10. Golden Road Brewery – in Atwater Village
Great beer, great Bavarian pretzels, great burgers and, even better, great place to enjoy all of those things WITH your kiddos! This place has TVs, family-style benches, low-key casual vibes, California crafted beer with over 20 taps (gluten free ciders available as well as wine for the anti-beer folk), a versatile and mouth-watering menu – I recommend the farro salad, the burger and the fried avocado tacos. And while you are sipping on your Wolf Pup IPA and munching on parmesan french fries, your kids are running amuck in a safe and kid-friendly environment with a bunch of other people’s kids because there are a lot of them there, always. There is a play area in the front and a lot of space to run around and no one is mad about it because everyone brings their kids. This place has family friendly written all over it, the service is great, the atmosphere is casual and it’s one of those places that makes you feel like your old self again. But with a cute little kid in toe.
9. SIMMZY’S – in Burbank
This laid back beachy and slightly 70’s hipster lodge is the perfect place to dine out with the fam. The yummy Kids Menu includes a S’mores Chocolate Pudding option for dessert (smells like a good behavior bribe to me), and after they scarf that down they can play bags on the outdoor patio while mom and dad get to gnaw and sip on local, organic and sustainable food and drinks. The waiters also provide kids with plastic cups to use as drums and Wikki Stix to mess around with during down time. This place is warm, cozy and casual and welcomes kids while keeping them entertained.
8. The Thirsty Merchant – in Valley Village
Sure, the sign out front says “Hooch and Beer” but don’t let that mislead you into thinking this is a no-kids allowed joint. In fact, unless the Super Bowl or World Series is on (too crowded) this is a great place to grab a bite with the family and watch your favorite sporting event while your kids get to play bocce ball and corn hole and bags on the back patio, a lovely covered area with TVs, strings of bright lights and good vibes. There’s even a giant Connect Four inside (also fun for Mom and Dad) and a Mac and Cheese to die for (also fun for Mom and Dad).
7. Lakeside Restaurant & Lounge – in Encino
This place is superb for brunch and a nice treat for an upscale-ish dinner without sky-high prices or having to dress up or come without kids. Yummy food and drinks but the ambiance is really where it’s at. It is located in a state historic park, walking distance to the Los Encinos Museum, and the walls of the restaurant are adorned with photos of the property and the farmers who lived on the land before it became Lakeside. Best part, there is a duck pond surrounding the back patio where your kids (and you) can fawn over and feed the ducks. Kids menu, crayons, craft cocktails, museum, patio and real live duckies. It’s a win-win for all.
6. Carney’s – in Studio City and Hollywood
Lots of burger and hot dog places pride themselves on being the “best” in LA but I think this beloved LA icon may be one of the few places that actually merits this testimony. The burgers and dogs are phenomenal, the chili is homemade and delicious, and there is vegan and nut-free options that I haven’t tried but have heard are yummy. Best part of this place is that the restaurant itself is actually the inside of a renovated train car, so it has a unique and cool atmosphere alongside the comforting classics of staple American food. Oh and there are chocolate covered bananas there. So. You and your kids should RUN THERE NOW.
5. Mohawk Bend – in Silverlake/Echo Park
I’m sure this place is heaven for hipsters but you can be a mom and dad with kids and love it, too. The drafts are in constant rotation so you’ll never have the same brew twice and it will bring you back to your day-drinking days but without the guilt that comes along with being a parent. This place is vegan but don’t let that scare you off if you’re into meat lovers pizza: The food is GOOD. The food is HEALTHY. And the place is totally cool, cozy and kid-friendly.
4. Farmer’s Market – at The Grove
Yes yes yes to the Farmer’s Market for so many reasons. There are options galore so your picky eater kid can only say “no, I don’t want that” so many times until they say, “I want that!” You also don’t have to eat the same food as they do. Imagine that, eating whatever it is that you want to eat. Dreams do come true at the Farmers Market. From Italian to Brazilian to Greek to Indian to All-American the choices are endless, the atmosphere is cool and casual and you and your kids will love it. It’s also pet-friendly so it’s literally fun for the WHOLE family and it’s right next door to the Grove… where Anthropology lives. Enough said.
3. The Magic Castle
This castle was one of my favorite places to go as a kid. First of all, it’s a castle, so it’s cool. There is a strict dress code so as a kid you get the rare opportunity to act like you’re doing something super important like adults do. You get to say “Open Sesame” to a door that opens by it self, and you get to tell a self-playing piano to play whatever song you ask for - and it will! There’s a fine dining room where you get to have an endless and delicious brunch. There are shows for the kids, booze for the adults and an ambiance inside that stirs a little Old Hollywood mixed with some Haunted House sprinkled with magic on top. This is a must go-to family event. But only for brunch on Saturday and Sundays: 21+ all other times. You also have to be a member. But if you have the extra cash floating around this is something you’ll want to spend it on.
2. Button Mash – Echo Park
Shrimp & pineapple fried rice, rotating drafts, endless options of canned or bottled beer and old school video games including Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac Man and Pinball. I have nothing more to say. Just go.
1. Islands – All over LA, and everywhere
I know it’s not cool, I know it’s not sexy, I know it’s not gourmet. But we’re parents and neither are we. Islands might be the best family eatery out there. It has crayons and kids menus, it has unassumingly DELICIOUS burgers, giant baskets of french fries, a full bar with options for a small or LARGE beer, lots of TVs and lots of big giant fans on the ceilings for your under 6-month-olds to stare at for two hours. It is loud, no one cares about tantrums and if you show up in your sweats or with your hair in an unruly side pony, no one will judge you. Sometimes we can’t be hipsters, sometimes we can’t be cool, sometimes we just need us some Islands.