Sometimes, it may feel like parenthood arrives only with a list of limitations. Thou shalt not bring thy child to a fancy restaurant. Thou shalt not enjoy an evening out without first hiring a babysitter. Thou shalt get used to cooking your own meals, forever and until the end of time. Whatever is a foodie parent to do? I’m over two years into my motherhood adventure, and the first thing I learned was to take my child out—and often. Integrating him into our culinary social life has helped him to grow accustomed to restaurants, to eating different foods, to behaving himself for a whole whopping hour at a time. The result is a baby who is pretty well behaved, all things considered. But then: We don’t test our limits. We don’t eat late dinners out, the way we used to. We don’t visit places that count among their luxuries tablecloths and fine silver. In fact, we mostly eat lunch out, instead of dinner, avoiding the evening meltdown.
In short: You don’t have to give it all up, and although you may not ever be able to have it “all,” there are a lot of ways you can come close to it. I’m here to honor that spirit. Read on for five really great East End restaurants that will treat your kid as well as you will.
This personal favorite serves a rotating list of all the things you want to be eating but probably shouldn’t (and are obviously going to order anyway). They’re also happy to cater to your little one, with a menu that includes an addictive mac-n-cheese (yeah, I, um, am ordering that for my… son), shells with butter, chicken tenders, fish, and a salad. Food is locally sourced and won’t crater your bank account—unless you, like me, lack the self-control necessary to keep from ordering the majority of the menu.
Rowdy Hall, 10 Main Street, East Hampton, (631) 324.8555, open daily, 12 to 10 p.m.
Breakfast and lunch may be the best time to take your little one to that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Lucky for you, Wednesday’s Table, in Southold, exclusively serves breakfast and lunch, with a massive menu that covers pretty much every food-related need. Sandwiches. Bagels. Salads. Peanut butter and jelly. This place has it all. Kids will find ample options—even those who tend toward the particular. And adults will be equally satisfied with the diverse menu. And the adorable, cottage-like restaurant will make lunch out feel like a vacation.
Wednesday’s Table, 53345 Main Road, Southold, (631) 876.5251, open Thursday through Monday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This Sag Harbor burger joint is undoubtedly kid-oriented, serving everything from milkshakes to giant cupcakes (and, of course, towering burgers). There are plenty of options for those committed to adulting—salads and healthier sandwiches abound—but if you’re here for the kiddo-centric cuisine, you’ve come to the right place. Even the pickiest kid will be enchanted by the wide array of burger-y options. And don’t leave without ordering the fried pickles. Your, ahem, kids will love them.
LT Burger, 62 Main Street, Sag Harbor, (631) 899.4646, open Wednesday through Monday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Mexican devotees can rest easy with the knowledge that Lucharitos (with restaurants in both Greenport and Aquebogue now) serves kids menus alongside its adult-sized tacos and burritos. The kids’ menu includes pint-sized nachos, burritos, and tacos. If your child is a more adventurous dining soul, there are numerous options to help fill her belly. Plus, Lucharitos makes a formidable margarita, which will take the edge off parenting (for a few minutes, anyway).
Lucharitos, 119 Main Street, Greenport, (631) 477.6666, open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sam’s serves dinner only in a wood-paneled, blue boothed East Hampton space. The restaurant is as iconic as its superlative pizzas, which Hamptonites in the know will confess rank among the best. The casual atmosphere is perfect for your pizza-loving brood, and you can even grab a grown-up clam pie for yourself while you’re at it. After all, what kid doesn’t love a good pie?
Sam’s Bar & Restaurant, 36 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, (631) 324.5900, open Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.