Parents magazine has released its list of ten best family restaurants (warning: extremely naggy, ad-ridden website). At the number one spot: Legal Sea Foods. Not bad. “The greatest thing about Legal’s kids’ menu: Even if your child insists on ordering the chicken fingers or grilled cheese, they arrive with grapes and corn on the cob,” they write. My first thought was, “Even in February? What kind of lesson does that teach?” but possibly I’m outside the target audience.
The rest of the Parents list (not necessarily in order): Chili’s, Mimi’s, Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes, Red Robin, Old Spaghetti Factory, Claim Jumper, P. F. Chang’s, Denny’s, and Uno. (Plus many runners-up.)
My reaction to this list is basically selfish: I don’t like most of these restaurants, so why would I take my kid to one as long as we can come up with a restaurant that we’ll both like? Then again, I know millions of adults do like these restaurants, so maybe they’ll find this useful, if they can slog through Parents’ website.
I’ve been taking my daughter to restaurants since she was a couple weeks old, and the most kid-friendly restaurants in our experience are local Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese places, the kinds that wouldn’t make sense to round up in a national magazine. But our favorite sushi place is part of a local chain, Blue C Sushi, so I’m not philosophically opposed to chain restaurants.
For another take on the list, see Rebekah Denn’s blog in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Denn points out, for example, that chain restaurants generally make life easier for people with food allergies than do independent restaurants.
About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.