Dining With Kids in Washington, D.C.

Each of these restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area has something to satiate and satisfy your kids, as you work toward refining their young palettes.


Before we were parents, my husband and I tried to experience the best dining that Washington, D.C., has to offer in every price range. While having two children has certainly altered the pace with which we devour the restaurant scene, our tastes have remained the same, and we are passionate about ensuring that our young kids appreciate the adventure of dining out as much as we do.

Our girls, aged 4 and 6, go everywhere with us when we go out to eat (well, almost everywhere). We have had the most success with restaurants that offer small plates of different things, rather than relying on a traditional kids menu where we will undoubtedly carry home leftovers, only to later throw them out. While we enjoy the pleasure that comes from sharing a satisfying culinary adventure with our kids, we hope to have helped them begin to develop a palette capable of expanding beyond the chicken finger and pizza regimen. The following are some suggestions for neighborhood restaurants that focus on providing an authentic taste of Washington, D.C., for all ages.

Penn Quarter Dining

  • Poste,, tel. 202-783-6060: Hotel Monaco’s Poste restaurant is a convenient choice for a pleasantly- upscale lunch with kids. Beneath the fussy names on the menu at this “modern brasserie” there is a variety of traditional fare that would be suitable for younger palates, including the “Grilled Beef Burger” (burger with fries), “Steak Frites” (steak with fries), Pan Roasted Amish Chicken (grilled chicken with vegetables) and “Croque Monsieur” (grilled cheese with ham). A kids menu with common kid favorites is also available.
  • Austin Grill, 750 E St. NW,, tel. 202-393-3776; M. Archives/Navy Mem’l-Green and Yellow lines: Very casual Tex-Mex restaurant serving all the expected favorites in a fun and noisy atmosphere. Like a good cheap date, my kids immediately devour the free chips and salsa. There’s also an interesting kids menu offering Tex-Mex selections in a size and style more appropriate to smaller appetites.
  • Jaleo, 480 7th St. NW,, tel. 202-628-7949; M. Archives/Navy Mem’l: We’ve been taking our young kids to this casual tapas restaurant since they were babies. Our kids enjoy cobbling together a meal from the wide selection of traditional Spanish small dishes, including sausages, frittatas and fried potatoes while we tend to gravitate toward more adventurous fare, including freshly prepared seafood. An afternoon spent grazing on a variety of savory delicacies washed down with homemade sangria can actually be relaxing, a word not often used in describing a family dining experience.
  • Café Atlantico, 405 8th St. NW,, tel. 202-393-0812; M. Archives/Navy Mem’l- Green and Yellow lines: This upscale “Nuevo Latino” eatery is housed in a fun, colorful three-story house. For something really different and family-friendly, we prefer its Latino Dim Sum brunch, Sat-Sun from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Call for reservations.
  • Zaytinya, 701 9th St. NW, tel. 202-638-0800; M. Gallery Place/Chinatown: We first visited this restaurant when my oldest was only a year old. We sat on the outdoor terrace and she developed a fondness for fava beans and lamb. While this large fashionable eatery is not your typical kids' hangout, we continue to have success here with our kids. The menu offers a variety of innovative mezze (small plates) with a Greek influence. Even indoors, the high ceilings create a cacophony of noise, perfect for drowning out the wails of even the smallest diners. It’s popular to arrive before 6 p.m. as reservations are not accepted, and its large bar area is a happy hour destination for nearby office workers.

Downtown Restaurants

  • Old Ebbitt Grill, 675 15th St. NW,, tel. 202-347-4800; M. Metro Center: Old Ebbitt has been a favorite of presidents and political movers and shakers since it opened as a saloon in 1856. Today is has expanded into a large restaurant popular with both Washingtonians and tourists. Good food, great ambiance, friendly staff and lots of noise making it a perfect spot for our family and yours. We’ve arrived at peak times but never waited for long, thanks to a seemingly endless maze of dining rooms.
  • The Bread Line, 1751 Pennsylvania Ave. NW,, tel. 202-822-8900; M. Farragut West-Orange and Blue line: A Washingtonian favorite but worth the lunchtime hassle for excellent, innovative soup and sandwiches to go.

Woodley Park Dining

Woodley Park offers a wide selection of inexpensive authentic ethnic restaurants on Connecticut Avenue. Pick a spot on the globe, chances are there’s a restaurant representing its cuisine in this neighborhood.

  • Lebanese Taverna, 2641 Connecticut Ave. NW,, tel. 202-265-8681: A Washingtonian favorite serving mezze and entrées. Our young kids actually prefer the hummus and a plate of lamb sausages but there is also a kids menu with popular favorites such as pizza and chicken fingers. Can’t decide? Most of the time, neither can I, so I usually order one of the two excellent sampler platters which offer a taste of the restaurant’s many classic favorites.
  • Afghan Grill: 2309 Calvert St. NW, tel. 202-234-5095: Small pleasant dining room serving large portions of kabobs, rice and interesting entrées. I expanded my horizons with the excellent pumpkin dish, Kadu Buranee: sweet pieces of pumpkin sautéed then complemented by a savory meat sauce and topped with a garlic yogurt sauce. It doesn’t look good and frankly it doesn’t sound good but it is surprisingly satisfying and has become a local neighborhood favorite.
  • Dino, 3435 Connecticut Ave. NW,, tel. 202-686-2966: Friendly Italian restaurant with a wide variety of homemade pastas and a comprehensive wine “list” with more than 250 bottles for every budget, including some top producers. On Sunday, Monday and Wednesday bottles over $50 are 33 percent off. 
  • Vace, 3315 Connecticut Ave., tel. 202-363-1999:  In the mood for Italian but need something cheap and fast? Vace, in same plaza as Dino, is an authentic Italian deli with a loyal local following and is a great spot to grab a slice of pizza and a soda. 

Destinations: Washington

Themes: Family Travel, Urban Endeavors

Activities: Eat

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