As a follow up to our recent story “Where the Chefs Eat,” let’s hone in on the younger City of Oaks generations for a minute. They’re the children lucky enough to be growing up in a city that has been named one of the South’s tastiest towns by Southern Living Magazine, with a cadre of James Beard Award winners and finalists to prove it. It’s no secret the food scene here is a worldly one and a hospitable one—we’re in the South after all. I’ve also found it can be a surprisingly family-friendly scene, too, just as Raleigh is itself. Take, for instance, these four restaurants that many people reserve for date nights or special occasions. Only one of them has a kids menu but its contents aren’t your run-of-the-mill pizza or chicken nuggets. For food-loving parents in Raleigh hoping to shape little gourmands, however, these spots are exactly the kinds of places their kids should be eating and building their palates. Read on for what to order when you go and other reasons why you’ll find these restaurants are happily accommodating when it comes to family meals out.
This large, airy bar and Southern kitchen may not have a great high-chair stash and there are definitely more drink options than food, but the large tables allow everyone to eat comfortably. You’ll find that the menu is filled with flavorful, healthy options for everyone. Try the pickle plate, grilled corn with queso fresco, and chef’s board dressed with artisanal cheese and meats. These dishes make for a mess-free, easy-to-eat kid’s meal. Older babies will love Whiskey Kitchen’s smooth, fresh gazpacho. Go before they shift their menu to match the cooler temperatures! whiskey.kitchen
Don’t be intimidated to bring your budding gourmands to this foodie destination—a beautiful restaurant, brewery, flower shop and bookstore in one. While everyone waits for a table, hang out in the sun room where you’ll find books for kids of all ages—even board books—or treat them to a few fresh flowers. Order the scallion pancakes, seafood wontons, pork bao and, of course, fluffy white rice. I don’t know many kids who can deny the delicious spread that is Dim Sum; Brewery Bhavana’s is next level. brewerybhavana.com
I always look forward to dining here, where kids can order their own miniature versions of French classics such as seared salmon with haricot vert or beef bourguignon. Use the cloth napkins for bibs and your young kids will fit right in in the dimly-lit, French bistro atmosphere. Even with the classy ambiance, Coquette still provides crayons and paper menus to draw on, as well as undeniably good frittes. coquetteraleigh.com
Just because a restaurant doesn’t scream “bring the kids,” it doesn’t always mean they’re not welcome there. Take Humble Pie, for instance. Even with its adult-oriented speakeasy ambiance and small, ever-changing menu, it’s somehow evolved into our go-to. Try Humble Pie’s lamb meatballs, roasted beets and sea scallops over the sweetest cauliflower puree. The fact that the scrumptious small plates can be served one to two at a time keeps everyone interested and well-fed. This makes for a fun, relaxing meal. Aside from the food, what I look forward to most is getting the staff-made kids’ cups, formed from cylindrical to-go containers and a drinking straw cut in half. Talk about creative service! humblepierestaurant.com