Ask Mr. Gold
Question: I use to be fairly adventurous with my dining. Then my daughter came along, and I seem to be stuck in a hell of McDonalds and Islands: fast food and restaurants that hand you crayons with their child menu. I need a place that both my 2-year-old and I will enjoy.
Andrew (& Isabel), Venice
Answer: Two-year-olds couldnt be more charming there is a particularly charismatic specimen climbing up onto my lap at the moment but the irrepressible exuberance that makes them so much fun at the playground does tend to be fairly awkward in a restaurant. And the amenities that pacify somewhat older children the blobs of pizza dough they give out to the shorties at Angeli Café, the fish-filled fountain at Campanile, the excellent French fries at Jar dont necessarily do much for younger toddlers. Any parent of a 2-year-old has submitted to more drive-through Happy Meals than he or she probably cares to admit. But the big, wide, loud open spaces at the Greek restaurant Papa Cristos are fairly toddler-friendly, and little guys seem to love the chaos and the green corn tamales at Border Grill. In the summertime, the grilled fish and shrimp and crabs at the outdoor, wharf-dwelling San Pedro Fish Market at Ports OCall are perfect: mariachis, breezes and chips. And morning dim sum, of course, may be the perfect little-kid meal: raucous and free-form, with plenty to see, customers tolerant of leaping children, and a wide range of toddler-friendly food. Ocean Seafood may not serve the very best dim sum in Chinatown that would be Empress Pavilion but it is very good, and the concentration of toddlers is usually unusually high. The earlier you get there, the less time your 2-year-old will have to wait. 747 N. Broadway, Chinatown, (213) 687-3088.
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