M Street Kitchen, on Santa Monica's Main Street, makes it easy to eat out when you're dining with the short set. The free kids meal for those 8 and under — which is served from 4 to 6:30 p.m. — offers a choice of mac and cheese, quesadillas (with a house-made tortilla), grilled cheese or PB&J, which comes augmented with fresh fruit, french fries and milk or juice. This is even more fun when you coincide your kid's happy meal with a happy hour of your own, from 4-6 p.m. daily. The grown-up menu includes a California griddle burger (add chipotle mayo for a kick), a steal at $4.95. Other options are sushi or the pulled chicken nachitos (a serious mound of shredded chicken is involved). The bar serves a three-buck beer (try the Hoegaarden) or a fresh fruit–laden sangria in either red or white. All this means that a family of four can dine for about 20 bucks. It's enough to make you actually leave your house. —Angela Matano
2000 Main St., Santa Monica, 90405. (310) 396-9145, mstreetkitchen.com.