This hack for eating out with toddlers is brilliant and such a sanity saver! I don’t know why we didn’t start doing it earlier. I put together a list of tips for eating out with babies and toddlers after our weeks in Europe last spring but strategy for when you’re eating at a restaurant with young kids is a game changer, especially with two kids in tow!
Location: Stix Restaurant, Findlay, OH
Length of Time: 52 minutes
Price: $32 (although we’ve done the same thing for just the $7 fries)
We were going a little bit stir crazy and the weather was warm so we loaded up the kids and took them downtown. We needed to shoot a few pictures for an upcoming blog post and afterwards we promised Lincoln a treat (and by that I mean to get him to cooperate we promised him a treat ;).
Driving around downtown we couldn’t quite put our finger on what that treat would be but settled on the elote fries at Stix, a fun restaurant with a modern take on Asian cuisine. And then we realized how hungry we were and the great debate of whether to brave eating out with both babies began. On the one hand, it was probably easier to eat out than going home and figuring out how to make something delicious. On the other, it was certainly more difficult that going home and eating macarroni and cheese.
And last time we walked into the ten table, reservations preferred restaurant with two under two, we didn’t quite get a warm welcome. But something about the spring weather had us feeling ambitious, so we parked the car as close as we could and walked over.
Instead of heading in and being seated, I sent Ben and Lincoln to the little square outside the restaurant and went in to place our order. I asked how long it would take and let them know we’d be dining in but we’d be playing outside till our food came.
WHY HAVE WE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE?
We had twenty minutes of running outside, working up an appetite, getting out some energy. And then as we walked into the restaurant, our food was placed on our table, already set with two high chairs.
And then my children sat happily for 20 minutes and ate their food.
And we got to eat our food.
And Ben and I kept looking at each other waiting for the other shoe to drop.
There was a brief momentwhen the nice waitress/hostess/one woman show, appeared at our table with lit candles. And I wondered why in the world you’d put flames within arms reach of an infant and a toddler.
Benjamin paid for our food while I bounced Adelaide on my lap (after I’d boxed up our leftovers and savored a few last fries).
We walked out of that restaurant waiting for the round of applause from our fellow diners that never came. But didn’t they just see how angelic our children were? Weren’t they amazed? No, it was just us? Well, we were amazed enough for all of us.
A few tips:
So this whole strategy worked well for us because I could order for all of us without being seated. I asked for all our food to come out at the same time (which also meant Lincoln didn’t totally fill up on fries before the other food arrived like he did last time). If you’re going to a new restaurant you’ve never been to before, check their menu online so you know what you want ahead of time. Consider sending one person in to order so you aren’t dragging the kids in and out and back in.
It’s true, you lose some of the experience of waiting for your food, sipping your drink and munching on appetizers… and while that part usually goes well for us, it’s after sitting for 20 minutes waiting for our food that my kids start to lose it, and then when I would really like to be using at least one of my hands to eat, I’m trying to bounce a baby on my knee and fend of a crazy toddler.
- Send just one adult in to place the order with as few kids as possible.
- Know what you’re getting ahead of time.
- Find something the kids can feed themselves. Lincoln needed a lot of help eating the main dishes but he could pick up fries on his own (and I usually pack a few cheerios for Adelaide) so that Mom and Dad can get a bite in here and there.
- Ask for the check once your food comes. It is always good to have the option of a quick exit.
- Have low expectations and you’re guaranteed to have a smoother experience than anticipated.
And a few more pictures from the evening:
^these fries really are the very best thing we’ve eaten in this city
^the lettuce wraps are also a classic … and Lincoln ate those pickled onions by the handful 😛
^I can already tell they’re going to be a great team
^if it were up to Lincoln, this is how he’d spend a solid 83% of each day