Kid Friendly Restaurants Archives - A Crafty Spoonful

The Crack Shack #2 Opening in Encinitas

This past Tuesday the littlest and I headed out to Encinitas to check out the latest from Juniper & Ivy owner Michael Rosen and acclaimed Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais. The Crack Shack Encinitas, the second location of their fast casual concept restaurant that originated in Little Italy, is opening up on Monday, 2/13 at 9am. 

Occupying a former Coco’s – originally a Bob’s Big Boy circa 1975 – on the bustling corner of Encinitas Boulevard and Calle Magdalena, The Crack Shack Encinitas brings the brand’s playful approach to traditional chicken and eggs to coastal North County. Even the toddlers will want to come back again and again after enjoying this deliciousness! 

Just like their location to the south,  The Crack Shack Encinitas menu features an all-day selection devoted to fried (or grilled) chicken and egg-centric dishes conceptualized by Chefs Blais and Jon Sloan (Juniper & Ivy Executive Chef.) However, the new location will expand its offerings with the addition of their six signature sauces on tap, and an espresso bar fueled by the local Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.

The Food

Sourcing both produce and proteins from boutique local farms, the menu utilizes free range, non-GMO eggs and high-end organic ingredients while relying on its own custom bread program to produce hundreds of handcrafted English muffins daily. My little one’s favorite part of the menu? The “deviled chickens” or deviled eggs. The delicious eggs are paired with candied bacon and a french toast crumble to create a tasty 2-3 bite appetizer. 

Other menu highlights include The Royale with savory chicken sausage, organic sunny side egg and smoked cheddar on a house made English muffin, the Firebird with spicy fried thigh, cool ranch, crispy onions, and pickles on a potato roll, Fried Chicken available in five or ten piece portions, hearty Matzo Ball Posole with braised chicken, lime, schmaltz, and all the fixins’, as well as lighter options such as the Downward Dog with local vegetables, hazelnuts, quinoa, hummus, kale, lemon yogurt vinaigrette and option to add a fried egg and the newly revamped Kale Salad with sliced apples, goat cheese, hazelnuts and champagne vinaigrette. But my favorite salad has to be the Baja Chop. Absolutely outstanding! 

The Crack Shack’s signature topping-centric Soft Serve will also be making its way to the Encinitas location, in addition to a variety of other desserts to complement the savory side of the menu.

To seamlessly balance the restaurant’s chicken- and egg-inspired menu, The Crack Shack Encinitas will feature a full bar program with craft cocktails developed by Bar Manager Eric Johnson, while also offering 32 taps – including two on nitro – of local craft beer and wine at their 18-seat wraparound bar. Mindful of the range of meal opportunities presented by the all-day menu, Johnson’s drink list has been fashioned with something to appeal to imbibers at any and every point in the day, and the beverage program will also include a variety of options catering to those abstaining from alcohol. 

We were able to chat with Eric and are excited to come back and try some of the tasty cocktails he’s crafting up. Including some beer cocktails, classic flavors, and a few locally highlighted breweries on tap. 

The Ambiance

With the keen attention to detail they applied at the original location, Bluemotif Architecture is back again with a strong emphasis on the overall experience that The Crack Shack Encinitas will provide, and design elements that play to that mindset. In addition to staying consistent with signature elements from Little Italy – custom-made tables, bocce ball court (that can be turned into a putting green if needed) – The Crack Shack Encinitas will feature a kid-friendly sandbox and chalkboard wall, an all-weather outdoor dining area with retractable roof, chicken-themed American Gothic mural, custom chandelier, and a semi-private room with fireplace and multiple large screen TV screens along with the restaurant’s now signature nine-foot-tall chicken statue.

If you have small kids, this outdoor area is the perfect place for you to enjoy good food and a good beer while still entertaining the little ones. The one thing the little one wanted to do when we got there was jump into the sand box. Too bad it had rained the night before! Next time we come back, it’s on! 

Keeping the original bones and concrete floors from the Coco’s overhaul, additional construction of The Crack Shack Encinitas has centered around a focus on sustainability and an homage to the true chicken ‘coop’. Each design element has a story to tell from the reclaimed corrugated metal roofing that was part of an actual chicken barn to the communal table benches made from local Torrey pines that fell naturally due to weather or age. The landscaping is deliberately native and drought-tolerant, while solar panels on the roof work to offset power consumption. Additionally, the design team has incorporated chicken coop wire to surround the outdoor fire pit, as well as stained mirrors, vintage inspired tiles and a trough-style sink, all reminiscent of the mid-century chicken farms that defined portions of American history.

From the custom-made communal tables, including one with seating for 10 along an open fire pit, to the various large screen TVs, low Adirondack-style chairs, and turf court that can be utilized for bocce, cornhole and mini-golf, the indoor-outdoor dining area was intentionally designed to encourage guests to eat, drink and linger throughout the day, while the retractable roof eliminates weather concerns that are sometimes a consideration at the Little Italy location. 

Meanwhile, those opting to take their meal to-go experience an expedited ordering process from a walk-up station that affords the opportunity to skip long lines at the main entrance.

Whatever way you choose to enjoy The Crack Shack – dine in or take out – I suggest just heading over and trying a little of everything! 

The Crack Shack is located at 407 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, CA. For complete information, visit:

You can follow The Crack Shack on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Kids Eat Free Wednesdays at St. Tropez Bistro

A few weeks ago we were invited up to Encinitas to check out St. Tropez Bistro in celebration of a new offer they’re providing to guests. St. Tropez is introducing Kids Eat Free Wednesdays, where up to two kids can order free kids menu dishes, with the purchase of an adult entree and drink (cannot be combined with other offers or discounts). 

One thing I love is a restaurant that caters to kids. When my husband and I first had kids, we were always nervous to check out new places for fear that others would give us glances or stares when our kids started getting “too loud” for the type of restaurant we were at. So when we find a good family-friendly place, we like to share it with everyone! 

The second thing I love? When the kids menu includes breakfast items all day. Because there’s not much my kids love more than a stack of pancakes and some whipped cream. 

The Atmosphere

As soon as we found parking (boy is that hard to do on a busy day!) we made our way into the small courtyard where Saint Tropez is located. There’s a nice water fountain and little shops all around the courtyard. We found a table outside near the fountain and settled the kids in before heading inside to order. 

Having the option to sit outside with the kids is always a good thing. Especially when it’s a nice day out and the weather is enjoyable. We don’t have to limit them to sitting at the table for the whole meal when they’ve eaten what’s on their plates. 

The Menu

As I mentioned before, the kids love breakfast foods for lunch and dinner. So when they saw pancakes on the menu, they jumped at the chance to order some. But my youngest decided to be a little different and went for the mac and cheese. Each kids meal came with a small bowl of fruit. 

I took quite a while to decide what I wanted to eat because I just wasn’t sure what to try. There were savory crepes, quiches, salads and sandwiches. With a slight nip in the air I wanted something warm. So I went with the Menton panini: roast beef, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and garlic aioli. With the paninis you can opt for a cup of fruit or soup for a small up charge. I chose the french onion soup to pair with my panini. The sandwiches also come with a side salad leaving me very satisfied and full when I was done eating. 

My husband went for his go-to hot sandwich: the tuna melt. And while he wanted to love it, it was a little too dry for his liking. He did enjoy his side salad as well. 


One thing you notice as soon as you walk into St. Tropez Bistro are the desserts. Oh the desserts! As soon as we asked the kids if they wanted to try one, their faces lit up. Each of them chose something different: my son chose a chocolate dipped heart sugar cookie, my older daughter chose a brownie (so her!), and the littlest wanted the sprinkle tree sugar cookie. 

But I couldn’t choose something from the display window. I needed to try one of their delicious crepes from the menu! I narrowed it down to the Caramel Apple crepes or the Strawberry Nutella crepes and the strawberry nutella crepes won out. They were served warm and wrapped like little burritos then covered with a drizzle of nutella and good helping of whipped cream. I may or may not have wanted to lick the plate…

St. Tropez has also signed on with UberEATS. Download the app and order from St. Tropez at your convenience, delivered right to your door. And in celebration of National Croissant Day, on Monday, Jan. 30 you can get a free coffee with purchase of a croissant.

They are located at 947 S Coast Hwy 101 (Encinitas, 92024). For more information, please visit

What is your kids go to menu item when eating out? 

Cafe Coyote Old Town Celebrates Mexican Independence All Month

Cafe Coyote Old Town

One thing I always remember about growing up is how my dad raved about his father’s homemade tortillas on the weekends. He always was bummed that he never got the chance to learn how to make them himself. The pre-packaged ones just aren’t the same. Luckily here in San Diego, we can pick up fresh, homemade tortillas anytime when we stop by Cafe Coyote Old Town. Not only do they sell them to passersby on the street, they also serve them in their restaurant. And boy are they good!

This month Cafe Coyote is celebrating Mexican Independence Day all month long with delicious specials that’ll tantalize your taste buds and leave you feeling satisfied. And this week, on Mexican Independence Day, I was invited to head out and try a few of the specials they have created for this special occasion. How could I say no? Mexican food is pretty much my favorite food in the world.

Cafe Coyote Old Town patioCafe Coyote Old Town - fresh handmade tortillasCafe Coyote Old Town - eating with baby

With my little buddy in tow, and help from my mother-in-law, I excited to check out the extensive margarita menu I had heard so much about. They’re just as famous for their margaritas as they are for their handmade tortillas. At quick glance, and after talking to the waitress helping us out, I decided on a delicious tamarindo margarita called “El Grito”. It’s a sweet and spicy combo that’s sure to  bring back memories of childhood if you were like me and my siblings running after the ice cream truck getting our fill of Lucas and other tamarindo candies. The “El Grito” includes Gold Tequila, Triple Sec, Tamarindo, Sweet-N-Sour, & Fresh Lime Juice.

Cafe Coyote Old Town - “El Grito” Tamarindo margaritaCafe Coyote Old Town - Sopes De Carnitas

To start out, we ordered a few of the specials celebrating Mexican Independence Day including the sopes de carnitas, birria, and Zucchini Flower Stuffed Empanadas. We enjoyed everything family style and shared so that we could taste everything. I think this is an awesome way to enjoy lunch out with friends and family and makes it easy to feed everyone, including baby.

The baby’s favorite dish? The birria. She LOVED how tender and delicious the meat was and enjoyed the broth as well. I used the fresh tortillas we ordered to help eat the soup instead of using a spoon. It was quite fun. And my favorite dish had to be the sopes de carnitas. Each was topped with a different sauce – red, green, and white in celebration of the Mexican flag – and topped with carnitas. If you’re not familiar with sopes, think of them as an open faced sandwich made with thick corn masa.

Cafe Coyote Old Town - BirriaCafe Coyote Old Town - Zucchini Flower Stuffed Empanadas

We ended our meal by indulging in the sopapillas. They’re perfect for a couple or family of 4 to share for a sweet treat. Even if you’re overly stuffed from lunch or dinner, just having a bite is well worth it. The sopapillas are dusted with cinnamon sugar, drizzled with honey, and served with ice cream and whipped cream. So good!

Cafe Coyote Old Town - Sopapillas

You can find these specials at Cafe Coyote Old Town all month along with the rest of their delicious menu. I can’t wait to come back and try one of their other dishes. It’s definitely a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere that my family would enjoy visiting. And it’s just a short walk from the sights and attractions of historic Old Town.

Cafe Coyote is also participating in San Diego Restaurant Week and from September 21st through the 27th you can indulge in lunch (choose from an appetizer and entree or entree and dessert for $10) or dinner (appetizer, entree, and dessert for $20). This is a great way to sample Cafe Coyote’s menu or try new things if you’ve already been here.

Have you visited Old Town recently?

Mia Francesca {A Family-Friendly San Diego Restaurant Review}

Having two small kids can prove to be quite a feat when it comes to dining out. Not only do we have to be very choosy about where we go, we also have to make sure thatthe items on the menu are “kid-friendly.” And by kid friendly I do not mean breaded chicken nuggets and quesadillas (not that there is anything wrong with a good quesadilla). I mean something that will actually appeal to my children, whether it be what I order and share with them or what I order for them to eat together.

This afternoon we were invited to head over to Mia Francesca‘s newest Del Mar Highlands location to taste a bit of what they had to offer. And boy was I glad we went!

Not only is their menu simple and fabulous, everything I tasted was delicious as well! We started out with a few appetizers for the table. There were two types of bruscetta, the first was topped with bruscetta, fresh mozzarella (like… made recently fresh!), and avocado, the other was sans avocado but loaded with cheese! Both were topped with fresh basil. So good!

Next we tried the calamari. Now calamari has been one of my favorite dishes for quite some time. Not only is it delicious, but paired with a tangy marinara it just hits the spot. My son has never had calamari but when I offered him some he quickly approved and gobbled down a few pieces. So happy he enjoyed it!

After allowing our tummies to settle from our tasty appetizers, we were brought our main dishes.

I absolutely loved the kids options. Simple and, for the most part, healthy as well! I ordered pasta with broccoli for my daughter and chicken with fries for my son, knowing he’d share some of his sisters broccoli. Both shared wonderfully with each other.

The one thing I did love was that the chicken I ordered for him was not breaded tenders. It was a full grilled chicken breast perfectly seasoned. I cut it up and he devoured what I offered him. The servings were large and I could probably get away with letting the kids split a meal next time but for now we have left overs for the week!

After being undecided for quite a while about what I was going to get I decided to go with the pizza of the day. As soon as I saw fontina cheese I knew I had a winner. A simple margharita pizza with pesto sauce made my day. Sometimes a slice or two of pizza just puts you in a good mood!

The other pizzas they had ot offer also sounded yummy as well and I know my husband will want to come with us to try a few more of the menu options later on. 

While this location is a bit out of the way for us, I’m looking forward to trying out the Little Italy location closer to home. And coming back to the Del Mar Highlands location when meeting up with  my family in North County. But for the 25 minute drive, lunch was totally worth it! Both locations can be found on their website here.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly restaurant with a great, relaxing atmosphere you have to check out Mia Francesca. The patio is the perfect place on a warm day to let the kids play a bit while enjoying a great Italian meal with friends and family.

You can find Mia Francesca Del Mar on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary lunch for myself and my children at Mia Francesca. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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