jessica sprengler v.png
Jessica Sprengler; cover photo credit: Jason Anfinsen
Portage Bay Cafe
In spite of our best efforts, eating out with our kids sometimes backfires on my


2012's Best Restaurants for Small Fries

jessica sprengler v.png
Jessica Sprengler; cover photo credit: Jason Anfinsen
Portage Bay Cafe
In spite of our best efforts, eating out with our kids sometimes backfires on my husband and me. Case in point: while seated at a table in the middle of a packed Elliott Bay Brewery a couple of Sundays ago, my typically docile toddler decided to jump on his chair and uncontrollably shriek at full-volume while I was nursing my newborn. At that moment, half of me wanted to tell the eye-rolling patrons seated in our perimeter to piss off--they willingly came to a loud pub that's routinely packed with families. The other half loathed the scene: Me looking ridiculous in a Hooter Hider, my kid bouncing off the walls. Then, I reminded myself that eating out with kids is about weathering the occasional, inevitable freak out. Some Seattle establishments are better built to accommodate these scenarios than others. Here's this year's picks for the city's best places to eat with kids--or to avoid if that's your style:

See Also:

5 Family Dining Spots Near The Seattle Great Wheel

Seattle's Top Five Breakfast For Dinner Spots

The Ridge

Families might bust down the doors at the always packed Tutta Bella on Friday nights, but fat pies served at the low-key, neighborhood-centric Ridge are an underappreciated alternative to Tutta Bella's Neapolitan-style pizza. The Ridge's pizza toppings are spread using a heavy hand and sauce is generously dolloped. Plus, there's a back game room for kids and good beer for everyone else.

Skillet Counter

Skillet's Seattle Center outpost offers parents the best of both worlds--thoughtfully prepared comfort food served in a space with a boatload of room for kids to roam. Skillet Counter anchors a corner of the beautifully revamped Armory, with a lot of central seating, including some kid-sized tables. The menu features a dressed-down version of Skillet's famed burger, making feeding a family of four at least a few dollars more affordable.

Portage Bay Cafe

In the quest to feed children at least mildly nutritious food, Portage Bay offers whole grains hidden in short stacks topped with berries that minimize the need for syrup. The wait is always long on weekends during the brunch rush, so if you need to kill time, Portage Bay's Ballard location shares a wall with a kid resale shop. Happily, there's also a vat of coffee and a stack of mugs in the waiting area by the door.


Capitol Hill families scored big when Eltana's original location opened on 12th and Pine St. in 2010. Sure, the neighborhood already had plenty of coffee shops selling pastries and a handful of breakfast spots, but there were no decent bagels to be found. This year, Eltana outposts opened inside the Armory and in Wallingford, bringing Montreal-style bagels to new parts of the city. Kids predictably devour the things, especially when they're topped with a thick swipe of apricot fig compote. And now, you can order a dozen with a side of date walnut cream cheese for home delivery.

Rainin' Ribs

If you're relatively uninspired by Ballard's recent (and already diminishing) BBQ boom and/or eating in a heated tent with a view of Lake Washington sounds like a good idea, try Rainin' Ribs. Located a smidge north of Lake City, Rainin' Ribs serves triple-barrel smoked meat that slinks off the bone. Portion sizes are big, with the pulled pork served in a heap that's nearly as tall as Tiger Mountain. Sauteed-to-order green beans add something healthy to the mix. Kids will be happy to balance the veg with hot, golden hush puppies that elevate the concept of the fried fritter.

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