Freelance writer Jessica Ritz has been known to hunt down everything from the best wine shop to bakeries. When she became a mom her food adventuring led to a new search for the best places to eat with kids. With the mission to find restaurants and unique eating experiences “where children are welcome and where us adults actually want to go,” Ritz has become a go-to source for information about kid friendly eating establishments that offer great food for parents with accessible options for younger children. She created Taster Tots L.A. to document her journey.
When asked about what’s the best meal to eat out with kids Ritz has some well-researched advice. “Brunch is a good way to try a place that might be a little more upscale than where you’d usually go for a family meal,” suggests Ritz. “Unless you’re at a very fancy restaurant where people want to listen to classic music and drink mimosas while reading the Sunday paper in total silence, brunch generally implies a laid back, relaxed meal. Also, kids tend to be in better moods during the morning than at dinnertime.”
Ritz shares this list of her favorite brunch spots in Southern California.
The Hungry Cat
100 W. Channel Road (at PCH)
Santa Monica, CA 90402
“Since the Hollywood Farmers Market is just around the corner, Sunday brunch is a total win-win situation here. Grab your fruits and veggies for the week (and taste the samples to stave off early morning hunger), and then sit down inside or out on the patio for an awesome morning meal. We like getting a combo of egg-based dishes that creatively showcase David Lentz’s seafood know-how, and something sweet to share from the menu that constantly changes depending on the season, along with some oysters and incredible French fries. Plus maybe market-driven cocktails for the adults if we’re up for it! There’s also a Santa Monica location if you’ve got a beach day planned.”
“Manhattan Beach is extra appealing because most other beach areas are separated by a highway or some barrier and MB Post is smack in the commercial district, meaning you can have brunch at David LeFevre’s casual spot with hefty, meaty but also vegetable intensive, market-driven food from a former fine dining chef. Then cross the street and hit the beach or the pier. Lots of families gather in this roomy restaurant with big open windows facing the ocean. Bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits will get things started right. The ‘nooner’ menu that starts after brunch ends at 1:30 has lots of small plate choices. Get an order of the massive and amazing, fee fi fo fum fries to share as an afternoon snack.”
“The Brentwood Country Mart is a trek for us, so it’s helpful to have areas to let off some steam when we get there. That’s why FarmShop’s brunch is pretty ideal, since the seasonal food and baked goods are impeccable, and the patio area with the mini coin-operated rides helps, too. And now the attached Artisan Market is open and stocked with all kinds of gorgeous goodies to take home. If you need yet more terrific coffee and treats, Caffe Luxxe and Sweet Rose Creamery are just a few feet away.”
“Plan accordingly since Little Dom’s in Los Feliz is always packed, but the food is so worth it. I can’t go here without ordering the eggs funghi, and sometimes the kids can have a Nutella sandwich as a breakfast treat. Otherwise they’re more than happy with the ricotta blueberry pancakes or some savory breakfast sides. Its sister restaurant Dominick’s in West Hollywood has a nearly identical menu and more space, so that’s a good option, too.”
The Sycamore Kitchen
“The neighborhood along La Brea near 3rd Street really needed a useful coffee joint and casual bakery/cafe, and thankfully, chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield have totally delivered. The big patio out front is perfect for kids, and the sweets available all day long are delicious and not just loaded with refined flours and sugar. You’ll notice they make cookies, muffins and cakes with ingredients such as rye and quinoa flours. Now the full breakfast menu is finally available with protein-loaded sandwiches, delicate egg dishes and creative sweeter items like buckwheat crepes.”
La Grande Orange
“Because our boys love riding public transit, La Grande Orange is the perfect restaurant for them and us. The service is fast and attentive, and the kids’ menu is a great deal — it even comes served in sectioned plates! I can have a Brussels sprouts salad with smoked almonds (and maybe they’ll even taste it) while the kids chow down on grilled cheese sandwiches with fruit. Plus the fresh baked English muffins are always a huge hit with my kids. Who wouldn’t like eating in a converted beautiful former Santa Fe train depot while watching the Gold Line trains pass by?”