|Jason's Deli -- with toddler fingers|
This is part of a series of guest posts by Howard County bloggers. For local food blogs, check out the HocoBlogs food page.
Sara blogs at Sunshine Whispers, and she mixes posts on religion, food, kids' activities and more. She has even created a resource page with links to all kids of toddler activities. She also plays violin in the Columbia Orchestra. That community group has its first concert of the season on October 11, and Sara will both play and post about the group as the season unfolds.
But Sara is here now for food. Specifically, her recommendations about good places to take toddlers for good food. Sara and I want your recommendations as well. She is experienced enough to mix her recommendations with delicious food, healthy options, and extras like table service and crayons.
Take it away Sara:
It can be incredibly traumatic to go to a restaurant with a toddler. Gone are the days when baby would sleep in the carrier while Mom and Dad enjoyed a nice quiet meal out. Gone are the days when baby was content to sit in a high chair, falling for the old ‘airplane in the hangar’ trick. Nope, you are in the jungle now Mom and Dad. At the crossroads of ‘I want to do it!’ and ‘I’m done. Get me out of here!’ Proceed with caution. Fortunately, there are a few restaurants in Howard County that could be considered ‘safe zones.’ Restaurants that provide healthy, tasty menus for both parents and toddlers are essential. Restaurants that include some added ‘nice touches’ are amazing.
Here is a list of my top picks for toddler-friendly restaurants in Howard County:
Jason’s Deli: 8874 McGaw Road, Columbia, MD (right across from Wegmans),
As a Mom, I cannot say enough good things about Jason’s Deli. First of all, everything on their menu is free of trans-fat and high fructose corn syrup. This is a chain but the menu options are surprisingly healthy, including a healthy, all-you-can-eat salad bar. There are plenty of kid friendly options, and everyone gets ice cream at the end of the meal. The best part for families with toddlers? Servers bring the food to you.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers: 8640 Snowden River Parkway, Columbia, MD,
I did an unscientific survey of parents and Red Robin was a consistent winner in the ‘good for toddler’ category. The kid menu has many picky eater pleasers like grilled cheese, pizza, and mac ‘n cheese. Kids get crayons while you wait and seriously, this is a family favorite. That means it is loud… so your little firecracker can be loud too!
Uno Pizzeria & Grill: Columbia Mall and Long Gate
Uno’s is a fun restaurant that has fun and tasty alternatives for tots. They offer the same kid-friendly fare as most restaurants, but with some healthy flourishes. The chicken nuggets are baked, not fried. Available sides include grapes, broccoli, and brown rice. A super fun option (that we have not yet tried… I am not that brave yet) is ‘Make Your Own Pizza.’ The kids get an apron, pizza dough and the toppings. They get to make their own pizza and then it is baked along with the orders for the rest of the table. That is cool!
Mimi’s Café: 8250 Gateway Overlook Drive, Elkridge, MD,
For a chain restaurant, Mimi’s Café really goes all out to create a welcoming environment for families with toddlers. There are many great choices on their kids menu and most of them come with fruit or veggie sides. One of the nicer touches though is the fact that any kid in a high chair is given a bib (insurance for if you forget yours), crayons and a coloring menu, and a free ‘toddler’ appetizer that consists of cereal, crackers, and orange slices.
Runners Up? The four restaurants listed above are hard to beat, but there are other options that would be great for toddlers as well—both from a food and environment standpoint. Other restaurants to consider include:
• Mission Barbeque- great food. Loud restaurant.
• Maiwand Kabob (for takeout)
• Noodles & Company
• Nordstrom Café in the Columbia Mall
Where do you take your toddler? I need more options!