The Tap: The Dining-with-Child Difficulty Scale

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This week in the Tap: A comprehensive methodology for figuring out which, if any, restaurants you can bring your cantankerous child to.

The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Dining-with-Child Difficulty Scale

The answer to the question “should we take the kid(s) out to eat with us?” is often presented as a “yes-no” proposition. In response, various factions (kids’ rights, anti-kids, anti-anti-kids, etc.) have sprung into existence. Every once in a while a story will go viral about an establishment gruffly banning or particularly welcoming kids, and people will go bananas in response.

Like most things in life, however, the answer isn’t binary; it’s a spectrum. Taken into consideration on the Dining-with-Child Challenge Spectrum below are the concerns of various stakeholders, including some that get lost in the shuffle: you, the dining parents (of course), other diners (also of course), the servers, and your child (who probably has tastes and opinions of his or her own).

My son, who is three, probably rates about a 5 or 6 on this scale. He can generally sit still for 30-60 minutes, but he needs some amount of toys and / or other stimulus to pull it off. He won’t eat all that many things yet, so we need to order and / or pack accordingly, and while he’s no longer a roving cesspool of filth, he’s not fastidiously neat, either. He was probably an 8 just after birth (when he mostly just slept in a car-ready, convenient bucket) and he probably dipped down to a 2 when he was at his wildest and most slovenly.

Without further ado:

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table
Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

The Dining-with-Child Difficulty Scale

1 – Fast Food, Kid-Themed Eateries. Sort of a no-brainer. They advertise it; they’re asking for it. Bring it on. (But, still, clean up after your kid before you exit the restaurant.)

Dale Yasunaga / Heavy Table
Dale Yasunaga / Heavy Table

2 – Outdoor Dining. Dropped food is no hassle, and the upset-kid to outdoor-space transition is seamless. (Sea Salt, Sand Castle, Tin Fish.)

3 – Pizzerias, Hot Dog Restaurants, Barbecue Joints. Restaurants serving affordable, unpretentious hand food can generally accommodate even rambunctious kids. Mealtimes are short, service is simple, and it’s pretty easy to get the check and jet. As an extension of this category — any place with a kids’ menu. If they’ve got a kids’ menu, they’re on some level inviting the whirlwind. (Chris and Rob’s, Jakeeno’s, Mama’s Pizza.)

I’d also include dim sum brunches at this level. The general chaos and many extended families dining out make this a pretty good fit. (Pagoda, Yangtze.)

4 – Diner Breakfast. Now we’re starting to drift into the realm where an ill-behaved kid will begin mucking up other people’s meals and / or servers’ routine. But casual / comfortable / quick is the norm, so most kids will fit right in, most of the time. (Hi Lo, Bad Waitress, Buttered Tin, The Howe.)

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table
Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

5 – Upscale Breakfast. The general clamor and relative speed of breakfast makes it a fairly good fit for a family on the run, even at some of the more polished places and open-for-brunch spots. (Hen House, Hell’s Kitchen, weekend brunches.)

6 – Casual Asian, Latin, African, Etc. Serious family dining is, in many ways, not something Americans do well; in other parts of the world, it’s more of a staple, and well-behaved kids are the norm. (Karta Thai, Flamingo, Maya Cuisine.)

7 – Upscale Casual. Some of these places roll with the punches better than others, but they’re all distinguished by offering (relatively) quick service, but with top-notch food (and at least moderate prices). The general bustle means kids can definitely fit in, but tantrums and messes should be nipped in the bud, and at some of these places, the food and / or duration of dinner will be a real trial. (Brasa, World Street Kitchen, Revival.)

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

8 – Upscale Sushi / Japanese. A sense of harmony and stately pacing making this cuisine particularly challenging for young kids; add to that the usual lack of anything resembling a kids’ menu (although chicken kara-age can do in a pinch). (Tanpopo, Masu, Origami.)

9 – Fine Dining / Steakhouses. We’re now firmly in birthday / anniversary territory. There will be diners spending large sums of money to celebrate special occasions, trying to catch up with friends from out of town, closing business deals, and so forth. Disruptions and chaos will not be looked upon with particular kindness, so the stakes are high. (Corner Table, The Kenwood, Manny’s.)

10 – White Tablecloth, Reservations. Staff will likely be gracious as can be, but the margin of error is small, and you’ll feel awfully tense if your kids are anything but A+ polished, poised, and calm. (Alma, Picolo, Meritage.) — James Norton


Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
  • Black Coffee and Waffle Bar, 2180 Marshall Ave, St. Paul | Second location.
  • Bakers’ Field Flour & Bread, The Food Building, 1401 Marshall Ave NE | The bakery sells its naturally fermented breads and stone-ground, heirloom-varietal flours at the Mill City and Northeast farmers markets on Saturdays. The Food Building bakery is not open to the public. Listen to Steve Horton (the bakery’s owner and former owner of Rustica) talk about the project on The Weekend Starts Now podcast.
  • Wild Mind Artisan Ales Taproom, 6031 Pillsbury Ave S, Minneapolis | As per the website: “Wild Mind Artisan Ales specializes in wild, sour, farmhouse, saison, and rustic ales through barrel aging and blending.
  • Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis
  • World of Beer, 356 N Sibley St, St. Paul | Part of a chain including locations in Wauwatosa and Appleton, Wis., and Naperville, Ill.
  • Lu’s Sandwiches, 10 6th St NE, Minneapolis | The second location of this “small menu” banh mi spot.
  • Blackeye Roasting Company, 3740 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis | An 18-seat cafe located in the Minneapolis skyway — with 10 tap lines of nonalcoholic beverages that include nitro cold brew coffee, nitro iced tea, kombucha, and draft cocktails — is coming later this summer.
  • Town Talk Diner and Gastropub, 2707 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Replacing the recently shuttered Le Town Talk. French is out, “American bistro” is in.
  • Costa Blanca Bistro, 2416 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | The latest spot from the opening-restaurants-like-crazy Hector Ruiz.
  • Lawless Distilling, 2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Our visit detailed here.
  • The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar, 3675 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis | A complete overhaul and relaunch of the former Rail Station. We’ve got a review in the works.
  • Silhouette Bakery and Bistro, 383 University Ave W, St. Paul | Rice bowls and tacos, plus some cute-looking cakes.
  • Bonicelli Kitchen, 1839 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Patio space open Wednesday through Saturday in the former Razaaq space on Central Avenue.
  • DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | The briefly open Nicollet Avenue location of DiNoko’s is closed, but the long-delayed 42nd Avenue location is now open.
  • Up-Down Arcade, 3012 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Pizza and video games, hard to top that. We’ve got a review in the works.
  • Xavi Restaurant, 5607 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis (former First Course space) | The crudo dream lives on!
Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table
Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table


  • Salt Cellar (closing Aug. 6 to reopen with new concept)
  • Pilgrimage
  • Cafe Levain
  • Restaurant Alma, 528 University Ave SE, closing for three months | From a pop-up message on its website: “Alma “1.0” will serve the last dishes from our Summer Menu on Friday, August 12th. Unavoidably, we must close for three months to connect the restaurant and cafe kitchens and to make significant mechanical and equipment upgrades. At the same time, the dining room will be undergoing renovations to improve the comfort of the guest experience, while also preserving the feel and layout of the original space.”
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table



Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
  • Five Watt (Roastery and Cafe), 2904 Harriet Ave S, Minneapolis | August | Former Uptown Imports location.
  • Bad Waitress (second location), 700 Central Ave NE | November
  • La La Homemade Ice Cream, 3146 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | Soon | Homemade ice cream shop going in the former Shoe Zoo location in Uptown.
  • Game Sports Bar, 2841 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis | August 19 | A gay-clientele-focused sports bar replacing Salsa a la Salsa, which replaced BoneYard, which replaced Old Chicago.
  • Barbecue Joint Name TBA, 816 Lowry Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2016 | A Kansas-City-style barbecue place “with no chairs and tables” opened by some combination of the Travail team.
  • Red Rabbit, 201 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Autumn | Red Cow owner Luke Shimp’s new spot will offer “a variety of dishes including handcrafted pizzas, oysters, pasta, fresh salads and more.”
  • Clockwerks Brewing Company, 25 4th St N, Minneapolis | Summer
  • Trapeze, 1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis | Summer | A new Kim Bartmann “bubbles and toasts” bar opening next door to Barbette.
  • Mercury Dining Room and Rail, 505 Marquette Ave S, Minneapolis | Autumn | Scratch fare from the Blue Plate Restaurant Company in the old Brasserie Zentral space. The former Foreign Legion will become the Shindig Event Center.
  • Erik the Red, 600 1st Ave N, Minneapolis | Summer | Nordic-influenced barbecue from the owner of Devil’s Advocate.
  • Kaiseki Furukawa, 30 N 1st St, Minneapolis | October | Classic kaiseki (progressive small courses) dining. We can’t wait.
  • Young Joni, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | Summer | Anticipation is high for this new wood-fired pizza and Korean spot by Pizzeria Lola / Hello Pizza boss Ann Kim.
  • Revival, 525 Selby Ave, St. Paul (former Cheeky Monkey space) | Summer | A second location for the popular fried chicken spin-off of Corner Table. The original location will also be expanding and offering take-out.
  • Project TBD at old Walker Library in Uptown, 2901 Hennepin Ave S | Architectural details available here.
  • Cafe Alma, 530 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | 2016 | It’s slated to be an all-day cafe with a liquor license and a six-room hotel upstairs, as Alex Roberts explains in this Q and A with Rick Nelson. The adjacent Restaurant Alma will be closing for three months on August 12 so its kitchen can be connected to the kitchen of the new cafe.
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • Brut, 428 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | 2016 | With all the culinary firepower of Erik Anderson (above) and Jamie Malone, Brut promises exciting things. It’s going into the old Sapor space on Washington Avenue.
  • McKinney Roe, 550 4th St S, Minneapolis | September | Contemporary American food by the owner of O’Donovan’s Irish Pub and Lola’s Lakehouse.
  • Utepils (formerly Bryn Mawr) Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Fall 2016

St. Paul

  • Parco 400, 400 N Sibley St, St. Paul | ??? | A new Italian restaurant opening in the old Trattoria Da Vinci spot in Lowertown, the culinary side to be headed up by Troy Unruh, formerly of New York City’s well-known Del Posto. Facebook page is eerily quiet, website is a placeholder.
  • Babani’s (second location), Wabasha St S | September | A second location for the country’s oldest Kurdish restaurant.
  • Ha Tien Grocery (second location), 1959 Suburban Ave, St. Paul | Fall 2016 | One of our favorite stops on our Green Line Checklist is expanding into a second location.
  • Tori Ramen, 161 N Victoria St, St. Paul | 2016 | Chicken-focused ramen shop in the former Lee and Dee’s.
  • Bottle Rocket, 1806 St. Clair Ave, St. Paul | 2016 | A reboot by the Blue Plate Restaurant Company of the former Scusi space with craft cocktails.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
  • 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul | 2016 | A restaurant aspect to the space is rumored to be under consideration.
  • The Lexington (new ownership), 1096 Grand Ave, St. Paul | ??? | It’ll be interesting to see how the ambitious team behind this revamp and relaunch tackles the task. Between its facade, its location, and its glorious but stuffy, old-school feel, we’ll find it tough to sort the baby from the bathwater on this one. Their Facebook page says, “Keep calm. We are opening soon.” Last Facebook update: March 8.

Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

  • 1.2.3. Pasta, 6508 Cahill Ave, Inver Grove Heights | Delayed by parking and permitting issues.
  • Baja Haus,  830 Lake Street E., Wayzata | January 2017 | A second restaurant by Billy Tserenbat of Sushi Fix, focused on Mexican seafood and scratch margaritas.
  • Second Gavin Kaysen Restaurant Name TBA, 739 E Lake Street, Wayzata (former Blue Point Location) | 2016 | A second restaurant for the much-heralded chef owner of Spoon and Stable. This one will be a French brasserie style as per Rick Nelson.
  • Blacklist Brewing, 120 E Superior St, Duluth | September | Taphouse opening in the once notorious, now rehabbed former Last Place on Earth location.
  • Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery (formerly Oude Oak) Midway Township | Summer 2016 | A new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at