My husband and I both share Italian roots, which means one thing — we’re big eaters. We love to travel, taste local dishes and eat at mom & pop places around the world. And, even in our own backyard we’re all about trying a variety of foods even with our kids in tow.
We’ve been asked about some family-friendly restaurants in Toronto, so we figured we would compile a list of our favorites.
Although the food isn’t 5-star at this restaurant, the Old Spaghetti Factory is great for families. It’s competitively priced (most pasta dishes come with salad and dessert) and it’s located right near some big theaters and major Toronto attractions. The interior resembles a circus type atmosphere so there’s a ton of visuals for your kids to look at. The food is typical, classic Italian (pastas, soups and iceberg lettuce salads). There’s a toy/treat area in the lobby so if you have to wait for a table your kids are entertained.
It’s a special occasion type place where you go more for the ambiance than the food though. There’s always a ton of families and the wait staff are used to accommodating kids.
We stumbled upon this gem years ago and have never looked back. We go quite frequently, on Wednesdays, in the fall and winter. Why Wednesday? There’s an all you can eat home-style buffet that night. The food is diverse and delicious but it isn’t for the dieter; There’s a make your own pasta bar, a carving station, lasagna, tortellini (which is amazing), a salad bar, fresh breads and an abundance of desserts. It’s my 10-year old step-son’s restaurant of choice for his birthday dinner.
We highly recommend this place on a Wednesday. Every other night, it’s more of a standard restaurant with a set menu. But, if you do plan to go anytime in December, good luck. It’s packed with holiday parties.
This is an amazing place to take kids for a quick meal. It’s a self-serve style restaurant with food stations all over the place. Each member of your family receives a card upon entry and as they select items (drinks, food, treats) the card gets stamped. You pay on the way out. It’s an extremely kid-friendly environment with an actual indoor play area tucked off to the side. There’s faux-grass, a picnic-table, climbing area and so on. Our boys love it.
Because the dining experience is so interactive, kids tend to enjoy the meal as much as adults. you can choose from a diverse variety of foods – from fresh pasta to a seafood bar.
This is a family favorite of the Campanellis. Mamma Martino’s is a vibrant, stereotypical Italian restaurant. It’s priced very well for large families — so well in fact it tends to shock some people (generously portioned entrees cost $10.25). The salads are delicious as well.
If you’re in the mood for checked-table cloths, faux-plants and loud Italian chatter, this is a great place. It’s also near High Park and on the drive between Toronto and the west suburbs.
Staff are super friendly, high chairs are provided and the menu is very kid friendly.
I started going here with my girlfriends (shout out to Mary and Leigh-Ann) years ago. It’s a great place for all-day breakfast, family-sized/sharing breakfasts, delicious milk shakes and home-style food. The staff are very kid friendly and accommodating. Both my toddler and 10 year old love this place.
It’s in Etobicoke for those on the west side.
(6) Cafe Diplomatico (Little Italy)
My husband introduced this little gem to me soon after we started dating. It has a fabulous patio for the warmer months and a diverse Italian menu. The restaurant is bright and cheery and the staff always treat our baby very well. They’ve accommodated the stroller and brought out special things just for him (breads and so on).
It’s reasonably priced and you can get all the standard Italian fare. It doesn’t take too long to get your food so it’s a good place to go for an early dinner. And, it’s located on a trendy street so it’s great for evening strolls with the kids.
(7) Astoria (Danforth)
Yum! This is an energetic, yummy Greek restaurant in the heart of greek town. There are a ton of great places along the Danforth — so many it can be difficult to choose one, which is why we took it upon ourselves to recommend Astoria.
The service is exceptional and very fast, which works wonders when dining with toddlers. Our family favorites are the Greek fries (Angie), greek salad (Rick), moussaka (grandma) and the tzatziki (super garlicky and delish).
When it’s early enough (we try to get there by 5:00pm when dining with kids), you can keep your stroller nearby. The patio is awesome and vibrant. High chairs and crayons are offered for kids.
Another great Danforth gem is actually an Italian restaurant — or maybe we just picked this one because we’re aficionados of eye-tye food. Along with great food, this place offers a change table, boosters, high chairs, step stools (for the bathroom) and an activity sheet. It’s a great way to still feel as though you’re eating somewhere adult with the amenities required for kids.
(9) Vespa Pizzeria (Liberty Village)
Vespa Pizzeria is a favorite of my son’s nonno and late nonna. They’re fans of the pizzas, ambiance and menu. If you’re in the liberty village area, this is one of the best places to take kids: The Brazen Head is a dark pub — good food, but not the best place to bring kids as it tends to be noisy and smells like old beer; Williams Landing has brutal, slow service and the staff never seem good with kids and so on.
I don’t think this one needs an explanation. The menu is like looking through an encyclopedia so anyone and everyone can find something they’ll enjoy. Food isn’t 5-star here either but my step-son loves it. The desserts basically make this place the cat’s meow for kids. The main one downtown Toronto is at Yonge & Dundas Square and near the AMC movie theatre so it’s a good family-friendly place if you’re in that area and want to avoid the bar-star crowd.
I mention Jack’s because our neighbour is obsessed with it. The menu is very kid friendly — especially with those aged 7+. This restaurant offers the typical fare – nachos, chicken fingers/fries and so on. You can colour all over the tables (our family tends to draw and playa lot of games while we eat) and there are TVs all over so dads tend to be happy.
Plus, lets face it, kids just like the whole notion of the sign reading: Jack As*tors. Technically, they get to go out for dinner, draw and secretly swear.
That concludes a list of some top family-friendly places in Toronto. If you have any others you’d like us to include, message us or leave a comment.
Rick and Angie