Let’s face it, it’s no mean feat eating out with kids. You either mistime it and they are going crazy with hunger, or you simply can’t find a cafe in the area with a high chair. Then if you do find somewhere, you’ve just got to pray that the toddler is entertained enough not to start throwing spoons on the floor before you’ve finished your lunch. It’s a very fine line you’re towing and can be made so much simpler if you have a few places up your sleeve that are guaranteed winners.
So, if you’re visiting Brighton or maybe you’re a local like me – here’s a few of my favourite places to go with Emma. It’s by now means an exhaustive list but it does mean that I don’t need to worry so much if we’re out in town and I haven’t packed a lunch for her. And as with any day out, it completely depends on what sort of lunch you’re after, so I’m hoping I’ve covered most of it…
The Easy Lunch
Definition: when you want to go somewhere that has highchairs and a decent menu for the kids as well as adults. There’s space for your buggy and you don’t feel like you’re getting in the way of everyone because of your toddler.
- Al Campo Lounge (84-86 London Road, Brighton BN1 4JF)
A blogger friend of mine mentioned this chain of restaurants called ‘Lounges’ the other day. Brighton has two of them, Al Campo is located on London Road behind Brighton station and there is also another in Hove. Both are brilliant places to bring babies and toddlers – they have masses of room for the buggies and the staff are always so friendly and accomodating. In fact, I came here with Emma when she was weeks old and the staff would help me with the pram up the stairs – it really makes the difference when you’re a new mum!
The food is pretty good here with pasta, salads and sandwiches for the adults and mini versions for the kids too. They also serve a crudite plate for the little ones while the food is on its way, which is a brilliant distraction for them. There are always lots of toys and cafe-style highchairs in this cafe. This suits us well now she is a toddler but when she was younger, it was a bit of a problem. Emma would often slide underneath it and so I sometimes had to keep her in the buggy/pram. In general, this is such a hassle free place to have lunch with the kids and also the best food option if you are visiting The Level park/playground as their cafe can be a bit busy and stressful.
- Brighton Dome (Church Street, Brighton BN1 1UE)
I was introduced to the little cafe at Brighton Dome when Emma was weeks old, as it is so convenient when you have a Formula 1 style pram like we did! You might see a little bit of running theme here…open spaces mean that Mummy can relax and have lunch. This place is fantastic – there’s lots of room plus other Mummies also have the same idea, so there’s that sense of camaraderie as you chomp away.
To be completely honest, it’s nothing fancy at this cafe, but it is perfect for when you are out and about in the town centre and just need somewhere to have lunch. The food is sandwiches, salads and coffee or tea but you can also bring packed lunches for the kids too. It was perfect for when Emma started weaning, as some cafes don’t like you bringing in homemade purees; obviously tricky when your baby isn’t eating solids yet! Definitely worth bearing in mind, as it’s just so hassle-free.
The Lunch with Energetic Toddlers
Definition: You need lunch, they need lunch. But they also need to be entertained without wrecking the cafe. Surprisingly harder to find than it sounds!
- Clarendon Villas Cafe (Church of Christ The King, 21-23 Clarendon Villas, Hove BN3 3RE)
This is one of my favourite hidden gems in Hove. It is a newly refurbished cafe adjoined to the Church of Christ The King; it might seem like an unlikely place to stop for lunch but they have masses of toys to keep the kids entertained. Everything you could imagine from rocking horses, to books and a little bit of soft play too. Emma and her buddies are always delighted to come here and run around for an hour or so.
The coffee and food is great here and they also have a few sandwich and snack options for the kids too. I’ve always found the service quick and easy, so it makes for a really stress-free lunch. We often stay for longer than usual so Emma can let of a it of steam in the process. It’s located in the centre of Hove, where it’s easy to park and you can get a bus into Brighton easily if you need to do shopping there afterwards.
- Big Beach Cafe (Hove Lagoon, Kingsway, Hove BN3 4LX)
The Big Beach Cafe has it all. Great coffee, great food and the awesome Hove Lagoon park outside. It’s the perfect place to come with a toddler. Often if Emma is awake super early, we come here for a play in the park and then afterwards have a bite to eat at the cafe. The park is fantastic, with something to do for all ages and our favourite so far in Brighton and Hove, especially since Emma is more mobile and keen to explore on her own. It’s also located right next to the seafront so plenty to do!
Into the cafe and the food is brilliant – they have a wide selection of burgers and sandwiches plus homemade pastries too. The only downside is that at the weekend it gets so busy that it’s hard to find somewhere to sit (quite usual as it’s so close to the sea). But they are well-equipped for toddlers and always have plenty of Ikea high chairs to hand, and the staff are so helpful when I have been on my own with Emma.
The Lunch for the Grown Ups
Definition: Mummy and Daddy want a nice lunch, but also want to keep the toddler happy too.
- Lala’s (81 George Street, Hove BN3 3YD)
Last but not least there’s the perfect place to come when the grown ups really want a lovely lunch. It’s tricky in Brighton as lots of the cafes are quite narrow and many of them don’t have the space for high chairs. Lala’s is the perfect place to come – they are really accommodating with parents and help get the high chair set up straight away.
The food is just brilliant – they do a fantastic breakfast and amazing lunches with really tasty fritatta, fish and curries with tasty salads. I really love coming here for lunch and Emma is usually good as gold as long as we get going within an hour (let’s be honest, there’s only so long she’ll sit still for!). You won’t be disappointed if you give this one a visit!
So that rounds it up, my top five places to go with a toddler so that Mummy can eat and the little one is entertained too. Hope you enjoyed and do let me know if you have any tips for keeping the little people a-ok when you’re out and about…