I need to be clear here. This is 100 percent not a list of Charlotte’s most kid-friendly restaurants.
Honestly, if I’m in the mood to go to a kid-friendly restaurant, I straight-up go to IHOP because I know there will be a ton of other children there, and my son will joyously attack its chicken and waffles.
IHOP is a great place to take your kid.
IHOP, however, is not insanely delicious according to this adult.
And so, here is my list of the top 10 most delicious restaurants in Charlotte I can take my two-year-old to without worrying (too much) about getting aggressive side-eye.
(10) Tupelo Honey Cafe
Tupelo Honey Cafe is delicious, it is southern, and it has amazing grits. It’s also loud and full of children on Sunday mornings. Once, my son had a medium-level tantrum on its floor, and no one batted an eye. Way to go, Tupelo Honey!
I mean, it’s a brewery, but it’s basically a toddler’s paradise.
Every time we go there, my son frolics and runs free in the grass while we enjoy a beer and eat German food, which is super yummy.
Obviously, OMB is known more for its beer than its food, but I find myself craving its red cabbage and sausage with curry-ketchup. My kid, on the other hand, is mostly in it for the rolls (and the post-roll frolicking).
Why should you go to The Diamond? Two words: Pickle Chips. Chips, people. Not spears. I need everyone out there who is frying up pickle spears to stop it. That’s not what you should be doing. Pickle chips. All the time. Every time. And also, hot dogs.
(7) JJ’s Red Hots
Speaking of hot dogs, JJ’s Red Hots are dee-licious.
You don’t know what can be done to a hotdog until you’ve been to JJ’s. And do you know who likes hotdogs? Everyone in the world, but especially everyone in the world under five years old.
The Flying Biscuit Cafe is the first restaurant we took our son to (I was on maternity leave, my husband was on his lunch break), and our little one spent the entire time sleeping in his car seat. We called it a win, and have been back countless times since.
Agenda Pro Tip: Its Rea Road location is right next to Doolittle’s, a children’s hair salon, which is awesome unless you forget to make an appointment for Saturday morning. No appointment? Well, your child will just continue to have unreasonably long hair for at least another week. And by “your child,” I mean “my child.”
Technically, Peace-N-Hominy is in Belmont, but Belmont is Charlotte adjacent, and this restaurant is toddler-friendly and stomach-pleasing so it makes the list.
They put corn in their grits, the barbecue is delicious, they have craft beer and tacos, and they will give your child a ginormous corndog for a reasonable price.
Collard greens. Fried okra. All the things that are delicious. This is what Mert’s Heart and Soul has to offer, and it is unpretentious despite being pretty darn famous.
You should go, and you should bring your toddler, because he (or she) is going to love it.
Who wants a bento box with sushi, sweet-potato fries, cucumber salad, a mini-hamburger and sushi? Me! I do! And my son wants to share. Cowfish has a million silly things to look at (including actual fish), and sometimes let my kiddo ring the cowbell so that’s a pretty big deal.
The secret’s out, Miguel’s is insanely yummy. It’s also a bit of dive (no offense, Miguel’s! You’re my favorite! I love you!) so you get zero side-eye for bringing your toddler, and the food is so good.
If the weather isn’t awful, eat outside and enjoy the picturesque view of the nearby airport hotel and highway 85.
(1) New Zealand Cafe
My husband took me to New Zealand Cafe for our first date. At the time, I was like “What is this about?
It’s in a strip mall. It has ‘New Zealand’ in the name, but all we’re eating is Japanese sushi. I am confused.
I was confused, but I was also delighted because it is hella delicious.
New Zealand Cafe is the best restaurant in Charlotte (Oh yeah. I said it.). It is also oddly toddler friendly. We’ve only brought our son during off hours (3 p.m. works well for us), but he digs the food, and the staff loves him. If you haven’t been, go, but, please, don’t tell my husband I told you about it.