Mad Mex
Mad Mex is my favorite Mexican restaurant for kids. This local chain is family-friendly with a wide array of menu options to please any picky palate. Just the dips alone—pepita hummus, guacamole, black bean—are a good start for little ones. Chilis, burritos, quesadillas and many other items can be shared or ordered family style. I also love the array of “sides” such as rice and beans that can sub as a dinner for tots.

Kickback Pinball Café
I take any opportunity to expose my kids to the analog world these days and pinball is one of the endangered species I want them to enjoy. This cafe is one of Lawrenceville’s best kept secrets. They have a small and simple yet well done café menu with sandwiches, salads and daily specials. But the best part about Kickback is the atmosphere—amazing murals painted by a local artist, floors made to look like the bottom of a pinball machine, and a second floor filled with pinball nostalgia that you can share with your kids.

The Porch at Schenley
Right next to many kid “standards”—the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Schenley Park, not to mention a wonderful carousel—is The Porch at Schenley. Get an outdoor seat where you can enjoy the view and allow your older kids to run around while you wait for your food to arrive. The menu is amazing and if your kids love pizza, this is the place to go to educate their palate against the sweet sauce + rubber cheese standard. Lots of local food (they have a rooftop garden) here, including salads with fresh ingredients in a very family-friendly atmosphere. Not to miss!

Photo by Brian Cohen.

Photo by Brian Cohen.

Franktuary
Franktuary is more than just a hotdog shop. Their Butler St. location offers an “expanded menu that focuses on grass-fed and humanely raised meat, specialty sausages, vegetarian and gluten-free options, local draft beer and cider, craft cocktails, Sunday brunch, and the best frankfurters in western Pennsylvania.” What’s not to love? I am not anti-hotdog, but I am anti-factory-raised meat and artificial additives that make up most commercial dogs. What’s more, Franktuary takes my French fry obsession to the next level with their chickpea fries—with more than 10 options for dipping sauces. Franktuary also has an amazing brunch with great frittatas, beignets and my personal favorite: the Roasted & Toasted Parfait with roasted apples, beets, sweet potatoes, coconut chai creme, toasted walnut, and hash browns. Can’t get any better.