Where to take children for more than a grilled cheese. —Ann Hsu Kaufman
Kid-Friendly Noodles and Utensils
Maneki Neko’s wall full of 300 decorative ceramic cats will catch any tiny diner’s eye, but it’s the noodles that will keep them coming back. The restaurant has several types of Japanese noodles, which come in a soup or stir-fried. Veggie-loving kids might enjoy the simplicity of the sansai udon, a soup of thick, chewy flour noodles surrounded by a delicate broth with carrots, greens and enoki mushrooms.
Grilled chicken teriyaki noodle is another tot pleaser, with grilled chicken tossed in a slightly sweetened, soy-based sauce over curly ramen.
For more adventurous young palates, the restaurant offers straightforward sushi rolls, such as an avocado roll or the rice roll (sushi rice with seaweed). The child-friendly staff provides kid chopsticks (tied with a rubber band at one end), plastic plates and lidded cups. / 238 W. Broad St., Falls Church
Kid-Friendly Riffs on Classics
The Turkish-centric menu at Yayla is a great way to steer young diners just slightly out of their comfort zone. Creamy hummus and silky, refreshing cacik, a yogurt-based dip with mint and cucumber, beg for little dippers with big hunks of housemade bread. ‘
The moussaka with its layers of eggplant, ground beef and lamb all covered with a creamy bechamel sauce, is a perfect stand-in for lasagna.
Several types of pideler are reminiscent of pizza. Cheese-and-bread-loving kids—oh wait, that’s all kids—will find an easy transition to flatbread topped with feta and mozzarella.
On Sundays, the brunch menu offers more kid pleasers, including fluffy omelets and fruit-topped waffles. Parental bonus: All bottles of wine are 50 percent off on Mondays. / 2201 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington
The kid’s menu at Rangoli takes Indian staples and pares them down for littler appetites.
The clear winner is the chicken makhani, a decadent but mild tomato-based curry, which is also available with paneer, an Indian cheese similar to pressed fresh ricotta.
Order the oothappam, a flat, yeasty pancake embedded with cheese and candied cherries and accompanied by curried lentils for kids willing to try something familiar with a twist, but substitute plain yogurt for the mint chutney, which can be a little too spicy. / 24995 Riding Plaza, South Riding
Kogiya Korean BBQ
Kid-Friendly Action Meal
For entertainment during a meal, the do-it-yourself barbecue grills at Kogiya will provide plenty of diversion.
Kid-friendly meats include beef bulgogi, chicken and several cuts of pork. The bulgogi, thinly sliced ribeye marinated in a slightly sweet soy sauce, appeals to young diners interested in trying a new kind of barbecue, while the mild, soy-marinated white meat chicken has a subtle flavor that won’t overwhelm little palates.
Also included are a dozen banchan, small dishes of Korean staples, such as kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), potato salad, chilled vegetables and more. The space-age decor, Korean music videos, pumping music and helpful staff make the meal an energetic experience. / 4220 Annandale Road, Annandale
Don’t let the limited seating deter you from bringing tykes to sample one of Crepe Amour’s sweet or savory concoctions. The savory crepes are made in true traditional French style with organic buckwheat flour (there’s also a gluten-free version), giving the crepe a satisfyingly yeasty bounce. Try the poulet gruyere crepe, with roasted chicken, melted Gruyere, mushrooms and roasted red bell peppers.
The dessert crepes, made with organic white flour flavored with vanilla, will take a lot less convincing. With fresh fruit, Nutella and whipped cream filling various combinations, the question won’t be which one to get but how many. For bleary-eyed parents, there’s an espresso bar with Lavazza beans. / 407 Maple Ave. E, Vienna