If you are thinking of visiting or moving to the Pacific Northwest, these kid-friendly restaurants should be top on your list. You will soon realize that “supporting local” is not a fad but a culture. It doesn’t stop with arts and crafts. Local food is what powers and gives life to the restaurants of the PacNW.
I’ve been privileged to call the PacNW my home for the last 11 years. As I grew to love the culture, I knew I had to share the importance of this way of life with our children (7yo and 4yo). So, when we are looking to support local we have a few restaurants on our list that do just that. Check out some of these NW favorites with your family.
Elmers Family Restaurant – If you have ever been to a Country Kitchen or Denny’s you will get the same vibe at Elmers. But what sets them a part from the others is that their home cooking is supports the local farmers. There kid’s menu is larger than most restaurants and they offer a few more healthier side options. The best part, breakfast is served all day! From the fruit and vegetables, coffee, eggs, and meat, they keep it real at Elmer’s!
Burgerville – If you don’t support McDonalds but are looking a great burger, veggie burger, salad, or fish that is fast food- look no further. Every month they have specials that focus on what is growing seasonally. Some of my favorites are the Walla Walla Onion Rings, fresh strawberry milk shakes, Alaskan halibut sandwich, and the rosemary potato fries. The kids menu is what you would expect at a fast food restaurant but they do offer the choice of apples vs fries. Plus, instead of getting a little toy that will only be used for 1 hour, they give each kids meal a seed packet (seasonally) so they can grow some food in their garden at home….love it! Did you know that 72% of their food items – hamburger buns, ketchup, potatoes – come from a 400 mile radius of their home base in Vancouver, WA? Talk about supporting the locals! Their motto is Fresh, Local, Sustainable and it shows.
McMenamins – If you haven’t been to one of their numerous properties in Oregon or Washington, you are missing an experience. Not every single property is especially unique but the majority of their restaurants or properties have a story to tell. The food is excellent with a variety of sandwiches, burgers, rice bowls, and various appetizers and using local ingredients when possible. Did I forget to mention that they brew their own beer, have a distillery, winery, and roast their own coffee? Plus, the kids will enjoy the traditional favorites but will also have fun exploring these fun properties. Some of properties include an old school that has been transformed into several restaurants/bars, movie theatre, and hotel. Another property was built in 1911 as the county poor farm and is now a hotel, golf course, winery, brewery, entertainment venue and more. Most of their properties are kid-friendly and some are pet-friendly. So, bring the whole family!
Sweet Tomatoes – Ok, they may not have originally started in the PacNW but I felt they were worth mentioning because their business model fits the lifestyle of the NW. What our family like about Sweet Tomatoes is based on a casual atmosphere with fresh food and ingredients. Almost everything is made from scratch – soups, breads, bakery items, and pasta dishes. When you walk into their restaurant you are greeted with what seems to be a 20-foot long salad bar. Lots of pre-made fresh salads and tons of fresh cut vegetables to customize your own plate. After you fill your tray with some goodness, its time to hit up the soup bar (all homemade), and it wouldn’t be complete without some fresh baked bread, muffins, or cheesy flat bread…yum! Our kids love coming here because they can pick out their own veggies, pasta dishes, and finish up with a little dessert. We all leave full and satisfied.
Shari’s Cafe and Pies – Shari’s started in eastern Oregon in the late 1970’s and has expanded to over 100 locations in the northern states. Their extended menu serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and they try to source as much local ingredients as possible. Some of these items include beef, fruits, vegetables, even local wine. The kids menu is also traditional but what sets them a part is the little things for the kids – disposable bib, souvenir cup, and table activities. Now the best part, their pies! As soon as you enter the restaurant their display case is filled with over 15 delicious pies! If you come on the right day, they have a free slice of pie with your meal. Does is get any better than that? A great place to get some comfort food and fill up on awesome dessert.
McGrath’s Fish House – A local favorite for fresh seafood at affordable prices. Started over 35 years ago, McGrath’s has mastered the art of cooking seafood and keeping it local. Fresh halibut, razor clam, Oregon Bay shrimp, oysters in half shells, Dungeness crab legs, wood-fired seafood and so much more. Not a seafood fan, that ok, they cater to traditional entrees as well like burgers, sandwiches and pasta too. The kids love coming here to watch the lobsters in tank but only if they knew they weren’t pets…shhh, don’t tell! The kids menu also has seafood with some popcorn shrimp, clam strips, and fish and chips. Don’t worry they also have the traditional cheeseburger, mac and cheese, and other favorites. What I do like for the kids is the extended side menu options like fresh veggies, rice pilaf, fresh fruit, or potato slices. Not to mention the kids coolers, smoothies and milk shakes. What visit to the Northwest would be complete without seafood?
Have you visited one of these restaurants above? Share your experience with us by commenting below.
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