Summer vacation is hitting its stride. You’ve taken the kids to the beach. You’ve gone to the park. Now it’s time to get something to eat. The season offers an excellent opportunity to explore the city with children, and food can be a rich part of the experience. Discover a neighborhood, plan an excursion around a meal, or find a favorite new ice cream spot. Here are some ideas for where to take your kids to eat this summer vacation.
Seafood by the seaside (without leaving the city)
On days when you’re craving a lobster roll, fried clams, and an ocean breeze, but don’t have the time or energy for a full-on beach excursion, you’ve still got options.
For example: Belle Isle Seafood, on the water in Winthrop. The menu is classic, the atmosphere is casual, and the planes flying in and out of Logan offer plenty of entertainment overhead. Belle Isle is famous for its lobster roll, brimming with meat barely slicked with mayonnaise, with a little lettuce for crunch. But don’t miss the undersung seafood combo, a plate heaped with scallops, haddock, shrimp, and clams, expertly fried. (There are also chicken fingers, hot dogs, and such for those who want them.) Kids will enjoy waiting for the lobster-shaped buzzer to light up; adults will be glad for the cold beer and great view. Cash only.
1 Main St., Winthrop, 617-567-1619, www.belleisleseafood.net
Or go for a stroll along Quincy’s Wollaston Beach, then cross the street to Tony’s Clam Shop. Chowder, steamers, fried clams — they’re all here, along with another beloved lobster roll, club sandwiches, and Middle Eastern specialties such as hummus, tabbouleh, and falafel. (Founder Antoine “Tony” Kandalaft, who passed away three years ago at 97, was born in Lebanon.)
861 Quincy Shore Drive, Quincy, 617-773-5090, www.tonysclamshop.com
Art and Australia
There’s always plenty for kids to see at the family-friendly Institute of Contemporary Art, where those under 17 get in free. But the ICA Watershed is only open during the summer months. This venue for large-scale art opened in the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina last year, and a water-shuttle ride between the Seaport and East Boston is included with admission (don’t forget to reserve). Also located in the shipyard: KO Pies, serving meat pies and other Australian specialties. After some art, a sea voyage, and maybe a run around Piers Park, a pie filled with braised lamb shank, beef and cheese, or curried vegetables hits the spot.
256 Marginal St., Building 16, East Boston, 617-418-5234, www.kocateringandpies.com
Dim sum by day, drinks by night
There are few more kid-friendly dining situations than dim sum, as evidenced by the many families gathering on weekends at Winsor Dim Sum House & Bar in Quincy. (You can also visit the original Winsor in Chinatown.) Bring a large group and order a variety of dishes: Kids tend to love the dumplings and barbecue pork buns, but don’t miss steamed rice rolls, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, sesame balls, and much more.
706 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-481-5383, www.winsordimsum.com
For another side of Chinese cuisine, head to Blossom Bar. It’s the sister restaurant to Woburn’s Baldwin Bar, known for Sichuan food and craft cocktails. The Brookline spot specializes in those as well; restaurateur Ran Duan is an award-winning bartender. Adults can sip drinks like the Broken Spanish (tequila, avocado, coconut, Thai basil, and lime with a rim of powdered grasshoppers) and feast on spicy dan dan noodles while the kids inhale chicken fingers and General Tso’s.
295 Washington St., Brookline, 617-734-1870, blossombarbrookline.com
Fenway, hold the franks
Before or after a game, or as a destination in its own right, the new Time Out Market is worth a visit. Part of the 401 Park project, the upscale (and relatively pricy) food hall is home to 15 establishments, from some of Boston’s top chefs: Craigie Burger, featuring the patties chef Tony Maws made famous at Craigie on Main’s bar; Jewish deli from Mamaleh’s; Ms. Clucks Deluxe Chicken & Dumplings, part of the O Ya team’s flock; and more. For dessert: Union Square Donuts and scoops from Gelato & Chill. Play cornhole and frolic in the park outside. A Trillium beer garden is coming to the project soon, too.
401 Park Drive, Fenway, Boston, www.timeout.com/boston/time-out-market
Bang for your buck
When kids eat free, and adults eat well, everybody’s happy.
After visiting the Arboretum or boating on Jamaica Pond, head to The Frogmore, a Southern restaurant in JP. Kids’ meals are free from 5-7 p.m.; the rest of the time, kids’ menu items (mac and cheese, chicken tenders, etc.) are $5 each. Adults get fried green tomatoes and buckets of fried chicken, along with cold beer and cocktails. The patio is a lovely spot, and inside there’s pinball.
365 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 857-203-9462, www.thefrogmore.com
At the Kirkland Tap & Trotter, kids’ meals are free Sunday through Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Spaghetti with meat sauce, house-made hot dogs, and more are on the menu ($8-$12 at other times). Maybe you’ll let them share your roasted bone marrow and chermoula-spiced chicken. Not your whiskey affogato, though.
425 Washington St., Somerville, 857-259-6585, www.kirklandtapandtrotter.com
Guadalajara to Lima, in just a few steps
East Boston is one of the city’s best eating neighborhoods, showcasing the cuisines of many different countries. Have dinner in Mexico at Taqueria Jalisco, which serves tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, along with pozole, all-day chilaquiles, and carne asada with rice, beans, avocado, and tortillas. The best time to come is the weekend, when you’ll find the tripe soup menudo and birria, the state of Jalisco’s most-celebrated dish.
291 Bennington St., East Boston, 617-567-6367
Then walk over to Peru. At Frio Rico, you can purchase imported groceries and alfajores, the dulce de leche-filled cookies. The highlight, though, is the minutas — shaved ice in flavors like lucuma, guava, and piña colada. The syrups are made in house.
360R Bennington St., East Boston, 617-569-1505, www.friorico.com
It’s the food picky kids are least likely to find fault with, so embrace it.
At lunch, after poking around the North End or strolling the Greenway, head to Galleria Umberto, where two brothers serve Sicilian slices until they run out. Open for decades, it is the recipient of an America’s Classics award from the James Beard Foundation. You’ll have to wait until July 29 to visit, though; every year, the place shuts down for the month.
289 Hanover St., North End, Boston, 617-227-5709, www.galleriaumbertonorthend.com
When you’re craving a grown-up dinner, take the kids to Prairie Fire in Coolidge Corner. They can stuff themselves silly with wood-fired pizza and draw with thoughtfully provided crayons; you can order house-made burrata, squid-ink campanelle, and grilled striped bass with a nice bottle of wine.
242 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-396-8199, www.prairiefirebrookline.com
We all scream
When temperatures and tempers run hot, a few scoops can cool everything right down. For an old-school ice cream stand experience, head to Frosty Freeze in Roslindale. Its hours are (charmingly?) erratic and it’s easy to miss (look for the Wendy’s), but it’s worth it for the neon-signed nostalgia. You’ll find soft serve, sundaes, slush, and more. A good stop before or after visiting the nearby Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary.
528 American Legion Highway, Roslindale
It’s hard to do better on a rainy afternoon than candlepin and cones. That’s when to head to Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream & Bowling in Hyde Park. Owner Ron Covitz took over the place from his father, Julius; you can also find his ice cream without the bowling at the Dedham branch. There are about 30 core flavors on the menu, along with a slew of in-season offerings (peach in the summer, peppermint stick during the holidays). Call first to check availability; Ron’s hosts several leagues as well as kids’ birthday parties.
1231 Hyde Park Ave., Hyde Park, 617-364-5274, www.ronsicecream.com