Portland’s Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants

29 May

By Molly Norton

Kid tested…Mom and Dad approved

Portland’s food scene is just one-of-a-kind.

How many cities in America boast so many great non-chain restaurants that are not only kid-friendly, but have food worthy of a mini Iron Chef? You mean I can have a beer/glass of wine AND have a great meal in a place that will accommodate my squirmy toddler? Sign me up!

NOTE: There are a bajillion great kid-friendly and family friendly restaurants in Portland, so understand that these are really, truly just the tip of the iceberg.

1) Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) (SE) – Bills themselves as “Portland’s First Eco-Brewpub.” Sweet. Casual place to bring the kids with a small play area with chalkboard, games, toys, and a train table. Interesting soups, sandwiches, salads, burgers and pizza. Reuben sandwich soup with pastrami and sauerkraut? Actually, delicious! Seasonal selection of delicious organic brews on offer. Also, don’t forget to check out the relatively new Hopworks BikeBar = quintessential PDX.

2) Slappy Cakes (SE) – Get your pancakes and Dubstep here. The formula for this place is genius: skillets built-into the tables that allow kids to make and decorate their own pancakes + amazing brunch choices for adults + a robust cocktail list = best place to take kids for brunch in town. Try the pork belly with a sparkling cocktail to counterbalance the fattylisciousness while your kids have fun adding chocolate chips to banana pancakes. Come early (at 8am) or late (around 2pm) or there may be a looooong wait.

3) Seasons and Regions (Hillsdale) Friendly neighborhood spot in Hillsdale. While they don’t have a play area for kids, they do have a nice enclosed patio with enough room to spread out a bit. Nicely prepared seafood dishes and a good “cheap food” happy hour where most items are $3. Wide assortment of items on the kid’s menu and crayons to boot. Don’t miss the raspberry scones for brunch or check out their gluten-free menu.

4) Sunshine Tavern (SE) Folks with kids and without love this place. Keeps the kids entertained with a 14ft Shuffleboard table, vintage Donkey Kong AND Ms. Pac-Man, but make no mistake — this is not an annoying video game parlor à la Chuck E. Cheese. Food is top-notch and includes wood-fired pizzas, salads, thoughtful pastas, and fried chicken-n-waffles with clover honey. Did we mention the soft-serve ice-cream? Did we mention that soft-serve ice cream with Fernet on top? YOWZA.

5) Lovely’s 50/50 (N) – Wood fired pizzas, salumi, nettles, fresh farm eggs, Oregonzola, and homemade salted caramel or flowering thyme ice cream (drool). Better for kids with longer attention spans or who are less mobile as there isn’t a whole lotta room to stretch out.

6) Bollywood Theater (NE Alberta) – Pimm’s Cup and Papri Chaat! While it sounds like more of a cool dance party than a restaurant, Bollywood Theater is a great place to take the kids to introduce to them to quality Indian “street food.” The portions are large, the vibe is fun, the price is cheap. Grab some of the country’s finest ice cream afterwards at Salt & Straw nearby and roll home full and happy.

7) McMenamins Kennedy School (NE) – A local institution in terms of family dining. Two words: Tater tots. I’m not sure what addictive substance they lace these with, but doggone it, tots (and adults) love these tots. Lots of eye-candy to keep the kids engaged and distracted while you enjoy a hand-crafted ale in the courtyard restaurant (which is actually a converted school cafeteria – so cool).

8) Laughing Planet (Gabriel Park, Pearl, and other PDX locations) – Fun, casual café with an ENCLOSED BACK PATIO promises “to fulfill your daily requirement of goofiness and humor.” Healthy, creative burritos, salads, soups, smoothies and juices are what’s on offer here. Great menu for kids, vegetarians, and meatatarians alike. And who can resist the dinosaurs on the tables?

9) Waffle Window (Hawthorne and NE Alberta) – This place rocks. A window on the side of the Bread and Ink Cafe serves up little mini masterpieces for about $4. Try the 3B’s (Bacon Basil Brie) waffle with a green tea and mint lemonade. Kids will love the Chocolate Dipped Waffle or the fresh Oregon Strawberry Waffle. Vegetarians will salivate over the Farm Fusion with mushroom, spinach, roasted pepper, tomato and marinated chèvre. Visit on a sunny day and enjoy the picnic tables outside with the kids. You can also eat your waffles inside the café, but the venue is tight and not terribly stroller-friendly. There’s also a location on Alberta in NE that’s cute as a button and has some tables outside.

10) Laurelwood Public House and Brewery (NE) – This pub feels so quintessential Portland, it makes us happy just walk in the place. Come here to enjoy the trifecta of tasty organic beer, terrific food, and 3 tot-friendly areas. And you have to order the Space Stout, not only because it has a cool name, but because it has flavors of coffee AND chocolate AND beer. Ribs, chicken, burgers, sausage plates, salads, mexican food, veggie delights, seriously tasty garlic fries — the menu will definitely have something for everyone.

11) Maher’s Irish Pub (Lake Oswego) – If your travels take you out to the burbs slightly south of Portland, this is one of the best places to take the kiddos. Cuddle near the fireplace of this festive, cozy little pub with its sparkling lights in the winter. Enjoy the outdoor fire pit, picnic tables, and enclosed back patio in the summer. Nice selection of local beers and wines on offer and a cheap food happy hour that includes sliders, an Irish cheese board, and a tasty shepherd’s pie. Live music and entertainment 7 nights/week.

12) Mother’s Bistro (SW) – Local moms and dads love this place for breakfast. The space has chandeliers and lots of natural light. And they serve breakfast nachos, matzoh ball soup, crunchy french toast and they accommodate those who are veggie and gluten-free. Make reservations.

13) Bumblekiss (Beaumont Village) – I’ll start with a disclaimer that this brunch place doesn’t have a play area and the tables are a little tight, but the food is wonderful and the staff welcoming. Try the mini muffin basket with flavors like lavender coconut and banana. Whether you are vegan and gluten-free or drool over bacon, you’ll find something to love at Bumblekiss.

14) Fire on the Mountain (NE) – Serves up tasty wings (free-range!) in a fun micro-brewery on Fremont Street with an outdoor patio. The owners, inspired by Nigel Tufnel “like to take things to 11.”

15) Mississippi Pizza Pub (NE)- Some radically tasty pizzas here that include veggie, vegan, and gluten-free options. Fun place to take the kids to listen to live music like Franchot Tone and dance, dance, dance.

16) Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House (Pearl) – One of our favorite kid-friendly breweries in town. Great atmosphere with outdoor patio and a solid menu that will please everyone from finicky kids to finicky foodies to those who are vegan and gluten-free. Root beer glazed pork belly, ribs, Dungeness crab roll, sweet potato fries, smoked chicken, burgers, Obsidian Stout Mac-N-Cheese, salads. Desserts are HUGE. Wash it all down with a pint or two of their top-notch ales or seasonal brews.

17) Playdate PDX (NW) – While not a restaurant per se, it’s a terrific place to bring the 8 and under set to play while you have a hot mug of Stumptown coffee, a mimosa, local beer, or one of their many delicious sandwich/salad options. Great meal choices for kids, too. Free Wifi allows you to work while the kids climb through tunnels and hit the slides.

18) Play Boutique (Lake Oswego and Beaverton) – Similar to Playdate PDX, Play Boutique allows the little ones access to bouncy houses, kinetic toys, and other fun-ness while parents can relax in the cafe, work on their laptops, and enjoy light food and drink offerings.

Did we miss any great places? Let us know and we’ll include in the next update.


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