Answers from Our Experts (3)
We’d tell you not to limit your visits to Raleigh-Durham to only business or college visits to one (or all) of the three major universities in the area; bring your kids along for a short jaunt down to Tobacco Road (no smoking, of course) to get a feel for a place entirely different from most of the rest of the country. Here’s our list of the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Raleigh-Durham:
1. Q Shack in both Raleigh and Durham. It’s where the old “who makes the best barbecue” debate gets played out in a menu that features both Texas- and North Carolina-style barbecue. You know what you’re in for as soon as you spot the picnic tables topped with rolls of paper towels. And what kids don’t love eating with their hands?
2. Elmo’s in Durham and Carrboro. It’s the quintessential diner, with breakfast-all-day offerings, as well as the requisite burgers and meat-and-threes (just what it sounds like - meat and three sides).
3. Mellow Mushroom. If it were simply a pizza parlor, that would be enough to delight most any kid. But at this particular pizza parlor, colorful art and a groovy aesthetic create a kid-friendly vibe.
4. Weaver Street Market. Carrboro’s local co-op grocery store is great for fresh sushi and salads. Grab a table out front on the lawn and watch Carrboro’s best hula-hoopers battle it out (and, no, it’s not just for kids).
5. Mad Hatter Bakeshop & Cafe. Don’t count on kids staying in their seats at this casual bakery and cafe. Their noses will likely be pressed against the display case of cakes, cookies and other baked wonders. The good news is that kids’ plates come with a cupcake for them to ice and decorate themselves.
The best kid-friendly restaurants in Raleigh-Durham are Locopops, a specialty dessert eatery in Chapel Hill; Rick’s Diner & Catering Co. in Durham; Spanky’s, a ribs and burgers restaurant in Chapel Hill; Brixx pizza in Chapel Hill; and The Fearrington Granary in Pittsboro.
We would recommend Mellow Mushroom Pizza, with locations in Raleigh and Chapel Hill; Café Luna (Italian) in downtown Raleigh; the Flying Biscuit (American breakfast and grill) in Raleigh; and Buffalo Brothers (sports bar) in Raleigh. Char-Grill, with several locations throughout Raleigh-Durham, offers excellent '50s drive-in style hamburgers and milkshakes. For dessert, Loco Pops has Mexican-style popsicles in a variety of interesting flavors for children, with locations in Raleigh and Durham.