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I like going out for good, fresh tacos. And I love hanging out in a local beer garden with quality brews. But the tacos and beer start to cost a lot with the addition of babysitting costs. Here are two cool, independent, family friendly joints that have been a real boost for our family–great hangs where kids are welcome. Worthwhile for any Boston-area families… but especially sweet for the Somer/Camber/Arl/Med/ton-ites. And inspiration for indie restaurants across the country…

Amazing INDOOR OPTION for parents with kids:

Kids Cutting a Rug at Once

Kids Cutting a Rug at Once

ONCE Somerville, 156 Highland Ave, Somerville
With great food from Cuisine en Locale on Mondays, Thursdays-Saturdays

The food, the kitchy retro lounge, and the rock shows in the big ole ballroom are all great for grownups. And with the monthly Taco Monday series and other kid events, it’s easy to bring the family along.

The monthly Taco Monday Dance Party features no cover, great kid music from my smart husband Matt Heaton, and gourmet tacos by Cuisine en Locale. It’s a great, and totally unique social outlet. Kids can dance and be crazy around a big room filled with other kids; parents can drink and have tatoos–or not.

This friendly neighborhood joint features fresh, creative food from Cuisine En Locale, Somerville’s award winning, locavore catering company. In addition to 5-10pm food service at Once on Mondays and Thursday-Saturday), they’ll also prepare four great meals in advance. That’s most of the cooking for the week, with tasty meals, varied greens, and grains.

Next Taco Monday is Monday September 12, doors at 5pm.
And Kids Rock Kids is on for Saturday Aug 13, 11am-3pm.

Service with a smile!

Oh, and Michelle makes superb mixed drinks!

Amazing OUTDOOR OPTION for parents with kids:

American Fresh Brewhouse Beer Garden. 301 Canal St, Assembly Square
Dreamy in the summer, and tented and cheery in the cooler months!

With the motto “Happy parents raise strong families,” it’s not surprising that this delightful little beer and snack garden was nominated Scout Magazine’s Best Family-friendly spot in Somerville. Situated near all the outlet shops and cheap home stores (Home Goods, Bed Bath Beyond, Marshalls), you can also grab essentials while you’re out and about.

IMG_1330The huge collection of toys and games is an obvious welcome to families (For a small joint, they’ve dedicated a whole section to their collection of kid stuff!). And it’s just so easy to hang there: there’s an easygoing feel… and plenty of shade umbrellas

Come for the refreshing blood orange brew and meet some new friends at the weekly Friday Parent Pint Out Playdate from 2-5pm. Used toys and game donations are welcome, as long as they don’t have small parts. And perhaps the good folks at Amer Fresh will host another All Ages Dance Party (the last one was on a Wednesday from 5-7pm).

There’s also a great playground with a water feature on the other side of the Assembly Square outdoor mall. From the Slumbrew beer garden, know that you’ll pass the Lego store.. so take the sidewalk closer to Marshalls, if you want to avoid passing it with your kid. Splash around. Then head back to American Fresh for another pint and a pizza, an antipasto plate, kid snacks, and more playing with toys!

It’s not so tough to offer experiential stuff for kids and parents. You don’t have to go to a kid themed joint to have fun as a family. Amen to places that have created a nice environment, with different ages and interests in mind, with nice food, spirits, and cheery staff. Do share your favorite family haunts–even if you’re not in Boston!

Leap, Little Frog

a musician's musings on nesting, being creative, traveling, and parenting