Eating out with kids can prove quite a challenge at times. While there are plenty of places that offer kid-friendly menus, a kid-friendly vibe can be harder to find. And no one wants to face the disapproving glares as your pride and joy noisily recreates Jackson Pollock masterpieces with an extravagant spray of tomato sauce on pristine white tablecloths.
So where in Sydney can parents, keen to enjoy both great food and their kids’ company, go where the kids are not only welcomed, but embraced? Here are our picks!
Bitton Gourmet Café and Grocer
Bitton is a local icon in Alexandria, serving luscious French gourmet food at café prices and it’s just what foodies with kids ordered! This urban eatery makes families feel extremely welcome. Along with a kid’s menu that they’ll actually enjoy, the owner has gone so far as to provide high chairs and a change table for moms with babies, plus a fantastic children’s play room with blackboard walls and stacks of toys so mom and dad can simply relax and enjoy. Mon-Tue 7 am-4 pm, Wed-Fri 7 am to 9 pm, Sat 7am to 9 pm and Sun 7 am to 4 pm. +61.2.9519 5111. 37A Copeland St., Alexandria.
The Grounds of Alexandria
The Grounds is a sanctuary of sustainable and locally roasted coffee, delicious fresh organic food and friendly service in a rustic meets industrial space.
Located in a heritage-listed factory building, the café spills out onto a spacious courtyard and organic garden. Complete with a chicken run, bunnies, a pet pig and a play area to keep the kids amused, this is café culture at its family-friendly best. Mon–Fri 7 am–4 pm and Sat–Sun 7:30 am–4 pm. +61.2.9699 2225. Building 7A/2 Huntley Street, Alexandria.
Redfern’s cool, cavernous, concrete café is definitely one for the kids. If the incredible food wasn’t enough to drag you back to the industrial style café time and time again, there's ‘Willy’s Corner’, where a giant chalkboard wall will keep the kids entertained while they wait for their meals—or for you to finish your coffee. Add ramp access and loads of room for parking strollers and you’ve got one “with the lot” for families. Daily 7 am–4 pm. +61.2.9698.1111. 613a Elizabeth St., Redfern.
Henson Park Hotel
Kids are not the first thing that springs to mind when one mentions a trip to the pub, but the Henson Park Hotel at Marrickville is no ordinary pub. The food is terrific. Forget pub grub, here the food focuses on seasonality and sustainability, and there’s an impressive kids menu to suit even the fussiest eaters. Add an enormous kids play area complete with a ball pit, and the recently renovated hotel is a family pub where kids are king! Sun–Tue 11 am–9 pm, Wed–Thu 11 am–9:30 pm, Fri–Sat 11 am–10 pm. +61.2.9569.5858. 91 Illawarra Road, Marrickville.
Coogee boasts the most relaxed and unpretentious of Merivale’s collection of salubrious dining establishments. In fact, iconic beachside Coogee Pavilion may just be one of the most family-friendly eateries in town. As one would expect from Merivale, the food is excellent with choices of fresh sashimi, succulent seafood, delicious looking meats on the grill, wood-fired pizzas, in addition to great kids options. But it is the sprawling indoor playground complete with table tennis tables, giant board games, petanque and giant building blocks that make this the ultimate eatery for families. Daily 7:30 am–late. +61.2.9240.3000. 169 Dolphin Street, Coogee.
Watsons Bay Tea Gardens
There won’t be an eye-roll in sight when your kids run about in this blissfully family-friendly garden café.
As well as tables strewn with colouring pages and pencils, the Watsons Bay Tea Gardens fully fenced garden is chock full of toys for the little ones, and there’s so much space that mom and dad can kick back, chill out and enjoy the superb food, coffee and spectacular views of sparkling Sydney Harbour while the kids do their own thing in the grassy play area. Tue–Sun 8:30 am–4 pm. +61.2.9337.6733. 8 Marine Parade, Watsons Bay.
Chinatown Night Markets
The kids can make as much noise as they like and no one will so much as blink in boisterous Chinatown. Friday night is the time to go as the whole family will love the fun-filled night markets. The lively Friday Night Market starts at 4 pm so it’s not too late for little ones and you’ll find plenty of delicious Asian street food, colorful entertainment and plenty of fashion, jewelery, sweets, gadgets and toys to keep the kids happy. Friday, 4 pm–11 pm. Dixon Street, Chinatown.