from our plates)
- We also got chips and guac for the table, all nibbled on that.
- Water to drink.
We save Picante for special occasions, right after vacation when we need a cooking break, or any desperate weeknight where we can take advantage of their curbside pickup.
We recently had a heated conversation on our facebook page about some of the overrated East Bay favorites and I think all of my children's picks made the list. I guess you can't please everyone.