5123 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville; 301-927-2740
This three-for-one concept in Hyattsville includes a brewery, restaurant, and general store. Kids have their choice of maple sugar-fried chicken tenders (which mom or dad may steal off their plate), fish and chips, pappardelle marinara, and more. The jam-packed shop features a rainbow of candies, tons of toys, and endless tchotchkes that will somehow end up in the shopping basket – plus beer, wine and hot sauce for mature patrons.
1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202-861-1310
Kids can color on their menus while they browse the choices, which include mac ‘n’ cheese, meatballs atop buttered noodles, and PB&J with bananas. They can wash their meal down with a craft “mocktail” that’s a cut above a Shirley Temple. As a bonus, every child gets a complementary cookie to decorate with mini chocolate chips and sprinkles.
7150 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-9780
The modern-minded diner goes beyond the usual chicken tenders (though those are available as well) by offering little ones several health-minded options. Dishes include teriyaki salmon with quinoa and veggies, and a black bean burger. Don’t worry; anyone can still indulge with a Chunky Monkey shake thickened with chocolate chips, Oreo cookie chunks, and bananas. Another perk: the big booths are perfect for parents trying to contain children who would rather be running around than sitting down.
5037 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-364-0404
This casual, comforting neighborhood pizzeria appeals to diners of all ages. The Neopolitan-ish pies are toothsome and tasty, while wood-fired vegetables are appealing to even picky eaters. Though Comet doesn’t take reservations, tables tend to open up relatively quickly (except on Friday and Saturday evenings, when you may wait longer). Whenever you go, there are always ping pong tables in the back to use as a distraction.
7776 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-272-9050
All the children’s dishes have names inspired by common kiddy catchphrases, like “I don’t want that” (chicken tenders with a Captain Crunch coating and fries) and “I don’t know” (burger and fries). Each comes with a side of raw carrots and cucumbers with ranch dressing for dipping. If you’re just walking by, you can knock on the doughnut window and purchase a few freshly-fried rounds.
108 Rhode Island Ave. NW; 202-847-0419
Every Wednesday, children dining with a paying adult eat for free from the kid’s menu at this Bloomingdale Mexican spot. Dishes include loaded nachos, cheese quesadillas, and chicken tenders with fries. It’s a good night for parents, too, who can take advantage of family-style dinners with hearty entrees and plenty of sides that feed up to four people for only $30. If little ones are up for sampling a new sip, sweet-tart and floral agua de jamaica (hibiscus punch) is a refreshing option.
11825 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda; 301-770-8609
Playing with your food is encouraged at this pizzeria. Kids can come up to the counter and make their own pizza (Monday to Friday starting at 4 PM, weekends starting at 11 AM). Experimental little foodies can add boundary-pushing toppings, such as smoky ‘n’ spicy Calabrian chilies, briny white anchovies, or a sunny-side up egg.
2301 Bladensburg Rd. NE; 540-300-6322
This drive-thru restaurant near the National Arboretum is perfect for those times when the whole family craves comfort food. Little ones can indulge in junior-sized versions of regular menu items, including miniature egg-and-cheese biscuit sandwiches for breakfast, and crunchy boneless fried chicken with a pint-sized biscuit for lunch and dinner. Plus, there are thick milk shakes topped with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles for sweet tooths of any age.
3000 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-733-4808
After spending time spotting panda bears and marveling over the elephants at the National Zoo, decompress at this eatery across the street. The kids menu is as satisfying and satiating as the one for adults, featuring fish and chips, open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches, and an indulgent panini stuffed with Nutella, toasted marshmallows, and bananas. Bonus: the restaurant will provide an Etch A Sketch, so children can doodle while they dine.
3126 12th St. NE; 202-636-0050
The kid’s menu here is straightforward – sliders, chicken tenders, PB&J and the like – but it’s complemented by welcome distractions. Pint-sized Picassos are invited to chalk up the patio or fill in one of the coloring books on hand. And they can pick up a book at the miniature library housed inside the charming robot statue out front.