There are many things I took for granted before having children–namely, showering, peeing unaccompanied, having a moment to think, and eating in restaurants. Though my twins are two-and-a-half years old, it feels like it has been eighty-four years since I’ve been able to sit in a restaurant and enjoy a meal during daylight hours, which is problematic since I love me a brunch!
People tell me my children are spirited, which I believe is a nice way of saying tiny tyrants. They’ve never been easygoing, but they are exceptionally ill-mannered when in dining establishments. From throwing toys across the space to screaming at the top of their little lungs just for kicks, they really know how to bring it while in public. Their sheer volume and propensity not to be entertained by crayons, or any other trick we try at the table, had my husband and I avoiding dining out with kids like the plague, until we found three places in Scottsdale that were easy enough to take them to, even if potential temper tantrums were coming along.
AJ’s Fine Food on Thompson Peak and Frank Lloyd Wright
On Sunday mornings from 8:00-10:30, AJ’s has a wonderful omelet bar set up on the patio (sometimes it’s inside the store, just peek in by the bakery if you don’t see it outside). For less than $10 you can choose as many vegetables, meats and cheeses as you would like and two sides which include the option of bacon, sausage, fruit and breakfast potatoes. Not only are the omelets huge, they’re delicious. They also make fresh Belgian waffles, sometimes with a variety of flavors, that come with berry compote and whipped cream on the side. This is a real winner for kids and adults alike. Along with the bakery’s decadent fare and a variety of coffees and teas, there’s something for everyone. Most importantly, it’s open air with people coming and going, which means my children’s screams and complaints are drowned out by chatter and parking lot noise. A win/win for us!
Sweet Tomatoes (multiple locations)
An all-you-can-eat healthy buffet restaurant that has compartmentalized trays for kids, who eat for free under three. The variety can’t be beat. I load the babies’ trays up with a variety of foods that I hope they’ll eat. They also have pizza, baked goods, soups, baked potatoes, and most importantly ice cream, which keeps the most impatient diner pleasant enough to get through the family meal. The atmosphere in Sweet Tomatoes is very casual. There’s no wait staff and no wait in general, so it provides you with instant gratification, perfect for toddlers.
Pita Jungle (multiple locations)
There are several Pita Jungles in the Valley, but we frequent the locations on Scottsdale Road and Shea and Thompson Peak and Frank Lloyd Wright. Both spaces have great outdoor dining options, which is helpful for dulling the din of my delightful diners. We like to go anytime from 3:00-6:00pm daily for Happy Hour. Happy Hour with babies? Oh yes. At Pita Jungle, Happy Hour means tapas, little plates that allow little mouths to try new foods on the cheap. Combine this palate expanding experience with a wonderful kids’ menu and we’re doing great.
While the restaurants above may not be as upscale as other Scottsdale options, they provide us with the greatest luxury of all, someone else cooking and cleaning.