One of the things I love about St. Louis is that there are so many interesting and delicious places to eat. For a long time, Jason and I made it a hobby to try out new restaurants, going back to only our favorites (Sidney Street Cafe, Annie Gunn's, and Popeye's). But now that I have a child, I am more aware of the low-key places that have well-crafted food and well-culled drink menus along with relatively quick service and an atmosphere that is fun and unique, places where I would still be comfortable bringing my child who might cry or spit up once or twice during the meal.
Last week, a friend posted a request on Facebook for any recommendations on where she could take her husband out for his birthday that was fun but also kid friendly. I immediately thought of Bailey's Range. Jason took me there for a date a few weeks ago, and we saw four or five tables with little kids and babies. I could totally see why both kids and parents would love Bailey's. There's a new burger battle every week (built-in specials for those adults that like to try something new each time), handmade ice cream and shakes, as many different and finely chosen sodas as beers, crispy, long, skinny fries perfect for trying all the different home-made sauces, and almost everything was served in mason jars. Our favorites items from our visit were the Smoked Jalapeno Chicken Wings (super spicy--not for the kiddos) and the BBQ Duck burger. Also, they have Ski people, SKI!
After I Facebook stalked my friend and saw that she did indeed go to Bailey's Range, I can't stop thinking of other restaurants with both great menus and child-friendly atmospheres. See below for my favorites and feel free to share your own in the comments.
The Fountain on Locust--Midtown
Another restaurant with both great made-from-scratch food and ice cream. If you get a booth, you can listen to a restaurant radio show, but every server I've ever had at this place has been entertainment enough. Also, the decor alone could keep most kids amused until your food arrives.
Anthonino's Taverna--The Hill
The Hill is one of those St. Louis neighborhoods famous for all of it's great restaurants, but my favorite is Anthonino's. Get a Peroni on draft. Order some pizza, pasta, and sandwiches for the table and share because it is all amazing. Also, there is a large clown fish a la Nemo attached to the ceiling.
PW Pizza--On Chouteau (a hop, skip, and jump from Lafayette Square)
If you live anywhere near St. Louis, you have probably heard of Vin de Set, a fun and fancy roof-top restaurant and event space on Choteau. The owners of Vin de Set also run 1111 Mississippi, which has been a favorite date night locale of Jason and me for a long time, and PW Pizza. This year for our anniversary, Jason and I actually canceled our reservations at 1111 Mississippi and went to PW Pizza instead because I just wanted some really good pizza, a few good drinks, a yummy dessert, and I wanted it quickly so I could also have an early bedtime. PW has so many amazing pizza concoctions from which to choose, which is why Jason and I always go for a half and half. Last time, we got half Creole Connection and half Pulled Piggy and were not disappointed. I'm hoping Will starts developing a more diverse palate, but if he doesn't we can always go half Magherita next time.
Bigelo's Bistro--Edwardsville, Illinois
Many foodies are starting to learn that Edwardsville, Illinois has some of the best restaurants in the St. Louis area, and although I love Peel and Cleavland Heath, the crowds and the long wait often deterred me even before I had a baby. Before either of those restaurants showed up in E-ville, Bigelo's Bistro was there, serving up the best BLT and waffle fries that go perfect with a half price bottle of wine Tuesday through Thursday. I've tried almost everything on their menu and can vouch for the deliciousness of the sandwiches and pastas. So if you want a slightly less crowded but no less scrumptious dining experience in Edwardsville, head on down to Bigelo's. Also, the staff here is great. I've actually been welcomed up to the bar with my stroller... if you think that's great like me.
Also, the only restaurant we have actually taken Will to for dinner (twice) so far is Alfonzo's, which--I'm just going to say it--is the BEST restaurant in my home town. Every single time we go, we order the exact same thing: house salad, Fonzo bits, chicken wings, Avalanche pizza, and a pitcher of pink lemonade. After eating there for the last twenty years, I can confidently recommend that combo. If you drive by and the parking lot is full, don't fret. Just park by the nail or tanning salon and walk yourself in for some of the most unique pizza you'll ever eat.