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13 Incredibly Kid-Friendly Restaurants in San Diego

These gems master the art of win-win for families

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Though I can’t think of a single San Diego restaurant that isn’t welcoming to families, the kid-friendly restaurants in San Diego on this list cater to them particularly well.

You’ll find menus by our most popular chefs with seasonal and regional dishes that use locally-sourced ingredients. Play areas and games entertain kids while adults sip craft cocktails or gourmet coffee within eyesight. Other restaurants mentioned here may offer special menu items like build-your-own-pizza that make sitting at the table as a family a lot more fun.

The majority of these family restaurants are also located in popular tourist areas which also makes them convenient options for travelers who are visiting San Diego with kids. Rest assured that they are also beloved by locals.

Harumama Noodles + Buns (La Jolla, Carlsbad, Little Italy)

Character buns on a marble table with other Asian dishes at Harumama in San Diego.
Photo courtesy of Harumama

All ages love ordering the super-cute and mouthwatering character buns at Harumama Noodles + Buns. If your kids haven’t ventured into the world of dim sum or Japanese buns, they will surely be tempted to try these. Order sweet buns such as egg custard or savory buns like caramelized chicken, onion, and mozzarella. Keep an eye out for seasonal characters as the bun offerings do change.

The rest of the menu features mostly Japanese favorites mixed in with a few Chinese and Korean dishes. Ramen is another popular order and we can vouch for the beef brisket udon. The spectacular contemporary interior design in all three restaurants is just as Instagram-worthy as the food. Each location also offers delivery through Postmates.

La Jolla
1250 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 999-0323

Little Italy
1901 Columbia Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-7122

Also featured in Best Restaurants in Little Italy San Diego

Carlsbad
2958 Madison Street
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 637-5039


BO-beau kitchen + garden (La Mesa)

A little boy leans on the school bus while a girl writes on the chalkboard at Bo-beau kitchen + garden in La Mesa.
Two kids play near the school bus (Photo courtesy of Cohn Restaurants)

Looking for a place where you can sit and grab a beer or handcrafted cocktail while the kids play in an adjacent play area on the outdoor patio? Nestled in the heart of La Mesa Village, BO-beau kitchen + garden has you covered. We’re huge fans of BO-beau kitchen + bar in Ocean Beach, but La Mesa is about 15 minutes from downtown San Diego.

Boasting a life-size retrofitted school bus, kids can go inside the expansive space and play without leaving their parents sight. Alongside the bus, a chalkboard wall encourages kids to look to the future, by asking them to fill in what they want to be when they grow up.

When it comes to food, there are two kids menus. The first is for the under 12 set which includes the likes of buttered pasta and chicken nuggets. Tweens and teens can order from the 12–16 old menu of more sophisticated items like grilled sea bass and steak frites, but with smaller portions and price points than if they were to order off of the adult menu. We’d definitely suggest their famous Brussels sprouts and curry moules frites. Or belly up to the bar and grab one of the handcrafted cocktails made with fresh herbs grown on-site.

BO-beau kitchen + garden
8384 La Mesa Boulevard
La Mesa, CA 91942
(619) 337-3445

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Waypoint Public (North Park)

The exterior view of Waypoint Public from across the street.
Waypoint Public in North Park

Waypoint Public is not only a go-to spot for craft beer aficionados, but it’s also a place to bring the whole family. Set in San Diego’s burgeoning North Park neighborhood, the restaurant features a 30-tap system focused on West Coast craft brews, over 300 different bottled beers in stock, and an inventive menu.

A highlight for families with younger kids is the designated kids’ area complete with books, games, and a forgiving AstroTurf floor space for tots who don’t want to sit around listening to adults. The kids’ menu features tasty options like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, mac n’ cheese, grilled cheese, fries and more at an affordable price.

Waypoint Public
3794 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-8778

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CUCINA enoteca (Del Mar) and CUCINA urbana (Bankers Hill)

The contemporary interior of Cucina enoteca with deer antler light fixtures an industrial decor.
The interior of CUCINA enoteca (Photo courtesy of Cohn Restaurants)

Bustling Banker’s Hill hot spot, CUCINA urbana and its Del Mar counterpart, CUCINA enoteca are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. While the restaurants have made a name for themselves through their locally-sourced California-inspired Italian fare, they’ve also taken the often-cliche kids’ menu to a whole new level by letting them build their own pie.

It’s a personal size, half-baked pizza that lets kids get creative by adding their own tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Then, if there’s still room left, they can get a little messy with an ice cream Sunday.

Adults will love the wine list and any of the house made pasta dishes. They also offer happy hour in the bar and community areas.

CUCINA enoteca Del Mar
2730 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 704-4500
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CUCINA urbana
505 Laurel Street
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 239-2222
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Corvette Diner (Point Loma)

A giant milkshake held up in front of vintage Corvette inside the kid-friendly San Diego restaurant, Corvette Diner.
The milkshakes are incredible at Corvette Diner

This iconic ’50s-style diner has been one of the main go-to family restaurants in San Diego for more than a quarter-century. Disc Jockeys, balloon artists, magicians and live entertainment frequent the diner on a weekly basis but the main entertainment draw for kids and grown-ups alike is the 5,000 square-foot Gamers Garage.

Not your typical arcade, the Gamers Garage has over 50 games including everything from the latest high-tech simulators to interactive pinball throwbacks. Servers line the restaurant corridors every hour on the hour with their infamous song and dance encouraging kids and adults to get up and move to the music, creating a memorable and interactive experience. Corvette Diner’s Liberty Station location makes it a good stop after visiting Cabrillo National Monument.

Corvette Diner
2965 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 542-1476

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Crack Shack (Little Italy)

The giant chicken stands tall amid the outdoor seating at Crack Shack, a family-friendly restaurant in Little Italy San Diego.
The bocce ball court is next to the giant chicken (Photo courtesy of Crack Shack0

Crack Shack is one of San Diego’s most popular family-friendly restaurants for fried chicken on an otherworldly level. Celebrity Chef Richard Blais developed “Crack Spice” which is a proprietary blend of spices that he adds to locally raised, free-living, antibiotic-free chicken. Opt straight for the fried chicken with dipping sauces or one of the decadent sandwiches. If you’re on a gluten-free or vegetarian diet do not fret as there are Power Bowls, salads, and other options for you, too.

Kids usually order the chicken nuggets kids meal and parents appreciate that it can come with a side of carrots. They love the giant (it’s really enormous) chicken in the outdoor dining space and it is the kind of place where if they want to squeal, run a little, or play bocce ball, no one will mind. Order at the counter and grab a seat.

Crack Shack
2266 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-3299

Also featured in Best Restaurants in Little Italy San Diego


Campfire (Carlsbad)

The outdoor seating area at Campfire including the tipi kids' play area.
The Tipi and outdoor seating (Photo courtesy of Campfire)

Campfire was created to invoke the feeling you get when gathering around a (you guessed it) campfire with good friends and family around you. The menu features New American cuisine with wood-fired meat like pork chops and smoked half-chicken in addition to the likes of wedge salad and grilled broccoli with some hamachi and steak tartare mixed in. Pair it with a specialty cocktail or local brew.

Families love the kid-friendly San Diego restaurant’s casual nature. Kids take a break from adult conversation to go hang out in the outdoor tipi and play area. Grilled cheese and smaller portion meals grace the kids’ menu.

Of course, you can roast gourmet s’mores (with salted caramel chocolate) over the outdoor fire pits to really feel like you’re at a campfire.

Campfire
2725 State Street
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 637-5121

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Also featured in Best Carlsbad Restaurants


Farmer & The Seahorse (La Jolla)

Three sets of corn hole on the outdoor lawn at Farmer & The Seahorse.
Photo courtesy of Farmer & The Seahorse

Go to Chef Brian Malarkey’s Farmer & The Seahorse, located near the Torrey Pines Golf Course, to decompress with a mimosa or latte and let kids play on the outdoor lawn after breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch, and happy hour. Games laid out during the day can include hula-hoops, corn hole, and Frisbees.

You can build your own breakfast burrito, nosh on a lobster roll, sip excellent wine and enjoy San Diego sunshine in what is still referred to as a hidden gem (though not so hidden to us La Jollans — we love it).

The thoughtful kids’ menu items include a kids’ waffle with whipped cream and berries or even a BLT on sourdough with bacon, butter lettuce, heirloom tomato, optional avocado, and fries.  

Farmer & The Seahorse
10996 Torreyana Road Ste 240
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 260-5400

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Station Tavern & Burgers (South Park)

A burger, tater tots, and pint of local beer on a picnic table with the gated play area in the background at Station Tavern, a kid-friendly restaurant in San Diego.
Play area is behind the fence (I like to order a burger and tots)

Station Tavern is one of the original kid-friendly San Diego restaurants and we loved going here when my daughter was small. It is indeed a casual spot that is popular with locals for a delicious burger, tater tots, and local beer. It also won a Grand Orchid Award for architecture by the San Diego Architectural Foundation for sustainable design and for preserving details honoring its former life as a trolley station between 1929–1948.

The dining space in the back feels like a backyard with multiple picnic tables for communal dining. There’s a small yet somewhat contained children’s play area near the picnic tables that young kids like to gather in. It’s counter-order and they do not take reservations.

Station Tavern
2204 Fern Street
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-0657


Panama 66 (Balboa Park)

My daughter walks through the sculpture garden at Panama 66, a kid-friendly San Diego restaurant in Balboa Park.
The back sculpture garden at Panama 66.

While there are multiple kid-friendly San Diego restaurants in Balboa Park, including grab-and-go fun cafes inside several of the museums, Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art strikes a nice balance. Adults can relax in our sunshine with a glass of wine or craft beer while kids let off steam in the back sculpture garden.

It is an excellent place to take a break from sightseeing. I personally like the Green Goddess salad with seasonal veggies, but the roasted lamb sandwich is popular. Kids have their own menu with the likes of Nutella and banana sandwiches and grilled cheese. During peak days, arrive on the early side of lunch to avoid a wait when ordering at the counter and to secure a table near the sculpture garden. Note that the garden closes during some dates in March for annual grass maintenance.

Panama 66
1450 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 696-1966

Also featured in Where to Eat and Drink in Balboa Park


Park 101 (Carlsbad)

Kids play corn hole while guests hang out at picnic tables at Park 101 in Carlsbad's Garden Pub area.
Kids play corn hole in the Garden Pub (Photo courtesy of Park 101)

Park 101 was designed as a community hangout where guests can spend time with friends and family without feeling rushed to dine and dash. The 8000-square-foot space spans multiple levels and is conveniently located in the Carlsbad Village area.

Families hang out in the Garden Pub outdoor patio area where there are games like Connect Four and corn hole on the turf. Dogs are welcome here, too. Those without kids typically head upstairs to the 21 and older lounge.

Park 101 is mostly known for barbecued meats. They also serve California Coastal cuisine like shrimp tacos and have a deli where you can make-your-own ice cream sandwiches. Walk on in as they don’t take reservations.

Park 101
3040 Carlsbad Blvd
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 434-2217

Also featured in Best Carlsbad Restaurants


Viewpoint Brewing Co. (Del Mar)

Del Mar is a family-friendly community so it only makes sense that its first brewery welcomes kids and dogs, too. The former warehouse kept some industrial details and offers an indoor/outdoor space complete with a grassy area with corn hole and some swings seats that all ages love.

Home-brewed suds flow from over 20 taps and they also serve beer from lesser-known local breweries (in addition to wine). Our favorite things to order at this brewery and family restaurant in San Diego are the share plates like the crispy octopus and pork belly bites. Though you won’t go wrong with the burger or beet salad.

Seating is communal on a first-come, first-served basis. Do check their calendar to make sure that they aren’t bought out on the day you’d like to come as it’s a very popular spot for events.

Viewpoint Brewing Co.
2201 San Dieguito Drive
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 356-9346


Kura Sushi (Kearny Mesa)

Tuna nigiri sushi under domes travels across a conveyor belt at Kura Sushi in San Diego.
Conveyor belt sushi where you can win prizes

Sushi might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a family restaurant. However, if you were to ask my daughter and her friends what their favorite spot is right now they would say Kura. It’s a gamified revolving sushi restaurant where the more plates you empty, the happier the “ninja” is. You’ll receive a Bikkura Pon prize (a toy in a plastic capsule) for every 15 empty plates.

The sushi is not bad, but not the best you’ll ever eat. There is also a regular menu with tempura, noodles and other cooked dishes. Download the app to get on the waiting list in advance as Kura is nearly always busy unless you come in the late afternoon before the dinner rush.

While one can order mochi ice cream, we suggest walking a few shops over to Iceskimo for outstanding Taiwanese shaved ice.

Which family-friendly San Diego restaurants do your kids prefer?

See also: Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in San Diego

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5 thoughts on “13 Incredibly Kid-Friendly Restaurants in San Diego

  1. Thanks for this awesome list. Heading to Waypoint this Sunday for brunch to celebrate the hubby’s birthday. My little guy, almost 2, is a grazer and we can never get him to stay still. This setting will be perfect!

  2. The Station in South Park has a small play area where kids can play while parents can grab a craft beer or cocktail. The burgers are equally delicious, offering options for the pickiest of little ones, too.

  3. We just finished a meal at Waypoint Public. Thank you so much for the suggestion! Awesome food, even better beer, and grandma and toddler are doing somersaults in the kid’s area.

  4. Thanks so much for this list! Heading down from Encinitas for staycation in La Jolla this weekend with the kids and was wondering about Beaumonts. Can’t wait to try it out!

  5. Visiting from Dallas with my husband, parents (70ish) and kids (8 & 10) and have loooooooved your recs! Found your site by chance and couldn’t be more pleased!!!! So far 2 for 2 and will hit more of these along the way! Thank you! (I let Cucina know I found them through you! 🙂

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