What are the best kids meals in Orange County? We were thinking this very thing. Although we’re not fans of the typical fast food kid’s meals, except of course when they’re free, there are many restaurants that offer kid’s meals that are either a good value, higher quality, or healthier. Here is list of restaurants that serve our favorite kid’s meals that are delicious and beautifully presented:
*Indicating beer/wine/bar/happy hour available for accompanying adults
Best Kids Meals in Orange County (Last update: 9/10/17)
Chipotle – For under $5.00, you can get a quesadilla or a nifty little build your own kit in a bento like container. First, choose a protein. I love the carnitas or the chicken, but be aware that the chicken is a little peppery, in case your little ones have sensitive taste buds. Saranya’s kids like the chicken and carne asada (steak) and MaryAnne’s girls like the vegetarian taco meal with the oh so good cilantro lime rice, beans, and two toppings. The kits come with two soft tortillas or crunchy taco shells, a cute mini bag of tortilla chips or a package of blueberries, and juice or organic milk. This is a great little deal for an affordable price.
The Counter – This is one of our local watering holes. Solid happy hour and kid’s meals make us regulars. Although the options are the familiar kid’s menu items such as chicken tenders, grilled cheese and pb&j, they do it well. The best value and tastiest choice is the 2 mini cheeseburgers with American cheese and pickles on Hawaiian buns. Every combo comes with choice of a side – you can certainly choose the healthier applesauce or carrot sticks, but we always choose either the shoestring fries or sweet potato fries – both are so addictively crunchy and delicious! It also comes with a juice, milk or lemonade. Let’s also mention that one of the choices is a veggie kabob, a colorful and appetizing dish for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The manager gave us a great tip: you can ask for a veggie pattie in lieu of the meat patties in the mini burger. These are refreshing non-meat alternatives from places that always seem to offer plain pasta as the vegetarian choice. Another option for multiple kids who are opting to share: an order of their chili comes in a huge bowl. The chili is hearty, rich and meaty. Order a side of curly fries and you have chili fries for several happy mouths! *Come in during Happy Hour (see our Happy Hour review for details) Mon-Fri/3-6 to feed the whole family!
Shin Sen Gumi – A popular Japanese chain is a welcome addition to Irvine! This is a favorite! For $7.25, they get a smaller bowl of their famous ramen or udon. The ramen at Shin Sen Gumi is firm and chewy, almost al dente. The broth is rich and flavorful; the kids slurp down every last drop. This smaller version is simply the noodles, a nice slice of fatty pork and a wedge of hard boiled soy sauce egg. In addition to the perfect bowl of ramen, there is a separate plate of rice ball with seaweed and sesame sprinkles, fried potato, mini hot dogs, a yakult (yogurt drink), lollipop and a balloon! It’s a nice variety and the perfect portion. *Serves beer, wine and sake
Curry House – Curry House is a Japanese curry house that offers a variety of options for under $7.00, with eight kid’s meals to choose from! This is a great comfort food place that will fill up even the heartiest eater. Kid’s curry rice, meatball spaghetti, teriyaki chicken, chicken breast katsu curry or chicken breast katsu spaghetti. All meals come with a variety of sides: potage soup, mini hot dog, french fries, corn, fruit and a toy! Yes, let’s talk about some of these sides for a moment. First of all, the potage soup is a creamy corn soup with a hint of sweetness: a meal in itself! The little hot dog, which is common in Japanese kid’s meals, is basically a tasty cocktail wiener that the kids seem to enjoy. Most kids are so excited about all the samplings of sides and the bonus toy keeps them busy while the adults can finish a meal in peace. *Serves beer and wine
Le Pain Quotidien – Simple and beautiful. This is our spot for meeting up with other mommies and their tykes, or a leisurely family brunch. The Fashion Island location in Newport Beach sits above street level and their outdoor patio has an ocean view. On cooler days, you can ask them to turn on the outdoor heaters. The open and comfy space inside has abundant seating that includes a large communal table. Kids breakfast and lunch are from $3.50-$7.25. I am happy to spend a bit more on the kid’s meals here because of the their attention to quality: fresh, simple and organic. Breakfast choices: steal-cut oatmeal with fresh fruit, trio of fresh fruit, organic granola and low-fat yogurt, or a Belgium waffle. Although the kid’s breakfast menu seems limited, there are so many other options to share or sides to add on. My kids love the bread basket: a nice assortment of in-house, fresh baked breaks. Look for the condiment caddy filled with delicious jams and spreads such as apricot, berry, and hazelnut chocolate. The kid’s lunch here is fantastic: a smaller plate of their tartine, which is an open face sandwich of either turkey or ham and cheese. organic cheddar or Swiss. All tartines are served with organic milk, fresh fruit and a fresh baked cookie. Beautifully plated and deliciously simple. *Serves beer and wine
Veggie Grill – One of the best kids meals in town! For $5.95, your little ones can choose one item from each: main, side and dessert, putting together their own meal. I love this because the options seem so much wider and customized, pleasing even the pickiest eater. Main: chickin’ nuggets, kid’s burger, grilled cheese, mac n cheese or crispy cauliflower; side: crispy fries, sweet potato fries, cauli-mashed potatoes, carrot sticks, or steamed kale; dessert: Mandarin oranges, 1/2 slice carrot cake or a cookie. I have to admit that I have often ordered off this kid’s menu for myself! Everything at Veggie Grill is vegan and you will not miss the meat! Their chickin’ is one of the best chicken alternatives out there-crispy, moist and delicious! The sweet potato fries are so addictive and the homemade desserts are really good! *Serves beer and wine
Rasoi Curry Point – One of our favorite Indian lunch spots! The all-you-can-eat thali platter cannot be beat. Instead of a buffet, Rasoi offers table service with a huge tray (thali platter) of food containing smaller bowls with different dishes. The kid’s meal is a slightly smaller version of the adult thali, but it is still huge! Each kid’s thali comes with rice, naan, raita (yogurt sauce), sweet tamarind sauce, and 2 meat curries and 3 vegetable sides, unless you order the vegan option. The vegan option here is so good: they do wonders with veggies and legumes! Some of the dishes may be a little too spicy for younger palates, so just make a request for non spicy items. One of the best features of Rasoi is the accommodating service: they remade a vegetable dish that my son really liked when it was too spicy for him. Refills are plentiful and fresh with a server coming by to refill any dish.
Got a tip for a great kid-friendly menu in Orange County? What’s your favorite OC kids meal? Please share your best kids meal comments below.