Van Foodie Parents: Project highlights Vancouver's kid-friendly spots

May 2 2023, 10:32 pm

For parents who enjoy dining out, finding kid-friendly restaurants can be a huge challenge.

From space issues to a lack of high chairs, there are numerous obstacles that can make eating out with a kid feel like a giant headache at best and an impossibility at worst.

This is the motivation behind Van Foodie Parents, a local project founded by Marta Bertran, a Vancouver-based parent of a toddler.

Before we had a kid, we really enjoyed going out and exploring new restaurants,” Bertran says. “But, once we became parents, we had to learn what it meant to dine out with a baby.

She told Dished that it took a while for her and her partner to feel comfortable and confident enough to start going out to eat again, especially after discovering the numerous challenges involved in attempting to do so with a little one – such as being able to fit a stroller into a small cafe, for example.

The idea behind @vanfoodieparents was born because, as most parents may relate, life after a kid changes everything and it wasn’t different for us,” Bertran explains.

The Instagram account documents restaurants and cafes around the city that Bertran has visited and which kid-friendly options and amenities they offer, if any.

So what makes a place kid-friendly?

Well, it depends on the age of the child of course, Bertran says, but general things to look for include whether or not the establishment provides suitable kid’s chairs (booster seats and high chairs), kid’s entertainment (such as books, colouring pages and crayons, and a designated kid area), and a kid’s menu or other kid-friendly food options.

Bertran says she also likes to check for child-friendly serving ware, such as a small spoon or fork and a small glass for water.

While restaurants don’t need to fulfill every single one of these conditions in order to qualify, having some kid-friendly accommodations makes a world of difference to the parents hoping to be able to enjoy a meal (or a drink).

Also, I’m always surprised what a difference it makes when staff acknowledges your kid when you walk in and make an effort to accommodate you as a family,” Bertran adds.

In addition to documenting Vancouver’s most child-friendly spots, Bertran has received a Neighbourhood Small Grant (NSG) for the project, funded by the Vancouver Foundation and administered by Kitsilano Neighbourhood House for the West Side community.

“With the grant, we have been able to put together a few kits that include a selection of high-quality books and toys designed to entertain young children,” Bertran says.

“Our goal with this project is to provide these kits to restaurants and coffee shops free of charge for the duration of the project, as a way to make their spaces more kid-friendly and, therefore, a more welcoming space for all members of the community.”

As for which Vancouver spots fit the bill for being the most kid-friendly (according to the criteria set out on Van Foodie Parents), Bertran has a few favourite places around the city that stand out.

Check out Bertran’s list of recommended spots below, and check out the Van Foodie Parents project on Instagram.

Matchstick Coffee (Riley Park location)

You can tell families love it here as it’s always full of them! They have kid-friendly furniture as well as a huge box with books and toys. For food options, you can go with either their coconut chia pudding or grab a sandwich. A bonus is that they are next to a park and playground so you can enjoy your coffee and kids can have some outdoor play time after.”

Address: 4807 Main Street, Vancouver

Radish Restaurant

“We like how casual their vibe is. They operate as a counter service restaurant and have a little shop set up where you can buy deli items. They have two large areas and an outside patio which makes it easier to find a table without having to wait too long. As per kid-friendly features, they have booster chairs and booths, colouring sheets and crayons and, although they don’t have a full kids menu, they have sandwiches, toasts and focaccia which are always a success with little ones.”

Address: 1876 W 1st Avenue, Vancouver

Chickpea

The staff here is always amazing and they acknowledge kids as they enter the door. They provide you with crayons, colouring sheets and kids cutlery without you having to ask for it and, of course, they do have high chairs and a couple of tables with benches. Their menu is long so we are almost sure that everyone can find something they like. What we normally do is to order different side plates, so our kid can try them all and eat what he likes the most.

Address: 4298 Main Street, Vancouver

Other places of note include To Live For (“they have the cutest kids table and a rotation of books and toys”), Cafe Lokal in Kitsilano (“for books and toys”), OEB, Blacksmith Bakery in Langley (Latimer location) and Fergie’s Cafe in Squamish.

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