Dining out with your kids can make you wish you didn’t have any at all.

Between thrown crayons, spilled drinks and dirty looks from patrons and servers alike, it can make you long for the days when you split a bottle of wine before tucking into three courses. While most parents want to hit the hottest new restaurants in town, kids are an unwelcome accessory to offal, charcuterie and primitivo. The only thing worse than bad food is that walk of shame through a crowded restaurant filled with sneering hipsters. Better to settle for brightly lit spots that cater to the time-starved and sleep deprived. “The main thing is flexibility and that the staff and general clientele like and understand kids,” says Toronto parent Dori Skye Engel, who has two sons, ages 2 and 4. “If I don’t think anyone is going to give me a dirty look, I am far more likely to go there.” Luckily, Toronto is host to a number of restaurants where parents can take their kids and eat well, too.

(299 Wallace Ave.) Tucked away on a residential street in the up-and-coming Bloor and Lansdowne area, Yasi’s has become a favourite for neighbourhood parents and kids thanks to the quality menu, smoothies and patience of staff. It’s a go-to spot for anyone who wants a great lunch or brunch with or without kids in tow. Kicking and screaming: Owner Yasemin Zorlutuna takes everything in stride, including kids crawling around on the floor and banquettes. Note: Ms. Zorlutuna insists there is rarely such a thing as a misbehaved child, only misbehaved parents. Kiddy classics: Crowd-pleasers include grilled-cheese sandwiches, “silly sticks” (French toast), and something called a “hungry monkey.” All meat comes from Vince Gasparro’s Quality Meats and other ingredients are local and organic when possible, while bread is from Ace Bakery. Most notable adult item: The burger, made from scratch with organic beef, is considered one of the best in the city. They also serve a two-person Turkish brunch Saturday through Monday, along with standard brunch offerings.

(163 Roncevalles Ave.) This slick, revved-up hot-dog stand in the Polish part of town screams “kid friendly,” from the smiling Buddha mascot to the kid-centric menu. Pepperette-sized dogs are $2 apiece and any additional toppings will set you back 25 cents. Kicking and screaming: It’s hard to go anywhere without being ambushed by a stroller brigade in Roncesvalles, so there is no worry for parents as far as noise level and behaviour are concerned. Kids are free to crawl around and play with toys and games courtesy of neighbouring toy shop Scooter Girl. Kiddy classics: Hot dogs, naturally. There is also a grilled cheese made with a lovely white cheddar that is not too strong. Most notable adult item: Take your pick from the local handmade sauces, including the spicy-as-hell pumpkinpapaya jerk sauce, a natural ketchup from OddFellows or a rhubarb ketchup from Amuse Bouche. Or try the Buddha Salad, with fresh organic greens and seasonal ingredients.

(798 Danforth Ave.)

(506 Lawrence Ave. W.)


(55 Bloor St. W.) Long before the East started battling the West in the city’s exhausting Benedict wars, all-you-can-eat was the only way to get a decent brunch in Toronto. Well, buffets still exist, and what kid doesn’t like options? Especially when there is a three-tiered chocolate fountain involved. The all-you-can-eat service is $21.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids 10 and under. Kids under 4 eat for free. Kicking and screaming: Kids are more than welcome to act like kids and they often crowd around the jazz trio that plays at brunch time. Kiddy classics: The chicken fingers are from frozen, but the mac and cheese, available at brunch, is from scratch, with yellow cheddar. The restaurant also supplies kids with fruit kebabs and marshmallows to dip in the chocolate fountain. Most notable adult item: The omelette station is the safest bet. Made from scratch, omelettes are one of the few items available that haven’t been sitting in a heating tray all morning.

(1660 Bayview Ave.) This Leaside joint serves straight-up pub food, from Tex-Mex to nachos. The kids’ menu is also run-of-the-mill, but a playroom that entertains tots while parents eat is the clincher to dining in peace. Kicking and screaming: Kids are more than welcome to take all their energy out in the playroom, where they can win prizes and play in the ball room. Jumping on the banquettes is not allowed and crawling on the floor is not advisable. Kiddy classics: Frozen chicken fingers or pizza; dough and tomato sauce are both made in-house. Most notable adult item: Besides the option of a stiff drink?

Healthy pizza made from organic ingredients with tons of gluten- and dairy-free options makes this a place perfect for parents and kids with dietary restrictions. On Munchkin Mondays, kids eat for free from the always available kids’ menu – $5.95 gets you organic cheese or pepperoni pizza; kids’-sized pasta (served white or with butter or tomato sauce); a chicken Caesar; or a pizza sandwich, all served with an organic juice, apple and a toy. Kicking and screaming: While there is no playroom, kids are more than welcome to be themselves as long as parents are responsible and aware. Sparkling floors won’t make parents nervous that their offspring might catch something while crawling around. Kiddy classics: Pizza, of course, and they use certified organic L’Ancêtre mozzarella. All the other cheeses are made with organic milk and don’t have cellulose, natamycin, whey powder, milk solids or modified milk ingredients. Most notable adult item: The $25 fixed-price menu.

On its third generation of owners, this family-run, family-friendly dairy restaurant has a fully stacked kids’ menu that will keep them satisfied, including eggs, grilled cheese, French toast and pancakes. A good place to take the kids and their grandparents. Kicking and screaming: Just make sure your kids don’t get in the way of a heavily accented, burly server, and you will be fine. Kids can bounce around on seventies-style banquettes, but between them and the elderly that frequent the place, there is far too much food on the floor to crawl around on it. Kiddy classics: Elbow macaroni with a blend of four commercial cheeses is available. And who doesn’t love a pizza bagel with French fries? Most notable adult item: The homemade dill and split pea soup is a classic.