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Family-friendly dining establishments in the South Sound

Honey at Alma Mater encourages you to dine with your wee honeys. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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Here's the thing, parents gotta eat and they can't always ditch their tiny carbon copies to get out and enjoy themselves. It's tricky to navigate because all too often fellow diners roll their eyes and look on smugly once they spy you and your brood filing into a nearby booth. It's enough to convince you, you ought to stay home, but sorry folks, that isn't gonna happen. The only way for tiny humans to learn the ins and outs of manners and social skills is to partake in these types of social situations. Luckily, there are a plethora of local dining establishments that provide the perfect, welcoming ambiance for the tiny diners. Here's a few now:

Brunch options tend to be hip, bottomless mimosas for the 21 and up crowd around these parts, but Honey at Alma Mater breaks the mold. They serve up flavorful brunch dishes alongside roasted bean concoctions and have kid-friendly options like scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit bowls, too. What makes it the best option is their fenced outdoor green space. Once the kids chow down, they can entertain themselves with hoola hoops, four-leaf clover hunts and sidewalk chalk. 1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma

A kid-friendly dining list would be incomplete without being a little heavy-handed in the realm of pizza pies. Pizza Press impresses with the opportunity for kids to see their pizza being built right before their eyes. Farrelli's Wood Fired Pizza and Round Table dazzle with the classic nook of entertainment tucked away towards the back, but within sight of nearby seating. With its hip, vintage vibes and retro videogames, Old School Pizzeria will keep both the littles and the bigs in awe. Get nostalgic over posters and pinball together. Pizza Press, 2805 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; Farrelli's, 3518 Sixth Ave. and 5105 Main St., Tacoma; Old School Pizzeria, 108 Franklin St. NE, Olympia

The Old Spaghetti Factory equates to sauce-splashed faces from slurping noodles. There is an abundance of cheesy goodness, too, which is the key to just about any kid's heart. PLUS, you can dine in the trolley while there. How cool is that? 1250 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

Burgers, fries and handspun shakes galore reign supreme at Shake Shake Shake. With a neat, retro diner vibe, Shake delights with shake flavors that will please from classics like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, to more adventurous sippers including red licorice, salted caramel, banana brulée and Nutella. 124 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma

Picnics are the best sort of family dining, in my opinion, but if you're not looking to load up the cooler, or paper lunch bags, hit up Frisco Freeze. Frisco's proximity to Wright Park makes it perfect for snagging up lip-smacking greasy burgers and crisp fries to pair. Wash it all down with a wild cherry or root beer milkshake. I can almost guarantee a car nap after the littles frolic like maniacs through the park. And that is a parenting win. 1201 Division Ave., Tacoma

Beer and babies! It's a match made in Heaven, really. The Hub and 7 Seas Brewing Company are my top two picks for a family-friendly spot to sip on a cold one. Both menus featuring a little something for the kids and more mature taste buds. The Hub, 203 Tacoma Ave., Tacoma; 7 Seas, 2101 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma

Sister stores, Tacoma's Antique Sandwich Company and Olympia's Traditions Café both serve up scrumptious sammies and café bites in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. They even set up an area rich with toys designated to keep the kids busy while parents hover at a nearby seat and munch on their lunch in peace. Antique Sandwich Company, 5102 N. Pearl St., Tacoma; Traditions Café, 300 5th Ave. SW, Olympia

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