Strange as it seems Food is not actually top of your priority list. It is important, don't get me wrong, but your sanity is much more important than your gut. Myself and my husband recently arrived at one of our favourite family restaurants and there was a 30 minute wait, 30 minutes with a 5, 3 and 1 year old, not in this lifetime! Wait time needs to be now or as close to now as possible.
The restaurant you choose needs to have the seating necessary for families - booster seats and highchairs. It is not enjoyable to have your baby sit on your lap as you desperately attempt to eat your food. If there are no highchairs, I hightail It out of there.
Kids menus need to be broad and include some form of sweet treat in order to entice our little ones to eat the good stuff. In addition, kids tend to change their minds a lot about their favourite foods. Variety is the spice of life.
Your kids need to be occupied as they wait for their food to arrive. A Lisa tip, always ask your server to bring the kids meals out first and as QUICKLY as possible to avoid meltdowns. Either B.Y.O. (bring your own) toys, books, colouring books, leapfrogs or take advantage of the paper and crayons that most family friendly restaurants provide. Be warned your one year old may try to eat the crayons.
My Top Five Favourite Family Restaurants in no particular order are: (note- all of these restaurants have locations in both Edmonton, and Sherwood Park!)
Although you can't pre-book a table, in my experience wait times are acceptable and they have a decent sized indoor waiting area. The will also give you a zapper which you can take to your car (you must stay within a certain range) and wait.
Seating is good and you are not listening to your neighbours conversation.
I have never experienced the No highchair/booster seat problem.
Kids menu is great. Kids can also colour on it and on the paper tablecloth. We use the wait time to practice letters, draw pictures and generally have some fun.
Food wait time is generally good and we find the food great as do our kids.
If it's your kids birthday, they can wear a moose hat and the servers will sing to them.
Pro Tip: On Tuesday evening Kids eat free - spend what you save wisely!
Again you can't pre-book your table but there is a good sized indoor waiting area. The Sherwood Park Red Robin has seats in the shape of Burgers to sit on (I like) whilst you wait.
Plenty of Highchairs and booster seats here.
We love the food here. Kids gobble their food (a miracle happens in Red Robin) and it is very reasonable.
We love to go to Cora with the kids especially for a weekend breakfast. The food is great and reasonably priced. I love that there is fruit served with just about everything.
The only drawback is that Cora is very busy (testament to how good it is) and the waiting area is very small and a lot of the time people are waiting outside. Fine in the summer, Winter - questionable. Even when you are lucky enough to be waiting inside, I find it very claustrophobic.
This will factor into your decision process. It is worth the wait. However, take into consideration how old your kids are and what their waiting capacity is.
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
If you and your kids like Italian food, you will love Famoso. The food is great and the menu changes with the season. All three of my kids now like Pizza (score) so guess where our next meal out will be?
The indoor waiting area is a decent size. We have always enjoyed eating here. The food is reasonably priced which is an important factor to consider.
We recently celebrated our daughters 5th birthday here. Our wait was not too long and in comfortable surroundings.
They have a very extensive menu and we all cleared our plates (always a good sign).
Like Montana's if you want to be the centre of attention on your birthday, look no further.
I found the food again well priced and very tasty.
I find the staff at all of the aforementioned restaurants very pleasant and friendly. You do not see fear in their eyes as they see families with young children arrive. They are used to it and we are a big part of their business. They know kids have a short attention span, get hungry quick and tend to leave a little mess on and under the table, even if Mommy and Daddy try desperately to keep on top of things.
Enjoy your meal and don't forget to bring something to keep the little ones distracted and busy.