Here are some reviews of our favorite LA and Santa Monica restaurants. And a couple of other food related items. We love grabbing a bite out with our kids and we are always look for fun, unusual family friendly places. These places are recommended with kids, toddlers and babies in mind. More coming soon. And please send your suggestions!
— Enhance your little one's rock n' roll education while
chowing down on great diner food, vegan specialties and indulgences.
Lots of bright decor and loud music. Bring your own crayons.
Where else can your kids bang their heads to the Crue, pay
homage to the Ramones, discover Iggy, then stand up on the
booth seat and rock out to Journey. (Ok the last one was a
little embarrassing, but everyone had a good time.)
802 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401. There's one in West Hollywood too.
The Counter — The Counter offers custom gourmet burgers in a stylish setting. Good tunes, upscale decor, art on the walls and too much sports on the tv. You custom order your hamburgers turkeyburgers, chicken or veggie burgers with tons of topping choices. There is, of course, a no-bun low carb burger too. You have to order the sweet potato fries! The Counter just made Oprah and the cover of Los Angeles magazine, so get there early! 2901 Ocean Park Blvd. Santa Monica 310-399-8383.
El Cholo — The best Mexican restaurant. Well, we go there a lot anyway. I dunno why, but this is what I missed while living in San Francisco — big ol' mexican restaurants with booths and well costumed waitstaff. Order the Sonora enchilada — a layered chicken enchilada smothered in sauce and topped with an egg. Or try the tostada compuesta -- a giant salad full of broccoli, jicama, peas, beans, chorizo and who knows what else. Or the Annie's spinach enchiladas. Or the green corn tamales (when in season). Or, or, or. 1025 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, 90401 - (310) 899-1106. Other LA locations, including the original near USC.
Luna Park Restaurant — Here's a really fancy restaurant you can hit with the little ones. The loud din cancels out any whining or joyous screeching. And lavish, draped booths create cozy nooks for crazy fun. Order a bunch of appetizers, some wine. See how long the artichokes will hold their attention. A great spot to hit after visiting LACMA. 672 S. La Brea (near Wilshire), Los Angeles, CA 90036, tel: 323.934.2110 (Luna Park has a San Francisco location.)
Back on the Beach — Wake up, drive to the beach, eat breakfast on the beach. Good little breakfast spot on PCH, north of Santa Monica. Lots of kids. Tables right on the sand. The food is great but it is really all about location. And it is owned by good people who are involved in the community. Located next to the old Sand and Sea Club that the City of Santa Monica is just now about to renovate. Bring your buckets and shovels. 445 Pacific Coast Hwy. Santa Monica, CA 90402. Also try Back on Broadway.
Mariscos Guillen — You can buy dirt-cheap Mexican-style seafood at a little shack on Lincoln Blvd, just on the Santa Monica side of the SM/Venice border. And eat alfresco, watching the traffic while sitting on the makeshift table. Just hang with the funky crowd that is always lined up down the sidewalk. 10 years ago this was my favorite spot. I can't believe it is still there. And now it is a favorite with my hijas. I always get a $3 shrimp burrito though I'm tempted by the ceviche. The kids can share a quesadilla and sample horchata, tamarido ( or just bring sippy cups with their favorite beverage). My shrimp loving gal was in heaven with the $3 shrimp cocktail. And a side of rice made it a successful meal. You can also get non-seafood mexican treats, but why? On the west side of Lincoln Blvd, about 1 block north of Rose Avenue (between Ozone and Machado). 3306 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica.
Border Grill -- Gourmet -ish Mexican cuisine in a lively atmosphere in Downtown Santa Monica, near the 3rd Street Promenade. The food is amazing and adventurous with lots of vegetarian options. NOT traditional tacos, etc. Bright painting on the walls and ceilings. Frequently have live music. 1445 4th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401, 310.451.1655. Also try sheiker sister location in downtown LA, Ciudad.
Cafe Bolivar — A perfect neighborhood cafe: art on the walls, poetry readings on the occasional evening, delicious affordable sandwiches, homemade soups and fresh salads. Excellent place to read a book, write a screenplay or plan the revolution. Or maybe discuss what happened at pre-school that day. They have nice cookies and pastries. 1741 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405, 310.581.2344.
Kay and Dave's Cantina — This is a special unpretentious restaurant that feels cozy and homey. The staff are always super friendly and they really cater to kids. The menu is healthy California-style mexican with lots of vegan and veggie options. 262 26th St, Santa Monica, 90402 (310) 260-1355. They have a spot in Pacific Palisades and a new restaurant in West LA / Rancho Park, 10543 Pico Boulevard.
Tacos Por Favor — Tacos Por Favor takes the best from the cold faceless 'fresh mex' chains and adds a little taste of authentic hole-in-the-wall dive taqueria. Select from fresh veggies or potatoes or traditional carnitas. Grab your selection of fresh Aguas Frescas (fruit drinks). Pick up your choice of salsas. Grab a seat at some second hand furniture and ponder the duplicate paintings on the wall. Best of all, they take credit cards and will deliver to your home or work place. 1406 Olympic Blvd, at 14th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404, (310) 392-5768.
California Pizza Kitchen — I hate this place. Ok, I don't really, but I want to. It is big chain and painfully popular with the kids. But who can argue when the food is pretty good and reasonably priced. They have a nice variety: from plain pepperoni to fancy thai pizzas... And salads. And pasta. And soups. And tea. And wine... It is all good. And it is always packed with kids. There's one by the 3rd Street Promenade. 210 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401. And there are many more including one in Brentwood.
Typhoon — I still haven't been to Typhoon, (not to be confused with Monsoon) but it is high on my list. The selling point for kids is that it overlooks the Santa Monica Airport and you can see private planes land and take off while you eat. The food is also supposed to be tasty. AND they serve bugs, but only if you want them. There's other good stuff too, so don't worry. 3221 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, CA (on the south side of the Santa Monica Airport.
Ocean Park Cafe or OP Cafe: I admit it, we just don't do breakfast out much. It is so hard to get the kids out of the house before general crankyness sets in, mostly mine. And I love making pancakes anyway. Well, we finally got around to trying the recently revamped Ocean Park Cafe. I really wanted to love it. It is very kid friendly, though you may want to bring your own crayons. The decor and general ambiance is warm and cozy; it sets just the right tone. It reminded me of my favorite San Francisco mission eateries. And best of all it just isn't horrendously popular yet! But the food didn't blow me away. During the weekdays they have a $2.99 menu that is worth raving about. But on the weekends they up the prices to at least $8 bucks a plate so I expected the food to be at least twice as fancy too. They were good, they just lacked a little something extra. I plan to become a regular. I just hope the weekend specials become more special. Oh, I also have to point out that this restaurant is dog friendly. With a couple tables outside, we saw many dog people dining. 3117 Ocean Park Blvd Santa Monica at 31st Street
Zabies: Whenever I go to Zabies I wonder why I don't spend more time there. It is just good. They serve breakfast and lunch. The basics, sandwiches, soup and Mediterranean deli items. And it is just a warm family sort of place. Like OP Cafe above, they have seating on the sidewalk so they are dog friendly 3003 Ocean Park Blvd Santa Monica at 30st Street
Wanted: Thanks so much for the suggestions we've received so far! As soon as we try them all out we'll post our favorites. Still we'd love your suggestions for some good restaurants, especially with kids! Sushi! We had a great spot in SF that was perfect for kids, but just haven't found one here in LA yet -- any ideas? submit them here. Chinese: We've had some decent takeout, but still haven't landed the ultimate reliable spot. Suggestions?
Eat Your Veggies — This is soooo L.A. Can't find time to cook? Pay someone to do it. Honestly, my first reaction is "If you don't have time to make your kids' lunch and you can afford to pay this much, maybe you should work less and spend more time on your family." Still, I totally get it. Good food, delivered is essential sometimes. And I know that when our twins were babies, this would have made a GREAT gift! Anyone with a new born baby would love this!
Hey, we're just starting this list. If you have any recommendations, let us know. Thanks!