Ask the Parents

Procreators' picks for dining out with the progeny.

Last month I asked readers for tips on kid-friendly — thus parent-friendly — East Bay eateries, places where children have distractions, waiters are stoic, and childless patrons won’t give you the stink-eye. Here are a few of their recommendations. Warning: This list is not exhaustive, nor can it guarantee a good time, since toddlers and restaurants don’t often mix. Direct further suggestions to [email protected].

BISTRO FARE

Beauregard’s
1373 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-526-7200.

The Beauregards designed their bistro for families of all ages, with all-day service, a children’s menu, and welcoming attitude — as well as a full bar and stepped-up pizzas and entrées for the 21-and-over set.

CAFFEINE

Nomad Cafe
6500 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 510-595-5344.

This small, enterprising north Oakland cafe offers a play area for kids, free wireless access for their parents, and healthy, better-than-average cafe food for both.

CHINESE

Shan Dong
328 10th St., Oakland, 510-839-2299.

I fell in love with potstickers by the time I hit kindergarten, and your kids may, too: Shan Dong’s hand-cut noodles, dumplings, and other mildly spiced Northern Chinese fare appeal to foodies of all ages. “We love to watch when they are making the dumplings at the front of the restaurant,” one parent says. Other Chinatown recommendations: Older kids may enjoy picking out their own dim sum at bustling, family-filled Restaurant Peony or Legendary Palace, and Chef Lau’s dining room has lots of big tables for big families.

ETHIOPIAN

Abyssinia

5239 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-654-0500.

Asmara

5020 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-547 5100.

Toddlers may not go for the spicier dishes, but Ethiopian and Eritrean stews and spongy injera bread are meant to be eaten with the hands — and who doesn’t enjoy that? One parent commended Asmara for its child-friendly staff and Abyssinia for its carpeted floor — all the better to break their falls.

ITALIAN

Zza’s Trattoria

552 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-839-9124.

How can you not love a restaurant that flashes its big marquee sign on request? Zza’s adult-interest pizzas, nicely cooked pastas, and affordable wines make this popular restaurant more than a place where your kids can color on the tables.

BREWPUB

Cato’s Ale House
3891 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-655-3349.

Pyramid Alehouse

901 Gilman St., Berkeley, 510-528-9880; 1410 Locust St., Walnut Creek, 925-946-1520.

McCovey’s

1444 N. California Blvd., Walnut Creek, 925-944-9444.

Like Kensington Circus Pub, these four loud, casual brewpubs have a reputation for being good places to drink beer and nosh without leaving your kids at home. Their burger-heavy menus with NorCal touches seem perfect for picky young eaters.

MOROCCAN

Tanjia

4905 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-8691.

El Morocco

2203 Morello Ave., Pleasant Hill, 925-671-0132.

The East Bay’s two Moroccan restaurants are ideal for children, especially short-attention-span toddlers: The food isn’t spicy, the tables are kid height, the carpeted floors invite rolling around, and everybody loves to jiggle along with the belly dancer.

MEXICAN

Mexican restaurants in general tend to be casual and kid-friendly, packed with large families and big strollers. Some of my tipsters recommended Picante in Berkeley (which has a full kids’ menu), Cactus Taqueria (there’s one by Rockridge BART, another on Solano Ave.), and Mexicali Rose in downtown Oakland. I’ve also dodged halflings at El Huarache Azteca in Oakland and Taqueria El Balazo in San Ramon. See our online dining guide for full details.

SUSHI

Isobune

5897 College Ave., Oakland, 510-601-1424.

Tachibana
5812 College Ave., Oakland, 510-654-3668.

Sushi for kids? Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl swears that her favorite Manhattan sushi chef taught her white-food-only son to branch out, starting with ahi and salmon — and several of my friends’ kids have been picking apart maki for years. One friend recommended Isobune because kids love the sushi boats. Other parents prefer the sushi at Tachibana, and say the restaurant even spreads a tarp under your tot’s high chair to catch his or her dining shrapnel.

TREATS

Fenton’s Creamery

4226 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-658-8500.

Hey, we all scream for ice cream. Only problem: The new Fenton’s is pretty pricey.

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