Although it might seem like many spots in San Diego County are alcohol- and adult-centric, there are plenty of great places that cater to the younger demographic, as well! So if you’re looking to dine out in San Diego with the little ones, look no further: we’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly restaurants in San Diego, from North Park all the way up to Del Mar, Oceanside, and the rest of North County.
Waypoint Public (794 30th St., North Park)
Come for the beer and stay for the food at this family-friendly hipster hangout in North Park! The play space is enclosed with a mini picket fence, and is often packed with local families. Kids can lounge on bean bags while they sample an assortment of books, toys, and movies in their own kid play space in the back of the restaurant. The weekend brunch menu offers a creative selection of Egg Benedicts, including the must-try Southern Belle, featuring perfectly poached eggs, a thick slice of bacon-scallion cornbread and a cheesy IPA sauce.
Corvette Diner (2965 Historic Decatur Rd., Point Loma)
San Diego’s standby for burgers, shakes, and poodle skirts is still going strong after three decades! It’s no secret that kids love the 50’s themed diner, complete with an onsite arcade. The “Gamer’s Garage” offers more than 60 games to keep the little ones busy, from classic air hockey to new favorites like Fruit Ninja and Guitar Hero. Nostalgic décor, doo-wop music, and sassy waitresses make the experience complete.
Station Tavern (2204 Fern St., South Park)
Nothing sets the tone for a relaxing weekend like burgers and beer in the heart of South Park. Station Tavern boasts a spacious “backyard” with picnic tables and dirt floors. The restaurant is dog-friendly and offers an enclosed play space for children, which includes chalkboards and a half-scale wooden trolley.
While the kids play conductor, enjoy a remarkably fresh, well-seasoned hamburger, or a marinated chicken sandwich with delightful house-made barbecue sauce for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to eat a plate of the restaurant’s famous tater tots – deliciously crisp with a generous dusting of spices.
The Patio on 101 (345 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas)
The Patio on 101 features a special area for kids that includes outdoor games and pint-sized seating for little ones. During daily happy hour, parents can enjoy drink and appetizer specials while kids entertain themselves in the designated fun area. There’s even an outdoor space for adults nearby, featuring games and comfy furniture.
The kid friendly menu offers a wide variety of American-style cuisine and share plates. Not to be missed: Crispy Brussels Sprouts with bacon and maple syrup, creamy Mac & Cheese with Andouille sausage and bao buns! That’s right — The Patio on 101 offers menu items from its sister property, Bao Beach, which means North County residents can indulge in Shrimp Bao, bulgogi, Karaage, and pork belly right in Encinitas.
BO-Beau Kitchen + Garden (8384 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa)
Experience casual French fare in charming downtown La Mesa, and bring the kids along too! Request a table in the idyllic covered courtyard, where a decommissioned school bus and chalkboards set the stage for fun, imaginative play. While you await your entrée, indulge in Bo-Beau’s legendary Brussels sprouts, prepared with pancetta and a balsamic reduction. Every selection is a good one on this small, thoughtful menu.
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Return to the classics. . . . 📍 @classics_malt_shop_sd . 👨👩👦👦 such a great shop. the food is very good. And the service is even better! The staff is all very friendly and helpful and they make you feel like family when you get there. They have high chairs and one bathroom, indoor and outdoor seating, and room for a stroller. They serve hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, sandwiches, and of course ice cream! They have malts, shakes, Sundays, and freezes (ice cream blended with soda)!
Classics Malt Shop (3625 Midway Dr., Suite B, San Diego)
This old school soda shop on Midway is famed for its classic American fare, lively atmosphere and friendly service. Kid’s meals include a junior hamburger, hot dog, grilled cheese and a corn dog, which all cost $5.99 each. Ice cream freezes, root beer floats and a Banana split (made using Thrifty ice cream) should keep everyone happy for dessert.
Panama 66 (1460 El Prado, Balboa Park)
Tucked inside one of San Diego’s prime attractions, Balboa Park, Panama 66 offers the perfect spot to rest and recharge after a day spent wandering around Balboa Park. Kids can run around the adjacent sculpture garden while you wait in line to order them child-friendly fare like a PB&J, cheese pizza, and grilled cheese sandwiches from the kids’ menu (each comes with a side of fruit).
Landon’s Gourmet Kitchen (1020 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos)
Arguably the most kid-friendly restaurant in all of San Diego, Landon’s Gourmet Kitchen offers a fully staffed playroom within the restaurant (available for a small fee). Onsite staff lead group activities, offer homework help, and can even suggest books and crafts. The menu boasts veggie-forward entrees with organic, vegan and gluten-free options for the whole family, as well as an extensive children’s menu.
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto (1747 India St., Little Italy)
Long-standing family favorite Filippi’s is a great place to bring the kids. The atmosphere is loud and lively and the menu is simple – think cheese, tomato and meatball simple – and reasonably priced. Children’s dishes include spaghetti, ravioli, and lasagna, with optional sausage or meatballs. If the line is long, grab a pizza to go and enjoy alfresco by the fountain at the end of the block.
Mendocino Farms (12873 El Camino Real, Del Mar)
This hip spot for next-level sandwiches offers a kid-friendly patio with cornhole, foosball, and a toasty fireplace. Try the delicious “Not So Fried” chicken sandwich with free-range chicken, crispy polenta bites, herb aioli, pickled red onions, and chipotle barbecue sauce. The kids will love their high-quality menu, complete with gluten-free and vegan options. They offer a quality kids menu, plus gluten-free and vegan options.
The Crack Shack (407 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas)
With its breezy indoor/outdoor space, bocce ball court (that can also be used for corn hole and mini-golf), and oversized chicken statue, the Encinitas fried chicken and egg concept is the perfect destination for families in North County. Kids receive a special meal, which includes three chicken nuggets with fries, a small drink, and choice of cookie of the day.
Officine Buona Forchetta (2816 Sims Rd., Liberty Station)
This chef-driven spot for Neapolitan pizzas and pastas offers fresh, authentic flavors and family fun. Sip sangria on the back patio while kids play in a spacious grassy park right next to the restaurant: they’ll be busy with the teeter-totter, slide, and swings while you enjoy your antipasti! We recommend the Pizza Al Metro, a two-foot-long pie that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends; and whatever you do, don’t skip dessert: the Cremoso al Cioccolato e Nocciola will make all your chocolate dreams come true!
For more kid-friendly fun in San Diego, check out our Guide to Kids Free October!