Before we had kids my husband and I loved eating out. After, well, let’s just say sometimes a salad fork to the eye sounds more appealing.

But I want my kids to love it as much as I do and there is no better meal to start with then—brunch. Who doesn’t love brunch … it involves a menu for everyone (Pancakes! Hamburgers!) and is at a time when the noise level doesn’t have to be respectful and there isn’t as much fear that you are interrupting someone’s date night.

We’re so lucky—there are many great food options in Baltimore that are kid friendly. (We’d love to hear from you about your favorite as well!) We’re going to start with five of our favorite brunch spots … and keep adding to the list—including lunch, dinner and dessert.

Miss Shirley’s Café
750 E. Pratt St., 410-528-5373
513 W. Cold Spring Ln., 410-889-5272
Our kids love the big booths at the Cold Spring location and the open atrium at the Pratt Street locale. The staff seems genuinely happy to see our kids and wipe up spilled chocolate milk without a grumble. Even when it happens for the second time. PEEK AT THE MENU A southern inspired menu chocked full of items our kids love (griddle cakes dusted with powdered sugar and served with sticky pure maple syrup, crispy perfectly cooked bacon) and we love (breakfast sliders, fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak.) STUFF FOR KIDS TO LOOK AT There are always lots of great black and white photos on the wall at Cold Spring and Pratt Street’s outdoor patio means great people/car watching for kids. DON’T MISS The sweet potato fries for breakfast. They are hot and delicious and come with dippy sauces every kid with love … plus, they keep hungry bellies happy while the order is cooking. EXTRA KID FRIENDLY Miss Shirley’s has one of the best kid placemats around—it includes a maze, decorate your own pizza, word scramble, and tic tac toe. It has kept both my five and three year old content until the ridiculously chocolate pancakes arrive.

5402 Harford Rd.
Who would guess that a hip food spot known for its charcuterie is also one of the most kid friendly around. The food is interesting and the coffee fair-trade organic and bottomless. The expanded restaurant means more room for maneuvering strollers and unsteady walkers. PEEK AT THE MENU While a lot of the menu items are geared more towards mom and dad (migas, Indian Scramble—with Channa Masala and chick peas—Korean Hot Pot) there is a lot for the pipsqueaks, as well. For the “safe” eaters there is a bagel with butter or house made cream cheese (yes, really and yes, delicious!), fat Belgian waffles with fresh whipped cream and berries and an eggy French toast casserole. For the more adventurous—the Elvis Special with Nutella whipped cream, banana, bacon and pecans, cheese grits and oatmeal with chutney and honey.  STUFF FOR KIDS TO LOOK AT The restaurant has such a neighborhood feel and is always full of families first thing in the morning. There is always great art on the walls and you can see into the meat room where sausages, terrines, and pates are being created. DON’T MISS We love going when they open at 8:30. Our kids are still fresh from last night’s sleep and we can get a good hour out of them between yummy food + play area. EXTRA KID FRIENDLY Play area? Yes, we’ve saved the best for last! There is an entire area dedicated to kids! Books and toys and within eye sight of many of the tables so parents can actually sip their coffee for a few extra minutes while keeping a watchful eye on their kid(s). Why don’t more restaurants do this?

Woodberry Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Rd.
What’s not to love? The food! The atmosphere! Though we love being in the main restaurant we find with kids/high chairs/strollers the big party room works best. There is plenty of room for a bored kid to flop on the floor with an iPad or toddler to wander around. Even the high chairs are old school and fabulous. PEEK AT THE MENU They don’t dummy down the kids menu here. There is wood oven flatbread with cheese and herbs, French toast with plum compote and a thick pan-cake with peach compote and maple syrup. You also can’t go wrong with the griddle potatoes. For the grown-ups—the Sunday bakeshop in a basket is a must as is the pressed coffee and our new favorite morning cocktail—the Gov’t Mule. As far as food is concerned, you can’t go wrong with anything (but we love the Morning Flatbread with housemade sage sausage, potatoes, cheddar and a farm egg plopped down in the middle and the Breakfast Burger served with a fried egg, bacon and skillet potatoes.) STUFF FOR KIDS TO LOOK AT Between all the pickled veggies nesting in jars, the live music, the fire pit outside, glass studio around the corner, pool across the street, there is a lot for a wandering parent to point out to a bored kid. The kid’s menu comes with crayons and the big windows and old building are pretty cool. DON’T MISS Making a reservation. This place is always packed especially for its uber popular Sunday brunch. We find the less pre-meal waiting the better our kids are behaved so we love being able to walk right in and get seated immediately (we rarely have to wait when we have a reservation.) EXTRA KID FRIENDLY The staff never fails to flirt with the babies and bring the big kids scoops of homemade ice cream.

The Golden West Café
1105 West 36th St.
It’s loud and chaotic so when we add to both we don’t feel as bad. The hipster staff reminds us of our children—aloof, thinks were not as cool as they are and grumpy but loveable. The food? The food is awesome. It’s Austin, Texas-esque but we only need to go as far as the Avenue. PEEK AT THE MENU Where we go for our Tex Mex fix—breakfast burritos and polenta, huevos rancheros and montulenos. Kids love the quesadilla with scrambled eggs, cheese, green stuff (guacamole) and hash browns and PBJ French Toast with New System Bakery cinnamon bread, butter, honey, berries, and peanut butter. STUFF FOR KIDS TO LOOK AT Everything from the menu to the bathroom to the décor is crazy eye candy. It’s Hampden hon, so the clientele is fabulously eclectic and usually forgiving of inquisitive kids. DON’T MISS The desserts! Sometimes a bribe is OK when it means getting through a meal with no tears or temper tantrums. The cupcakes look like a Willy Wonka special and the cakes—baked from scratch—are enough to make even daddy behave. EXTRA KID FRIENDLY Sometimes waiting can be hard but there are bins of toys (very well loved) that keep little hands from going to stir crazy until a table is ready.

Gertrude’s (John Shields’ Restaurant at The BMA)
10 Art Museum Dr.
There is something so fabulous about brunching at an art museum. Gertrude’s is upscale without being stuffy—so we love bringing the kids here for a special occasion (Mother’s Day, grandma’s birthday) and using it as an opportunity to dress up. PEEK AT THE MENU While the “kids corner” can be predictable (jumbo hot dog, PB&J, waffles) the adult side is Maryland chic—Eggs Gertrude, a Benedict with broiled crab cakes and hollandaise, Tilghman Island Eggs with single-fry oysters and poached eggs. And we love the build-your-own meal with an entrée, sauce and two sides. STUFF FOR KIDS TO LOOK AT Well, aside from the fact that you are in a museum (, there are plaster molds of crabs, terrapins, fish and herons mounted around the dining room—the better for discussing Maryland wild life. DON’T MISS During the warmer months request a seat on terrace near the fountain and reflecting pool. It’s always fun for kids to eat al fresco. And it seems a little more relaxed out there. {Plus, you and the kids can stroll in the garden while you wait for your food!} EXTRA KID FRIENDLY The staff usually makes a big deal about kid customers and the lobby of the museum is perfect for a little one that needs to burn off some steam. Plus, the bathrooms are big with an easy to get to changing table.