9 kid-friendly restaurants across Canada that you actually want to be at too

These gems have menus — and a vibe — you'll all appreciate. Promise.

These gems have menus — and a vibe — you'll all appreciate. Promise.

(Source: Instagram/@pianopianotherestaurant)

My parents always took my brothers and I out for dinner every Friday night. There was one restaurant in Hamilton that could put up with our shenanigans and handle 3 kids under the age of 3. My parents had dinner and we played video games in the corner. Let me tell you though by age 6 I was a pro at playing Pac Man before any of my friends had even heard of the game. My parents loved going out for dinner and having kids didn't stop them and I agree; having kids should not stop you from having a fun time out. When my husband and I weigh the options of getting a babysitter or taking the kids out for dinner, we always take our kids out. Plus, it's fun and it gives me a reason to order a Shirley Temple to drink.

Still, it can be a frustrating experience. Parents can't just walk into any old place with the brood, they need to pick the right restaurant for the family. Of course you're not going to take kids to a five star French restaurant. Unless, they have a kids menu, right? Today, restaurants are very different from when I grew up. There are restaurants with play centres attached to them. They have kid-friendly menus and activities to busy the kids while Mom and Dad actually have a dinner that doesn't come out of a box or wrapper. Below are some of my top picks of the best kid-friendly places to dine.

Pie in Collingwood, Ontario

Pie is one of our family favourites. It's a family style Pizzeria with a wood oven - great in part because you're not waiting long for food, and kids are  told how long their personal pizza will be in the oven for. No more "how much longer til our food comes, Mom"! As soon as kids walk into Pie, the servers come down to their level to welcome them, then they get pictures to colour and are offered pizza dough to play with. The TVs play a cool mix of videos from the 70's to the 90's. Who knew Paula Abdul was a singer before American idol. The things you learn at Pie! While busy throughout the ski season and summer season but the wait is not long if you're in line for a booth.

Kokopelli Café in Vancouver

Kokopelli was made for moms and dads. Whether you're looking for a great coffee or a delicious treat or a full meal with the family, this is the place to go to. They also have a play area for kids, but they also get  families. For instance, sometimes, it's not possible to round up the troops in time for dinner like when you pull up to the restaurant and someone is having a meltdown and you're not taking them in anywhere! No worries, you can run in and grab a freshly made, homemade-like meal and have it on your table in minutes. Do you have multiple kids in a stroller? The Café also accommodates the supersized double strollers. Not too many places do! Kokopelli gets kids and likes kids so if you're in the Vancouver area stop by.

Nick's in Calgary

With kids timing is everything. When they get hangry it can get a bit ugly. Nick's gets food on the table quickly and it's fresh and amazing. The restaurant is very welcoming to kids and understands when you're in a rush, say off to soccer or baseball or whatever activity your kids are up to. If you're a meatatarian you'll love Nick's (and yes that is a made up word!) - when you're there try the sliders.

The Melting Pot in Edmonton (and more)

How fun is fondue? Even just saying fondue is fun. At the time of writing this, The Melting Pot has a one- price, three-course meal for parents and kids. The kids will love the interactive dining experience - you know your kids are going to double dip so why not double dip in some delicious fondue, be it bread into cheese or strawberries into chocolate. The Melting Pot offers fixed menus as well, and many locations around North America that offer different menus and activities for children.

Jerry's Food Emporium in Saskatoon

Jerry's tops most lists in Saskatoon for kid-friendly and family fun places to eat. If you like that old-school feel of places like the one your grandparents would take you for a burger and a shake, then go to Jerrry's. They're known for their battered cod, burgers and for the fact that they make their buns in house. They have a Junior and Senior's menu, and the best part is that the kid's meals come first. Once the kids have devoured their meals they can head over to the kid's play area. Then you, the parent, can actually sit back, relax and eat your meal.

Original Pancake House in Winnipeg

Sometimes you just want breakfast for dinner. My kids and I do this at least once a week. In Manitoba, Original Pancake house offers breakfast all day - but if you're not into pancakes or eggs for dinner they also offers a wide selection of salads and sandwiches, so even the pickiest eater will be taken care of. What kids love most about this place is the front counter that is loaded with toys and games… and where parents can purchase stuffed animals, key chains, balls and other treats. Consider yourself warned!

Piano Piano in Toronto

Looking for a kid-friendly restaurant in Toronto?! Well, Piano Piano says right on their website they love kids in their place! Done. We are on our way. Piano Piano was created by 2 loving parents, Chef Victor and his wife Nikki who have two little ones. From 5-7 they have "Eat and Play"; they have a corner with couches for kids, silly costumes, games and books, there is also a chalkboard or you can colour your menu! And, get ready for this, they have an old school pac-man machine, and if you don't have quarters for the machine you can just add it to your tab. Oh, and the food is outstanding.

Issac's Way in Fredericton

(Source: Facebook/@isaacswayrestaurant)

Years ago I headed to Fredericton when I managed an all-female rugby team, ages 15-19, and this was before I had my kids. The girls on the team were like daughters to me and I wish we had known about Issac's Way when we were in town. This cute restaurant is wheelchair and stroller accessible, they have a kids' menu that includes vegetarian options and they are conveniently located to hotels, the convention centre and art gallery… a parent's - or supervisor's - dream! Also, the restaurant is big on supporting local artists and sometimes showcase children's art. Swoon.

Lighthouse Picnics in Newfoundland

Who doesn't love a picnic? Lighthouse Picnics is open May – September and the concept is right in the name. Families can take in stunning landscapes, keep an eye out for wildlife, birds and you may even see some whales(!) while you picnic, indoors or out, on their fare.The Lighthouse staff provide the blankets, books to read and of course the delish food - their chutney-glazed ham and brie on bread has been a fan fave for over 13 years. They also have homemade lemonade in mason jars. Sounds perfect to me!