This will come as no surprise to many of you who have or have ever had a toddler: we don’t go out to eat much any more. And when we do, it’s not to the newest, hip, $100 a head restaurant; it’s likely to be somewhere that meets a long set of criteria for being family-friendly. Every family has their own definitions, but this list includes the most popular:
1. Free bread
2. Carpet-less flooring
3. Decent spacing between tables
4. A noise level high enough to mask the average toddler yell-talk
5. A kid’s menu and/or macaroni and cheese and/or grilled cheese
6. Not too busy but not too not-busy
7. A patient waitstaff
A lot of restaurants meet these criteria, but I often find myself gravitating more toward The Pied Piper Eatery in East Nashville. It doesn’t meet all these criteria, but it does have:
1. Awesome kid food
2. Awesome adult food
3. Concrete floors
4. Paper napkins available in abundance
5. A waitstaff and kitchenstaff that will expedite the food order for your kids (makes up for lack of free bread)
6. A waitstaff with the surefootedness to dodge roaming toddlers that would qualify them for the Harlem Globetrotters
7. A play area for kids
That’s right; a dedicated area for kids to play. There are toys and books and the general expectation is that you can just sit and eat your food while your kid just roams off to this play area. The restaurant is small enough that you can keep an eye on your kid, of course but you don’t have to constantly tell your kid to sit down, be quiet, and eat. You can have a conversation with other adults. You can enjoy your food. Your kid can play with other kids. It’s wonderful.
Let me repeat: you can sit, eat, enjoy food, talk to other people while your child roams happily around the restaurant without having to feel like an asshole. This is great.
Also great? Their veggie burger on a kaiser roll. It’s made with beets and rice and magic. It’s delicious. And you can use it as the base for any of their specialty burgers. Last time, I got the Philadelphia Freedom with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese. It was delicious. I ate every bite. And every one of these fantastic French fries, too.
Mini Eats got to have a grilled cheese sandwich–which she ate happily–and a side order of fruit. And not crappy fruit cocktail, either. There were blueberries and raspberries and oranges and melons. She would eat a bite or two, go play, come back and eat more, and then go play again. So we all had a good time. And that’s what going out to eat is all about, right? Yes, yes, it is.
Mr. Eats got some kind of critter thing; I’m not sure what, but I know that he liked it. We’ve liked everything we’ve ever gotten there. The fried pickles are decadent and delicious. The Monte Cristo is a bit over the top, but if that’s your thing, go for it. The mac and cheese is fantastic. And you can order it a dozen or more different ways.
And the kids are happy. HAPPY. So the adults are happy. Everyone’s happy! And though they do have some Pied Piper Creamery ice creams available, we usually just head over to the Creamery after dinner and get one of those 5-ice-cream samplers. Because when we go out, we make it count.
Pied Piper Eatery
1601 Riverside Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37216
Saturday and Sunday 8am–9pm
Pied Piper Creamery
114 South 11th Street
Nashville, TN 37206