When you had kids everyone said the same thing to you — say goodbye to nice restaurants and hello to place that only serve grilled cheese. (And also, "you'll never sleep again," but that's a theme for a different story.)
But here's the wonderful thing about a city like Toronto: Plenty of people have kids, and plenty of people still want to go out for dinner with them. The city's restaurants have found a way to make that work in a non-chain restaurant fashion, and it's actually kind of awesome.
After surveying colleagues who live across the city about places they love to eat and can actually bring their kids to without fear of other diners' glares, we've put together a list of some of the best options. Yes, you may have to go at 5:30 to accommodate the kids' bedtimes, but that just means you won't have any problem making reservations!
Check out this list of 20 kid-friendly, fabulous restaurants in Toronto. Have suggestions to add? Let us know below!
Where: 550 Danforth Ave. (at Carlaw)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Pizza, pasta
The fun factor: Crayons, activity sheets
The phew factor: Change table, step stool for sink, boosters and high chairs
Where: 892 Queen St. E. (Leslieville) and 2013 Yonge St. (Davisville)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Pastas, pizzas, salads
The phew factor: Kid-sized versions of dishes (you just have to ask), change table in women's washroom, high chairs
Where: 624B The Queensway (Etobicoke)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Sandwiches, pizzas, pastas
The fun factor: Unpretentious and very welcoming to families
The phew factor: Budget-friendly
Where: 3367 Yonge St. (north of Lawrence)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Pub food, like meatloaf, fish and chips and ribs
The fun factor: "Can enjoy a pint and not feel judged for being at a pub with kids," notes one parent.
The phew factor: Kids' menu (with big portions)
Where: 5238 Dundas Street West (Etobicoke)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Breakfast, brunch (dinner also served)
The fun factor: "Adults can still enjoy a weekend brunch, but in a manner more conducive to being there with kids," said one parent.
The phew factor: Quick and cheap
Where: 1665 Dundas St. W. (Little Portugal)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Sandwiches, pasta, salads
The fun factor: "It's right by the elementary school and so after it opens at 5, and before the hipsters roll in around 8, neighbourhood parents with little kids go there," explains one parent.
The phew factor: Oysters, grilled cheese and beer. Pretty much perfect for everyone!
Where: 167 East Liberty St. (Liberty Village)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Pizza, pasta
The fun factor: "As an adult you still feel cool and hip and you don’t get the stares of disapproval from other patrons if you bring your children in," says one mom.
The phew factor: Kids' menu, lots to see, TVs
Where: 1382 Danforth Ave. (east of Greenwood)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Empanadas, burgers, chili
The fun factor: Like others on this list, this place is popular with grown-ups later at night, but very accessible for kids in the early evening
The phew factor: The comfort pub food is easy for kids to love (and there's a serious number of brews on tap)
Where: 1460 Gerrard St. E. (Little India)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Vegetarian Indian food, like samosas, pakoras, chaats, etc.
The fun factor: Items like "pizza uthapam" and chocolate dosas for kids, play area in the restaurant
The phew factor: A breastfeeding-friendly policy, "Jain" option (no onion or garlic) which is great for colic
Where: 2162 Queen St. E. (The Beach)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Burgers, tuna melt — classic diner food
The fun factor: Casual atmosphere
The phew factor: Cheap and easy
Where: 1095 Yonge St. (Rosedale), 57a Adelaide St. East (west of Parliament)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Pizza, pasta, Italian entrees
The fun factor: Lots to look at, amazing food
The phew factor: Very patient staff, high chairs
Where: 1618 Bayview Ave. (Leaside)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Guacamole, tacos, quesadillas, etc.
The fun factor: Mexican food! What isn't fun about that? Fun decorations too
The phew factor: Kids' menu, high chairs, booster seats
Where: 804 O'Connor Dr. (East York)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Salads, burgers, pasta, smoothies
The fun factor: A treasure chest for kids
The phew factor: Staff who are great with kids, high chairs, lots of parking
Where: 356 College St. (North Kensington Market)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Smoked meat sandwiches, brunch foods
The fun factor: Colouring activities, lots to look at
The phew factor: High chairs and boosters galore, easy finger foods, casual environment
Where: 2590 Yonge St. (north of Eglinton)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Mac and cheese (but the gourmet kind), sandwiches, hot dogs
The fun factor: Amazing ice cream, very friendly atmosphere
The phew factor: Extensive kids' menu (with free sides), high chairs
Where: 25 Dockside Dr. (Lakeshore); 87 Laird Dr. (Leaside)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Upscale pub food (with lots for kids)
The fun factor: Colouring activities
The phew factor: Kids' menu (including drink and dessert), high chairs, booster seats, tons of room
Where: 299 Roncesvalles Ave. (Roncesvalles)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Barbecued foods, grilled cheese, fries
The fun factor: Popcorn instead of bread, colouring books, staff that act as "camp counsellors"
The phew factor: Amazing looking kids' menu (including drink and side), family-themed dinners on Sundays, Diaper Genie in the washroom!
Where: 213A Roncesvalles Ave. (Roncesvalles)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Upscale diner food — plus oysters (and an excellent brunch)
The fun factor: Laid-back, comfortable atmosphere, family-friendly, amazing desserts
The phew factor: Extensive kids' menu, high chairs
Where: 81 Church St. (north of Adelaide)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Sushi and various other Japanese-type dishes
The fun factor: Food made right in front of you at bar seats
The phew factor: High chairs, booster seats, private rooms (if a big party)
Where: 21 Tank House Lane (Distillery District)
The food for kids and grown-ups: Pub food like nachos, fish and chips and quesadillas
The fun factor: Activity page, lots to look at, TVs
The phew factor: Kids' menu (with side, drink and dessert), high chairs, booster seats
CORRECTION: This article original stated Terroni has free sundaes and bottomless drinks for children. That is incorrect.