The best kid-friendly restaurants in Canberra

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Is there anything more awkward than showing up at a fancy restaurant with the kids in tow, completely shocked by the adults-only vibe? We don’t think so, and the unapproving glares from the wait staff and diners certainly don’t help.

To help you treat your whole family to a delicious meal out, we asked Canberra locals to share their favourite kid-friendly restaurants in the region. And now, the results are in. The top pick eateries welcome the little ones with open arms and serve up a tasty menu that’s sure to please even the fussiest of eaters.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

What makes a great kid-friendly restaurant?

Not sure what, exactly, you are on the lookout for when deciding on a place to eat with the kids? Not to worry. We suggest keeping an eye out for the following traits:

  • A kid-friendly menu. Most kids are not like adults – they don’t necessarily like trying strange, unfamiliar foods. The best family-orientated restaurants offer at least a few kid-friendly options, whether that be tried-and-true classics like fish and chips or something a little more creative.
  • A lively atmosphere. Kids make noise – there are no two ways about it. Opt for a restaurant with a lively atmosphere, so you don’t have to be worried about the kids laughing or chatting enthusiastically.
  • Friendly staff. The last thing you want is a rude staff member mistreating your children. The best kid-friendly cafes and restaurants enjoy seeing happy families investing in a little quality time together.
  • Fast service. While a three-hour dinner may be the preference of adult diners, kids generally don’t hold up that long. They can become tired or bored in an hour or two, so fast service is a must.

The best kid-friendly restaurants in Canberra according to you

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Spice Affair Indian Cuisine

Does your family like things a little spicy? Head to Spice Affair and get an authentic taste of India’s rich culinary history. Serving up a delightful range of dishes – some of which are spicy and others that are child-friendly – the passionate team behind Spice Affair get a real kick out of sharing the 5,000-year-old tradition of Indian cooking with Canberra’s locals. The atmosphere is laid-back and fun, and the service is incredible. What more could you ask for?

Trevs@Dickson

Hidden away on Challis Street is Trevs@Dickson, a local staple and family favourite. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the dedicated team at Trevs@Dickson serve up a creative range of dishes that make use of the best in-season produce. There truly is something for everyone, even the fussiest of eaters.

Agostinis

Kids love pizza and pasta – and so does mum and dad. Agostinis is a family-friendly Italian restaurant that serves up some of the tastiest Italian dishes in Canberra. All pasta is made fresh daily on-site, and all pizzas are cooked to crispy, melty perfection in the scorching-hot, state-of-the-art Marana Forni pizza oven. After your main meal, be sure to indulge in a scoop or two of house-made gelato!

If you would prefer to just eat at home, check out our list of the best food delivery services in Canberra.

Your experience with kid-friendly restaurants in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the kid-friendly restaurants listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

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Matty Sullivan5:19 pm 04 Jul 09

I’m pretty sure if Burke thought the kid was an inconvenience, he wouldn’t be posting about what now to do on here.

The thing is, everyone LOVES everyone else’s kids and babies. Let’s face it. We’ll all put up with anything for other peoples’ kids. Shit, noise, boring stories, curbs on our freedoms, anything really. We won’t speed in school zones either, becuase someone else’s kids might be endangered, yep, we all care a LOT about other peoples’ kids. And we are really honest about it too.

Take it on a really long plane flight. Preferably sitting right behind me. Babies love that kind of thing, and so does everyone around them. Try to smuggle some satay skewers on board so we can all enjoy perforating our eardrums with them.

Hell ant, I dont mind lending a hand – I even sort of like the little buggas too – its just the extent to which the conversation descends that drives me crazy.

Perhaps a quick steam-clean. I’d imagine steam-cleaning followed by a 30 min blast from a hair dryer would have you on the way to a very tasty bambino peking. I’ll post a recipe.

I’m having a quiet chuckle, Yapyapyap, at some of the sentiments being expressed here too. The BabyBorg assimilates its people quietly, so they don’t realise what’s happening to them. Everyone else changes, they don’t. Except everyone else apparently has to come and provide babysitting, do a wash, clean the house, reorganise life etc etc for the child-blessed.

And I certainly wouldn’t eat a baby. Ye gods. I doubt one could ever be rendered hygienic enough to eat.

I prefer to render them for an hour or so, then confit them in their own fat. About 90mins at 90C. Allow the little fella to return to room temp and then finish with a quick sear in a vey hot pan – you won’t believe how crisp they get

BerraBoy68 said :

Hi Burkes08,

I’m a dad of two (aged 7 and 5) and from my experience, its great that your wanting to know hoe to keep your friends engaged with you. After our kids came along my single mates dropped by the way-side which in a way, means they really weren’t mates at all.

What, single blokes being bored shitless listening to stories about first fart, first, shit, colour of shit, colour of spew!!!

Heaven forbid – real mates would still be hanging on every boring detail of the little buggers’ second fart, second, shit, first gurgle, weight this week – “isn’t he daddy’s big fella” – first day at daycare, first day at pre-school………………..

Don’t bother till it can hold a conversation …

Holierthanthou said :

Gaffer tape them to a wall, that gives oppurtunity to do all sorts of things. You can keep a roll in the baby bag for outings. Many restaurants and some bars have a wall reserved for babies.

chuckle. Known as “the wailing wall”.

Interestingly, this is how most babies grew up through most of human history after we learned to agricult. People swaddled babies up so they were immobile, adn while working in the fields would hang them up in trees, so animals couldn’t start eating them.

Holierthanthou10:27 pm 10 Jun 09

Gaffer tape them to a wall, that gives oppurtunity to do all sorts of things. You can keep a roll in the baby bag for outings. Many restaurants and some bars have a wall reserved for babies.

canberra bureaucrat10:04 pm 10 Jun 09

I’m all for the encouraging comments here, but we shouldn’t let these hide the fact that life does change quite a lot and it is usually a challenging adjustment. Particularly for hitherto working Mums.

Your time is no longer just about you, but also about the kids and the family. Integrating the kids in with your life is absolutely the way to go (e.g. early training in cafe behaviour), but don’t be too worried if (when) it is harder than expected. We carry many many mis-conceptions about parenthood before we have kids, which can make adjustment to a new life difficult. If we pretend this is not the case, we alienate those who do find it very hard going (e.g. 1 in 5 Mums get some form of postnatal depression, and pretending motherhood should be unmitigated joy does not help them).

A top source of info, advice and support is a parent’s group. Get involved with one, or create one starting with a few people you know.

Anyway, I don’t want to sound negative because becoming a parent is a great thing, and you get a fantastic new (though modified) life that you would never give up.

lock it in the cupboard?

Every baby is different, and each set of new parents can handle different situations. The big thing is flexibility, plans can change rapidly and if you don’t make a big deal then its win win for everyone.

Lunches can be good to start off, bubs are usually harder work in the evenings when they and their parents are tired.

Hi Burkes08,

I’m a dad of two (aged 7 and 5) and from my experience, its great that your wanting to know hoe to keep your friends engaged with you. After our kids came along my single mates dropped by the way-side which in a way, means they really weren’t mates at all. So again, good on you!

There’s some good info on this thread but I’d say to also be patient with your friend as they will also go through changes as will their child. Late nights, early mornings, new stresses and joys all take an emotional toll on the individual so patience and love etc. are the keys to keeping your friends. Regular phone calls are great but also, as said by many others are the lunches, early dinners, outings etc. I think you’ll enjoy the baby too – you should, they’re great fun (especially once you stop treating them like fine china). Good Luck!

Agree with #32 that leaving the house pretty much daily is good. Pram walks are good, or walks to the local park. If you don’t know where the local parks are, go and find them because you’ll need to know pretty soon! 🙂

Also, babies need routine for best results. Try to do things that fit with routine.

I disagree. At 4m, as long as the baby has ready access to sustenance, somewhere comfortable to sleep (doesn’t have to be a pram or capsule), somewhere to change a nappy (doesn’t have to be an official baby change area) and a suitably warm environment given the wintery weather, then it can do any of these things pretty much anywhere.

At that age, my baby was taken on an overnight trip interstate to watch an international sporting event. She continued her usual eat-look around-play with little toys-poo-fuss-sleep activities while in transit on planes and in the midst of a noisy spectator crowd, and slept under a table in the motel room.

The least likely time the parents are likely to want to socialise is late afternoon and early evening – often known in the parenting trade as the “witching hour/s”.

At that age my daughter would sleep pretty reliably from 6.30pm until at least midnight. Hubby and I once went to see a band at Tilleys leaving her in the capable care of a mother-of-three who had to do nothing more taxing than keep the couch warm and drive the remote.

Another consideration is that if your friends have recently taken on care of a baby at 4m (ie new to them even though it’s not a newborn), I would really leave it in their hands whether they are ready for outings or not. I know when my daughter was 2w old the thought of going out for a meal was incredibly daunting, but within a couple of weeks it was fine. Even in the early days though I was more than happy to sit around the house in my PJs chatting over a cuppa to any friends who were inclined to drop in. I think I did get out of my PJs most days, but now 5y down the track it’s all a bit of a blur.

Another thing to remember is that most new parents are more than happy to spend more of their waking hours than they could possibly have imagined pre-baby just sitting and adoring their child, even if the baby is capable of not much more than gurgling, crying and waving its arms around a bit. These early days will be over in the blink of an eye and sometimes it’s nice to just stay at home and take it all in.

Stace, I made it a goal to get out of the house once a day; if not an outing, then a long nature walk (get a packpack!), a visit to a friend’s home or, if nothing else, a trip to the supermarket. This goal was harder than it sounds 🙂 I think getting out and about is the key to maintaining sanity during the early baby years!

I’m really glad somebody posted this… I’m about to have my first baby, and I really don’t know how to maintain a social life afterwards, either! All I want is to feel that I’m still an individual, not JUST a mother, so it’s good to read these suggestions about more or less staying normal, but normal+baby. hehe

Pommy bastard said :

What do you do with a baby?

Slow roasted with a little garlic and olive oil. Can’t eat a whole one though.

Heathen! According to the Good Book you must boil them, then add spices.

There’s a heap of good info here, really just a matter of being willing to have a go and see how it works out. Kids are individuals, and different things work for the individual. Ask mum what she wants to do, be game to have a hold, change a nappy, push the pram, whatever. Kids are just the most awesome invention ever, especially when they’re not yours and you can have them in spurts. (I believe they were invented to give adults an excuse to do kid things so they don’t miss out on all the fun.) You are already showing the signs of being a good friend by trying to think through the new situation, but truly, relax and enjoy. And as previously mentioned, go the extra mile occassionally, cook a meal and take it over, babysit, do some washing/the dishes etc. and give your friend ten minutes break.

Ah, but you notice I didn’t mention any brand names. So I’m probably not the best salesperson… Get yourself an old tablecloth or 5m of cotton jersey from the local fabric shop, and go to a free Canberra Babywearers meet, and you’ll be hands-free baby-holding in no time.

emd said :

I reckon outings all depend on the kid’s preferred sleep time, and how many kids there are.
When they get older, clubs like Mawson Club with a toddler-friendly play room are good for coffee & cake outings or an early dinner. Dinner at someone’s house is good if the baby is happy to sleep in someone else’s bedroom – otherwise do dinner at the baby’s house. Picnics in the park are always good. National Museum cafe makes a good coffee and noisy babies in bulky prams don’t bother anyone due to huge amount of space there. Sculpture Garden at NGA is also very civilised for an afternoon daytime outing. Rugby games are only good if the baby isn’t trying to nap, loud cheering at every point score disturbs them. With little babies, I found I could take the baby anywhere provided I had a decent sling – my kids slept better when held, but I wanted my hands free.

good mention of the product, there, emd!

the weather plays a big part. small babies won’t settle if they are too cold. slings are ideal, as the child retains some of the parent’s body warmth when moving about.

I reckon outings all depend on the kid’s preferred sleep time, and how many kids there are.
When they get older, clubs like Mawson Club with a toddler-friendly play room are good for coffee & cake outings or an early dinner. Dinner at someone’s house is good if the baby is happy to sleep in someone else’s bedroom – otherwise do dinner at the baby’s house. Picnics in the park are always good. National Museum cafe makes a good coffee and noisy babies in bulky prams don’t bother anyone due to huge amount of space there. Sculpture Garden at NGA is also very civilised for an afternoon daytime outing. Rugby games are only good if the baby isn’t trying to nap, loud cheering at every point score disturbs them. With little babies, I found I could take the baby anywhere provided I had a decent sling – my kids slept better when held, but I wanted my hands free.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy4:37 pm 10 Jun 09

Babies can go all sorts of places, but exactly what depends on a few things, such as the routine of the particular baby as well as it’s sleep associations. Also, babies need routine for best results. Try to do things that fit with routine.

aww pb, i hope you’ll stay a visitor here when you’re back in blighty… and at four months they’re none so big, a whole one should be just about right with a couple of pints, but you may have to forego the starter of black pudding.

luther_bendross4:07 pm 10 Jun 09

A hot summer’s day tip: leave the kid in the car, then go play the pokies.

Actually, do not do this.

Pommy bastard said :

What do you do with a baby?

Slow roasted with a little garlic and olive oil. Can’t eat a whole one though.

Here, PB, this is what you’re looking for:

http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

A Modest Proposal (Jonathan Swift). Essential reading.

Pommy bastard3:26 pm 10 Jun 09

What do you do with a baby?

Slow roasted with a little garlic and olive oil. Can’t eat a whole one though.

Clown Killer1:11 pm 10 Jun 09

Little babies really dont do a lot more than eat, sleep and fill nappies. You dont need a complicated management matrix to deal with those simple needs. The solutions then is easy: Lunch. If the little nipper’s in one of those car capsule things they’ll happily sleep under the table. Better still do lunch at your place – new parents like nothing more than enjoying real adult company and there’s nothing like a long, languid weekend lunch with a couple of bottles of whatever and the little one can sleep happily in the next room.

burkes08 said :

Thanks for the advice everyone. I was just not sure whether they are better staying at home so sleep is not disrupted etc, but, it sounds like outings are all good:)

We have been doing the beers at home in front of the flat screen (upgraded to size HUGE)but we are all trying to be a little healthier and low carb beers just isn’t going far enough.

AGCanberra – you will be pleased to know that I have offered to learn how to babysit so they can go out. Bit nervous about that – but thats a whole new post! I am really good with animals though – I’m sure it’s somewhat similar?

You’re gonna love it! Babies are surprisingly good fun.

I’m sure your friends will appreciate the effort you’re going to. I’ve got a little one at the moment, and I’ve gotta say that the social contact is always appreciated – but outings are particularly awesome.

burkes08 said :

Yeah, calm down.

“Take possession” was used because the baby was adopted.

I am not saying my life is over. I just want to know what sort of things people do when they have kids. I don’t want to go making suggestions for things that are not appropriate and have her feel bad.

OK fair point but in my mind bad choice of words when talking about a child, it’s not like you just picked up your new car.

Offer to drop in and do a load of washing for them, order take away and bring a bottle of wine. And being a good friend also means offering to babysit and giving Mum and Dad a night off to have a meal and catch a movie.

Spot on!

At 4 months babies really love going out and seeing new things and mum usually needs a break and fresh air so daytime excursions like a lunch outing at a cafe would be welcome. And a walk around the lake on a sunny day helps too. Night-time outings are more awkward but not impossible as long as bubs has somewhere to sleep.

You’ll be fine. Hang around with them and the baby for a bit first to get the idea. And make the first time really easy – tell the parents to pop out for coffee at their local shops for 45 mins and have their mobiles on, just in case baby (or you) freaks out.

Once you’ve survived that, then send them out for dinner.

one place that is great fun and allows everone to enjoy the night out is the mawson club. the erindale tuggies has a play area, but you need to negotiate the stairs with a pram.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I was just not sure whether they are better staying at home so sleep is not disrupted etc, but, it sounds like outings are all good:)

We have been doing the beers at home in front of the flat screen (upgraded to size HUGE)but we are all trying to be a little healthier and low carb beers just isn’t going far enough.

AGCanberra – you will be pleased to know that I have offered to learn how to babysit so they can go out. Bit nervous about that – but thats a whole new post! I am really good with animals though – I’m sure it’s somewhat similar?

considering it is winter, perhaps look at events during the day for a coffee and chat, or a dinner at a kid friendly restaurant. Most parents hibernate in winter at night, it is just too much to take the baby out with the associated paraphernalia and still have a good night out.

I have a few friends with kidliewinks and while we do see less of them and the nights wind up earlier, we still manage to hang out. In warmer weather I really like meeting for picnics- the park behind the Hyatt is really nice for lounging around and going to feed the ducks gets a few happy squeals. In winter meeting somewhere cozy like the National Library for coffee and lunch is good fun.

Mostly, I hang out with them at thier place or mine- dinners are usually a bit earlier then they were pre-baby so that they can get home at a reasonable time but it’s not much different to the old days…

I agree with Ceej – don’t let the baby rule the roost. Go out with them. Take it to restaurants, the shops and even a Brumbies or Raiders game. Anyone that locks them selves in their house because the baby is sleeping, needs to eat, poop etc will quickly find themselves trapped with a kid that puts up with nothing.

The mums and bubs screenings are good. The kids clubs at the licenced clubs are really for kids – not babies. Outdoor cafe’s are often better as there is more space to park a pram (though maybe not in this weather!).

Offer to drop in and do a load of washing for them, order take away and bring a bottle of wine. And being a good friend also means offering to babysit and giving Mum and Dad a night off to have a meal and catch a movie.

MrMagoo said :

I’m sorry I’m just really perplexed that this whole post makes having kids sound like ‘my life is over’.

I don’t think it sounds like that at all, I think it sounds quite genuine; burkes08 does say s/he has no exposure to children.

ant said :

Social occasions for us have always been a couple (or more) beers somewhere or maybe watching a game of footy or playing some pool.

You may only need to adjust the ‘somewhere’ that you use… do the same things at home! The amount you’d save on buying beer in bulk (or brewing it at home) instead of at a bar would soon pay for a pool table. You might have to drink less of it (depends how much you were drinking before), and I don’t remember the advice on alcohol for breast-feeding mothers, but a child doesn’t change what you enjoy as much as it changes when you enjoy it.

You need to give most consideration to the mother, though, rather than the child. A newborn needs a lot of care, and they aren’t nocturnal, so a new mum is going to be deprived of sleep. Bubs, on the other hand is going to sleep 75% of the time for the first few months, which gives you time to watch television and play pool (or wash dishes, clothes, nappies etc etc etc). And

When our kids were little, we upgraded (and duplicated) the television and all the AV equipment, which was a good investment as it now keeps the little blighters quiet for 20 minutes at least twice a day.

at 4 months old you can take the baby anywhere a pram can go. they don’t require things to do as they are still very people/mummy orientated. Things like walking around the lake and finishing at bookplate cafe for brunch are good (hopefully bub is asleep by then) or doing the cute shops on lonsdale street and finishing at Debacle for a drink. This is the kind of stuff we used to do with wee bubs.

HTH

As an imminent father I hope the birth of our son doesn’t spell the end of going out, and by all accounts it won’t. Especially in the early months when they’re not mobile so you can take them with you places (and hope they don’t start crying and/or soil themselves in the first five minutes). A couple of beers shouldn’t be a problem, I think, just avoid smokers and Mooseheads.

Yeah, calm down.

“Take possession” was used because the baby was adopted.

I am not saying my life is over. I just want to know what sort of things people do when they have kids. I don’t want to go making suggestions for things that are not appropriate and have her feel bad.

ant said :

Make sure the baby only has light beer. Full strength is bad for them.

totally disagree….just make sure it’s one of the low carb full strength beers

Well I find it is pretty hard to socialise with non-baby friends…. good on you for hanging in there and trying to work out how to do it.

I’d say go out to loads of restaurants for dinner quickly, before the baby is old enough to need their own chair, and own food and becomes a tantrum-prone toddler. If baby has crying fits take 3 people to dinner, so two can still eat while one paces outside with baby.

Have them over for dinner / watch football etc. Ask them what time is easiest for them.

Offer to bring takeaway food to their place.

Outdoor picnics etc at Botanic gardens is nice in Summer.

When the child is older the 3 places to go seem to be Green Square Kingston for outdoor cafes and grass for kids, Cafe Enjoy at Gold Creek, which is ugly as but nice food and has a tiny fenced in play area, and poacher’s pantry for nice food and outdoor grass.
(Huge gap in the market for nice restaurant with child-friendly seating and a play area.)

Also Hellenic Club, Mawson Club and Raiders Gungahlin have kiddie play areas inside.

If you don’t work, then Thursday mornings are babies at the movies at Belco. (normal movies – audience is full of babies.)

I think you are reading just a tad too much into that post, MrMagoo. The tone seemed very neutral to me.

Take “the baby” with you/her. There are plenty of club freindly locations around. “The baby” will then get used to noises and people, and you will find that going to other events like parties and concerts will not disrupt “its” sleep patterns as much in the long run, and you/she can continue with your social activities. Enjoy “it” being a baby and going out with you/her while you can. When they start to talk, walk, crawl, they are more demanding. Believe me (us), they are easier to take out when just an occassional feed is required and are sleeping long hrs.

I find it interesting that you call it ‘take possession of’ her baby. Almost makes it sound like a bit of an inconvenience really.

Just because you have a child, your life doesn’t come to a screeching halt. You can still do the things you like to do, just less often and it may mean a few beers at home, watching the footy on TV.

I’m sorry I’m just really perplexed that this whole post makes having kids sound like ‘my life is over’.

Make sure the baby only has light beer. Full strength is bad for them.

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