Are the upcoming holidays giving you nightmares? Perhaps in your sleep you hear plaintive cries for chicken nuggets and ice cream, feel spiky toys scattered underfoot, and see a kitchen full of dirty dishes. You’ll be relieved to know that there’s help at hand – provided you can wake up from your bad dream and get the kids into the car wearing shoes on both feet and clothes the right way round. Though that’s not strictly necessary…
We’ve found family restaurants across the country that serve child-friendly meals and offer toys, activities and supervision for your kids. A bike track, zip line and candle dipping may sound too risky for some tots, but nobody ever got hurt building their own pizza or gingerbread decorating. (Except maybe passing out from happiness?)
With kid-focused food like mac and cheese, hot dogs and spaghetti, coupled with inventive play areas like imaginary fairylands and golden castle jungle gyms, these restaurants are bound to be a hit with the little ones.
And if the thought of throwing a birthday celebration – with its attendant stresses of party packs, decorations, themed cakes and sweets – makes your heart sink, some of these restaurants also cater for kids’ parties.
Andre Dela Nina
Explore: Pony rides, putt-putt courses, a huge petting zoo, jumping castle and tractor rides, jungle gym, sand pit and colouring books. Different cycle trails are designed to accommodate various age groups and adults are encouraged to join in. The child-friendly menu includes options like pizza, pasta, half chicken and chips, toasted sandwiches and milkshakes.
Explore: The kids’ menu and play area with fun activities and chefs-in-training classes.
Explore: The kiddies’ buffet or the wide array of menu options including French toast, macaroni and cheese, toasted sandwiches and even good old-fashioned peanut butter sandwiches. They host themed parties and offer gingerbread and muffin decorating. An attendant is on full-time duty for the children.
Calisto’s (Bedford Centre Square)
Explore: The outdoor play area with a colourful jungle gym and slides.
Gia’s on Montrose
Explore: The play area with slide and jungle gym, a Wendy house with games and a children’s menu.
Explore: The kids’ menu and an area where children can make their own pizzas.
Moyo (Zoo Lake)
Explore: The creative art space for children where they can play, create, learn African dances, listen to stories and learn traditional African games. There is also a weekend children’s menu.
The Oak Leaf
Explore: The jungle gym and indoor play area with a kiddies’ menu.
Explore: A jungle gym and a pizza section for children to make their own pizzas.
The River Café
Explore: The large grounds, sand pits, a jumping castle, playground equipment and water slides in summer. Separate breakfast and lunch menus are available for children. Bring along kites, bikes and the dogs and enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors.
Explore: The kids’ menu called ‘Tots and Tantrums’, which includes different toasted sandwiches, cheese griller hotdogs, spaghetti and meatballs and coke floats. Kids can run around on the expansive lawns, too.
Explore: A family fun day every last Sunday of the month, with wine tasting and live jazz for adults. The venue also offers face painting, an animal farm, balloon shaping, a jumping castle and cupcake decoration for the kids.
Explore: The sunny patio, garden and kids’ menu.
Explore: The kids’ menu with options like cheese omelettes, French toast with bacon and syrup, toasted cheese-and-ham melts or homemade fish fingers.
Toni’s Pizza (Menlo Park)
Explore: The play area with jungle gym outside.
Villa San Giovanni
Explore: A children’s play area and menu, a games room and a mini pizzeria where they can make their own pizzas.
Explore: The succulent chicken skewers from the kids’ menu. The small play area is overseen by a child minder on weekends and sand art is available.
Explore: The rolling country grounds, jungle gyms, sand art and child-friendly menu. The small animal farm is a great source of entertainment and a fenced-in play area with minders for toddlers is an added bonus.
Explore: The kiddies area with game-consoles, face-painting, toys and child-minders.
Circus Circus Beach Café
Explore: The children’s menu, bicycle stands and play area. Pets are welcome, too.
Explore: The hardy brown paper that covers all the tables also serves as a blank canvas for the bucket of crayons that is delivered. Kids get pizza dough, a rolling pin and biscuit cutters to play with. There is a separate menu for them with small selection of pizzas and pastas.
The Giba Café
Explore: The Giba Gorge, where mountain bike tracks, ramps, expansive lawns and jungle gyms can be found. There is a small children’s section on the menu but the main menu (with organic, ethical produce) has kids’ appeal too. (There is a charge to enter the park.)
Explore: In true Italian restaurant style, La Piazza is fully family friendly with an indoor children’s play area including PlayStation and a pizza-making section, as well as an outdoor jungle-gym.
Explore: A large indoor play shed with a designated area for little ones under 18 months, plus sand pits, fantasy houses, a bike track, jungle gyms and indoor swings. There’s an entrance fee of R20 per child and an additional R15 for use of the facilities.
Nonna at Makaranga
Explore: The natural timbered play area with jungle gym and rock garden.
Olive & Oil
Explore: The kids’ room with a TV, PlayStation and some toys and colouring books. There is also a children’s menu.
People’s Park Café
Explore: The large playground with top quality equipment that caters for all ages, from toddlers to teens. Bring bikes, roller blades and skateboards and make use of the vast walkways before securing a deck table.
Explore: The outside play area with its large jungle gyms and swings. The ‘Piglets’ section of the menu for kids is limited, but the general menu has suitable options for the whole family. There is also a putt-putt course and loads of fun to be had at the candle-dipping shop.
Explore: The café-style menu that also caters for children with wholesome choices like homemade sausages and gem squash filled with mince and topped with cheese, as well as gourmet milkshakes. Facilities include a pram park, changing station, kids’ toilet, toy shop, jungle gym, sand art and zip line.
Explore: The jungle gyms for kids of all ages, a black bike track for the under-fives, miniature farm animals, a large outside area and kids’ menu.
Explore: The playrooms equipped with PlayStations, DVD players, flat screens and other toys. There is also an indoor jungle gym and dedicated child minder.
The Black Marlin
Explore: The garden area with benches, colouring books and a kids’ menu.
Blue Water Café
Explore: The play area, which includes a tree house, slides, see-saw, neighbouring animal farm and a kids’ menu.
Explore: Supervised kids’ activities of pizza making, and baking and decorating cupcakes, as well as the section for kids on the à la carte menu.
Explore: The jungle gym and indoor play area for rainy days. There is also an extensive kids’ menu.
Deer Park Café
Explore: The large fenced property for kids to entertain themselves and a kids’ menu.
Explore: The jungle gym with slide, swings, sand area and the kids’ menu.
Dunes (Closed for renovations until 27 June)
Explore: The jungle gym, sand area, slides, swings and kids’ menu.
Explore: The play park with swings, a see-saw, jungle gym and flexible à la carte menu with options for the kids.
Explore: The grassy play area with a see-saw, swings and jungle gym and the kids’ menu.
Kirstenbosch Tea Room
Explore: The kids’ menu, Lego and colouring books. The rambling garden is also perfect for family picnics, whether you’re after shady trees or sunny lawns.
Explore: The garden area with jungle gym, child minders and kids’ menu.
Explore: The indoor play area, an on-duty au pair, and jungle gym outside.
96 Winery Road
Explore: The jungle gym and portable kids’ meals.
Explore: The old oak trees, squirrels and gardens.
Explore: A jungle gym and kids’ menu.
Bossa Social Café and Bar (Somerset West)
Explore: The jungle gym in a shape of a boat. Once your little pirate is done searching for treasure, he/she can order off the kids’ menu.
Café Blanc de Noir
Explore: the kiddies’ outside play area and children’s pizza menu.
Explore: The garden, children’s picnic blankets and baskets. Parents can enjoy their Tex-Mex-inspired lunch from the à la carte menu at the table while their little ones are seated on a picnic blanket alongside, snacking on a choice of wors roll, chicken slider, or peanut butter and jam sandwich. The kids’ picnic basket includes yogurt, chips and juice (R45).
Explore: The jumping castles put up on Saturdays and Sundays and a kids’ menu.
Explore: The outside play area with slide and jungle gym, as well as the kids’ menu.
Explore: The big lawn, and steak and chips or fish and chips, with ice cream for dessert, at R120 for children under 10.
Lekke Neh at Weltevreden Estate
Explore: The Carnival, where your child can enjoy the interactive playground whilst under the eye of a child minder (on weekends). The restaurant has a children’s menu that’s available every day of the week.
Manuka at Southeys
Explore: The outside play area with a jungle gym, a slide and swings. The children’s menu features some classics like fish fingers and pizza, but also has some grown-up meals like ribs and soup.
The Millhouse Kitchen
Explore: The garden area with jungle gym and kiddies’ menu.
Mont Marie (Closed for a winter break until 16 July 2014)
Explore: The wooden jungle gym in the enclosed garden and the kiddies’ section on the menu.
Pierneef à La Motte
Explore: The water feature especially designed for kids and toddlers, a courtyard, a play area with a large chess set, and a children’s menu.
Simonsberg Café at DelVera
Explore: The go-carts, boot camp, access to ponies and horses, a jungle gym and a trampoline, pottery and kiddies’ menu.
Explore: The indoor and outside play areas and kids’ menu.
Stables at Vergelegen
Explore: The huge grounds and gardens, as well as a kids’ menu.
Explore: The jungle gym, sandpit, toddler play area, swings, a boules court, board games, a lawn area for running and playing, and ducks to feed at the dam.
Tables at Nitida
Explore: The big open garden area with jungle gym and slides, colouring books and a kids’ menu.
Explore: Tree house nests with swings and slide, a sand pit and a kids’ menu. For rainy days there’s a crate with toys, books and colouring books to keep the young ones occupied.
Warwick Gourmet Picnics
Explore: The picnic areas (from September onwards for the summer months) with comfy cushions that are set out next to the shaded tables, plus plenty of fenced-in room for kids to run around. A kiddies’ picnic basket and tapas options are also available.
La Cantina Restaurant at Fancourt
Explore: The pizza night on Friday nights where children under the age of 12 can order a kiddies version of their favourite pizza with up to three toppings at no charge between 6pm and 8pm, when dining with adults ordering main meals. (One free pizza per main course ordered.) The Sunday lunch buffet is priced at R185 for adults and R90 for children between four and eleven. Activities for kids are organised too.
Tell us where your kids enjoy dining in the comments section below.
Please note that while we take care to report information accurately, some menus and activities may change without our knowledge.