Eating out with a baby can be tough, especially in Toronto where a lot of people seem to have opinions on the matter (e.g. babies should never ever be seen at restaurants). While I definitely agree that some places are better suited for adults-only, there are times when a mom needs to get out of the house and have a restaurant quality meal with some friends. It is good for the soul.
A couple of tips when dining out with little ones:
■ If you are going with a group, call ahead to see if you can make a reservation. Restaurants appreciate the heads-up when it is a group of moms coming by. Will also give you a chance to ask about highchairs and all the other stuff babies need
■ Try to go pre or post lunch rush as this will mean it is not as crowded.
And now in no particular order here are my top five lunchtime picks to go with babies in tow:
Pizzeria Libretto: (close to Pape subway station)
Pizzeria Libretto holds a special place in my heart as it was the first restaurant I ventured with Chloe. It felt amazing to eat at a place I used to go to before becoming a mom. I think I inhaled the entire pizza I ordered. The one downside here are the steps to get inside. Having done it many times, though, I haven’t found it too challenging with a stroller and the staff are always willing to help.
Combine Eatery: (close to Broadview subway station)
I seem to have had a lot of luck with finding mom-friendly restaurants on the Danforth. They have high-chairs, friendly staff and good food (the Baja fish tacos are the way to go!). When I’ve gone for lunch with friends the staff have been able to help us park our strollers in an area that is out of the way and they have also given us a big table at the back of the restaurant. This is great as it means a bit more privacy for breastfeeding moms.
Uncle Betty’s: (Yonge, north of Eglinton)
Uncle Betty’s is in my eyes the place to go if you have kids. My husband and I went there once before Chloe was born and it was a big mistake. If you aren’t a parent you probably aren’t looking for a restaurant that has kids running all over the place. Once you have kids it is another story. The food is decent, you can be as messy as you want and they are well-equipped to handle a group of moms. For larger mom groups, you can also contact them to see if you can book their downstairs private dining room (minimum food order applies).
Vero Trattoria: (Bayview & Millwood)
This Italian restaurant in Leaside is a bit of a hidden gem for moms. This is one of my picks because it is never too busy at lunchtime (or it hasn’t been when I’m there) and they’ve always been super welcoming.
Bareburger (close to Dundas subway station):
This place is an all-natural, organic and customizable burger place. It’s a great place to go after you’ve visited the hands-on centre for kids at the AGO. Only con is this part of the city is always super busy.
And finally on a completely random and somewhat related side note: To the people who complain about moms and babies taking up room at their local Starbucks, I have the following thing to say. If you are using Starbucks as your personal office space, you don’t have any right to complain about a group of moms taking up room on a weekday morning. We have just as much right to be there.