Restaurants with Kids: The Rules

Having young kids doesn’t mean giving up on restaurants. Head over to Bon Appetit for advice on how to dine out with the family—and maybe even enjoy it.

{This is our Providers column for the Restaurant Issue of BA. While you’re there, check out The Hot 10: The Best New Restaurants of 2015, and — what the heck — why not subscribePhoto by Adam Rapoport}

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I could never relax at a restaurant when my son was really young, like age 2-4. To this day (he’s 8), we bring a piece of paper and a pen. we can play hangman or tic tac toe, etc. No device necessary.


The early reservation is key. I’ll never forget our 5:00 pm dinner at L’Impero (alas now closed) with our three year old who played nicely with a small container of play-doh until her dinner arrived. The staff was extraordinary, and the chef even came out of the kitchen to ask if her pasta with butter and cheese was too her satisfaction!


We broke rule #9 with my daughter when she was 1 and we were in Paris…. And I highly recommend it under certain conditions. 1. Go for lunch, not dinner. And 2. Be prepared to eat in shifts.


I just read your article in B.A. on eating out with young children. I laughed out loud on number 5, “drink while you can”. Its so true that your kids will come home from Middle School after drug and alcohol training and keep track of any alcohol you drink . My son was so bad that I could only have one light beer if we were driving. I even had to perform a sobriety test before he would get in the car , one the police officer holding the class showed them, touching your fingers to your thumb back and forth twice. My father took to pouring his wine into a coffee mug out of sight when my kids were around.
Great article.


I too laughed out loud at #5. I recall the time we had margaritas at dinner; my daughter informed us that because there was tequila in it, it’s considered a “mixed drink” and proceeded to share equivalent drink statistics with us. My husband suggested that if he just had the tequila it would no longer be a mixed drink. Only other dinner tip is to order food they really have to work at — mussels, clams, crab legs, raclette, fondue, anything with chopsticks, you name it. Meals, rightfully so, become an adventure. Dining with my kids, now high schoolers, is one of my greatest pleasures.


Love this column! The single best thing we did with our son (who is now 12 and who has dined out frequently from birth) was to enforce a no device policy with a twist… he could always have a book and a stuffie. It wasn’t perfect when he was very young, but it turned him into a voracious reader, and we can take him anywhere — he’ll converse and try new foods and talk to the waitstaff, and when he gets bored, back into the book he goes.