When it comes to eating out with small children there are a few key things you want. Firstly, the kitchen needs to be open at feeding time (early). Secondly, you want staff who won’t give you the evil eye when your child behaves like a child. After that: good food, space for the kids to play, and perhaps a nice view. Here are some of the best places to dine with your kids.
RECOMMENDED: Rainy day activities for kids.
Kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney
Part of the South Coogee Bowling Club, the restaurant has high chairs, a play pen for the under fives (complete with a TV) and a clear view of the greens outside, where you can challenge your children to run around. Staff are very friendly and food is delivered fast. Our tip is to book ahead as this place gets busy.
Kid-friendly tip: There’s a gelato bar.
This spacious restaurant is set in a former Rosella tomato sauce factory, so it’s got a lovely rustic vibe. There’s a play restaurant out the back complete with all the wooden ingredients your kids need to run their own show. If it’s not too hot, get a table outside so you can watch the little ones as you enjoy a glass of wine. It’s a sophisticated spot to enjoy farm-fresh, spectacular food.
Kid-friendly tip: Kids eat for $5 from their Ducklings menu, which includes a mini cheeseburger, pasta and sauce or barbecue chicken.
If you want a location that’s designed for families this is your place. There’s an indoor play area that has separate areas for littlies (ages 2-5) and bigger kids (5-10) with an entrance and exit that’s easy to keep an eye on. Staff are friendly, and there’s also free entertainment for kids on Sundays between 1-3pm.
Kid-friendly tip: They have a jumping castle outside on the terrace.
Most of your local RSLs or Diggers clubs are family-friendly affairs. If your local hasn’t gentrified, it’s worth checking out (it’s hard to worry about the kids spilling food on the floor when the décor hasn’t been updated since the 1970s). Staff are friendly and food is delivered to your table.
Kid-friendly tip: They are air conditioned and have some of the best views of Bondi, slightly away from the hubbub of the beach.
This Earlwood playhouse and café is a great place to enjoy a chicken schnitzel with a pint of beer (for the grown-ups, obviously). For the offspring, there are three big slides and a smaller kids’ play area that parents can view while enjoying their meal. Kids get in free during dinner times and there’s fabulous air conditioning.
Kid-friendly tip: For $15, kids can choose from chicken schnitzel, cevapi, chicken nuggets or German frankfurt, each with chips and salad.
Inner West families rave about the Henson, a community-minded pub in Marrickville. There’s a playroom, a dog-friendly courtyard and the kids’ menu includes a $10 rainbow salad (that my kids would never eat, but they also have the usual suspects like chicken nuggets and chips for $9). There’s an onsite deli so you can pick up any last-minute essentials, like artisan cheeses, cured and smoked meats and craft beers.
Kid-friendly tip: All kids’ meals come with a side of grapes.
You need a map to navigate the Newport, such is its expanse. The Shack and Vinnie’s Pizza offer children’s meals; there are other restaurant options for adults. This sprawling Northern Beaches favourite is popular with all ages, but it’s still incredibly family friendly. The play room has a gigantic Scrabble board on the wall and ping pong tables. Plus, you’ll get stunning views of Pittwater at most times of day.
Kid-friendly tip: Every second Sunday from noon to 2pm there’s a visit from Reptile Man, who’ll introduce the kids to his collection of live snakes and lizards.
This place is like the Hamptons come to life. There are hammocks and deck chairs scattered among the tables, there’s a playground for kids and it sits right on a beachfront, and there’s a pet-friendly café.
Kid-friendly tip: As one mum puts it: “The floor is sand, so crumbs from kids can just be kicked into the sand, rather than leaving the café as a disaster zone.”
This laidback café on the Northern Beaches is a little wonder. The café grounds are spacious, roomy enough for prams and children to run around, and it’s next door to the awesome Flying Fox playground and a flat bike track – perfect for beginner bike riders.
Kid-friendly tip: If you have a child with sensory issues there’s plenty of space to escape to.
Situated in the Blaxland Riverside Park, this café is right next to the most entertaining area for kids in Sydney. The Blaxland Riverside Playground is spectacular. There’s a double flying fox, multi-level tree house, stacks of swings and a water play area. The car park (and park itself) can get busy so get there early. You’ll be able to enjoy your lunch in peace because your kids will be exhausted.
Kid-friendly tip: You can also take the kids on a tour of the Newington Armory on the Heritage train (weekends only).
The RSL has a selection of places to eat, but you’ll want to head to Riverviews Bar and Dining, because it is right beside the Tribal Zone – a play area with floor-to-ceiling windows so you can see your children go crazy on the gym equipment, ballroom and arcade games while you finish a sentence (or drink). Entry is $6 per child but there are friendly staff supervising them the whole time.
Kid-friendly tip: There’s a beautiful big aviary at the entrance with macaws, ducks, finches and more that young kids will love.