There’s nothing like a homemade meal, right? Well, let’s be honest here. There’s something to be said about the sheer delight of driving to a destination far away from your own kitchen, paying a reasonable fee to have someone prepare and serve you a plate of hot food, and then watching the dishes magically get whisked away to a land where you don’t have to worry about whether the bowls go on the top rack or bottom rack of the dishwasher. There’s even a menu for you to choose from — demanding something a la carte is actually encouraged!
Parents, you may not be familiar with this practice since many of you probably filed the memory of this activity into the “Before Kids” category in your brain. This wonderful experience is called going to a restaurant, people, and the dream doesn’t have to be part of your past even though you now have demanding little people to feed. I have seen the light, and there are kid-friendly restaurants to fit all of your needs.
Without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top 5 picks for kid-friendly restaurants in Shelburne, Vermont.
Dutch Mill Family Restaurant
Where: 4309 Shelburne Road
When: Mon.-Sun., 7:30 am-2 pm
This homey spot has the small-town feel of Luke’s Diner in Gilmore Girls and the decor of your grandmother’s kitchen. The food never disappoints and they serve breakfast all day. You may find yourself on the waiting list during the weekend brunch rush, but there is a great playset outside to keep the kids busy and top-notch coffee ready to go while you wait for your table. After getting some energy out on the swings and slide, the kids will love sitting down to a whipped-cream-topped Mickey Mouse pancake. I mean, seriously, the joint actually has the word “family” on its sign.
Folino’s Wood-Fired Pizza
Where: 6305 Shelburne Road.
When: Mon.-Sun., 12-8 pm
I don’t know about your kids, but in my house the word “pizza” has magical powers. Folino’s has a casual family-style dining hall and, in the summer, you can sit outside and watch the sunset while dining. They get bonus points for having a huge yard where your restless little ones can do gymnastics or run in circles or whatever it is they need to do to satisfy their incessant desire to keep moving. This is one of our favorites on a gorgeous Saturday night. The fact that Folino’s is both walking distance from our house and attached to Fiddlehead Brewery may or may not be a factor. (Actually, wait, it is definitely a factor.) Oh, yeah, did I mention that this pizzeria is BYOB?
Where: 4066 Shelburne Road
When: Sun.-Thu., 11:30 am-8:30 pm; Fri. & Sat., 11:30 am-9 pm
A few years ago, Archie’s closed and the town of Shelburne cried big ugly tears… until they announced that they were merely moving across the street to where the old Marco’s Pizza used to be. Archie’s is another fantastic choice for the whole family. The burgers are definitely where it’s at (my go-to pick has a splash of maple syrup on it or, as I like to call it, the most brilliant thing to ever happen to a burger), but the menu includes big salads, hearty soups, sandwiches, and a few vegetarian and vegan options. They also boast an extensive list for the kiddos, including hot dogs, chicken tenders, grilled cheese, and even Kraft mac-n-cheese. If you have room left, they recently opened their own super delicious ice-cream parlor, aptly named Scoop.
Where: Shelburne Shopping Park
When: Tue.-Fri., 11 am-9 pm; Sat. & Sun., 4-9 pm; Mon., closed
My family adores this hidden gem nestled between Rite Aid and Aubuchon Hardware in Shelburne Village. The Mediterranean menu includes pizza, pasta dishes, and Greek specialties, with two different children’s sections — one with more typical kid foods like chicken tenders and grilled cheese and the other a build-your-own pasta option. My girls both love the sweet potato gnocchi with basil Alfredo. The best part about this wonderful bistro is the adorable play area they have for your kids, close enough to your table to enjoy a quiet glass of wine and adult conversation while they doodle on the giant blackboard wall.
Chef Leu’s House
Where: 3761 Shelburne Rd
When: Tue.-Thu., 11 am-9:30 pm, Fri. & Sat., 11 am-10:30 pm; Sun., 12-9:30 pm; Mon., closed
You may be surprised to see this fine establishment making my list, but the fact is that Chef Leu’s has been a success with my kids every time we’ve gone there. First of all, most people get their Chinese food as takeout, so the ample dining area is rarely crowded. Then, as soon as you sit down, they give you that bowl of crispy noodles, which keep my daughters busy munching while we wait for our meal. The beauty of the noodles is that they are technically a pre-meal snack, but they aren’t super filling like, say, a huge basket of bread at an Italian place. The soothing classical music tricks my girls into thinking they need to use quiet voices, the novelty of chopsticks adds an element of fun, and the promise of a fortune-cookie dessert keeps them focused on the prize.
If you don’t live in Shelburne but have been wanting to explore our little town, I recommend any of these kid-friendly restaurants for a nice evening out with your family. Please come visit us — we really are nice people here!
And if are one of my neighbors, what other kid-friendly restaurants would you add to my list?