An exploration of things to do in Arlington

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Where Do Kids Love to Eat? Bars.

Recently I was at Whitlow's early in the evening waiting for a friend to arrive when I noticed that of the scattered groups seated for dinner, most were families. They stuck out a bit more because it was too early for the young professionals to be out for dinner and drinks, but it's a pattern I've noticed at other places as well. Go to Clarendon Grill for brunch on a weekend and there's almost always at least one family there. The kids love dancing on the stage where a band had been playing a few hours before.

My theory is that the same characteristics that make bars inviting to the drinking crowd make bars more attractive to young couples with kids. One of my best friends has a 6-month-old and an 18-month-old and says when they're going out to dinner, they have a choice to make:
* Go someplace nice and hope the kids are good but be ready to bail
* Go to a family-style place like Red Robin where the food sucks but at least you can let the kids be kids
Bars are already loud, so they don't care if the kids make a little noise. They have cement floors, so it's not a big deal if the kids spill. The dishes are made to be broken. And the parents not only get to eat much better food than they would at Applebee's, they can revisit some of their favorite places from their single days.

It's not ideal for parents to be taking kids to places where smoking is allowed, but it's not like they're showing up at 11pm when the smokiness is at its peak. You can get a list of smoke-free bars and restaurants at the Arlington Civic Federation website.

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Anonymous ataraxia said...

Some of my favorite memories as a kid growing up in Pittsburgh in the 80's are from when my parents took me to a (long shut down) bar called Christine's. Messy chicken wings? An endless supply of free popcorn out of a really cool-looking glowing machine? A juke box that gave songs for a quarter? Awesome! Plus there was that sense that this wasn't a kids place and we were special to be there.

2:20 PM

Anonymous suicide_blond said...

in texas..(and other places as well) there is a tradition of dance halls...where entire families can go.. its fun and the kids AND grownies..get a little exercise after dinner..and umm..well..they learn to dance!!..xoxo

1:16 AM

Blogger Brady Bonk said...

We always took my kid brother to Whitey's for breakfast. He liked the pool tables. And for awhile they had a free-throw game he liked.

8:49 PM

Blogger TravelGirlDC said...

I too have seen kids at Whitlow's. I don't have a problem with them being there. They are usually there early for brunch (way before the hangover crowd is comimg in) and they are usually there for early bird dinners.

I grew up in New Orleans and some of the best breakfast places were bars. I guess it just doesn't seem too out of place to me.

3:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the parent of an almost 4 year old, neighborhood restaurants, such as Whitey's, are our familiy's preferred venues for dining out. They have character, good food, and are fun for all involved.

1:55 AM


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