Best Kid-friendly Restaurants and Bars in Seattle

Forget that frozen four-cheese pizza… every now and then, it’s good for us to go out and grab a nice (or at least, nicer) meal with our families.  Going out to dinner doesn’t have to be inherently stressful or expensive (or LAME!) with little ones – you’ve just got to pick the right place.

One truth I’ve discovered… it’s all about location, location, location.  There might be a super trendy, kid-friendly spot in Georgetown where kids eat free every night but you bet your happy hour hummus plate I am not driving more than 10 minutes to get my family seated for dinner.  Looking for an awesome restaurant or bar to grab a bite and a brew? Check out our favorite local watering holes in Northeast Seattle:

Watershed Pub and Kitchen : Look, when the hostess hands your two year old a dixie cup full of used crayons, you know they fully expect those crayons to be thrown on the ground at least a dozen times during your one hour meal.  I’ve never felt so free to let our daughter be “spirited” or “accidentally” draw on the table yet it felt like the food and beverage selection was nice enough for a date night out.  If you’re a planner like me, you’ll appreciate that they update their draft beer selection on their website daily.  Don’t forget to bring your empty growler so you can enjoy some craft beer or cider long after the kids go to sleep. (Northgate, 10104 3rd Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125)

2C Thai Bistro & Spirits: When you walk into a restaurant, you will know if it is kid-friendly by the way the hostess greets your kid.  Do they take three Sasquatch-sized steps back in horror and disgust?  Probably not the dinner spot for you.  Step into Thai2C on Lake City and the entire staff will come out to greet your sticky kid and shower you with flowery compliments.  This place has the best chicken pad thai in the whole city (yeah, I said it) and the service is terrific from start to finish.  Moments after sitting down, the owner came out to say hello to our daughter and give her a plastic cup, silverware and then get this… she handed her a sheet of sparkly fish stickers.  Enjoy those stickers, darling… mommy and daddy are enjoying their pad see ew and crispy basil chicken. (Lake City, 12506 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125)

Great State Burger:  If you’re into local, organically raised grass-fed beef, this is your haven.  If you’re into things that taste really, really good, this is your haven also.  Their burgers are so delicious, you will undoubtedly steal bites off your kid’s plate when they’re not looking.  Great State has some awesome outdoor seating on their rooftop patio, ideal for the nicer Seattle days.  Your kids will be mesmerized as the bikers and runners breeze by on the Burke Gilman Trail so you and your honey can maybe have a conversation between bites of crinkle cut fries. (Bryant, 3600 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105)

Elliott Bay Brewing: Ya’ll, Lake City is on the rise!  This truly feels like the closest thing we have to a NW “Cheers” pub, where everybody knows your name.  Grab an organic, hand-crafted ale and order some ridiculous “No Doubt Stout Pulled Pork Sliders.”  Elliott Bay Brewing is all about sustainability but even if you don’t plan dinner about mother earth (insert judgey eyes here), your taste buds will still appreciate the delectable breads and brews which are additive-free and preservative-free.  The dining space is huge with ample seating for your whole family.  It’s loud enough that if your kid yells a bit, no one will look up from their IPA but not too loud where you won’t be able to swap stories about your day.  Happy hour runs 3-6pm (weeknights only) so grab your diaper bag or backpack of distracting goodies and park in the back lot. (Lake City, 12537 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125)

Mioposto: This is the spot we bring our friends and family who are visiting Seattle which tells you that the food is high quality, the service is spot-on and the ambience is dreamy.  It’s got that idyllic brick interior that makes you feel worlds away.  Can’t go to Rome on a Tuesday after work? Oh well, Mioposto will do.  Our go-to is the Proscuitto Arugula pizza with their happy hour house wine (HH is from 4-6pm daily).  Does your kid like pizza and garlic bread?  Do you like to feel a little fancy while eating pizza and garlic bread, as is your God-given right as a grown adult?  Done deal.  Just get there before the dinner rush – it’s a cozy spot and fills up quick after 6pm. (Bryant, 3426 NE 55th St, Seattle, WA 98105)

Tsui Sushi: Now that you’re a parent, do you think your sashimi eating days are over?  Nope. Tsui Sushi refreshes your sushi-loving soul with their fresh, affordable and sizable rolls and nigiri.  Plenty of seating will make your family’s happy hour experience divine (happy hour runs 5-10pm daily!) If you’re worried your kiddo won’t like sushi as much as you do, order some edamame and let them go crazy with soy sauce.  I’m not even kidding, they will give your kid child-friendly chopsticks that look like sumo wrestlers plus a plastic cup for water as soon as you sit down.  It’s like they want you and your wackadoodle family there or something. Your little ones might not be able to resist trying a California roll once they pick up those rubbery training chopsticks and hear the staff’s encouragement. (Green Lake, 6421 Latona Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115)

Eureka!: A few moments after being seated, your waiter will bring your kid a plate of healthy goodies like watermelon, avocado and/or carrots at no additional charge.  If that doesn’t scream kid-friendly, I don’t know what does.  While your kid munches on their freebie appetizer, you’ll have a moment to pick your drink of choice from their lengthy beverage list, chalk full of craft beers and small-batch spirits.  Try the Cowboy burger, fish tacos or share a few smaller plates off the happy hour menu (which runs daily from 2-6pm). They don’t take reservations though so get there early to put your name in, then head across the way to Amazon’s bookstore.  Our wait time has never been more than 10 minutes. (Bryant, 2614 NE 46th St, Seattle, WA 98105)

Mama Stortini’s: If your family eats on the later side, you can always count on Mama Stortini’s at Northgate.  The have plenty of tables and can seat large parties with no wait, post 6pm.  Their happy hour is ridiculous – running ALL DAY Sunday and Monday, plus 3-6pm every other day of the week.  And goodness, that happy hour menu is extensive!  It’s the length of a normal menu with something for everyone.  Our favorites include: Roasted Tuscan Meatballs, Drive-in Cheeseburger, and the Grilled Salmon Sliders plus wine because #mamassippycup. The wait staff makes it a point to stoop down to say hello to your kid and supply the token box of four crayons with activity page.  I’ve never felt judged for the mess we’ve inadvertently left on the floor at Mama Stortini’s.  Which reminds me… tip well, fellow parents. (Northgate, 401 NE Northgate Way #1103, Seattle, WA 98125)

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Strolling into Mamma Melina with a Baby

Maternity leave has been dreamy.  I’ll be real, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down.  I have had a job non-stop for the last 15 years and I’m not exactly what you’d label an “idle” person.  Sure, babies are a sizable amount of work but they also sleep.  Like, often.  What would I do with all of the newborn nap time?  Sleep?  Meh.  I’m not much of a napper.  Watch Bravo TV until my eyes bleed?  Sure, I’ve done that here and there.  Could newborn nap time have more purpose?  This question is still a bit of a mystery as I try to find the balance between “resting” and serving others with this insane gift of spare time.  I am #blessed to be off work until January 11.  Lots more strolling and contemplating to be had.

One big benefit to this chunk of baby-bonding time is coupled with the fact that my husband’s job is extremely flexible so he can sometimes join our strolls, creating impromptu mid-day dates.

Background: By nature, I desire stability while Tyler has always been more comfortable as a risk-taker.  Becoming a real estate broker was pretty risky and it took a lot of faith and prayer for me to get 100% on board.  Had I known it would be such an ideal fit for Tyler in every which way, I wouldn’t have dragged my feet.  And had I thought about what it would mean for his ability to spend so much time with me and Adeline, I would have ordered his first set of business cards years ago.

Today was one of those flexible days for Tyler so he joined us for a little stroll around University Village.  Once we had our window shopping fill, we decided to grab some dinner down the street at Mamma Melina.

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When it comes to happy hour seating, Mamma Melina has two options – 1. the bar area (which technically doesn’t allow minors, no matter how cute – see above) and 2. two couch seats which both happened to be occupied.  The rest of the restaurant was empty (apparently, no one else eats dinner at 3:52pm… wutt?) so the bartender/waitress went out of her way to get us happy hour priced seating in the main dining area.  Her words: “I refuse to turn you away – we’ll make it work for you three.  You deserve this.”  What a lovely way to be greeted as new parents!  HERO TREATMENT!  I will take it.

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There was plenty of room to park our stroller right next to our table.  Oh, and free street parking plus a free 3-hour lot underneath the restaurant.  Quality, substantial, well priced happy hour food plus adult beverages running from 3-6pm (longer on Tuesdays and Thursdays).  The best part of having a little impromptu date night with your newborn at Mamma Melina? Hands down – the art that’s uniquely displayed on the ceiling!  Perfect for newborn gazing from a reclined stroller.

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Side note: Tyler drew a fascinating parallel between a) newborns strapped into car seats which are snapped into strollers and b) old men snoozing in La-Z-Boy recliners on casters.  Next risky business venture? Possibly.

Mamma Melina offered us a place loud enough to belly laugh and not get starred at but quiet enough to hear each other the first time (a delicate balance for a date night choice).  While Addie snoozed, we reminisced about our teenage years with braces (I dutifully wore my rubber bands, he did not), what it will be like to travel to Nashville in October with a baby (he will masterfully pack and prepare our gear, I will bring a boatload of snacks), and how good prosciutto is on pizza (duh).

Strolling into MiiR with a Baby

After hitting up the Kirkland waterfront, my sister (Shari, 32), niece (Meredith, 6 months), my husband, (Tyler, almost the big 3-0) and our daughter (Adeline, 3 weeks old) headed back across the 520 bridge to Seattle onward to the neighborhood of Fremont.  We had recently discovered a newly developing area of Fremont worth a little stroll.

Destination: MiiR. Purpose: Beer for a cause.  How very Seattle of us.

MiiR has been made known for their cool bikes and trendy bottles paired with deliberate and sustainable giving.  Tyler had heard that they opened up a flagship store where they sold their products in conjunction with inviting their customers to pull up a chair, enjoy a coffee or a draft brew and either a) work remotely (again, how very Seattle!) or b) split a French Toast Mighty-O doughnut with a loved one.

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Obviously, MiiR will continue to be a dreamy place for #daddyaddie time.  See above.

Disclaimer: this place is “baby-friendly” as in no one checked Addie’s ID at the door but their aesthetic is oober young/hip/trendy (think crisp white walls + white counter tops with succulents on the tables.)  They did have changing tables in the bathrooms though. In fact, they were the HIPPEST changing tables I had ever seen – super modern, stainless steel, rectangular.  No koala bear stickers to be found on those bad boys.

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It is a fairly quiet place so if you’re looking for a spot to bring a cranky baby or some white noise rather than white-everything-else, you may want to consider the outdoor seating area.  Indoor seating should probably be reserved for napping newborns as to not tick off the Warby Parker-wearing telecommuting graphic designer fiddling away on his MacBook Pro at the table next to you.

I’m one of those PNW hippies that believes talking to your child about real things very early on is important for their development.  Or maybe it’s just good for my continued brain development as a temporary stay-at-home mom to take a break from baby-talk and discuss the alleviation of poverty and the concept of clean water with my 3-week old.  In addition to the aforementioned cold brews, doughnuts and outdoor seating, my favorite part about our visit to MiiR was explaining to Meredith and Adeline how MiiR operates, using the illustrative wall visuals to animate their concepts. Start ’em young, I say.

And keep mommy’s brain from turning into mush by continuing to do kid-friendly yet adult things with sweet Adeline.

MiiR offers you a trendy and clean space to sip on an adult beverage without forcing you and your newborn into a dark bar at two o’clock in the afternoon.  The tables and chairs are spread out enough to easily maneuver a stroller around.  And I know you’re curious about those LEGIT stainless steel changing tables in both the men and women’s restrooms.  And did I mention the doughnuts?

PS: Tyler said I should also mention that in the future, while I stroll, Adeline will ride the MiiR Bambini.

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