2013 Best Family Places to Dine
Parents know best when it comes to family-friendly places to eat, shop, celebrate and visit in the Triangle, so we asked you to name your favorites. In some cases, top vote-getters were extremely close, so we awarded two. Businesses or places that received an overwhelming number of votes are recognized as Honorable Mentions.
Without further delay, here are your top recommendations for family places to dine in the Triangle:
N.C. State Farmers Market
Special promotions are held to highlight certain crops during their peak growing season. Visit the farmer's market website to find dates for events such as Crawfish Day, Watermelon Day and the Great Pumpkin Contest. 1201 Agriculture St. Raleigh NC 27603; ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/raleigh/promos.htm.
Honorable Mention: Downtown Durham/Central Park Farmers Market
In the heart of downtown Durham, the Durham Farmers Market convenes on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. The Wednesday market features a demonstration called Quick Dinners from the Market. 501 Foster St., Durham; durhamfarmersmarket.com.
Nonchain Family Restaurant
Elmo's Diner prides itself on being a family diner, "where the staff learns your name and stops by your table to say hello." Most of the customers are regulars - the local families and neighbors. The kid's menu is one of the most extensive in the area and they serve breakfast all day long. Locations in Carrboro and Durham; elmosdiner.com.
According to Greek Fiesta, people of the Mediterranean lead long, happy lives because of their balanced, healthy diet of Mediterranean food. Serving up authentic Greek food, Greek Fiesta hopes to bring this same quality of life to people in the Triangle offering many vegetarian foods and flavorful, balanced meals. Not that you should skip dessert - they serve four different kinds of baklava.
Locations in Cary, Morrisville and Raleigh; greekfiesta.com.
Neomonde began as a small bakery run by a Lebanese family who immigrated to America to escape civil war, naming their store "New World." It has since evolved into a multi-location restaurant that maintains a family atmosphere while providing the community with authentic Middle Eastern breads, meats and meals. Every location has a café, bakery and market. The bakery offers over 200 varieties of bread. Locations in Morrisville and Raleigh; neomonde.com.
Mellow Mushroom offers unique pizzas with funky names such as the Maui Wowie and the Thai Dye. You can order these specials or build your own pizza, calzone, salad or hoagie. The pizzas are hand tossed, baked on a stone and can be made gluten-free. The kids' menu offers options such as soft pretzels, French bread pizzas and meatballs with fresh mozzarella. Each Mellow Mushroom has an open kitchen window where kids can watch their pizza being tossed into the air and made in front of them. Locations in Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Wake Forest; mellowmushroom.com.
Goodberry's Frozen Custard
Goodberry's uses fresh ingredients in its custard, making it a healthy alternative to ice cream. Each location has exclusively outdoor seating and offers a flavor of the day. Locations in Cary, Durham, Garner, Raleigh and Wake Forest; goodberrys.com.
Menchie's Frozen Yogurt
Menchie's Frozen Yogurt boasts a wide variety of flavors, including yogurts that are low fat, non-fat, low-carb and no sugar added. They often create new flavors and also offer sorbet. Menchies also has birthday party packages and partners with non-profits to fundraise. Locations in Cary, Durham and Raleigh; menchies.com.
Moe's Southwest Grill Every meal at Moe's comes with a jovial greeting from the staff and free chips and salsa. "Welcome to Moe's!" is the standard greeting every time the door opens, initiating the process of selecting your entrée and having it custom made in front of you. Kids can choose a quesadilla, taco or mini-burrito which all come with a drink and cookie. Fun fact: If you pay attention to the tunes in Moe's, the music is that of deceased artists whose talents outlived them. Multiple Triangle locations; moes.com.
Honorable Mention: Chili's
Chili's kid's menu offers a wide selection of foods so even the pickiest eater will be satisfied. From quesadillas to pizza and chicken the kids' menu has over ten options. Chili's also offers a $20 dinner for two that adults and older kids can utilize. Multiple Triangle locations; chilis.com.
Pullen Park was the first public park in North Carolina and is the 14th oldest amusement park in the world. Recently renovated, Pullen has a carousel, mini-train ride, boats for kids, pedal boats, playgrounds, as well as sports fields and courts and a community center with a pool. The mini-train is a one-third size, near exact replica of a train used in the construction of new rail track in San Francisco in the 1960s that also pulled the private train car of Leland Stanford, then Governor of California. A retired train car sits in the center of the park for children to climb in and explore. Located at 520 Ashe Ave., Raleigh; raleighnc.gov (search for Pullen Park).
Honorable Mention: Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Each year more than 300,000 visitors from all over the world visit Duke Gardens, which charges no admission. Located at 420 Anderson St., Durham; hr.duke.edu/dukegardens.