Babies who lunch

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Categories Feeding, Infants, Solid Foods

One of my new go-to favorites with my nearly-11-month-olds is going out for lunch.  We frequently need an outing around 11:30, and our house happens to be relatively close to a couple of office parks, so lunch-type places are close and plentiful.  I’ve even stopped bringing food from home for the kids, and just get them a grilled cheese sandwich to share!  We’ve become quiet the grilled cheese conniseurs. I’ve learned just what it is I’m looking for in a lunch outing for the under-one and not-a-lot-of-teeth set, and I really only go to places that have counter-then-sit service, so I can get my food quickly and have already paid, in case I need to make a hasty exit.  And yes, I somehow always take a picture of them with my camera phone when they’re out for lunch.  It’s a compulsion I have.

Our favorites:

Panera
PaneraThey get points for wireless internet, and the fact that you can get organic yogurt as one of the side-dish options on the kiddie meal.  Sadly, they only have strawberry yogurt… but my kids will be a year old soon, so it’ll come in handy.  The grilled cheese itself was on nice soft sandwich bread, but spent so little time in the panini press that the cheese never melted.  Alas.

Au Bon Pain
Unfortunate bread options (does everything have to be “artisan”?), and not good options for side dishes (chips or carrots), and they were not able to just give me the sandwich without the rest of the “combo.”  That said, we got it on whatever their soft white roll/loaf is, which was plenty soft for kids who don’t chew a lot, and the cheddar cheese was so well melted that I had to wait a bit for it to cool off enough to eat.  It was a hit.

Bear Rock Cafe
If they have one of these near you, I highly recommend it. Similar to Panera and the like, but I found their sandwiches very tasty (if sometimes messy), and also good salads.  The grilled cheese was just right, good bread, well-melted, and I don’t even think I was forced to get the combo.  Plus, wireless internet access (which my iPhone does not seem to want to connect to, unfortunately).

Krazy Karry'sKrazy Karry’s
A local burger joint here in Massachusetts, their food is very tasty and the people are accomodating.  The grilled cheese on a sliced hamburger bun was my kids’ first, and they love it.  And mommy gets the onion rings… mmm….

What about you?  What are your favorite baby-friendly lunch spots?  What’s your favorite place for grilled cheese?

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9 thoughts on “Babies who lunch”

  1. Great for you to get out of the house so much!

    We only share one of the restaurants you mentioned (Panera). The kiddos do okay there, they are really into soup so they like that, though it’s a lot of work to feed soup to 2 unless (and even if) both parents are there.

    We’ve found that we prefer (quick) table service (and asking for the check with the food help). That way, we can get the kiddos ready, let them play with menus, etc., while someone else brings the food to the table. And then someone clears the table for us (though we do crawl around and try to clean the floor at least). That’s probably because ours are closer to 2, though, we did faster places when they were younger. . Things that have worked lately include pizza/pasta (including Rotelli’s), Chinese, Thai, stir fry, pancake house type place, Mad Mex… Mostly more local places. What didn’t work was the allegedly family oriented place that was so full of TVs and games that the kiddos had no interest in eating.

  2. I didn’t realize Bear Rock was a chain and I’ll have to try Krazy Karry’s. Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to being able to eat kid meals with my kids instead of adult fare. Sometimes their menus just look so much better!

  3. Aww, I think it’s neat that you get pics of them doing daily activities like just hanging out at lunch time! One of my friends always carried a disposable camera in her diaper bag & then ever few months she’d develope the pics. She loved it because she’d end up with those day-to-day pics without having to try too hard.
    :) Becky
    http://www.stinkylemsky.typepad.com/

  4. Good for you for getting out of the house with them! It takes a good amount of organization. Eating out with twins just gets more and more fun. We always like the salad bar restaurants. A wonderful mom told me a tip when I was there once: Get an ice cream cone from the dessert bar and put yummy stuff in it, like peas. The kids think it’s fun. We got them to try a lot of foods that way. The one near us (Fresh Choice) is used to messy/noisy kids and even has rolling high chairs for convenience.

  5. You rock. I have only recently begun not taking food along so not much help. But, Chick-Fil-A, is known for having a very good under 3 play area so we like to hit that when we get that way. The closest is about 20 minutes.

    We walk to farmer’s markets for fresh fruit and veggies. I know, I know … boring!!

    Perhaps I’ll get risky this week and take a walk for lunch. Lunch has become my rut meal, actually, so this might work. I’m thinking a sushi place that has rice. My girls LOVE rice.

  6. With my kids, it’s critical to be able to make a quick exit. Waiting around for food, even with lots of toys and distractions, can either be awesome or horrible. We like Chick-fil-A, Bear Rock (our local one has sweet potato fries, love the south), Panera, Five Guys Burgers, Waffle House (fast service), Chipotle.

    For table service, it is hard to beat Cracker Barrel. I am ashamed to admit it (!), but they have toys at the table, booster and high chair options, very kid friendly, and the endless options for the kids are amazing.

    I also tend to take the kids place they can run around before we get to the table… the key to toddlerhood is releasing energy before containing energy.

  7. I, too, love to take the kids out to lunch. In fact, that’s how I met many of the women in our twin group…we’d meet for lunch with our little ones!

    I’d add quesadillas at Mexican restaurants to your list…it’s practically a grilled cheese, and you can usually get black beans on the side for a nice healthy choice that’s fun finger food.

    As a quick warning, though, remember that some of those restaurants you listed have a lot of nut cross-contamination issues. We have absolutely no food allergies anywhere in our family tree, yet still have a child who turned out to have a nut allergy. So anyone with kids under 2 might want to at least be aware of the potential issue!

  8. Oh this brings back such memories! We loved wheeling the double stroller into every food court and accommodating restaurant we could find! (Truth told, our Walmart used to have “Gingy’s Pop Shop” and the nicest ladies working there who doted on the kids. We were there multiple times weekly!)

    Getting out and about “early” I am convinced eased the segue to “restaurant” dining for our duo. (I’m an AWFUL cook) Now 6, our two love all Mexican restaurants, Red Robin (which is GREAT for really little ones too…fast service and a good dull roar noise level), Friendly’s and a few neighborhood places as well.

    No matter the “caliber” of the dining facility, I do think kids can sense they’re being “trusted” to behave appropriately, and rise to the occasion. (and when ours didn’t, we hightailed it out! They learned pretty quickly on that one! Potty training? Well, that was another story! 😉 )

    Great post!

  9. We don’t have any of the restaurants that you mentioned, but we do like to go out to bunch on weekends. Our favorite place is a bagel deli…F & R really dig blueberry bagels with ‘shmear’….although my Brooklyn-raised father-in-law gives me the death glare every time I tell him that they ate a bagel with blueberries inside. Ha, ha, ha.

    The boys actually have never ingested grilled cheese or, get this, mac and cheese! I swear…I’ve tried on multiple occassions to give them these (supposedly) kid-favorite items and they won’t eat them!

    Panera and Au Bon Pain….yummy.

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