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Baby Eats 143–1233 Lynn Valley Rd., North Van, 604-980-3287. With a menu featuring organic, locally grown ingredients and a 1,000 square-foot play area kitted out with creative toys from Natural Pod, Baby Eats is baby-group heaven. While the Peg Perego set gets down to some serious play, parents can relax with gourmet fare such as apple-ginger vichyssoise, bison meatloaf with miso gravy, or a plate of antipasto that could include prosciutto, Port Salut, and Branston pickle chutney. Brown rice pasta with turkey quinoa meatballs is a popular option for hungry munchkins, washed down with a glass of banana-blended “gorilla milk”.
Little Nest 1716 Charles St., Commercial Drive, 604-251-9994. Junior hipsters can slide on in to Little Nest and sip on a Bambinicinno (foamy steamed milk topped with chocolate sprinkles) while parents wire up with an Ethical Bean espresso shot pulled from the La Marzocco. Owner Mary Macintyre, formerly on pastry duty at Lumière, has created a welcoming retro-chic space replete with an in-scale play kitchen for foodies-in-training and an organically focused menu. Fruit Fries with strawberry “ketchup,” an organic cheese plate with dried fruits—kids only!—and toasty sandwiches with banana, honey, and ricotta are sure to appease the fussiest eaters. A full slate of grown-up fare includes all-day breakfasts (eggs with toast soldiers for kids-at-heart) and hearty baguette sandwiches. If you’re lucky, the eggs of the day will be paired with roasted portobellini, salami, and pistachio-parsley salsa. Closed Mondays.
Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. 1876 W. First Ave., Kitsilano, 604-730-0321. Flatbread pizza is the name of the game, fired in a wood-burning clay oven. The focus is on all-natural ingredients sourced from local organic producers. Sunday and Monday evenings, Mom and Dad can kick back with a pint of microbrew or a glass of Okanagan wine while the kids roll up their sleeves and roll out the dough before dressing it with their toppings of choice.
Secret Garden Tea Company 5559 W. Blvd., Kerrisdale, 604-261-3070. For a fraction of regular price, pint-sized princesses (and princes) can indulge in the pinkies-up ritual of Children’s High Tea at the Secret Garden. Oohs and ahs often herald the arrival of a three-tiered silver tray laden with treats as kids marvel at the selection of finger sandwiches and savouries, tiny pastries and mini scones with Devon cream and raspberry jam. Reservations are required for the thrice-daily seatings.
Zakkushi 1833 W. Fourth Ave., Kitsilano, 604-730-9844; 823 Denman St., Downtown, 604-685-1136. Few people can resist the lure of good barbecue, and adventurous young palates will be intrigued by Zakkushi’s Japanese spin on charcoal-grilled meat. The tiny jewel-box yakitori-ya on West Fourth is warm and welcoming; slip off your shoes and cosy up around a table to sample an array of value-priced skewered delights. Kids will invariably be charmed by the banana gyoza, deep-fried banana dumplings served with vanilla ice cream.