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Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

We're back! Here's what we ultimately ended up doing:

- We went straight to Geste Shrimp Truck for lunch after landing at the airport. It was good, but not something I would go out of my way for to get again. We had to wait 15 minutes and the only place to sit was a grassy knoll near a huge pile of garbage.

- Our first "dinner" was at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea. We stayed on California time so it was actually closer to 3 pm and we got to take advantage of great Happy Hour specials, including a margherita pizza for the girls, jalapeno poppers and a ½ butternut squash and ½ mushroom pizza for me, and the mixed raw bar plate and a fresh fish sandwich for my husband. Had a couple of cocktails, too!

- All breakfasts were cooked in our condo (linguica, eggs, and potatoes) so our next meal out was "lunch" at 10:30 am right when they opened at Star Noodle in Lahaina. We ordered steamed pork buns (our favorite), garlic noodles, Filipino “bacon and eggs” (my favorite), pork udon for the girls, roasted mushrooms and miso salmon for my husband (he said they were only ok), scallop shots (a bit overly salty dashi but otherwise delicious), and malasadas with chocolate dipping sauce (obviously, the girls’ favorite!)

- we picked up two orders of shave ice (Keiki Rainbow flavors of Cherry, Banana and Blue Raspberry with macadamia nut ice cream at the bottom) from Ulalani’s in Lahaina for the girls to enjoy on the drive back to Wailea (this was AFTER they had the trio of mini malasadas on sticks!)

- I picked up dinner to go from Eskimo Candy, so the adults had poke bowls and coconut shrimp (best poke and shrimp of the whole trip!) while the girls ate leftover garlic noodles with Filipino bacon and eggs. I wish they were open on weekends, as we definitely would have headed back again! As it was, we had to be at the airport before 10:30 so we didn't get to go back to buy some for the plane!

- We stopped at Home Maid bakery for hot malasadas before going to the Maui Swap Meet. The kids and my husband liked them. I thought they were a bit too doughy.

- Instead of Pacific O, we decided to go more casual. Thus, we had an early lunch at Sea House in Napili, where I had fish tacos, my husband had seared ahi, and the kids ordered off the keiki menu (one got pasta with marinara sauce and the other had the fish-shaped cheese pizza). Delicious food--not necessarily worth the drive from Wailea, but the best food I've had a restaurant with such a gorgeous view. Usually, I'm deeply suspicious of any restaurant with such obvious tourist appeal!

- We ate leftovers for dinner while my husband watched a college football game.

- On Sunday we were going to try Kihei Caffe but we had too much linguica left so we just ate at the condo for breakfast. After the beach, we then headed to Monkeypod Kitchen again for lunch, since it was just minutes away from us and open early. Also, I discovered that Cuatro doesn't serve lunch! We started with poke tacos for the appetizer (decent but not as good as the raw bar mixed plate), and then waited for over 30 minutes for something else to arrive....The meal was so slow that they comp’ed us our entrees. My husband had the Ahi Tuna Melt (delicious!) and I had the macadamia nut and panko-crusted mahi mahi (surprisingly moist, as I usually find mahi mahi dry). The girls each got elbow macaroni with marinara sauce.

- Then an early dinner/happy hour at Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani. This was an unusual last minute replacement as I failed to realize that Amasia didn't start its HH until 5 pm, which was our 4 year old's bedtime! Since it was our last night, we started off with the Double Pineapple Fusion cocktails, which we found too fruity so we ordered Caipiroskas but the waiter brought us Kea Lani Kickers (ginger flavored cocktail) at first so he comp’ed those and then brought the Caiprioskas (which were delicious and the best of the 3). Needless to say, that was quite a bit of alcohol (albeit watered-down resort cocktails!). We ordered lumpia, Korean style spicy chicken (the best of the options, which my eldest daughter loved), Tangled Tiger prawns, and spicy tuna bowl. Their keiki menu had complimentary entrees for kids under 5. Portions were huge, as both girls had spaghetti with meatballs and fresh fruit and ended up eating it again the next day for lunch. Both girls marveled at the beautiful setting, the pools, the view, etc.

- Our last day in the condo we just ate leftovers before heading off to the airport.

Thank you all for your great advice! We were so lucky to have hit some real standout restaurants.

Sep 05, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Yes, I've seen a few opinions that their malasadas are lackluster, but Komoda's is a trek when we aren't planning on heading Upcountry. Can't do the Haleakala trek this trip due to DH's injury. I guess if we have time to go to Surfing Goat dairy, we could head into town to try Komoda's but I imagine they sell out early and wouldn't have much left for a mid-afternoon visit.

Last trip 9 years ago, we ended up getting malasadas from Treats and Sweets (at least they fried them up after we ordered them!). Fingers crossed the Home Maid ones are at least decent if we get them hot off the fryer at 7 am!

Aug 26, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Yeah, I'm super excited to try lots of poke while we're there. I think the Foodland run is mainly to get milk/eggs. I'm still debating whether it's worth going to Costco, as my kids can't finish Costco-size portions of milk and eggs. But DH and I can drink quite a bit...

I didn't realize Kihei Caffee only had that when there are leftovers. I thought it was a weekend treat so I had planned to go on the weekend....I will have to think about if it's worth the trek for a regular breakfast!

Aug 26, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

We fly out in a few days so I wanted to update with the proposed itinerary and see if anyone has additional comments. We've decided we're going to try to keep the kids on PST (since it's a short trip and they have school when we return!), so early "dinners" will actually just be Happy Hour meals. We're staying in a condo so we can make our own breakfasts when they get up around 5 or 6 am Hawaii time. My plan is to hit Foodland Farms and Costco for breakfast stuff, poke, wine, and other snacks and Yee's Orchard for the famous Golden Glow mangoes.

1) Straight from the airport, we will head out to try Geste Shrimp Truck.

2) early "dinner" at Eskimo Candy

3) lunch at Star Noodle the next day (probably right when they open at 10:30 am)

4) Hang out in Lahaina and then "dinner" off Sea House's HH menu

4) "Breakfast" malasadas from Home Maid Bakery before going to the Maui Swap Meet (worth eating from the food trucks there?)

5) Lunch at Pacific 'O

6) Happy Hour at Monkeypod

7) 5 am breakfast to go from Kihei Caffe which I'll bring back to our condo

8) Lunch at Cuatro

9) HH at Amasia

10) last meal en route to airport at Tasty Crust (assuming we don't have any leftovers in the condo to finish up)

We looked at menus on-line and some places just didn't do it for us. For instance, Plantation House's breakfast didn't seem spectacular enough to drag the kids there and pay a premium, versus frying up linguica and eggs in the condo. Yet I did decide to squeeze in a trip to Kihei Caffe to try their cinnamon roll french toast. Plus it's open early and close to us, compared to Gazebo, which would be a trek and it's not open until later.

We loved Hailemaile last time, but the lunch menu doesn't look appealing and we don't plan to keep the kids up late to go all the way out there for dinner. Sigh. On another trip perhaps?

Finally, we definitely plan to get shaved ice from Ululani's and ice cream from Lappert's.

Any and all feedback would be welcomed! I'll definitely be back to post a TR afterward.

Aug 26, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Need help: quick solo weekday lunch near Burbank Airport or near downtown LA?

Avis was on-site, just next door to the baggage claim so no shuttle, but it still took over 25 minutes to actually get into my car and drive off!

So I ended up having a late 2:15 pm lunch in Little Tokyo, right next door the meeting. Someone down-thread rec'd Toshi so I ran in, sat at the sushi bar and just ordered nigiri (I forgot about the chirashi suggestion!). It was fast and good. Thanks again to all!

Jul 31, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

Need help: quick solo weekday lunch near Burbank Airport or near downtown LA?

Looks like it's MiniKebab or Cafe Bravo mentioned downthread....Kebabs are normally less than 30 minutes so I think I have a winner. I'll search for other CH threads on both (if any).

THANKS!

Jul 30, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

Need help: quick solo weekday lunch near Burbank Airport or near downtown LA?

I ate dinner there a couple years ago with my sister-in-law and enjoyed it, but it seemed slow (if memory serves me correctly...). I don't mind noisy, especially if dining alone! But given the rental car delay/shuttle that I hadn't anticipated, I don't think I have time for more than a quick 20-30 minute lunch now. Damn! Next time.

Jul 30, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

Need help: quick solo weekday lunch near Burbank Airport or near downtown LA?

Wow, good point! I saw the rental car counters listed on the actual airport map, so I wrongly assumed I wouldn't have to take a shuttle. Oops. It's looking like I may not have enough time to do more than grab a sandwich somewhere really quick!

Jul 30, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

Need help: quick solo weekday lunch near Burbank Airport or near downtown LA?

I'm going near 2nd/Spring St. Google maps says 16 miles/23 minutes but I'm going to allocate 40 just in case of bad lunchtime traffic. I'm not familiar with the streets at all and haven't driven downtown in years. Last time I was there, my sister-in-law picked me up and took me to Bottega Louie for dinner but I didn't get the sense that they're fast per the suggestion down-thread (can you really eat and get out in less than an hour there?).

Jul 30, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

Need help: quick solo weekday lunch near Burbank Airport or near downtown LA?

I'm flying into Burbank right before lunchtime tomorrow but I have a 1:30 appt in downtown LA. I will have a rental car. Other than going to In-N-Out, are there any other quick options (less than 1 hour) that one might suggest? I'm assuming I'll have better options downtown, but maybe Burbank has some hidden gems?

I eat everything and am game for any non-chain option, though preferably not Chinese (unless it's Muslim Chinese or Beijing/Northern Chinese fare, as I'm picky about my Chinese food). I assume most ethnic places can get me in and out in under an hour.

No budget constraints, but no fine dining given my time constraints.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can provide!

Jul 29, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to USC area and need Friday PM & Sat AM recs!

I wanted to report back on our LA trip.

Dinner the first night was at Animal, which we loved and considered the best meal of the week. They offered truly inspired cuisine and not the typical options. Favorites were the kampachi tostada, pig ear, and marrow bone. We ordered about 15 items (5 adults and 2 kids) and my girls ended up eating the toast from the chicken liver pate (couldn't convinced them to try it--they've never seen chicken in spreadable form before) and the BBQ pork belly sandwiches. DH tried to get them to try the veal brains, too, saying, "It tastes like curry tofu" but that was a no go. We ate everything (despite ordering most of the menu) but it was so good no one wanted to leave anything behind! Definitely would be happy to return to try the other things we didn't order off the menu.

We cooked breakfasts in our apartment rental from stuff we picked up from the Original Farmer's Market at the Grove (eggs, bacon, sausage, and potato hash), so we never went to a restaurant for breakfast.

Lunch the next day was at Itacho, which was middling. 3 or 4 items on the white board were sold out (waitress explained she hadn't had time to update the white board when we arrived for our 12:30 lunch on a weekday!). We usually order largely off the white board but given the limited options, we ended up with nigiri and some handrolls for the adults and fried chicken (interesting texture, probably breaded with rice flour, but not blow-your-mind fried chicken) and soba for our girls. The meal was fine but nothing spectacular and the place was deserted on a Thursday afternoon. Overpriced for what we got. I won't be back.

Thursday dinner was after graduation and the "special treat" so MIL chosen Little Door. I'll give it to them on ambiance: when we stepped past the threshold, it felt like we were transported. Lovely patio seating (we were at the huge table to the left of the entrance) and soft romantic lighting. I can see why folks would go here for anniversaries or even proposals. Yet the food was a bit uninspired, especially since I kept comparing it to Animal the night before.

We had 7 adults and 2 kids and a huge table, so I couldn't see what everyone else got. At my end, two of us ordered the Filo Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Figs, Green Olives & Almonds ($34) and I was sorely disappointed. The almonds were a discordant crunch distracting from the Filo Dough and the pork was dry. It reminded me of sometime trying too hard and trying to impress with technique but falling short.

Yet DH loved his halibut and the ambiance is nice, so I could see going for once/lifetime celebrations just for the experience. But seriously, I would not pay to come here again because at these prices, I expect sensational food, not above average food. We ordered the Mezze appetizer plate for my girls (they usually love pita, hummus, spanokopita, etc.) but it was a disappointing bland offering. The restaurant offered an off-menu homemade pappardalle pasta with cheese for their entrees. The pasta had a nice texture to it when I tried the leftovers the next day, but far too bland (just butter/olive oil and parmesan) so clearly not intended for an adventurous palate.

Lunch the next day was on the U$C campus so lackluster catered food. Dinner for 4 adults and 2 kids was at Picca, which saved the day! Delicious cocktails, creative twists on the food, and a lively "hot spot" atmosphere (the noisiest of all the places we went to) so I could relax and not have to monitor my youngest kid's volume (she has trouble modulating and sometimes uses an unusually loud voice for simple conversation!). Still, none of these restaurants (with the exception of Itacho during the day) seem particularly young kid-friendly.

We survived our trip to LA, enjoyed an outstanding meal at Animal, enjoyed Picca, and had acceptable food at the other places. All in all, it was a successful trip!

May 26, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to USC area and need Friday PM & Sat AM recs!

What a great idea! We haven't had Peruvian before and I just booked a reservation. Menu looks fantastic! Thank you so much, set0312.

May 11, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to USC area and need Friday PM & Sat AM recs!

Thanks for the reply! I was thinking about hitting the farmer's market to get supplies to make our own breakfasts! I see a few butchers and other grocery stands there so I'm excited to browse when we first arrive in town to stock up the apartment. Any recs in particular?

I am not sure if I'm up for the long waits at the Korean BBQ places. My almost 4 year old (birthday next month) is an early eater and I read on-line that some Korean BBQs have 1+ hour waits!

May 11, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

UPDATE:

Sorry, I forgot to come back earlier to report what we did on our 2013 trip.

We ended up doing 3 character meals and eating a lot inside the parks (sigh). Convenience trumps good food.

Breakfast at Plaza Inn with Minnie and Friends--worst cafeteria style breakfast I've ever had. Good selection of characters but we won't be doing this again.

Lunch at Ariel's Grotto with the princesses--we did this on the 2011 trip and did not plan to go again but my in-laws called and said they wanted to treat us to something special for the girls (and since they had just had their princess makeovers, we decided to go here again). We were surprised that food was better than we remembered. Still, grossly overpriced for a meal with only 5 princesses (and they are quick walk-bys).

Breakfast/brunch at Goofy's Kitchen--this was our last meal and by far the best combination of decent food and great characters. We'd eat here again for the convenience and the above-average (by Disney standards) food.

Dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen--obscenely overpriced, annoyingly long wait (over an hour despite being told it was just 20 minutes!), and then to top it off, incredibly mediocre/bland food. The saving grace was the live performer who played a great saxophone. Yes, I should have known better but this was our first night in the park and first time in Downtown Disney. NEVER AGAIN.

Dinner from OC Poultry and Rotisserie again (thanks again Das Ubergeek!) that DH picked up because my eldest and I kept riding until we were starving! He got 2 or 3 rice plates and they were all delicious (but the lemongrass beef was not as good as I hoped it would be)!

Lots of in-park snacks, including Dole Whip Floats (yummy), Bengal BBQ skewers (Banyan Beef and bacon-wrapped asparagus were ok but not impressive), corndogs from the Little Red Wagon (yummy!), turkey leg (DH's favorite item of the trip--surprisingly GOOD!), cotton candy, popcorn, churros, frozen strawberry lemonade, and Mickey beignets from the Mint Julep Bar (these were 100 times better than Ralph Brennan's dense cake-like chewy beignets!!).

All in all, a trip to Disneyland is not about the food, but there were a few nice surprises.

Thanks again!

May 10, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hounds with kids heading to USC area and need Friday PM & Sat AM recs!

Hello Hounds!

I'd love your advice about where to eat in LA's Miracle Mile/Grove/USC area. It's been 15 years since I've lived in Los Angeles and almost as long since I last visited the city.

My sister-in-law is graduating from USC next week and we've rented a place near the Miracle Mile/Grove. We've got a 4 year old and a 7 year old, both of whom are well-behaved, regularly eat at "nice" restaurants and eat almost everything (they're quite adventurous compared to typical little kids, as we regularly eat Indian, Fijian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Afghan, and comparatively bland but upscale "New Californian" etc.).

My mother-in-law researched and booked some of the meals already, so we just have 2 meals left to plan after they leave town. We need a reservation for 5-6 people, depending on who joins us. We are trying to stay near the Miracle Mile area because my 4 year old still naps and heads to bed early in the evenings.

So far, our other meals will be at Animal, Itacho, and Little Door. We need someplace for Fri. dinner and Sat. brunch/lunch before we hit the road to return up north.

I think Friday dinner should be sit-down meal, as opposed to picking up sandwiches (otherwise I'm tempted to get pastrami sandwiches or even go to Michael Voltaggio's Ink Sack just try it). But it doesn't have to be fancy. I'm even considering heading to K-town for some good Korean BBQ as I think Korean food is better in LA than SF/Oakland.

I wonder if there are any Latin American restaurants you'd recommend. I loved Versailles back in the 90s when I was at UCLA, but I think that's too far to travel.

I don't feel like any of the "standard" ethnic places: Mexican, Chinese, French, or Italian.

Is there some cuisine that is more difficult to get up here in NorCal that you'd recommend? Or something quintessentially "LA" that would be worth the drive?

Thanks in advance!

May 10, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

I think your post has convinced me to wait until my girls are older to take them to Carthay or Napa Rose. :) if I pay $18 for a burger, I want something out of this world added to it!

Oh yes, my Dole Whip Float was one of my favorite snacks last time and even better, I learned from DISBoards of the "secret" short line inside the Tiki Room waiting area. My girls were napping when i went to single ride a bunch of E ticket rides and just stopped in after riding Indy. So this time I will have to bring the whoe family to try this great treat!

Mar 29, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

Thanks so much for the tips re DTD options like Catal and Brennan's. I think I'm going to pick one of them for dinner, since it's close and doesn't involve walking back to our hotel for the car.

I'm willing to wait in line for awesome food, but I don't know that I'd do it for a sandwich with "normal" toppings like Earl. So it sounds like we will be skipping that if lines are consistently so long.

Also glad to hear Goofy's was worth the expense! I hear Storyteller has better food per DISBoards but my girls won't recognize the more obscure animal characters there. The dessert selection at Goofy's is likely to mean my girls will be on a sugar high and then crash for the long drive here. Great strategy!!!

Thanks again for taking the time to craft such a long helpful message!

Mar 29, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

Awesome! Thanks namstermonster. We love ethnic so I'll google these choices.

Mar 29, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

Yup, I've significantly lowered expectations after our first trip but we have to leave the park anyway for my 3 year old's nap every day so I figured that would be a chance to get something tasty. Dinner will be back in the parks, likely. I am doing the character meals for time value, as it saves me from an hour plus of various lines inside the park to meet characters. I am trying to remind myself that the prices are the cost of convenience, not an indication of food quality! :)

Mar 29, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

Thanks for the tip! I bumped the thread because we're going again in 2 weeks and wanted to see if there were any newer recs (keeping in mind that I got some great recs 2 years ago).

Mar 28, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

Is it that good? I've seen it mentioned on DISBoards but when I went to the website, it just had photos of hot sandwiches with what looked like traditional toppings (e.g., turkey and cheese).

Mar 28, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

I'm not sure of CH etiquette when it comes to reviving old threads, but we are heading back for our second visit to Disneyland in 2 weeks. I also swear I came back to update this thread but I don't see it now....

We ended up eating at OC Poultry for dinner the second night (picking up banh mi for breakfast) and 5 Guys for dinner the 3rd night, with all other meals INSIDE the resort (sadly). We had Ariel's Grotto for lunch just to see the princesses (so food quality was as expected--UCLA's dorm food was better!), Corn Dog Castle (surprisingly good corn dogs!) for lunch the second day, and the Big Thunder BBQ dinner on our first day in the park (as we were starving and could see/smell it right there but it was mediocre BBQ for the price).

I haven't been as thorough in researching this time but thought maybe bumping this thread up will get folks to chime in about new restaurants.

Two changes for this trip out:

1) We discovered that my now 3 year old daughter has an allergy to both peanuts and all fish. So we have to be careful of cross-contamination issues for 2 foods now.

2) I've already booked two "mediocre" meals in order to get character experiences in without long lines: breakfast at Plaza Inn with Minnie and Friends and a Sunday brunch at Goofy's Kitchen.

This still leaves 3 dinners, 2 lunches, and various snacks in-between. I think I prefer to eat lunches off-site (as I know food will always be better outside of the park) and we have to leave every afternoon anyway for my 3 year old's nap. We really liked OC Poultry so I think lunch there is a given and we'll pick up banh mi again for breakfast in the hotel room. Maybe we can try Los Chilangos for lunch this visit since we missed it last time?

Yet I may want to stick around DLR for dinner to save on time (20 minute round-trip walk back to HoJo plus travel time to the restaurant). We never even went to Downtown Disney last trip. What are Chowhounders' opinions of Catal or Ralph Brennan's? I know it will be overpriced, as we're paying for convenience. But is is decent?

I was also thinking of Plaza Inn's chicken dinner for one night.

Also, would it be ridiculous to splurge on Napa Rose or Carthay Circle just to try it? Or are those two not worthy of a "fine dining" bill? It definitely would not be a fast experience, nor would it necessarily be our girls' first choice in food, but I'm intrigued.

Any other suggestions are welcome!

Mar 28, 2013
smiles33 in Los Angeles Area

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Oh yes, I found them later and was so excited as my girls LOVE goat cheese. My husband has had to buy 2-3 tubs per week from Trader Joe's when they were in a "we're share a whole tub of crumbled goat cheese in one sitting" phase.

The sad thing is my husband is lactose-intolerant, so maybe I can take the girls on the 2 hour tour and send him to a driving range or something....

Feb 25, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Thanks so much for sharing! That's an awesome endorsement, since my kids will be 4 and 7 when we go and they love going to petting farms to feed the goats. I bet they'd get a kick to feed chickens (if they're lucky enough to be invited by the Chef like your kids).

Feb 25, 2013
smiles33 in Hawaii

Restaurants recs for road trip down Central Coast with 2 kids?

We actually went to a Fishwife near Asilomar a few years ago and were sorely disappointed given the very long wait. Is the Seaside location much better?

Nov 19, 2012
smiles33 in California

Restaurants recs for road trip down Central Coast with 2 kids?

We asked for medium since my 3 and 6 year olds were eating it, but I would have requested medium rare if it had been for me. They each took a few obligatory bites but they mostly ate the fries that came with it and the oyster crackers that Hungry Cat serves in a bowl before the food arrives (instead of bread--I found that weird!).

The weather was a disappointment but we were prepared as we knew November would be unpredictable. We had a FANTASTIC time at Pismo Beach this morning, though, when the sun came out. We also hit Artisan in Paso Robles again on the drive home and managed to try several items off their Sunday brunch menu. I absolutely loved my chanterelle mushrooms, brioche, bacon, soft poached egg and greens. DH had the short rib hash and fried eggs (a little too heavy before a 3.5+ hour drive). The girls shared an order of beignets and each had an order of buttered pasta. Our 2 friends who joined us had the burrata, tomato and pesto sandwich and the short rib hash. We also split the salmon tartare appetizer which was also amazing--the salmon itself was clearly the star, but I was pleasantly surprised by the complex flavors due to additional ingredients beyond just the standard capers (which were still delicious). For instance, we were delighted to learn from the waitress that the bright notes of lemon were from preserved lemon zest and I think someone asked which pickled vegetable was perfectly diced into tiny pieces (brunoise?) but I can't recall what the answer was.

All in all, the road trip ended wonderfully. When we got home, DH and I had a simple dinner of an Italian combo sandwich (Grandpa DePalo's Grinder which had a delicious tapenade) we purchased earlier from DePalo and Sons Deli in Shell Beach.

Nov 11, 2012
smiles33 in California

Restaurants recs for road trip down Central Coast with 2 kids?

UPDATE: We did the trip and things changed a bit from my original plan as we ended up not going out for breakfast at all. Basically, we ate so much from our dinners that we just weren't hungry in the morning! We also added a late lunch in Monterey, instead of a pit stop at a local restaurant closer to our house.

In general, my girls were well-behaved, as I expected, but I did have to remind my 3 year old not to get too excited and raise her voice. They were always the only children in the restaurants, so these don't seem to be child-friendly places upon first impression. Yet some places--like Artisan in Paso Robles--actually had an unadvertised children's menu (they offered buttered pasta and chicken tenders with fries!).

My biggest challenge is that we usually don't eat so many consecutive meals at restaurants and we also usually eat smaller portions. Since we were staying at hotels, we didn't take leftovers so it meant that I over-ate rather than waste food. I know, not a good move, but it meant I ordered far less than usual. We usually like to get multiple appetizers and entrees, and this trip we almost always stuck to just 1 entree each. I hate feeling limited like that, but alas, it was just too much food!

Without further ado:

1) We ate a late lunch at Lou Lou's Griddle in the Middle in Monterey after heading to the Aquarium before lunch instead of after lunch. Found the rec in a quick iPhone search of Chowhound. All I can say is WOW, what HUGE portions! I thought I had a good appetite but I just couldn't finish my meal. I had an amazing fresh Dungeness crab salad while DH LOVED his sand dabs. The girls shared chicken strips, fries, and the "welcome" plate with cheese, fruit, and salad. We would definitely go back. We lucked out and didn't have to wait for a table since we arrived around 1 pm on a Thursday. Since this is a hole-in-the-wall diner on a pier, having kids there was totally fine.

2) We had our dinner at Mundaka in Carmel with the girls. Pushed the dinner later to 6:30 as we were still full from Lou Lou's but couldn't do it any latee since my 3 year old is usually in bed by 7:30. Best choices were the squid (amazingly executed--truly the best squid we've ever had) and the ravioli. I found the albondigas and clams, potatoes bravas, and marinated olives just ok. The wait staff were SO friendly to the girls and made me feel much less awkward about having kids in there. It was much smaller and quieter than I expected, so I did feel very uncomfortable when we first walked in. The irony is that another couple actually couldn't stop staring at us repeatedly throughout the meal. Initially, I suspected they were annoyed as my 3 year old kept talking in a loud voice despite my trying to hush her. But as they left, they remarked how amazed they were at how well-behaved our girls were and how they, too, have young kids but they would never bring them to such a restaurant. Whew, I was so relieved the staring wasn't because we ruined their date night! So that was a nice surprise and a testament to the fact that not all diners will be annoyed/judgmental when they see young kids at "adult" restaurants.

3) The next morning, we still weren't hungry so instead of heading to First Awakenings in Pacific Grove, we fed the girls some yogurt and pastries from the hotel's continental breakfast and headed out to Paso Robles. Artisan was great, especially since they have an unadvertised children's menu (as I mentioned earlier). DH had the salmon over quinoa with green beans, the girls got pasta with butter and parmesan and chicken strips with fries, and I loved my meatballs, hen of the woods, ricotta gnocchi, piave, and guanciale. The only surprise was that we learned my 3 year old (who has a known peanut allergy) also is severely allergic to sesame seeds (which accented the green beans on DH's plate). She loves green beans and ate quite a bit of his quinoa, too (but we don't think quinoa is an allergen). So we had to stop at urgent care after she had swollen lips and massive hives around her mouth! She's ok and we're scheduling follow-up testing to confirm the allergy.

4) We had a so-so dinner at Hungry Cat. I was still full from Artisan, sadly, so I skipped the amazing raw bar options. Maybe if I had indulged in those I would have had a better impression? My diver scallops were only ok and the girls split a hamburger with blue cheese that was too thick and overcooked ("worst burger I've ever had" per my DH). Yet he loved his dish, house-made chorizo and clams, sofrito, black kale, and grilled bread.

5) Since we had a terrible time in Santa Barbara (long story short, disappointing hotel experience, rainy weather, etc.), we only stopped at the butterfly preserve before heading north to Pismo Beach. Yeah, we basically drove down just to eat at Hungry Cat. Anyhow, we arrived in Pismo Beach earlier than expected and ended up meeting our friends for lunch at Zorro's, a local Mexican place. I really liked my chile verde enchiladas. DH did not like his shrimp enchiladas--he basically picked the shrimp out and just ate those. My eldest has chicken tenders (yes, again--clearly, she's not as adventurous as I thought) and my youngest loved their spicy salsa and ate my rice/beans.

6) We had dinner at Giuseppe's, after a generous snack of roasted artichokes and Italian meats from the DePalo deli. Sadly, Giuseppe's doesn't take reservations so we arrived at 5:30 and didn't get seated until 6:45. I'm torn re: whether it's worth the wait. Most young kids don't like to eat after 7 pm and my 3 year old clearly was too full from the snacking to eat her cheese pizza (which I ended up taking back to our hotel since we have a mini fridge and microwave). I loved my gnocchi, especially since so few restaurants make them. I literally polished off the entire plate! DH thought his cioppino was only ok (solid B grade, it was basically thick tomato sauce, not a broth, and the seafood wasn't cracked well so he had to really work to extract the meat, so it's not even close to Taditch Grill's cioppino which was cracked in such a way as to make it easy to extract and a real broth). As mentioned earlier, DDs barely touched their cheese pizza but really liked the bucatini with meatball. Giuseppe's is kid-friendly, as they even brought crayons to the table (though there isn't a kids' menu).

So that's my TR. Let me know if you have questions and thank you all for the suggestions!

Nov 10, 2012
smiles33 in California

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

We plan to avoid typical fare like burgers/pasta, unless I can get a spam and egg burger. Thanks, though, for the warning re: CIP.

Oct 24, 2012
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

Can you tell me why you dont like Pacific O? Food is uninspired? Service poor? I've read several rave reviews for them, which is why I'm intrigued.

Oct 24, 2012
smiles33 in Hawaii

Maui with kids under 8 - Feedback on my plan please!

P.S. Just found a link to my TR from our 2004 trip in the archives!

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/258985

Oct 24, 2012
smiles33 in Hawaii