Sometimes parents are just simply not up to cooking dinner. Or maybe they want to treat their toddler to a special night out. But where to go that will offer something everyone wants to eat? Several restaurants in town offer a kids-only menu that feature foods younger diners are more comfortable with, presented as a special treat just for them. Here we offer our top ten restaurants that offer child-friendly food to ensure a delicious and stress-free family meal out.
Pastaria (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-6603)
Chef and owner Gerard Craft is the father of two young daughters and created Pastaria as a place where both children and adults feel welcome, featuring his favorite childhood food: pasta. The entire menu is already kid-friendly -- pasta, pizza and gelato are loved by all ages. But the children's menu raises the fun factor a notch by teaching children about the different shapes of pasta. The most popular dish on the menu is the shells mac & cheese, which is actually a take on the adult menu item, canestri cacio e pepe, with pecorino, grana padano and black pepper.
Rooster (3150 South Grand Boulevard; 314-772-3447)
Families with children frequent both of Rooster's locations -- on South Grand Boulevard and downtown -- and owner David Bailey has made sure that adults and children alike feel welcome. The children's menu was created after listening to what kids like to eat and playing off of Rooster's regular dishes. Bailey finds that children six and up often order off of the adult menu while the younger children tend to stick to the PB&J and other items more in their comfort zone.
RED Kitchen and Bar at the Hyatt Regency Saint Louis at the Arch (315 Chestnut Street; 314-259-3244)
RED Kitchen and Bar at the Hyatt features a children's menu tested by kids, for kids. The colorful menu is filled with games and healthy dishes tuned to the tastes of the younger generation. Breakfast options include gluten-free blueberry cinnamon pancakes with a honey-herb fruit salad; a "top-your-own taco" with scrambled eggs and fun toppings; scrambled eggs and chicken sausage; and gluten-free or plain pancakes. Lunch and dinner includes a chopped chicken salad, organic vegetable salad, a build-your-own sub sandwich, gluten-free chicken tenders, spaghetti and meatballs, grilled steak, fish of the day and organic chicken. Half portion sizes of the regular menu are also available at 50 percent off.
Cheese-ology Macaroni and Cheese (6602 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-863-6365)
Let's face it, Cheese-ology speaks to the kid in all of us with a menu made up entirely of one of our favorite childhood foods. Fifteen varieties of macaroni and cheese are offered, including classic (white American and sharp cheddar), shrimp scampi, four-cheese (provolone, Gruyère, Muenster and goat cheese) and barbecue pulled pork (smoked Gouda, sharp cheddar, house-pulled pork and barbecue sauce). A significant portion of the restaurant's customers are, in fact, children, many of whom are perfectly happy choosing from the adult menu. However, for children who are perhaps not as adventurous or just wanting to stick to the classics, the "Just for Kids" menu includes a smaller sized "yellow American mac" that comes plain or with a choice of a mix-in, such as hot dogs, chicken or bacon.
Fitz's Bottling Company (6605 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-726-9555)
Fitz's is just a fun place to visit, period, regardless of your age, thanks to the 1940s refurbished bottling line visible from every table that churns out a bottle a second of Fitz's root beer, cream soda, orange pop, black cherry and other sodas. The food is fun, too, and kids get their own menu of cheeseburgers, tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, kosher dogs, chicken fingers, toasted ravioli, quesadillas and cheese pizza. All kids' plates come with a bottomless mug of Fitz's root beer or any of their sodas, french fries, "smiley fries," Fitz's root beer-baked beans, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, cole slaw or a salad.
Jilly's Cupcake Bar and Café (8509 Delmar Boulevard, Ladue; 314-993-5455)
A kid will not have trouble finding something great to eat at Jilly's, what with all the gourmet cupcakes, cakes and ice cream around. However, for those young ones (or their parents!) looking for a more balanced meal, the "Wee Ones" menu offers cheese or chicken quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, PB&J and a turkey and cheese sandwich, all served with kettle chips. Jilly's Cupcake Bar and Café also considers children in need. Proceeds from the sale of the new Children's Hospital Cupcake benefit the St. Louis Children's Hospital and was even created by a twelve-year-old.
Nadoz Bakery and Café (12 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-726-3100)
The kids' menu at Nadoz Bakery and Café offers a great sampling of children's favorite foods -- grilled cheese, PB&J, a turkey sandwich and a grilled chicken sandwich. However, not surprisingly, many go for the tempting Nutella and peanut butter crepe -- a little bit sweet and a little bit healthy. (We know several adults who'd like to order this one as well!)
Baileys' Range (920 Olive Street; 314-241-8121)
Just as with Rooster, Baileys' Range offers a welcoming environment for families and an inherently child-friendly main menu of eighteen different types of burgers and fries with barbecue sauce, house cheddar sauce or a variety of flavored mayonnaise, ketchup and mustards. For those that want something perhaps a little simpler, the kids-only menu offers a grass-fed hot dog and a grilled cheese sandwich.
Llywelyn's Pub (4747 McPherson Avenue; 314-361-3003)
The kids' menu at Llywelyn's Pub offers a host of kid-friendly meals -- grilled cheese, mac & cheese, pasta with marinara sauce, mini hot dogs and burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, fried or grilled chicken tenders and a child-size pita pizza (cheese, pepperoni or sausage). Each item is served with a side of fries, chips, fruit cup or veggie sticks, a dessert and a Llywelyn's Pub temporary tattoo. Children of VIP members eat free on Tuesdays.
Mi Ranchito (887 Kingsland Avenue, University City; 314-863-1880)
What kid doesn't appreciate the gift of a menu just for them that can be colored on and also has fun puzzles and games? That's the kids' menu at Mi Ranchito, which also offers smaller portions of standard Mexican fare: burritos, tacos, rice and beans, enchiladas and quesadillas, plus chicken tenders, hot dogs, tilapia, steamed veggies and rice and french fries. And there's always plenty of chips and salsa for the whole family to share.
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