Cafe Jose, Plaza Bonita, India Palace, and Szechuan are basically the four restaurants in town where we are the most comfortable dining out with our children. We dine out at Elote and Wildflower Bread Co. perhaps once a quarter, but not as frequently as the other places. Pizza Picazzo's is also on the more "child-friendly" side, but if we have a hankering for pizza, we usually satisfy it with some sort of carry-out.
The truth is, Sedona has a struggling food scene. There are only a handful of choices anywhere along the dining spectrum. We only have 3 or 4 choices in each category: Fast food, Mexican, Italian, Asian, diner, bistro. The only restaurant type we have plenty of is pizza. With at least eight pizza places, Sedona is maxed out in that department.
Now, there are a few places that might be child friendly that we have not patronized. When eating out, Corey and I must be judicious with how we spend our time and money. We don't want to shell out $50.00 somewhere and have a snarky waiter who is bothered by the fact that our kids are kids. I don't like going places where people look at us as if we are putting them out somehow by attempting to be in public with our children.
So, the aforementioned establishments receive our Fun Dollars on a regular basis. For starters, the food is consistently awesome. Not every restaurant where we live can claim this. But this chosen handful has shown us time and again that we spend our money there for a reason: the food is always delicious.
The other reason we even bother being seen (or heard) in public at these places is because the staff is not only welcoming to our family, they enjoy our children being children. At Plaza Bonita, almost all the servers have kids of their own. They talk to our children. They let them play in the restaurant, and give them high fives on the way out. At India Palace, they always bring our kids Mango Lasees free of charge. They help them out at the buffet, and are very kind about returning them to the table if they somehow escape. At Cafe Jose, they have watched our son grow from infant to big brother to kindergartner. They are more like family than wait staff. (The same goes for Elote.)
Last Monday, we took both kids to Szechuan. Carrick and Lily were particularly ornery that night. After we sat down, I tried in vain to get them to play with the new coloring books and stickers I bought them. They were not interested in anything except being loud. I was sooooo not in the mood. Corey got up to ask the owner (with whom he is acquainted) if we could sit in the small room for private parties located separately from the dining room.
"The kids are loud," Corey explained.
The owner replied, "So the kids are loud..."
He wasn't bothered by it, so why should we be bothered by it? Our server, the oldest woman who works there, immediately brought out two dishes of rice for the kids to nibble on. She knew what they needed. She knew they were just hungry kids. Bless her. She even brought out a dish of cherries they use for garnishes for "dessert". The kids were thrilled.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had the opportunity to enjoy a kid-free lunch the other day at Hiro's Sushi. I had actually invited several friends out to join me, but since it was last minute, they all had plans. I even refused to call Corey to join me. I wanted to try out the whole "solitude" thing. Carrick was at school, and Lily fell asleep on the way back from Cottonwood. I put her in the stroller and ordered my favorite: the Firecracker Roll. Eight bites later I was done. I savored every mouthful, determined to enjoy my lunch all by myself.
The truth is, without the chaos and confusion of the kids, without having to hide the salt and pepper from Lily, without having to wipe up a spilled drink, eating out is kind of boring. I like my kids. I like the excitement they bring to the table. Yeah, I'll take lunch with the girls or a date with Corey any day of the week, but on a daily basis, I like to eat with my children. My kids are who they are, and I am proud to be their mama. If they're too much for anyone else, who cares? Get over it. Kids will be kids.
Dinner at Szechuan (my half)- $20.00
Lunch at Hiro's Sushi- $14.00
Balance this pay cycle- $13.00