One of the hardest things I face when planning travel for my family is figuring out where and what we’re going to eat. I think this is true for any parent, but you add in our food allergies, and it becomes something we can’t just leave to chance.
I didn’t find a lot of guidance about family-friendly restaurants in LA when I was planning this trip, so I knew I had to write about everywhere we ate to help out other families.
We hung out in two main areas of Los Angeles during our stay: Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Don’t miss our review of the Beverly Wilshire hotel if you’re planning a stay in Beverly Hills.
Breakfast in LA with Kids: Chaumont and Chaumont Vegan
This bakery is just around the corner from the Beverly Wilshire and became our breakfast go-to spot. Chaumont Vegan (next door to Chaumont) is open Thursday-Sunday starting at 7:30, so if you’re needing vegan options, plan ahead and buy more than you need if you’ll be there mid-week. We found this out the hard way.
Neither store has much to offer for gluten-free patrons. My husband was able to get a slice of cake at Chaumont Vegan and 2 little cakes at Chaumont. One cake was flourless chocolate and one was almond.
Chaumont Vegan did have tons for my egg-and-peanut-and-nut allergic son, which was such a blessing. Only 2 pastries contained nuts, so he could have almost everything he saw. Any parent of a food allergy child knows how rare and beautiful that is.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, Chaumont is your better bet. They offer croissant sandwiches, eggs with greens and thick slices of bread, bacon, and more.
There is outdoor sidewalk seating shared between the two restaurants, and it fills up quickly, so arrive early if you are seating a family.
Lunch in LA with Kids: Cantina Frida
Cantina Frida is a loud, bustling Mexican restaurant with an indoor/outdoor vibe. There is sidewalk seating as well as a bar area with tv’s playing sports, booths, and tables around a gorgeous tree in a light-filled atrium.
We had a reservation, even for lunch, for 4. A friend joined us shortly after, making us a party of 5. Our lunch of guacamole – made table side! – a trio of salsas, tacos, quesadillas, street corn, 2 mango “smoothies” (virgin frozen margaritas), 6 top shelf margaritas, and a top shelf shot of tequila cost us $500. A bargain option this is not, but everything was delicious and the portion sizes were decent.
The servers brought kid cups but didn’t have a kid menu. Thankfully the tv’s in the sports bar area kept them entertained a bit until the food arrived.
Mexican food is typically pretty easy for our allergies (eggs, nuts, peanuts, and gluten), and Cantina Frida is no exception. It was easy for everyone to find something they both enjoyed and could eat.
Dinner in LA with Kids: Nouvelles Saveurs by Chef. T. Nicolas Peters
This one is a curveball, but I have to share because we stumbled on it while staying at the Beverly Wilshire and it blew us away. There really isn’t any kid-friendly food on the menu, but the staff and Chef Nicolas were happy to work with us to create a dish that both my kids loved and devoured. They offered pasta (but it had eggs) so we moved on to salmon, roasted veggies, and mashed potatoes. I know, I wasn’t sure they would eat it either, but both kids cleaned their plates.
What I really loved is how they let us be as casual as we needed to be. The kids stayed entertained in the pool until the food arrived, and they came and went as they pleased. As the restaurant gains popularity (and a permanent location) I’m guessing some of this flexibility will go away, but it is perfect right now for families.
Lunch: Coast at Shutters on the Beach
Shutters on the Beach is one of the nicest hotels in Santa Monica and right on the beach and boardwalk. Coast is their lunch restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating. They had kids menus and coloring pages with crayons which kept all 4 kids in our group quiet and entertained during the very long wait for our meal.
I’m sorta 50/50 on recommending this restaurant because the restaurant was busy, service was slow, and it feels like they are resting on their laurels a bit as one of the only full service restaurants on the beach. That said, the food was tasty when it came, and it was super convenient for walking on the boardwalk, enjoying the beach, and checking out the pier. Do not go if you are in a hurry though or have kids who can’t sit still for very long.
Dinner: Blue Plate Taco
After checking out the pier and enjoying the carnival rides, we headed up the bridge to Ocean Ave and dinner at Blue Plate Taco. We sat on the patio here, though there is also indoor seating. Blue Plate had kids menus, coloring pages and crayons, and the service on the kids’ meals was incredibly quick.
We were seated right next to a loud speaker and there was a DJ mixing songs, some of which were not appropriate for young ears, so keep that in mind if you are going for dinner. We didn’t go late – our reservation was for 5:30 – so even going early won’t save you from the loud music. I wouldn’t recommend the patio for kids with sensory issues because there was a LOT going on.
What to Bring with You
If you’re taking kids to a restaurant on vacation, the last thing you want to do is be worried about everyone’s behavior. With a few smart toys and activities, you can keep your vacation vibes going while keeping the kids entertained. Here are some of our favorites:
For older kids who can read, a Kindle is the perfect device for filling that waiting time between ordering and eating. Our older son could not live without his Kindle, and it has supported his insatiable love of reading! Get your Kindle Kids.
Scratch Art Sets
Scratch art is something our kids love to do – what’s better than revealing a picture hidden in plain sight? We as parents love this one because it keeps them engaged but quiet. Get your scratch art set.
Water Wow Sets
Another one of our favorites is the Water Wow sets. You just fill the paintbrush with a little bit of water and when you paint the water onto the page, a picture is revealed. This one has been fun for my kids from about the ages of 3 to 5, and they come in a bunch of different themes – animals, vehicles, shapes, colors, numbers, you name it.
The best part is that these are reusable – though if you have a kid like mine who jams the paintbrush really hard onto the paper, it will eventually get scratched and the picture will stay visible. These lasted us several years though, and through multiple kids. A definite recommendation. Get yours today.
TableTopics for Kids
If family connection is what you’re after, pick up TableTopics to go for kids. The package is tiny, so it’s easy to slip into a purse or backpack, and the topics are good even for very young kids (probably ages 4 and up). There aren’t THAT many prompts included, so if your kids are into one-word answers, these won’t last you too long, but they are a great conversation starter and can be a jumping-off point for other topics. Get TableTopic for Kids.
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