There is a myth, it seems, that after you have children your friends disappear. But new parents still want to go out, eat good food and drink wine, beer and booze as much as the non-child-rearing set. Actually, they likely want to even more. But because not every restaurant welcomes babies and children, new parents often have to find new hangouts.
Most of L.A.’s best restaurants won’t turn you away if you show up with a tot, but the following places are both kid-tested and parent-approved:
Golden Road Brewing
The pub at Golden Road Brewing in Glendale might be the best place in the city to hang out with children. A large AstroTurf patio allows kids to play while parents unwind, sipping craft beer brewed on-site. Fuel up on short rib tacos and large Bavarian-style pretzels with mustard and cheese dips in a spacious setting while the little ones gnaw on pasta, grilled cheese or a burger. 5410 W. San Fernando Road, Glendale; (213) 373-4677, goldenroad.la.
Not only can you chow down on tasty Mediterranean street food such as doner kebabs and doquitos while sipping craft beer and sangria in a chill setting, but Spitz also boasts a variety of board games and a room with a large chalkboard and chalk for the kids to get creative. The under-12 diner can enjoy his or her choice of meat wrapped in lavash with a side and drink for $6. 1725 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 522-3309, eatatspitz.com.
Barnsdall Art Park
The Friday night wine tastings at Barnsdall Art Park are a beloved summertime activity for many wine-drinking Angelenos. Once a week, from late May through early September, Silverlake Wine provides four selections of boutique, artisan wines from around the world to raise money for the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation. For $25, adults receive a generous taste of each (usually one rose, one white and two reds) as well as a stemless wine glass from which to drink and then save as a keepsake. Children over 3 get in for $5; younger children are free. Guests lay out blankets on the grass next to Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House and are encouraged to bring picnics to nibble while watching the sunset (no outside alcohol is permitted). And in case there isn't time to bring your own spread, some of L.A.'s favorite food trucks make an appearance each week (Border Grill, anyone?). There are free juice boxes for kids, who are welcome to run around while their parents contemplate how the DJ spinning is the closest they'll ever get to a dance club again. 4800 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood; (323) 644-6275, barnsdall.org.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA offers free membership to kids under 18 and they can bring a guest (read: parent) for no charge. Friday evening jazz concerts begin April 24 and are the ideal occasion for taking advantage of the free admission. Food is available for purchase from on-site restaurants such as Ray's and Stark Bar, which offers ambitious seasonal farm-to-table fare such as poached striped bass, local duck breast and wood-grilled Cornish game hen. (For a more budget-friendly night, pack a picnic.) The cocktails are hand-crafted and the wine list is mostly Californian. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
Mohawk Bend in Echo Park is a symbol of gentrification — and must be among the first places in L.A. to use the words “pub grub” and “vegan” in the same sentence. As more hipsters reproduce, the restaurant has become packed with young parents sipping on locally crafted beer from the all-California tap list. The back room is ideal for kids angling to play and crawl all over the place, and those under 12 can order the “Marley Meal,” a small cheese pizza or chicken breast with fresh fruit and fries for $7. 2141 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; (213) 483-2337, mohawk.la.
The famous Malibu restaurant Duke's allows for parental relaxation along with a romantic beachside view. Families that score an outdoor table on the patio can watch the dolphins jump out of the water while mom and dad drink margaritas. The $8 kids menu includes grilled fish, homemade chicken tenders and a Kahuna cheeseburger. Happy hour is particularly awesome: loud, cheap and friendly. 21150 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 317-0777, dukesmalibu.com.
Link n Hops
Link n Hops, in the already kid-tastic Atwater Village, is a great funky gastropub for all ages. Plenty of high chairs and a kids menu make it appealing for little ones, while dozens of beers on tap and a large selection of burgers and sausages keep the grown-ups happy. It even has a variety of vegan options. 3111 Glendale Blvd, Atwater Village, (323) 426-9049, linknhops.com.
Rock & Brews
Despite being a bar and restaurant designed around rock music and its hedonism, Rock & Brews (with three locations in L.A. County) still knows it's important to cater to the next generations of gearheads. Its “Lil’ Rockers” menu has kid favorites like hamburgers, pizza, grilled chicken kabobs and grilled cheese. Kids can choose from drawing on rock & roll–themed coloring templates or running around in a squishy-safe kids play area while parents enjoy American comfort food, a large selection of craft beers and flat-screens blasting music videos from the glory days. Multiple locations, rockandbrews.com.
The Farmers Market
After “Kids Club” at the Grove from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays, head to the adjacent outdoor food court. After you work up an appetite chasing your toddler around while listening to kiddie entertainment, head to the more charming section, the decades-old Farmers Market, where it’s so bustling that even the biggest toddler tantrum will go unnoticed. There’s food here for every taste: hot dogs from Fritzi Dog, pitchers of beer and tacos from Loteria, French crepes and Bennett’s ice cream for dessert. 6333 W. Third St., Fairfax District; (323) 933-9211, farmersmarketla.com.
Mud Hen Tavern
Susan Feniger’s Mud Hen Tavern, which replaced Street in the same location, is a great spot for a boozy baby brunch (booze for you, not the baby). The restaurant offers a well-rounded menu with comforting dishes such as the Ultimate Biscuit and Gravy, as well as a variety of vegan and vegetarian options. Plus, the friendly staff has been known to bend over backwards for little ones. The kitchen even sends out mini plates of food such as sliced seasonal produce and homemade applesauce for the babies. 742 Highland Ave., Hollywood; (323) 203-0500, mudhentavern.com.