Who says the 12-and-under crowd should be confined to chicken nuggets and grilled cheese? We found five restaurants where the kids’ meals are all grown up.
1. The Ace’s little ace burger, $8
Roncesvalles restaurants really know how to cater to the neighbourhood’s booming baby population. At The Ace, tots and tweens are treated to classic kid favourites with healthy twists, like a baby burger made of Black Angus beef topped with real cheddar and served with hand-cut fries. “We’re trying to keep the kids and the parents happy at the same time,” says co-owner Greg Boggs. Parents will also be pleased to learn that on Sundays, a munchkin meal is free with the purchase of an adult entrée.
Eat your veggies: Make them reconsider Brussels sprouts with The Ace’s deep-fried version (the sprouts are also available steamed or sautéed, $5).
231 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-792-7729.
2. Pizzeria Libretto’s mini margherita, $9
At both Libretto locations, youngsters under 10 can get their own petite pie instead of sharing with their folks. But this is no ordinary cheese-and-pepperoni—it’s a pint-sized replica of the restaurant’s much-hyped wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, made with doppio-zero flour, San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, and fresh basil. And for dessert there’s the requisite scoop of house-made chocolate gelato.
Eat your veggies: Tomato sauce. Don’t suck the fun out of pizza.
550 Danforth Ave., 416-466-0400; 221 Ossington Ave., 416-532-8000.
3. La Cubana’s Cuban breakfast, $8
Expose your tyke’s slowly refining taste buds to the flavours of Havana at this new Cuban counter, where there’s even a brunch menu for niños 12 and under. Syrupy-sweet pancakes are nowhere to be found; instead, there’s slow-roasted pork, rice and beans, tostones (fried green plantains), and a poached egg. “I thought kids should definitely have access to Cuban food,” says owner Corinna Mozo. “I wasn’t going to serve them chicken fingers.”
Eat your veggies: Nuts to that! Those rules don’t apply to the mid-morning meal.
392 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-538-7500.
4. Barque’s competition chicken thigh, $10
Roncy’s smokehouse lets diminutive diners 12 and under (although this rule isn’t strictly enforced) snack on free popcorn before chowing down on a smaller version of their parents’ poultry. The juicy gam is served with sauce and a brush on the side, so kids can baste as liberally as they choose. “Kids love being in control,” says chef and owner David Neinstein. “Most choose to slather on the sauce, generously sharing it with their clothes.”
Eat your veggies: A side of fruit, broccolini, sweet-potato hash, or Caesar salad (with bacon and goldfish crackers) is included.
299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-532-7700.
5. Le Select Bistro’s steak frites, $10.50
All the kids’ dishes at this swanky bistro are mini-portions of items found on the regular menu. Here, discriminating tasters can enjoy a four-ounce beef filet served with herbed butter and, of course, shoestring fries. “We need to start introducing real food [to kids] at a young age,” chef Albert Ponzo says. “Just because they’re children doesn’t mean it’s excusable for them to eat garbage.” The class continues with dessert, where there’s crème brûlée with fresh berries ($5.50).
Eat your veggies: If the whole “potatoes are a vegetable” argument doesn’t fly, it’s possible to substitute the fries for something greener.
432 Wellington St. W., 416-596-6405.