Dear Mr. Gold:
Best kid-friendly burger joint? Best kid-friendly brasserie? Best kid-friendly breakfast joint (besides Dinah's)? Best kid-friendly noodle/potsticker joint?
--Michael (via Facebook)
I would maintain that all burger joints, with the exception of Father's Office, are kid-friendly -- even places like 25 Degrees that are nominally more about the alcohol than about the burger. It's part of the compact: Where there are french fries, there will be children. Lucky Devils, on Hollywood Boulevard, has wonderful burgers and great shakes, plus a selection of craft beers you can pretend you didn't know about if the in-laws start asking questions.
Brasseries, which all serve french fries, follow the same rule, although they are dwindling. (Broadway Deli and Anisette, both recently closed, were the closest to the paradigm in town.) Waterloo & City is very dim and barlike, but kids love the patio outside. Comme Ça likes children fine, and has what I consider the best burger in town.
Breakfast -- ditto. Sub in pancakes for french fries, unless you're doing power breakfast at the Peninsula, in which case I suspect you're not taking Davey and Darla anyway. I've had a great time with children at Fred 62 and John O'Groats, although the wait on weekends can be rather long, as well as at Marston's and DuPar's. Dim sum breakfasts are great with kids -- sometimes I think that if you don't show up with a restless 3-year-old, you can rent one at a counter in the rear, like a pair of shoes at a bowling alley. Try Empress Pavilion in Chinatown.
And if noodles and potstickers are what you're craving, you can be assured that nobody will look twice at your children, at least without admiration. If you can endure the line, Din Tai Fung in Arcadia is perfect -- you can watch the cooks make soup dumplings through the large windows. If you can't, the potstickers are grand at Mandarin Noodle House, which serves you the food almost before you're aware you ordered it.