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You didn’t come to Cleveland’s trending restaurant scene to eat at mediocre chain restaurants, right? But what if you have kids? [Parents everywhere emit collective annoyed sigh.]
Good news: Cleveland’s got dining spots that are just as appropriate for kids as they are for adults. Here are some restaurants we find “kid friendly” — in the sense of appeal, right-sized choices available and a welcoming attitude toward families. And, of course, each one is authentically Cleveland.
* Before visiting, please be sure to check each restaurant's website for the most up-to-date information on operating hours and procedures.
Located in Ohio City, this cool eatery looks like a real bar and restaurant for grownups. And that’s because it is. But it’s also remarkably well suited to the little ones, even though there is no children’s menu per se. The staff is always kind, and the amazing made-to-order pizzas will please any kid. Try stopping in at happy hour, when there are deals on burgers and some other select items — making a family tab that much more reasonable.
Located on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East Fourth Street in Downtown Cleveland is the Corner Alley. It offers tasty — if a bit chain-pub-like — food and, of course, bowling, on clean, shiny lanes. You can even order food from your lanes, so you never have to make sure wiggly, hungry kids are sitting still. During happy hour (3-6 p.m.), pizzas are half-price and, for ready-to-relax parents, beers are $2 off.
Over in Ohio City, hit up Johnny Mango World Cafe. It’s cheap, it’s good and it’s noisy enough that no one will hear your baby cry. Kids get their own menu and will color the time away while they wait for their food. The menu trends toward Mexican and Asian, but there are also lots of vegetarian and vegan options available. Try the exceptional quesadillas —and, adults, the Calypso is perhaps the best salad in the city.
Cleveland’s Little Italy is just up the hill from the treasures of University Circle, and there you’ll find Mamma Santa, a treasure of another kind. In business since 1961, Mamma Santa’s unassuming checked tablecloths and brown-paneled walls give it a cozy, casual feel. The pizza will please everyone in the family, and the grownups can choose traditional (and delicious) Italian entrees if they’re all pizza-ed out from life with kids. After dinner, stroll down the block to Presti’s, another authentic neighborhood stand to choose from the enormous dessert case whilst sipping exceptional coffee.
A grilled cheese restaurant? Of course it’s kid-friendly. But with nearly 30 sophisticated sandwich melts, plus salads, soups and burgers, there’s something for everyone in the family. Kitschy (year-round) holiday decorations and retro signs are a feast for your I-Spy eyes. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available. Wait times can reach 30 minutes or more during peak hours, so call ahead to see if it’s a wait your little ones can handle. On Tuesdays, kids’ meals are just $2 ($4 on other days). Melt has locations that are a short drive from Downtown in Lakewood, Cleveland Heights and Independence, as well as out in the ‘burbs of Mentor and Avon.
This one’s a little different — in the best sort of way. PSC is an old-time neighborhood pub, so don’t expect anything new or shiny. The Old World Eastern European patina that’s been polished off much of the increasingly hip Tremont neighborhood is still in full effect here —topped off with pierogies and stuffed cabbage (and Wednesday night polka!) on the menu. But never fear, the kids can still get burgers or grilled cheese if that’s more to their taste. The regulars (as well as some of their hipster counterparts) will admire your children while you wait for your food and play old-school board games. (Sorry!, anyone? ) After dinner, just 50 cents a person will get you a full bowling game on the vintage mini bowling machine.
Housed in a cool corner building in the Gateway District (with many other locations throughout The Land), the Winking Lizard is the perfect place to catch a bite before a family night at the ballpark, offering a menu full of sandwiches, salads, burgers and bbq. Mom and Dad can choose an adult beverage from the staggering beer and whiskey lists, while the kids say hello to Cleo, the restaurant’s Iguana mascot.
Hey, we all know it's important for kids to get a nutritious and well-balanced meal. But there's always room for gourmet ice cream sandwiches, and Cathy's Creamery in The Arcade offers the most unbelievable ice cream sandwich you've ever had. Take your pick of fresh-baked cookies, choose from over a dozen flavors of ice cream, then pick what topping you'd like it rolled in. Chocolate chip, banana pudding ice cream and crumbled Oreos? You got it. Sugar cookies, strawberry ice cream and Fruity Pebbles? Ok, now you're a pro.
Close to University Circle is Cleveland Heights’ Coventry neighborhood, which contains quirky shops and unique restaurants, including Tommy’s. It’s most famous for its thick milkshakes, which recently went viral when the restaurant generously had one delivered to a Virginia hospital to fulfill a dying woman’s wish. Besides milkshakes (of course), Tommy’s serves a delicious range of casual food and is extremely vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. Allergies are no problem. Kids are always welcomed — even when we went with friends and carted six kids in at once!
Kids love this local diner chain, which has nine locations from Downtown at Playhouse Square to Cleveland’s eastern, western and southern suburbs. There is a wide selection of yummy kid’s meals (ice cream included), as well as plenty of grownup casual fare like soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. (But we won’t tell if you grownups get the anytime breakfast for dinner — we do!) Gluten-free options are prominently featured.
Located in historic Ohio City, this modern Italian eatery offers an award winning seasonal menu and well-prepared wine list in a sophisticated yet comfortable setting.
30 Different gourmet grilled cheese, fresh salads and homemade soups. Menu also features a maniacal mac & cheese section, where you can choose from 14 different composed mac & cheese entrees or build...
1938 Tavern - a true Cleveland experience. Eclectic clientele with an unpretentious vibe. Upscale bar food, late-night dining, live music, patio, jukebox, bowling machine, comfortable atmosphere.
Award winning soup and sandwiches, serving Downtown Cleveland and Northeast Ohio for over 16 years. Handcrafted soups, chili's, wraps, sandwiches, salads and catering. Vegan and vegetarian options...
Eat: The Corner Alley serves up freshly-prepared, Americana-inspired cuisine with everything from scrumptious salads and delicious pizzas to gourmet sliders and a wide selection of vegetarian options....
Always filled with customers, vegetarians, vegans, meat-eaters, health-conscious and the just plain hungry. Whatever category you fall into, we will take care of you.
A Cleveland tradition since 1981, an ideal choice for a great breakfast, a business or catered lunch meeting or to bring the family for dinner. Nine locations throughout NE Ohio, with a new location...
Nary a Sunday goes by without Johnny Mango's being backed with groups of Sunday Funday revelers. Big, hearty portions of breakfast items come with their own international flair (Vietnamese rice...
Established by Guido and Nancy Scaffidi July 25, 1961. Mamma Santas is a family owned restaurant focused on pleasing every guest with a genuine Italian dining experience. We are proud to serve fresh,...
Over three decades ago—1983, to be exact—the original Winking Lizard Tavern, nestled on Miles Road in Bedford Heights, officially opened its doors for the first night of service, promising great food...
Cathy's is a gourmet ice cream sandwich shop located in the heart of Downtown Cleveland. They pride themselves on serving all-natural cookies made from 100% real ingredients. All of their cookies are...