What's for dinner? Did you forget to take something out to defrost? Are you looking for any excuse to eat out tonight? Not to worry, there are plenty of family-friendly options in the New Haven area beyond the usual burgers and fries. Eating out with the kids need not be a stressful experience; it can be fun, and your children may even learn to love a few new foreign dishes! What more could a parent ask for?
Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant
Ethiopian you say? Oh yes! Why? Because it’s FUN! It’s truly a unique experience and one that your entire family can enjoy. It is a bit pricier than the other options on this list, but well worth it - especially for a dinner capping off a nice outing at the museum or just walking around New Haven. Ethiopian is an experience, not just dinner. You will order your meal, it will come out on a large platter - communal dining at its best! I suggest the combination platter for your first time. The staff will guide you on the spiciness or lack thereof, depending on your tastes. When your platter arrives, you will not have plates, but rather you are given baskets of Injera (a large thin pancake made of Teff flour) which you break apart and use to pick up the food off the platter. The food is the consistency of stew. Some of my family favorites are Doro Wat (chicken cooked in butter and sauteed onions) and Ater Kek (yellow split peas in a mild sauce). The general rule of thumb we learned taking our children to Ethiopian restaurants: if it isn’t red, it isn’t too spicy - but check with your server. Their buffet hours are Monday-Friday Noon-2pm and Saturday Noon-3pm. Dinner hours are Sunday-Thursday 5pm-10pm and Friday and Saturday 5pm – 11pm.
176 Temple Street in New Haven 06510 (203) 789-1232
Are you craving ribs? The BEST I can think of are at Maggie McFly's. Both the Southbury and Middlebury locations have an extensive children’s menu, everything from Maggie’s Mac N’ Cheese to Fish and Chips! The décor is terrific for children, so much to look at! Mom and Dad have about 10 pages worth of menu to search through, so my best advice is to check Maggie’s Menu out online before heading in to have an idea of what you would like - that way you won’t have a huge wait time with the kids.
6 Woodside Ave Middlebury, CT 06762 (203) 577-2205 and 971 Main St. South, Southbury, CT 06488 (203) 264-5700.
If you're looking for a fantastic fajita then this should be your first stop. The fajita isn’t their only recommended dish, they also have an excellent “Table Side Guacamole” which is made at your table as you watch! This is not only a kid pleaser, but Mom and Dad will think it's pretty cool, too! The kids menu is full of classic crowd pleasers like hamburgers and chicken fingers, as well as tacos and burritos.
385 Main Street South Southbury, CT (203) 262-6988
Sultan’s Turkish Restaurant
If you've never had Turkish food, don't wait another day! Sure the children’s menu contains American favorites like macaroni and cheese, but also Chicken Shish and kid’s Doner (meat cooked on a vertical spit) so your adventurous children can feel like little world travelers. Their Sultan’s Mixed Grill can’t be beat for the adults in your party! The décor is warm and inviting. Call for current hours.
586 Plank Road, Waterbury, CT 06488 (203) 591-8450
Nestled in the middle of downtown Branford, Darbar India offers up divine Indian fare in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. Kids will go crazy for the Mango Lassi, a sweetened yogurt drink, and be sure to leave room for some Kheer, a delicate Indian rice pudding, for dessert. Whether you eat in or take out, Darbar is sure to please the palate.
1070 Main Street, Branford, CT 06405 (203) 481-8994
Kumo Sushi Hibachi Lounge
Whether you crave a quiet (hah!) meal over some first class sushi, or the excitement of a hibachi table, Kumo has got you covered. This place pulls out all the stops and is sure to thrill the more adventurous eaters among us.
7 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06510 (203) 562-6688
Originally Published 2/25/13