As a food writer for The Boston Globe, I get to dine out a lot. I also have two little kids. Where I sup for work and where I sup with my children don’t often overlap. (I was at one delicious, higher-end spot in Cambridge a few weeks ago, thanking God that I was alone. I’m sure my 19-month-old would have plunged face-first into the gourmet butter.)
Happily, though, several restaurants have opened in recent months that are totally kid- and family-friendly. A few select favorites:
This is actually a conglomeration of food stands hawking everything from empanadas to pizza to poutine. There’s also a brewery and a comedy studio! Businesses are opening on a rolling basis over the next few weeks, and it’s a lovely place for a stroll. Plus, Gracie’s Ice Cream is right around the corner.
Burro Bar, South End
From the folks who brought you Painted Burro in Davis Square and Burro Bar in Brookline. They offer straightforward stuff like pork tacos or chicken enchiladas, or edgier enterprises like pig’s head tacos for four. It’s a reassuring blend of special night out and oh-God-I-don’t-feel-like-cooking-please-save-us rescue mission.
An app that lets you put your name on a waiting list so your table’s ready right when you walk in. A massive menu with certain dishes that only a child could love. (Mashed potatoes topped with eggs and hot sauce? A breakfast sandwich made with doughnuts? Peanut butter pancakes?) Service that’s genuinely friendly, just like the name suggests. And plenty of vegetarian, vegan and (somewhat) healthy options for parents, as well as an array of eggs Benedict variations. Usually I’m skeptical of places with menus this big, that do this much business, but now I consider it a kinder, gentler Cheesecake Factory. Plus: booze and easy parking.
La Bodega by Salts, Watertown
I loved this hidden little cavern when I visited a few months ago, on an otherwise dreary winter’s eve. One woman was feeding a toddler in a corner booth. Another family burst through the door like they owned the place. Candlelit tables make it feel special; a welcoming vibe from husband-wife owners Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo (Cambridge’s now-closed Salts) makes it approachable. Snack on a mix of Spanish and Uruguayan food, from grilled beef tongue to whole roasted duck to deviled eggs to simple grilled vegetables.
Magnolia Bakery, Faneuil Hall
The cupcakes made famous by “Sex and the City” (remember “Sex and the City”?) have arrived in Boston. A helpfully sugary pit stop if you find yourself in the touristy part of town.