It’s tough finding a restaurant that strikes the right balance between grown-up ambience and family-friendliness, but a few in Shanghai do it well. From an Austrian café with a slide to a mini-chain that might just get your kids to eat their vegetables, these are the Shanghai restaurants that truly cater to the kiddos.
For Toddlers– Sproutworks
One part of Sproutworks’ ownership team, Malcolm Shu and Haeli Kim, has two toddlers together, so they know a thing or two about making a restaurant accessible for everyone. Highchairs are available for infants and, for older kids, stools and chairs can climb onto without knocking over. Children’s cutlery and plastic plates make it easier for the little ones to feed themselves. Sproutworks has four different menus based on location, and they include various side dishes like beets with walnuts, roasted sweet potatoes, and whole grain pasta with roasted vegetables and basil. Drinks like the Avocado Superfood Smoothie or Mango Orange Cooler, and healthy treats like chia seed pudding, help round out the ultimate energizing experience.
For Tweens– Garlic
The white tablecloths and formal place settings at this modern Turkish restaurant don’t exactly scream, “Bring in your kids!” but the playroom on the lower level certainly does. It’s one floor down from the restaurant and is quite spacious, with a cushy play mat for babies and toddlers; bins of books and toys; and a video game system for older kids. The bathroom has a proper changing table, making diaper duty a little easier. As for the food, the kitchen takes so much pride in preparation that even the most persnickety little eaters will find something on which to munch. Pide (fluffy flatbread) is best used for mopping up thick hummus, cacik (house-made yogurt with garlic and cucumber) and the juices from tender lamb dishes. Other tyke-approved options include Turkish cheeses, zucchini pancakes with yogurt and feraye manti (minced meat dumplings served with tomato sauce and garlic yogurt).
For Teens- Daliah
With concrete floors and walls and white Eames-inspired chairs stationary and rocking, Viennese café Daliah, opened by Austrian artist Daliah Spiegel and architect Daniel Prost, actually looks more like a grown-ups-only place for freelancers to take meetings — and it certainly can be. But a two-story slide and swings at some of the tables make it a cool place for tired parents to pop in for an afternoon coffee or for teens to gather for a little break from their siblings. In addition to larger dishes along the lines of veal schnitzel and a quinoa and pea salad with pickles, there are tiny cakes, smoothies — the avocado is particularly toothsome — and desserts such as the chocolate granola with yogurt, strawberries and chocolate sorbet. The coffee is good and the walls, which are glass, fold back so you can sit inside and people watch while brave souls fly down the slide. A bit of warning: The slide has some speed to it, so do approach it with caution.