There is nothing better for food lovers than heading out to a new restaurant or returning to an old favourite for an evening of exciting flavours, new experiences or good old comfort food. For parents however, the sheer feat of exiting the house with all the kids in tow can be quite an ordeal, especially if you plan on having a meal out.
On top of the logistics, food loving parents often have to make a choice between top notch food and venues that will accommodate children without a side order of judgement. There are some absolutely great restaurants around the country though that will tick all the boxes for dining with your mini foodies, great menus and options, understanding staff, activities and distractions and
quality food for the grown ups.
This five star icon of hospitality provides a five star service to children too. With a tailored menu for under 12s, created by Executive Chef Ed Cooney, young guests can dine in style too. The Merrion provide a whole experience for the little ones with Miss & Master Merrion crockery, cartoon table mats and balloons. Crayons and colouring books are also provided in the Cellar Restaurant to ensure the whole family enjoys their dining experience.
Kids love the excitement and theatre of FIRE’s impressive dining room and open pass. For a Sunday Roast with a difference, you can’t beat a family friendly meal in one of Dublin’s best loved restaurants. From the Céide North Mayo Lamb to Spatchcock Chicken and Irish Hereford Prime Roast Rib of Beef, FIRE lay on great sharing boards with all the trimmings for the family to share. Don’t worry if you have a picky one, they also provide fresh and healthy options on the kids menu and have ice cream cookie sandwiches to send them home really happy.
Airfield Estate is ideal for a family day out with so much to do and see. Children can get hands on with the farm and garden work by milking the cows and planting seeds. Afterwards they can enjoy the fruit of their labour in the Overends Restaurant which uses fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk from the estate. At Airfield, children learn about the connection between the food that they eat and where it comes from. They will also love the dedicated play areas and exploring the surrounding woods.
A lot of child friendly venues might be totally welcoming to the little ones but most parents hate being presented with a menu consisting of deep fried processed meats and a heap of chips. The conscientious gang at The Farm restaurants on Dawson Street and Leeson Street have created a great value Junior Menu that features fresh, locally sourced produce and a lot of organic ingredients including free range chicken, eggs, salmon, steak and, most importantly, ice cream!
With various locations across Dublin, Cork & Belfast, Wagamama is a great option for eating out with the kids. Not only do you get to enjoy some great Asian food but the kids will love playing with their chopsticks, created specifically for little hands. Every branch is really child friendly with the usual high chairs and colouring available and the children’s food is brought out quickly too, something every parent of a hungry child can appreciate!
Any restaurant with a focus on a family environment will naturally prioritise children. Founder Antonio Carluccio has spoken out against traditional children’s menus that alienate children from the family meal. At Carluccio’s, children eat top quality Italian food with the rest of the family. Staff make it interesting with menus that the little ones can colour in while they are waiting for their food. Kids can choose their own pasta shapes and one of several sauces or they can opt for a small portion of what the grown ups are eating, making them feel totally involved in the dining out process.
With two family friendly locations in Clontarf and Delgany, The Pigeon House is serving up some of the best kids food across the county and down into Wicklow. Chef Brian Walsh is paying close attention to his younger guests and they are provided with a range of top quality options across all menus, even brunch. A rare treat for kids, brunch includes classics like stacked pancakes and juicy burgers made using the best of local ingredients. They even get to take away gigantic homemade Oreo cookies, a definite hit with the little ones.
This stylish restaurant is right in the heart of Dublin’s Creative Quarter and is ideally located for a meal out with the children. With no steps and a spacious dining room and terrace, buggies and their occupants are more than welcome at Balfes. Parents can enjoy the modern food from the all day dining menus while the kids feast on mini homemade burgers, corn-fed chicken and gluten free fish n’ chips. The bartenders will treat them to a show, mixing up fruit juices, smoothies and alcohol free cocktails for the guests of honour.
Getting the kids to try new things can be a bit tricky but there’s one way that has proved very effective: bribery. At Ouzo’s Fish Shack in Sandycove, children can get a flavour of the sea while eyeing up their after dinner ice creams from Featherbed Farm in Wexford. The lobster tank will certainly keep curious kids occupied while mums and dads sit back and enjoy a range of delicious seafood sourced along the Eastern coastline.
You might not expect a thriving bar in the middle of Dublin’s Creative Quarter to be particularly child friendly but the Market Bar go out of their way to be accommodating. With plenty of room for buggies and a range of table heights to suit your family’s needs, staff are attentive and understanding. Prepared for kids of all ages, they have a table of games that you can use to play together while waiting for your food. That won’t be long however as the great thing about the Market Bar is that the tapas style cuisine is served promptly, further reducing risk of tantrums.
Italian cuisine is all about families coming together and sharing authentic food. Jamie Oliver wants to honour that tradition and sense of community in his neighbourhood restaurants and as a result kids are guests of honour. Focusing on nutritious, fresh and organic ingredients, the kids menu is as varied as it is tasty and all dishes come in two sizes to suit kids of all ages and appetites. Kids will get plenty of entertainment out of their high tech viewfinder binoculars and their individual ‘Shake-Me’ salad bowls.
Children love to explore the 18th century castle and its stunning grounds. Bring the whole family to Laois for a relaxing day out followed by a great meal in one of several dining areas. Children are always welcome at Castle Durrow whether they are overnight guests or visiting diners. A healthy and considered children’s menu is available in the award winning restaurant where they will be treated to complimentary minerals. If you are staying the night, the staff will arrange a babysitting service so you can fully relax and enjoy the romance of the castle.
Shopping plus kids usually means having to sit in a fast food chain sadly imagining the wonderful food you could be eating hadyou chosen another path in life. Kildare Village want you to be able to enjoy the full experience and have provided a wonderful space for children to play in right beside l’Officina so you can watch the small ones while dining al fresco. The Buon Appetitio Bambini menu is great value at €9 and includes a choice of Gragnano Pasta with tomato sauce, polpettine meatballs or Minestrone Soup, a drink and a scoop of Italian gelato. Meanwhile you can relax with a glass of wine from the excellent list.
Whether you are staying over at Ballymaloe House or just visiting, children will be entertained all day long. A popular spot for family days out in Cork, kids can muck in and help out on the farm, feeding the animals and collecting eggs. They can visit the extensive gardens where much of the produce is grown that is used in the restaurant. Children’s Tea is served every day for the little ones in the conservatory where they can enjoy healthy, homely food alongside homemade lemonade and ice cream. With plenty of kids running around, your little ones are likely to run themselves ragged.
At Momo Restaurant in Waterford City their philosophy is that when children and treated with respect and provided with great healthy options, they enjoy the dining out process more. At this year’s Irish Restaurant Awards, Momo were awarded best Kids Size Me in Ireland. The Kids Size Me programme encourages and celebrates restaurants that are providing access to healthy, nutritious menu choices for kids. A great attitude, natural fruit cordials, homemade ice cream with fun flavours and an award winning kids menu? Momo is ideal for eating out with your little ones.
This busy tapas restaurant in the heart of Galway City has such a lively atmosphere it can get pretty noisy. As a result, your boisterous kids won’t be bothering any other diners. With a strong emphasis on locally sourced produce, the tapas in Cava Bodega is often hailed as some of the best in Ireland. Lots of sharing plates allow children to explore the signature Spanish cuisine and experience it the best way possible, with their hands!
Let the little ones join you for the ultimate in grown up glamour, afternoon tea at the stunning g Hotel. Served in the Signature Lounge, your little ones will be treated to handmade scones, pastries and sandwiches as part of the Little Miss & Mr Afternoon Tea experience. If you are dining in restuarant gigi’s the staff will be just as attentive, providing kids with activity booklets when they arrive and serving up delicious options from the carefully considered children’s menu.
There’s nothing like a bit of sea air to make the little ones sleepy and Portstewart in County Derry has plenty of it. Renowned for their excellent seafood, Harry’s Shack are serving up the freshest fish around in exciting and innovative ways. Kids can get stuck in with their hands and then turn their attention to building sandcastles in the al fresco area. Grown ups can kick off their shoes and enjoy a drink, dessert or both while taking in the incredible views and the joyous sound of children playing contentedly.
Located in an old post office, Gearóid and Tara Lynch run this charming restaurant and guest house in Cavan with their signature warm hospitality and great food. Children are most welcome and are catered to with half portions of all dishes, alongside a considered and healthy children’s menu. Chef Gearóid was diagnosed with Coeliac disease in 2013 and has really invested in methods of cooking that cater to allergies while still producing incredible flavours. The Olde Post Inn is ideal for a conscientious family.
Alison has been writing since she could hold a pen, which came in handy for her degree in English, Media and Cultural Studies. She has been working in media since graduating and is the latest features writer for TheTaste.
Writing for TheTaste allows her to combine her passion for the written word with her love of food and drink. Find her on Twitter @AliDalyo