We are NOLA moms, so that means we live in a city that not only lives to eat but LOVES to eat. We all do our fair share of eating out. I will admit that our dining style and restaurant selections have dramatically changed since we became parents. Now it is less about trying something new and more about trying something safe and easy that we know works for our little one.
We have one neighborhood restaurant that is Annelise’s favorite. I know that if we go there that Annelise will clear her plate every time. So if she is having a week where she is being a picky eater and I am worried about getting food in her, we will make a trip there for her to chow down.
It’s odd that the things that are so important to us now in restaurant selection are not even things that I considered prior to being a mom. For example, now we mostly prefer counter service restaurants so that we can order, get our food and then leave whenever our little one can’t sit still anymore. At a table service restaurant, sometimes waiting for the bill is the difference between a successful dinner and a breakdown (by either my daughter or – let’s admit it – me).
A booth is a blessing. In a booth we can let her roam free, stand up, sit down and jump up and down – anything to keep the peace! In a booth she feels that she is free and not confined to sitting in a chair. It’s a win for both child and parent.
Being kid friendly is a tall order, but here is what we feel really makes a difference when it comes to dining out with kids:
- Reasonable kids’ menu prices with a good variety, including vegetables
- High chairs readily available in abundant quantity
- Changing tables
- Call ahead wait times
- Coloring sheets or some type of entertainment
- Tolerant of noise
Sometimes the restaurant can have everything going for it in the kid friendly department, but the waiter can make the difference. You can definitely tell a waiter who has kids or kids in the family from those who do not, as they tend to interact with the kids at the table more. Since waiters tend to pop in and out it becomes a game for the kids. When you are in one place for about an hour, any distraction is helpful.
My number one favorite thing that a waiter can do to make eating out easier for a family with young children is bring the kids’ food first! It is so simple but makes such a difference. It gives you time to get their food cut or cooled and get them situated before your dinner arrives. This also keeps your food from getting cold, keeps them busy longer and gives you more time to “fight” with them about eating.
NOMB Favorite Kid Friendly Restaurants in New Orleans
Lunch: Our top choices are Irish House, Chick-Fil-A, Pho Orchid, Zoe’s Kitchen, Caffe Caffe and Izzo’s Illegal Burrito.
Dinner: We adore The Galley, Juan’s Flying Burrito, Reginelli’s Pizza, Zea Rotisserie & Grill, Slice, Dat Dog and Parkway Bakery.
Dessert: For that sweet tooth, of course there’s Café du Monde, but also check out Creole Creamery and Angelo Brocato’s.
No matter where you go out to eat, it is always a gamble. The stars have to perfectly align between the child’s mood and the restaurant’s environment. But in NOLA, there are so many restaurant options that it is easy to keep trying new places until you find something that fits your family’s tastes and needs.
I love new restaurant ideas. Some of our favorites are Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, Mikimoto, New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company, and any place that serves eggs and bacon. Recently had a great experience at St. Charles Tavern, even though it might seem like more of a bar, it was great for Sunday lunch and I got to have a bloody Mary, AND the kids got to watch the streetcars go by.
I don’t have too much experience with this since my baby is only 5 months, but when I was a nanny in college for 2 kids, we used to go to La Thai all the time. Believe it or not, it’s very kid friendly! They have a great kids menu (complete with fried shrimp and french fries), and don’t mind the kid noise. Plus the adults get to eat yummy Thai food. 🙂
Superior Grill is great if you get there early. I love lunch at St. James Cheese Co. They have an outdoor patio so Jane can be a little noisy and they have an amazing kids grilled cheese.
For fine dining options, we find places that have a patio and usually make reservations around 5:30. We’ve had success at Lilette, Martinique Bistro, and Coquette.
I usually ask for an order of french fries to come out immediately and then a fancy cocktail. And if they can’t get the fries out ASAP, make the cocktail a double!
Thank you so much for publishing this list! My 8yo daughter and I are coming to NOLA for a week and, as tourists, have no idea of what would be good for the both of us. We have researched tirelessly for places that we are marking as “definite” but, this is a great guide to fill in the blanks. Looking forward to your beautiful city!