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Table Manners

Tips for dining out as a family in the Burlington area.

My husband and I are always searching for local kid-friendly restaurants that still keep adult tastes in mind.  Animatronics, arcades, and costumed rats need not apply.

Before we can even leave the house there are things to consider.  Is the kid’s menu suitable or should we bring our own food?  Do they have high chairs or should we bring our travel booster seat?  Just in case, we will throw a quick meal in a bag for our son and his chair to be safe.

There are also a few staples to remember.  First, disposable placemats.  Our son is not quite at the age where he understands the concept of keeping food on a plate.  Placemats are a must to avoid eating meals off of a questionably cleaned restaurant table.  Second, toys and entertainment.  A toddler might see the kid’s menu and crayons as a teething toy.  We can’t count on those to keep our son occupied at this age.  A few small toys and board books will do the trick.  And lastly, sanitizing wipes.  For the highchair and table, and any other objects he might touch or find appetizing.

And for pete’s sake, don’t forget the sippy cup!

Now that we are packed up, it’s time to decide where to go.  After much research, here are a few of our favorite local eateries that are appropriate for the whole family:

Flatbread Pizza (Burlington Rd., Bedford):  As the name implies, the menu consists mostly of pizza made from fresh, local ingredients, which is great for kids and adults alike.  There is an impressive beer selection for mom and dad.  But the most appealing aspect may be the atmosphere.  It’s rustic, cozy, and casual.  The layout is open and welcoming with the brick oven in full view, perfect on a cool evening.  On a typical night there are many families present, giving the feeling of a comfortable neighborhood eatery.  Kids congregate on a large bench by the pizza oven, where they can watch the action take place.  Choose your meal times wisely, as it can get fairly crowded.

(Cambridge St, Burlington):  Not typically known for its meals, the lunch combo is a fantastic deal: sandwich, chips, and a drink, plus a kid’s sized ice cream for six dollars.  The red vinyl booths give an authentic diner feel, and the giant chalk board wall full of trivia and Boston sports schedules is a fun distraction.  But the ice cream is what it’s all about.  The quality, flavor, and variety, not to mention the heaping portion sizes cannot be beat!

(Middlesex Tpke, Burlington):  This is a family favorite.  We typically go for an early lunch on a weekend day, as it can get crowded quickly during a more popular hour.  For the grown-ups, there is a variety of authentic tasting TexMex and Cajun food on the menu, as well as a selection of margaritas if the mood strikes.  The kid’s menu includes simple Mexican options as well as kid staples.  And at only $3.98, it’s a great deal. Our son loves to look at the interesting and illuminated décor, and interact with the other kid’s sitting nearby.  He also gets a thrill when receiving a balloon on the way out.  The service is consistently good, the food is delicious, and the prices are extremely reasonable.

Once you’ve made it to the restaurant, a few more tips to keep in mind: Don’t be afraid to ask for additional items that may not necessarily be on the menu.  Our son loves chopped fresh tomatoes, so we usually ask for a small plate for him.  Also, keep in mind that junior’s patience for a leisurely sit-down may start to wean sooner than yours, so ask for the check when the meal arrives.  As family-friendly as some restaurants are, nobody enjoys listening to a cranky kid. 

Feel free to share your experiences and suggestions for family-friendly eateries in the area!

Jaclyn February 27, 2011 at 06:02 PM
Great article! Excellent idea on getting the check early on in the meal. It's always good to be a step ahead :)

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