No matter the city, finding kid-friendly restaurants near me can be a challenge. There isn’t a universal criteria, so the lines can get blurry and families fall back on casual eateries that satisfy hunger pangs in the moment, but leave family outings feeling repetitive. A successful meal is defined by maximum comfort and full bellies for all involved.
For the sake of maximum family dining ease in Washington DC, I’ve compiled my go-to list of family-friendly restaurants near me—including a very passionate DC culinary and family-oriented community—that run the dining style gamut.
Many provide specific kid’s menus, while others rely on a slightly more mature palate and a refined chopped parsley tolerance.
Split into six categories to accommodate every kind of dining style and cuisine preference, this list will guarantee an enjoyable and family-friendly eating experience in Washington DC.
Table of Contents
Fine Dining in Washington DC
These fine dining spots may require a little bit of extra effort on everyone’s part when it comes to attire. Flip flops are a no-go and a nice shirt and pair of pants are recommended for children.
Le Diplomate is a city-wide favorite and integral part of DC’s food scene. Mimicking French bistro charm, taken straight from the streets of Paris, the ambience combines rich colors, comforting woods, and elegant tablescapes. Meaty steak centerpieces, roast chicken, and a Burger Américain, offer plenty to feast on for the entire family.
Great cocktails and hand-made pasta share a friendly and intimate Tuscan influence. The dining room is petite, so kids will easily become one with the culinary energy, but adventurous eaters of all ages are encouraged to take part in a celebratory Italian meal.
Sfoglina Pasta House
An elegant night of expertly crafted pasta, elective ‘mozzarellas’, and shared entree plates is a recipe for a successful family dinner. Sfoglina pastas have something for everyone, from simplistic pappardelle with ragu bolognese to a more adventurous mushroom and porcini crema gnocchi.
Zaytinya carries a unique gracefulness with a subtle embrace for family gatherings and young diners that doesn’t change the flow of the small-plate hub. Bites of tender octopus and flakey spanakopita join crowd-pleasing ‘Zaytinya fries’, flatbreads, and beef meatballs. Watching the baskets of steamy pita bread walk by the table is a collectively fun family game.
Find more Lebanese and Middle Eastern Restaurant Favorites
Fine-Casual Dining for Families in D.C.
A great option for families seeking a memorable meal but cannot be bothered with pre-dinner attire complaints, fine-casual combines inspired and creative bites with an elegant yet friendly dinner setting. Some guests may dress up to dine, but there is no expectation for kids to wear polo shirts and dress shoes.
Southern tavern zest meets buttery biscuit and juicy steak perfection at Union Market’s St. Anselm’s. Booth tables are perfect for family gatherings and outdoor chalets are electrifying and heated during the winter months.
Glowing letters glow in Jaleo’s E Street windows, flagging down a Spanish tapas hub and setting expectations for a high-energy experience inside. Vibrant colors, wacky shapes, and draped textiles greet diners upon entry, adding just the right amount of whimsical to a sophisticated small-plate menu, ensuring all dining comfort levels are met.
The Salt Line
At The Salt Line, oysters satisfy brine-loving adults while a kid’s menu of burgers, hotdogs, and fish sticks keep the wee ones fed. The waterfront Navy Yard location keeps wandering eyes easily entertained with exceptional proximity to a post-dinner Nationals Baseball game.
Clyde’s (two locations in DC)
The all-American Clyde’s bar in the heart of downtown DC is a groovy cocktail and hearty fine-dining epicenter that just so happens to include a well-stocked kids menu. Mature palates will appreciate Oysters Rockefeller and linguine with clams and the kiddos can devour pasta with red sauce, hamburgers, or mini cheese pizzas. Steak Frites and crispy fried chicken are crowd-pleasers across the board.
Bright red walls mirror a playful menu with captivating Peruvian, Chinese and Japanese influence. Perfect for sharing, the fusion small plates are ideal for family meals. A selection of Dim Sum bites, vegetables, meats, and sashimi is playfully attractive and ensures a delicious bite curated to each participant’s taste buds.
Casual Dining at DC Restaurants
There are no attire requirements when dining at DC’s casual eateries. Flexible pre-dinner arrangements sets the tone for relaxed food settings, either spread out in large dining rooms or with access to outdoor seating.
Homemade pop tarts, milkshakes, and steak cuts are an all-inclusive love language. Ted’s Bulletin does all three exceptionally well in a relaxed diner-style space and a distinguished city-wide comfort food menu. If all-day breakfast or burgers aren’t to the whole table’s likings, a devout kids menu dotes on chicken finger fanatics.
Union Market and La Cosecha
Union Market and La Cosecha have culinary variety down to a tee. Sample fish and chips, juicy hamburgers, and water-style bagels at Union Market’s food hall set-up or explore Latin American specialties like tacos, arepas, and rotisserie chicken just around the corner at La Cosecha.
Modern and groovy barely captures the extent of this modern restaurant’s lure. Taiwanese and Cambodian fusion floods the 60-seat restaurant that spans from an indoor dining space to an outdoor garden patio and a small shed-like building in the back with limited bar seating. Dumplings, fried dough sticks, and crispy chicken wings easily bridge eating preference gaps.
Take the whole family for an ‘unconventional’ everyday brunch with reimagined diner classics at Unconventional Diner. Wooden tables and booth seating is exceptionally family-friendly, but food options get creative with fun-loving snacks and an energizing international supper spread.
This specialty chicken restaurant serves up saucy fried chicken, buttered up rice sides, and comforting bowls of ramen. Bantam King sneaks chicken into dessert too. The ‘big fat chocolate chip cookies’ feature thick chunks of chocolate and rendered chicken fat.
Carmine’s captures the heart of family-style Italian-American fare. Massive pasta, ‘parmigiana’ everything, and cutlet platters are designed for family sharing and celebration.
Family-Friendly Pubs and Breweries in D.C.
A specific family archetype prioritizes adult beverages above everything else. The following beer-centered eateries are both passionate about their craft and very family-friendly.
Southeast DC’s official ‘culinary clubhouse’ is a family-friendly food and beverage destination. All dining rooms are connected via food hall-style open kitchen and diners can order from any spot to be served right at their table. Choose between casual food court seating and an elegant gastro pub setting.
Once an old boiler shop, Bluejacket captivates with three dining levels, playful food, and intriguing brew equipment behind the bar. Gastro pub food, relaxed surroundings, and cask conditioned ale (for the adults) are a sure bet win for the whole group.
Right Proper Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen
Beer battered cheese curds, warm pretzel bread, and house-made kettle chips instantly start the party at Right Proper’s Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen. Adult participants can sample house-brewed draft beers.
Farm-to-table is all the rage for good reason. Rustic touches soften fine-dining tendencies and the food shows a particular devotion to local produce. Nice clothes and sneakers could be a good idea for young dinner guests.
Everything is made from scratch at the popular Founding Farmers. Farmer-owned and passionate about community growth, Founding Farmers captures the true essence of farm-to-table charm and American-Inspired comfort food.
Farm-to-table and Italian cuisines find a home at Rhode Island Avenue’s Red Hen. Wood-hearth cooking, urban-grown produce, and handmade pasta compliments the casual and elegant brick walled Italian-American bistro.
A culinary harbor for Shaw occupants, Nina May is fashionable and graceful yet cozy and warm too. New American dishes utilize ingredients all from within a 150-mile radius and an in-house mixologist curates adult-approved cocktails with unique intentionality. Although a fine-dining atmosphere brimming with polished plates, the bright and airy lighting and rustic wood tables lend well to intimate family gatherings.
Pizza, Burgers, & Barbecue in D.C.
Pizza, burgers, and barbecue are universal crowd-pleasers. There’s no wrong way to show up to any of these restaurants, just bring a good appetite and celebratory spirit.
All-Purpose at the Waterfront
All-Purpose strives for New Jersey-style pizza perfection. A three-day fermented crust holds up well to creative toppings, but the ‘Childish Bambino’—with tomato, mozzarella, smoked bacon, sausage, and pepperoni—is the ultimate meat-lovers pizza. The waterside location and ample grassy fields lend well to an evening stroll or an impromptu game of tag.
Emmy’s Detroit-style pizzas are square in shape, thick in crust, and expertly sauced. A unique ‘frico’ cheese crunch lines the outside of the fluffy dough. The thick and perpendicular slices are joined by waffle fries and cheesy garlic stick appetizers.
La Casina is new to DC’s pizza scene, but their Roman pinsa variation is creating ripples throughout the city. The quaint Capitol Hill pizza bistro is turning out the lightest pillowy crust with classic and traditional Romana toppings. The cacio e pepe is a stunner and Le Nuvolette features irresistible deep fried pinsa dough topped with Nutella and powdered sugar.
A DC institution, Matchbox Pizza is a family dining destination for the ages. Wood-fired pizza toppings are very customizable, the dining room large and kid-friendly, and a slider plate appetizer with crispy shoestring onion rings is the unofficial Matchbox mainstay.
Good Stuff Eatery
Juicy burgers, creamy milkshakes, and well-seasoned French fries draw weekend lines with a gourmet fast-casual burger concept at Good Stuff. Food pagers buzz when the paper-wrapped burgers and whipped cream-topped milkshakes are ready to eat.
A Washington Post barbecue favorite, DCity Smokehouse is the ultimate family-friendly dinner spot. Meaty sandwiches, halfsmokes, and platters are easy to share and an accurate representation of DC’s barbecue prowess.
Hill Country Barbecue
Rustic wood tables, playful Texas-inspired decor, and ample paper towel offerings to clean up messy fingers are a tell-tale sign of Hill Country Barbecue’s masterful meat display. A long list of sides compliment pit-master specials and cut-specific platters.