Where to Enjoy Philly’s Center City Restaurant Week With Kids
Don't skip great dining deals, just be judicious.
Center City Restaurant Week is coming up January 14 — 26. Before kids, Restaurant Week was a chance to go to some swanky restaurant you’d been dying to try for a (relatively) cheap date night. That hot new restaurant only has a table at 9:45 pm on a Tuesday? No problem!
But at this point, your nights may end much earlier; or if not, paying a babysitter makes that discounted prix fixe somewhat less of a steal.
But don’t lose hope! You can still take advantage of Restaurant Week and include your family too — you just need to be a little strategic. This could mean opting for lunch instead of dinner (which is cheaper anyway) or going at early off-peak dinnertime, and certainly reviewing the menu ahead of time so your picky kids won’t revolt. Obviously you need to use your judgment — while some kids could handle a crowded upscale bistro, you know your own kids best. You’ve been warned, so on with our top picks for Restaurant Week with kids.
1111 Locust St.
This Wash West Garces outpost has always been low-key kid-friendly (they even have a kids’ menu), while still letting you have a great meal and glass of wine in the spacious café setting. The menu has some non-threatening options like meatballs and roast chicken, but kids also can take a few chances with lentil fritters and carbonara. And both dessert options (chocolate mousse or lemon tart) are totally bribe-worthy.
412 S. 13th St.
This is yet another spot that has amazing food that doesn’t talk down to diners, yet is still welcoming to kids. Pull up a high chair (they’ve got them) for some stracciatella, and definitely go for Sal’s Old School Meatballs.
138 Market St.
This Old City spot has always had a playful side. It has the kid-friendly influence of a diner while still serving up creative cocktails for the grownups. The Restaurant Week menu has a nice mix of basic and adventurous, and the Continental Candy Bar for dessert is sure to please everyone’s sweet tooth. Go on the early side for dinner.
1500 Walnut St.
The whole conceit of this place is eating like a deranged chocoholic, so of course this is a safe bet for kids! This restaurant is offering both lunch and dinner menus, so you can be flexible with your schedule. Meanwhile, there is virtually no item on either menu that a kid would turn away. Cocoa-dusted waffle fries, burgers, mac and cheese, pizza flatbreads, and obviously chocolate in its many forms all make an appearance. You’ll leave with your bellies full and your New Year’s resolutions broken.
124 S. 13th St.
If your kid’s palate is more daring, this is a great option. First off, this is consistently one of the best Restaurant Week menus overall, because they pretty much open up most of their tasting menu and let you pick a handful of options from each category. It’s so many courses, and you get to try so many dishes. And then the meal ends with adorable mini soft serve cones on a little metal stand! The one caveat is that you have to go in even numbers because the options and quantities they give are for two diners.
2401 Walnut St.
Jose Garces’ wood-fired pizza place is offering both lunch and dinner Restaurant Week menus. The lunch menu has pizzas and hoagies (and significantly fewer beets), so we’re inclined towards that one, though both meals have kid-friendly options.
738 S. 11th St.
This laidback Bella Vista café is always a family favorite, both for its welcoming atmosphere and extensive beer list. Their Restaurant Week menu promises little smiles with fried chicken, hummus, and churros! There are also cocktail specials and a dessert featuring rosemary ice cream and a pear poached in red wine, so let’s just say parents will be smiling too.
121 S. 13th St.
It’s no accident that Philadelphia Family readers chose this fun spot as the best kid-friendly restaurant in the city in the 2017 LOVE Awards. What’s not to like about El Vez? A menu of tacos and empanadas? Check. Guacamole served in a molcajete with a cute animal face? Hey there! Fun décor like a wall of skeleton nichos that will remind your kids of Coco, and a motorcycle spinning over the bar for no apparent reason? Of course! Don’t forget to visit the photo booth before you leave!
325 Chestnut St.
Obviously Asian fusion by Stephen Starr is going to be a crowd-pleaser. We recommend going for lunch, both for atmosphere and for their fun bento box options! Kids can fill up their little compartments with choices like Kobe beef sliders, dumplings, and vegetable rice. And for dessert, they’ll love the “Dip Sum” doughnuts.
1234 Locust St.
This retro American comfort food spot has plenty of options for your inner child and your actual child. The cheese curds are a must, and it’s catty-corner from Nest, so your kids can run out some excess energy before your meal.
Photographs by C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia.