5 kids meal hacks to make breakfast, lunch and dinner a breeze at Runway
Story by Gabrielle D’Addario | Photo by Maria Martin
With restaurants like Hal’s, Hopdoddy and ROC at Runway, there’s always something healthy and delicious to eat. But what about our tiny picky eaters who won’t go near a soup dumpling? We narrowed down the top five kid options with hacks to help families keep hangry at bay.
This burger bar has an easy kids menu with a simple burger (plain), a cheeseburger (with choice of cheese), a bacon cheeseburger or grilled cheese, plus your kid’s choice of Kennebec or sweet potato fries and a child-size drink. My kids love the “Pink Drink” from the fountain, but they also offer OJ, plain milk or chocolate milk. Hopdoddy has made it even easier for our tech-friendly community by introducing an online ordering system (hopdoddy.com). The milkshakes are big enough to share and come in yummy variations like Oreo Cookies N’ Cream, Bananas Foster, Strawberry Shortbread and Vanilla Birthday Cake. The gated patio is perfect for letting kids be entertained with the Runway action while staying contained.
(Hack: Hit up happy hour Monday through Friday to find $5 menu items including burgers, beer, wine & “shareables.”)
2. Whole Foods
We hit the Pleasant-Vista jackpot with our Whole Foods options. Their hot bar rotates between healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options so you can choose from a large variety of kid-friendly foods at any time of day. The juice bar creates child-sized smoothies, fruit bowls and fresh juice right before your eyes with the fresh produce from their shelves. In the refrigerator section, pick up grab-and-go fruit cups, fresh sushi, bento boxes, pizza or kid-size sandwiches for a fast fix when you’re trying to beat a meltdown. Head to the express lane if you’re in a hurry or check out Instacart or Amazon Prime Now to have anything in the store delivered in about an hour.
(Hack: Visit the Kids Corner for complimentary snacks-while-you-shop for kids, located on the back corner of the customer service/express lane.)
The iconic coffee house might not sound like an ideal food destination for mealtime, but it’s actually easy for families. They offer delicious sous-vide egg bites, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and snack boxes that include healthy options like hard-boiled eggs with apples and carrots. Order an off-the-menu kids drink like a Unicorn Frappuccino or a cake-pop for a special treat. Grab a protein bowl for a healthy lunch (big enough to share) and head to one of the 29 parks in Playa Vista for a picnic.
(Hack: Avoid the line by using the Starbucks App and score points.)
This is one of our kids’ favorite spots, and we’ve found some pretty solid go-tos. The rice cakes (with pork, chicken or veggies) are perfect for little fingers and come out quickly. The shrimp and shishito peppers dish (we substitute the peppers for broccoli) is a tasty, healthy meal that we frequently order and rarely have leftovers. You can never go wrong with any of the rice options here but we really love the shrimp or crab fried rice, which they’ll add garlic to upon request. The sautéed green beans or sugar snap peas are sharable sides that must have some sort of magic in their sauce, because these healthy veggies are always gobbled up in the blink of an eye. Don’t skip dessert here — the sweet dumplings and buns are a delicious treat that comes in fun flavors like pumpkin, taro, red bean and black sesame.
(Hack: Request that you sit in the booths next to the kitchen so your kids can watch the action. Also ask for the kids chop stick holders.)
5. Hal’s Bar & Grill
This art-filled community treasure offers innovative and fresh dishes designed by Chef Manuel Mares (who’s been with Hal’s for 30 years), and their kids menu is no exception. With progressive takes on classic options like pizza, grilled cheese or chicken tenders, you’re sure to please picky eaters at this Runway hotspot. The fresh spaghettini tossed with Chef Manuel’s secret-recipe red sauce and topped with freshly shaved parmesan reminds me of the East Coast Italian food I grew up with. Also a popular brunch spot, Hal’s keeps us coming back for the blueberry vegan pancakes with cashew yogurt and pure maple sugar. And with two happy hours every day, this is the perfect place for a toddler timed dinner or a parents’ night out cocktail.
(Hack: Ask to borrow their Etch-a-Sketch and let your little ones master this classic toy for a flashback to your own childhood and a quiet start to your meal.)