This is the first post in what I hope will be a weekly series #toddlertakeout where I tip other mom’s off on great places to dine out with their littles. I hope you enjoy because bar none, this is going to be my favorite blog research to do, that is unless Louis Vuitton wants me to do product research for them!
The kids and I eat out ALOT. In part because I don’t like to cook and in part because it’s simply a lifestyle choice. We’re the type of family who likes to get out of the house and almost feed off the shared energy of the people around us. Running out to a quick sit down dinner at our favorite restaurant is something we can do on a moments notice and the kids have grown to love it as much as we do. About an hour ago the kids and I went on a lunch date to our favorite greek place. No reason, no other company, just a quick bite where we all got to eat at the same time and it was easier for me to enjoy their company rather than feeling like I’m their kitchen slave.
We have friends whose kids hardly ever go to restaurants because they swear the kids won’t behave, I don’t buy it. My kids are as curious and active as they come, but when you put them in a restaurant they (generally) behave because they know what to do, what to expect, and what is expected of them. It doesn’t always go perfectly but it goes well enough, often enough, that we keep taking them out. Victory!
Dining with Toddlers: Tender Greens
I love Tender Greens. Fantastic food, fantastic concept and it’s no wonder that their single restaurant we have patroned for years has grown into dozens of locations throughout California in a matter of years. For this review I’ll be talking about their Liberty Station location but you really can’t go wrong at any of them.
Why it Works for Dining with Kids
- Cafeteria Style – No extra wait time for service or trying to get the waitress to bring the check while you try to extend the kids past their patience level
- Indoor / Outdoor seating – Great outdoor patio that is large and also open seating.
- Simple sustainable food – Healthy option for eating out that even picky eaters should enjoy
- Reasonably priced – Getting a hot plate with steak for under $10 is a deal
- Go with the Hot Plate: your choice simple salad + protein + mashed potatoes
- Well priced but a glass of wine is almost as much as your plate so be warned
- Their food philosophy: slow food, done fast
Who doesn’t love farm to fork, especially when you make it a habit of eating out?
The food is simply, sustainable and basically everything that is great about Southern California cuisine. They have great salads that go perfectly with a “Ladies Who Lunch” playdate. The guys like it too because they have hot stuff and great proteins. I recommend the Hot Plate, which is your choice of simple salad + protein + mashed potatoes. Add a glass of white wine and it’s the recipe for a perfect SD dinner out.
- Relaxed environment
- I place I would go without kids but can just as easily take them too
- Outdoor dining that is great for kids
- Big farm table for when you have a large group and lots of littles
Tender greens really is a dream for parents dining out with kids. Our strategy for success with this place is simple. If the line is short we all go up and order and then I take the kids to a table and Ry buses the food over to us while we are settled in. For the times it’s busier and the kids can’t sustain the shoulder to shoulder line, I just head straight to the table with the kids and we relax while Ry does the ordering and the busing.
The beauty of the cafeteria style with kids is that once you and your food is at the table, your done. You can stay as long as you want and the kids are content or if it goes terribly, you just leave the moment you want!
The Liberty Station location in particular is great because of the grounds of Liberty Station itself. When the older cousins come the just go out the side gate with the littles and they can run around by the fountain, lawns or even stay within eye sight without running around the restaurant, in between tables. No worries about cars (a particular issue for my little runners) because the road is miles away.
After dinner take a stroll over to get the kids ice cream or head towards the waterfront playground to burn off the last of their energy before bedtime. Boys love climbing on the massive WWII guns and running around on lawns.
To see if there is a location near you check them out online.
Have you ate at any of the other Tender Greens? Do you love it as much as I do? Share your comments below!