Photo courtesy of Mindful Brewing Co.

Choosing a restaurant when you’ve got younger children in tow can feel like a culinary Catch-22: Do you go somewhere with a great menu and lovely atmosphere, then spend the night dodging annoyed stares from other diners who really wish your toddler hadn’t dropped his toy on the reclaimed barn wood floor for the 16th time?

Or do you go to a traditionally “kid-friendly” chain restaurant, with its overly bright lighting and unfortunate decor, and end up eating chicken fingers again?

There actually is another option. In fact, we’ve found nearly a dozen in our guide to Pittsburgh restaurants where kids are easily welcomed but grownups can have a truly good night out.

Mindful Brewing Co., 3759 Library Rd., Castle Shannon

Mindful Brewing is mindful of the fact that kids don’t want to sit around while their parents savor a delicious beer. Upon entering the restaurant, little ones can choose from an assortment of old-school handheld games, such as Simon, before they take their seat. Menu options for the kiddos range from PB&J on wheat to grilled cheese to grass-fed beef burgers to pizza and come with an organic mixed greens salad and veggie sticks or fries.

Photo courtesy of Stoke’s Grill.
Photo courtesy of Stoke’s Grill.

Stoke’s Grill, 4771 McKnight Road, Ross Township

Stoke’s Grill opened in 2007 as a tiny eatery that served sandwiches and soup. Since then, the Ross Township spot just beyond the city limits has expanded, adding a full-service bar with one of the best draft and bottled beer selections in the North Hills. The children’s menu has traditional offerings that are a bit more upscale, including a perfectly gooey White Cheddar Mac & Cheese which comes with a drink, Mandarin orange slices and home-cooked chips or fries. On Tuesdays, all two-topping, 12-inch pizzas are $10, perfect for family-style chow downs.

Photo courtesy of Nakama Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar.

Want to take your kids to dinner and a show? Get both at Nakama. Hibachi chefs slice, dice, cut, chop and julienne food right in front of you as they juggle cutlery and set off culinary pyrotechnics. Spectators 12 and under can order specialty drinks (with light-up ice cubes!) such as the Karate Kid, which is Pepsi and Grenadine.

Photo courtesy of Burgatory.

Burgatory, Multiple locations

Even without the promise of a free Cherry Coke Float, kids will happily clean their plates at Burgatory while parents will love the burgers. The restaurant offers mini-cheeseburgers, quesadillas, ham-and-cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken tenders and grilled cheese for little angels (and devils). Rudolph’s Peppermint Bark Shakes — available through Dec. 24 — are a tasty treat for children. But adults can experience some yuletide cheer, too, by spiking the reindeer dessert with chocolate vodka.

Photo courtesy of Enix Brewing Co.

Enix Brewing Co., 337 East 8th Ave., Homestead

What’s better than beer and bowling? Good beer and bowling! The folks at Enix helped kick off the craft beer craze in Spain and just recently brought their food and beverage recipes stateside. The expansive facility features an eight-lane bowling alley that’s open to the public Friday through Monday evenings. Perfect for keeping the whole family busy.

Photo courtesy of Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe.

Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe, North Park Boathouse, 10301 Pearce Mill Rd., Allison Park
Located in North Park’s historic boathouse, OTB overlooks a scenic lake and sits across the parking lot from a huge playground. When the weather is warm enough, let the rugrats burn off some energy before you enjoy some craft cocktails, local brews and quality eats (kids’ meals are served on a Frisbee that’s yours to keep … or toss). Even in winter, it’s a great spot for a good family dinner.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.