Melbourne is a maze of good food and great finds. You can turn a corner and discover a quaint little coffee shop or squeeze into a laneway and a world of pastry could be revealed. Granted, it might not be difficult to find something to tantalise your tastebuds but it’s quite a different story to find truly kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne.
We’ve scoured the many options touted to be family-friendly and came up with the list that’s certain to make your little one smile.
Little Growling Cafe
Located in the heart of suburbia about forty-five minutes from Melbourne city, both Little Growling Cafe locations are surrounded by residential estates and parkland. Accordingly, they serve up quality coffee and modern Australian cafe fare to the neighbourhood as one of the more kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne.
The Tarneit venue has a lovely playground just outside the cafe, with the deck overlooking so parents can eat and observe. Overactive little tykes can hop over concrete frogs, lie in the basket swing and tumble down the kiddie slide. Furthermore, the older kids will love the rope climbing frame, and the stories-high twisty slide. There is also a curated strip of cricket green right in the middle of the park should you decide to bowl a few.
Moving on to the Mambourin site, it’s situated adjacent to the private community pool and local park. Moreover, there is a local playground just a short fifty metre stroll down the street. These locales are on the way to and from Avalon airport and Geelong, thus making them the perfect stop over on an otherwise dreary drive.
The Little Growling Cafes serve breakfast and lunch with kid’s menus for both meals. Treat the kids to pancakes and a milkshake while you enjoy a delicious mushroom bruschetta followed by a decadent affogato. Let the children work off their nosh at the playground and the fields before continuing your journey.
Chilangos Mexican Cantina Docklands
If you’re after some authentic Mexican food, look no further than the colourful facade of Chilangos Mexican Cantina. The brilliant interior matches the vibrant flavours in the food and despite the lack of a kid’s menu, the customisable dishes allow for parents to cater to children’s tastes.
But that isn’t what adds Chilangos to the list of kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne. It has to be their famous swings which, although chained to the floor, lends a whimsical atmosphere to the dining room. Those nippers will be squabbling over who gets to sit there while you grab a couple of photos for Instagram.
After lunch, take a pleasant digestive four minute stroll down Collins Street to Buluk Park, a little gem of a playground in the middle of the city. Your child can first jump on the musical squares, then scribble on the cubby walls (BYO chalk), followed by the button operated water feature and finish up by sliding down the fireman’s pole and spring wheels! Make a meal at Chilangos into a day in the city!
The Boatbuilders Yard
Located right at the water’s edge on Promenade South Wharf, The Boatbuilders Yard serves up modern Aussie grub with a chilled brew. Share plates of friend chicken wings and waffle fries with your ankle-biter as they play in the sand at the tiny strip of “beach” by the water. You might want to skip the rosé if you’ve got young children as the sandpit is right next to the water.
Munch on a lobster roll while your child downs a mini burger and ice cream at the outdoor picnic tables. Alternatively, the kiddos can take a break from the digging and check out Polly Woodside right next door. You can’t miss it; it’s the massive pirate ship right out of the 1800s. The. Boatbuilders Yard is a great brunch or lunch stop for the family but come dinner time, it gets packed with drinking adults so kids might want to stay home.
Hot pot is a beloved Chinese dining activity. Cooking meats, seafood, and vegetables in a delightful broth at the table, it encourages bonding, communication and sharing amongst diners. If you encourage family cohesiveness, you’re definitely one of the more kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne, aren’t you?
In addition to the interesting dining concept, Panda Hotpot is an immersive experience into ancient Chinese culture. The interior places you in historical China with its traditional furnishings and costumed staff. Let’s not forget the gigantic concrete dragon that greets you as you walk in the door. As if the atmosphere is not enough, Panda Hotpot puts on a show at dinner to entertain one and all. Who could ask for more?
You can choose between one to three soup bases, from a crazy Szechuan spice soup to a thick nourishing pork broth. Follow that up with a plethora of meats to cook in your chosen broth. Everyone in the family can have their meat and eat it too.
You’d be forgiven to thinking Chocolate Buddha is a sweet chocolatey paradise. On the contrary, You’ll be stepping into a modern minimalist room offering fragrant Japanese cuisine housed in the iconic Federation Square. The children will love sharing (or not) some favourites such as edamame, chicken ao nori, and reckon (lotus root) crisps.
The best part is the dual level sushi train. The bottom level revolves plated sushi round the counter and the higher level delivery piping hot bowls of ramen and rice straight to you. Although, there might be some squabbling as to who gets to take the plates off the train, so you might want to referee that. Put out any fires with delicious choices such as Teriyaki Chicken Don or Gyu Ramen. With food like that, Chocolate Buddha is one of the more well-known kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne.
CERES Merri Cafe
CERES is a public park less than 20 minutes from Melbourne city which focuses on organic produce gardening. It has a nursery, organic grocery, playground, flea markets and community garden open for public perusal. Taking the family to CERES is an educational experience, learning about nature and how our food grows. Moreover, the Terres Playspace’s theme is soil with a huge centipede tunnel, rope swings, slides, and water play.
Right next to the playground is Merri Cafe, the baby of fifteen year veteran fine dining chef Hemi Reidy. Boasting a seasonally-changing menu, Merri Cafe highlights organic produce including vegetables grown right at CERES. Their light bites and pastries make for a great morning tea after a round at the playground. Before heading off, grab a smoothie for the road, or rather garden path.
Park St. Cafe
Park St. Cafe, known for its tasty food and comfortable atmosphere, is a leader in kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne neighbourhoods. Have your meal out at the back watch the tykes play in the colourful playground just across the bike track. If the your chickadee is more of an indoor sort, there are children’s books and activities available and waiting. Park St. Cafe has everything to entertain your brood while you lunch on their Pulled Pork Benedict and treat the kids to Belgium Waffles.
Stomping Ground Brewery and Beer Hall
In spite of the very adults-only sounding name, Stomping Ground is indeed one of the more kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne. From their cubby house play corner to the delish kid’s menu, your entire tribe will feel welcomed here. With their wide range of beers and alcohol, you’d probably want to soak up some of that with some Barbecue Octopus or Mussels.
The kids can fuel up on cheeseburgers or fish and chips, finishing with vanilla ice cream. Fret not, Stomping Ground supplies sodas and juices for kids as well. Spend an afternoon exploring craft beers while the children explore the awesome cubby.
Ever wanted to see inside a schoolhouse from 1843? Then, head down to the Brighton Schoolhouse in the coastal town of (you guessed it) Brighton. The cafe is set into the refurbished heritage building, giving the space a modern feel with historical charm. Thankfully, only the actual building is behind the times.
The Schoolhouse’s menu is an eclectic Australian, from Portuguese Baked Egg, to Pirate Pizza. The kids can kick it with pancakes and banana smoothies. Dine at the outdoor area and you can watch the little kids play in the fenced-in colourful playground. Once you’re done with your meal, you could order a Nutella latte or Pitaya Pink smoothie to go and take a short ten minute stroll to the lovely Brighton Beach.
Olinda Tea House and Restaurant
Stop by Olinda Tea House and Restaurant on the way to catch a ride on Puffing Billy in Belgrave, just fifteen minutes away. Treat your tribe to an elegant high tea, set in the exquisite Olinda Tea House, surrounded by beautifully curated gardens. They even have alpacas wandering the grounds, waiting for you to say hello!
Take a breather from exploring the grounds with their Asian-inspired high tea. The children will love the pig and and rabbit shaped pastries, especially washing them down with a delicious hot chocolate. After which, you might have to fight your munchkin for the pulled pork sliders and chocolate spring roll.
If you choose to walk off the decadent high tea, don’t forget to take your camera. Have a photo op at the gazebo, wooden bridge, and Koi pond. Then smell the colourful flowers and watch the birds. Nature has never looked so beautiful! Olinda Tea House might not be one of your typical kid-friendly restaurants in Melbourne but the kids will certainly enjoy their time there.
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