Children’s curiosity is boundless, especially when learning about the world around them, and food has the power to educate while filling our bellies with yumminess. Coq au vin? Paella? Pansotti alla genovese? Chow Mein? Moussaka? You’re getting hungry…very hungry...and below are 10 suggestions for international cuisine in the Hartford area, where you can turn a family lunch or dinner into an exciting opportunity to try a new texture or spice. For even more fun, perhaps your family can practice learning a few words in a foreign language or listening to music from that particular culture. If you're feeling really ambitious, you can even try to replicate favorite recipes at home, at a later time. Of course, Connecticut abounds with delicious eateries, so you can also check out some ethnic family-friendly restaurants in the New Haven area.
Mangia tutti! Arguably the ultimate comfort food, Italian cuisine offers menu options that most children will love. At Salute, the kid-friendly options include sweet potato ravioli, meatball salad, crab cakes, seafood pasta dishes, and some delicious desserts including gelato, tiramisu, and cheesecake. The restaurant is located in downtown Hartford, making it easy to add a trip to the Wadsworth Atheneum or the Connecticut Science Center to your day's adventures. Both are located less than half a mile away.
100 Trumbull Street, Suite 2, Hartford 860-899-1350
Enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine in a lively and comfortable atmosphere. Whether your preference is nachos, quesadillas, tacos, chimichangas, or tostadas, you're sure to find plenty of fresh and delicioso choices that appeal to children. If you have extra time to spend in the area, let the kids work up an appetite at TimberGyms, a fun indoor play area for children up to age 10. The restaurant also has locations in Avon and Southington.
2585 Berlin Turnpike, Newington 860-667-8080
Mykonos Mediterranean Restaurant
Kali Orexi! Not only is a Mediterranean diet healthy thanks to its high-fiber content and anti-inflammatory foods, but it is also one of the most delicious (especially at this restaurant). Between stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki (Greek yogurt combined with chopped cucumber and served with pita), salads topped with kalamata olives, fried calamari, or the mixed grill served over rice, you will not leave Mykonos hungry. Grab a cozy booth and enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere.
2414 Berlin Turnpike, Newington 860-594-0900
Ginza Japanese Cuisine
Oishii! Located in Wintonbury Mall, the restaurant offers an elegant setting while retaining a child-friendly feel. The menu is extensive and anything we've ever ordered here has featured impeccable presentation and taste. A variety of sushi rolls abounds, and while we always aim to try something new, the Princess Roll (think salmon, tuna, yellowtail and mango) is a family favorite. Cucumber rolls, vegetarian rolls, and miso soup are top choices for kids (or adults) who hesitate to try fish; of course, the hibachi menu also ensures plenty of chicken, beef, and seafood combinations, accompanied by rice or noodles. When in the area, you're only about a 20-minute ride from Nomads Adventure Quest in South Windsor.
14 Wintonbury Mall, Bloomfield 860-242-8289
Bonjour! Find a bit of France in the heart of West Hartford. Choose from a variety of fromage, savor some soup du jour, try the child-friendly Croque Monsieur (baked ham and cheese sandwich) or Avert burger. More seasoned taste buds will enjoy dinner entrees such as veal blanquette, Tete de Cuchon, or classic escargot. Of course, you can save the calories and head straight to the dessert menu because...who can't use a bit more chocolate pot de creme, profiteroles, or brulee? Bon appetit, and while in the area, check out the Noah Webster House or catch a show at Playhouse on Park. There is a lot to do with children in West Hartford.
35A La Salle Road, West Hartford 860-904-6240
Seafood fried rice, vegetable lo mein, pork ribs with lotus root soup, dumplings, and sizzling beef: many family favorites are offered at this Chinese restaurant. The atmosphere is elegant yet casual, and families are made to feel at home. A 15-minute ride from this location will have you either strolling through Elizabeth Park, or perusing the Mark Twain House in Hartford.
156 Shield Street, West Hartford 860-519-1740
East Side Restaurant
Guten Appetit! This family-owned establishment has been serving delicious German food for more than 70 years. Think reuben, sauerbraten ravioli, and a choice of bratwurst or knockwurst sausages. Kids will likely enjoy the corn fritters, potato pancakes, and apple strudel. Enjoy authentic decor and live music every Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday all day. While in the area, check out the New Britain Youth Museum, the New Britain Museum of Modern Art, or other kid-friendly places in New Britain.
131 Dwight Street, New Britain 860-223-1188
Witamy (welcome) to Little Poland where authentic cuisine awaits at this family-friendly restaurant. Potato pancakes, pierogies (children will especially enjoy the fruit-filled variety), stuffed cabbage, schnitzel, or kielbasa with sauerkraut will have you licking your lips. A trip to Little Poland will also make you feel like you boarded a plane to Europe. Enjoy browsing the stores and bakeries, take in the sounds of the language around you, and try to visit the Little Poland Festival at least once.
250 Broad Street, New Britain 860-612-1711
Utsav Indian Cuisine
Namaste! For those children who like spicy foods (or are willing to try it), Indian cuisine is a must. Navaratan Korma (a variety of vegetables cooked in a cashew almond sauce) is delightful, as is the sabji platter (vegetable fritters that include potato, eggplant, spinach, and cauliflower). Just be warned...if the menu labels a food as spicy, it is spicy. Choose your heat level carefully. Of course, not everything is spicy; naan is scrumptious with or without toppings, and the tandoori wings should be considered calorie-free. While in town, spend some time in Old Wethersfield, especially the Webb Deane Stevens Museum.
1115 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield 860-563-1818
Savor the comfort of pho noodle soup, indulge your taste buds in spring or summer rolls, or try the Lotus Curry Seafood - just a few of the items featured on this Vietnamese menu. Children will enjoy the fried rice, dumplings, or even Saigon's Stir Fried Yellow Noodles. Peanut is used in some recipes so be sure to check food ingredients carefully and notify your server of any allergies. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. While in the area, take a walk through history at Stanley-Whitman House or drive a few minutes into the next town and check out Fun Things To Do With Kids in Bristol.
979 Farmington Avenue, Farmington 860-676-2255
No doubt, we’ve omitted many great choices, so feel free to share your food finds in the Comments section – especially if the restaurants are child-friendly and feature cuisine likely to appeal to novice taste buds. Enjoy your meals and time spent with family.