Let’s face it: kids can be loud. But that shouldn’t keep us from going out to eat once in a while. Here are five places I take my children where the ambience is so boisterous (or casual) that I don’t sweat their hijinks.
Vic’s Ice Cream
Established in 1947, Vic’s is a beloved Land Park institution that treats its pint-sized customers with lots of affection. Your kids can belly up to the counter, enjoy a melted cheese sandwich or hot dog, then dig into one of the parlor’s wonderful ice creams, shakes, phosphates, or sundaes. Popular (house made) ice cream flavors include raspberry ribbon, cookies and cream, rocky road and French vanilla.
3199 Riverside Boulevard, Sacramento, (916) 448-0892
What child can resist a hot dog? Bring ‘em to midtown’s funky Capitol Dawg, there they can tuck into a plump beef frankfurter, Italian sausage, or perhaps one of the establishment’s specialty items, like the Gold Rush Dawg, smothered with Swiss cheese, crushed pineapple and sesame teriyaki sauce. If your child eschews meat, there’s also a vegetable and grain protein frank – prepared corndog-style on a stick.
1226 20th Street, Sacramento, (916) 444-1226; www.capitoldawg.com
Rubicon Brewing Company
A midtown favorite, Rubicon Brewing Company is a great place for kids. I especially like the noisy outdoor dining patio (usually thronged with regulars, relishing their favorite brew) – kids can wander around the patio if they’re bored, and no one seems to notice or care. Parents, order the brewery’s delicious – and wickedly greasy – chicken wings; and the bratwurst sandwich (perfect with the Monkey Knife Fight pale ale). The kids will love the burgers and onion rings.
2004 Capitol Ave, Sacramento; (916) 448-7032; www.rubiconbrewing.com
Centro Cocina Mexicana
You can depend on Centro Cocina to be loud – especially on a weekend evening. If your child has a meltdown during the meal, chances are no one will even hear it. Featuring wonderful regional Mexican cuisine, this lively, colorful restaurant offers flavoful dishes that will please parents and kids – who have their own menu, which includes the “Uno” (chicken or carnitas taco served with refried black beans); and the “Tres” (a cheese quesadilla served with guacamole).
2730 J St., Sacramento, (916) 442-2552; www.centrococina.com
My children love teeny, friendly Jim-Denny’s, where they can sit on swivel stools at the worn counter, order a thick, delicious milkshake, and watch the burger cook tend to his meaty, sizzling patties. This snug café’s burgers are deservedly famous, but your kids may also enjoy the greasy-but-yummy grilled ham and cheese sandwich or the BLT, served up on sourdough bread. Don’t forget the fries.
816 12th St., Sacramento, (916) 443-9655; http://leaveyourteethathome.com