It's cold and money might be tight. Still, you can take your family on a global culinary adventure that won't break the bank.
No matter what kind of food your kids are used to eating, how do you get them eating cuisines they aren't used to at home? And where do you go?
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, senior editor of Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, has these recommendations.
Wakame Asian Bistro in St. Louis Park
This Japanese restaurant near Lake Calhoun has tempura chicken kids' meals that are basically chicken strips -- the zero-depth wading pool of Japanese food. You get them comfortable with tempura chicken and rice, and slowly work in other foods.
Ichiban in downtown Minneapolis
For kids who like Japanese food already, the all-you-can-eat sushi boats at Ichiban are a treat. You get to lunge at your food as it goes by!
Fuji Ya in Minneapolis
The Fuji Ya in Minneapolis has little private Tatami rooms with rice-paper screens which they close off, leaving you in a private little space where you sit on the floor at a low table. It is the absolute perfect space to eat with a toddler. They walk around and around the table in circles, and they can't get out! Make that your regular family spot and they'll grow up feeling Japanese food is part of their life.
These three places are all great options for Dim Sum brunch, the traditional south Chinese dish of little tea snacks and dumplings. It's perfect for kids. There's all kinds of little things to try -- sesame balls, pork buns, for example -- that sit on a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table.
Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis
This eatery and bar offers an afternoon tea -- with 24-hour notice. For adults it's $18, for kids it's $9.95. You get tea sandwiches, scones, the works. Very cute. Put on fancy hats and take pictures!
The Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis
A potato pancake, a bratwurst, a big soft German pretzel - this is actually German food! And spaetzle is actually very nice baby finger food!
Patrick's Bakery in Maple Grove or Richfield
These bakeries are perfect for either a French afternoon pick-me-up of hot chocolate, a croissant, and a macaron, or a full-fledged dinner. At the Maple Grove location they now have Tarte Flambee -- the Alsatian version of pizza, with bacon, the rare food that's both food-snob friendly and kid friendly. On Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Richfield location kids eat free. That's nice, because if they flip out and don't eat, little damage is done.
Broder's Pasta Bar in Minneapolis
Broder's has a lovely authentically Italian kids' menu, with everything for $8, like a bowl of spaghetti bolognese. And on Mondays, one kid per adult eats free.
Mexican / Central American
Los Ocampo in Minneapolis
On Friday nights at the Midtown Global Market, get ready for kid-friendly activities, bands and more. Stop by Los Ocampo for a quesadilla. But this isn't any plain old store tortilla quesadilla, it's handmade masa cakes, pillowy and crisp and soft and yummy, absolute comfort food, absolutely authentic. A really mind bendingly good quesadilla will run you $4.99.
There's also a fantastic little Mexican/Central American candy store, you can get lollipops shaped like soccer balls! But beware you don't end up with a chili-coated mango pop. That can be a surprise.
Blue Nile in Cedar-Riverside
This Ethiopian restaurant is something of a Minneapolis institution. What I like to do here is get the big combo platter that everyone shares. It comes on a giant tray lined with a biddeena -- a kind of fermented pancake -- that you use to scoop up lentils, chicken and whatever else it is you've ordered.