I’m not looking to raise an annoying little foodie. Is anything more annoying than, “Oh, our Little Hunter and Samantha, they love sushi.” Well — eww. She likes hot dogs and grilled cheese and pasta with butter. But because…interesting food tends to hit our table, and you never know what she’s gonna reach out and grab. And I have to admit, if I see her grabbing tripe goulash or a raw oyster as has happened, I’m feeling pretty good about it. Very proud.
−Anthony Bourdain talking to Evan Kleiman about his three-year-old daughter’s eating habits on Good Food, June 2010
Anything labeled kid- or family-friendly used to trigger a gag reflex. Then I had children. And I still wanted to eat out. So now I think of kid-friendly as not having to mean going to condescending, cutesy places like Giggles n’ Hugs. In fact, that’s a good way to send me running in the opposite direction, even if such a restaurant means well.
I’m interested in eating where children are welcome and where us adults actually WANT to go. If there’s a kid’s menu, great. If not, we’ll work with what they got.
So that’s the focus of this blog, which documents one family’s experiences eating out in Los Angeles — and occasionally in other cities — with our two young active sons. I’m assuming that you’ve found Taster Tots L.A. because you don’t want to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, so each post talks about a restaurant from a parent’s POV, with tips concerning what makes it a family suitable place. (Although I did really love C.E.C.’s when I was little.) I also solicit advice and tips from kitchen professionals and other writers about how they manage and feed their kids, and I like to mention some family-oriented food events — along with the occasional news bit.
This subject of children and restaurants can be highly controversial, and as this incident confirms, one that elicits intense feelings and opinions. I firmly believe it’s not appropriate to bring kids everywhere. Rest assured, you won’t see me foisting my brood on fellow diners at Providence or Spago. At least not until they become perfect little angels some day. Or are in college. Should you be fortunate enough to afford babysitting, or have loyal helpful folks around to help out in that department (god bless ‘em), there’s definitely a time and a place to leave the kids at home.
As much as I’d love to cover a ginormous swath of L.A., there’s only so much non-essential schlepping of two kids I can do. So you’ll notice most of the businesses we hit are around the Mid-City/Hollywood/Silver Lake/Los Feliz neighborhoods. You’ll also see a LOT of French fries appearing in my admittedly-not-as-good-as-they-should-be photos. My older son is continually learning the hard lesson that not every restaurant serves fries.
Most of our family’s meals are indeed eaten quickly under the pending threat of dual meltdowns. But even if my son bolted for the door and ran towards a busy street, or sat in a pool of vinegar and ketchup, I’ll overlook these hiccups to share the pertinent facts with you.
A note on ethics: I pay my own way, and if I’ve been invited to or hosted at a venue, I’ll say so.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to pay the check when — or even before — the main courses arrive, and leave a generous gratuity for the staff that kindly put up with your kids. And if you’ve made it through the appetizers, kudos.
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