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What could be better than playing with your food? How about decorating it first? Budding chefs and the sweet obsessed—which is pretty much every kid we know—can bring friends along to make edible creations before blowing out the candles at these create-and-eat birthday party spots. An added perk for parents: cleanup is included!

California Pizza Kitchen

For little sous chefs who love to get hands-on in the kitchen, a pizza party at California Pizza Kitchen in Bellevue is the perfect option. The birthday kiddo and up to 25 of his or her closest friends will get a behind-the-scenes tour of the restaurant from General Manager Hal Reynolds (bet you didn’t know the restaurant used to be a bank?) along with a tour of the kitchen, pizza tossing lessons and the opportunity to make their own pies using a variety of kid-favorite toppings like cheese, pepperoni and olives as well as some unique ones too (think broccolini, corn and grilled chicken). Since Reynolds knows kids (he has twins of his own), he will make sure everyone in your party is entertained from start to finish. From decorating chef hats, to learning how to toss a pie, to personalizing pizza to-go boxes, Reynolds will keep your party going, so you can sit back and enjoy yourself. At the end of the experience, all partygoers will become certified CPKids Pizza Chefs and will not only take home the leftover fruit of their labor, but a free CPKids Meal Certificate to use on their next visit. As an added bonus, Reynolds will serve up complimentary samples to all of the adults in your party and will throw in print invitations and thank you cards. <span style="background:white;">Now, that's amore!</span> <strong>Good to Know</strong>: For an extra fee, you can order CPKids aprons for everyone to wear and take home as a party favor. Don’t want to bring in a birthday cake? CPK will provide sundaes with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, triple-thick hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, rainbow chocolate chips and a cherry. Just make sure to tell them when you book your reservation. 595 106th Ave. N.E. Bellevue, Wa 98004 425-454-2545 Online: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cpk.com/&quot; target="_blank">cpk.com</a> <p style="text-align:right;"><em>photo: Kristina Moy</em></p>fuck

What would your little chef’s ideal birthday feast consist of? Let us know in the Comments below.

— Sara Billups & Kristina Moy

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Seattle families like to play local. We have our favorite neighborhood playground, bouncy houses and covered play spaces for rainy days. And we can choose to buy marble runs, art supplies, wacky tracks and bubble machines from any of several independently-owned toy sellers offering the best birthday presents in town. If you’re ready to give the mom-and-pop stores a try, we’ve rounded up five one-of-a kind stores that sell durable, green and (above all) imaginative toys for kids age zero… to adult.

Clover Toys

A toy boutique in the heart of Ballard, Clover is a favorite stop for kids, especially on Sundays during the Ballard Farmers Market. Creaky wood floors and big front windows surround a slew of giftable toys, games and costumes. Clover displays pint-sized instruments little ones are welcome to shake and strum, as well as a large selection of natural items like colorful stacking shapes from Wooden Wagon. 5333 Ballard Ave. N.W. Seattle, Wa 98107 206-782-0715 Online: <a target="_blank" href="https://clovertoys.com/&quot; target="_blank">clovertoys.com </a>fuck

Don’t see your favorite indie toy store on our list? Tell us about it in a comment below.

-Sara Billups

Photo credits: Clover Toys Facebook page, Curious Kidstuff Facebook page, Retroactive Kids Store Facebook page, Planet Happy Toys website, Top Ten Toys Facebook page & Wee Tots Facebook page

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In addition to the venerable year-round Pike Place Market, a handful of local farmers markets offer a bounty, including crates of potatoes, artisan cheese, buckets of just-cut bouquets and bins of lettuce every month of the year, rain or shine. Get the kids in their rain gear this weekend and go adventuring at any of the these winter fresh market picks.

ballard

Ballard Sunday Farmers Market
Nestled between some of the coolest shops and eateries in the city on old Ballard Ave., the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market is a main weekend event for a slew of families. Vendors line the street on two sides, and there’s still plenty of room for dogs, buskers, even double-wide strollers to meander from stall to stall. This time of year you’ll find fun to buy and try winter produce like parsnips, sprouts, chickweed and sunchokes as well as smoked salmon, shellfish and beef. You’ll also find purveyors selling kid favorites like hand-cut pasta and frozen cookie dough. After shopping you can grab a seat on the curb and tuck into slices of Veraci Pizza or Patty Pan veggie quesadillas. If you’d rather get out of the cold, scoot the kiddos into Fresh Flours and nibble on green tea muffins and macaroons, or splurge and head to Bastille for French-inspired brunch.

Ballard Ave. at 22nd Ave.
206-781-6776
Online: ballardfarmersmarket.wordpress.com
Sunday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

cap hill

Broadway Farmers Market
The Broadway Farmers Market at Seattle Central Community College has gotten bigger and better since it launched in 2004. In addition to hosting more vendors than a decade back, the Capitol Hill market is now held year-round. Vendors offering treats like fresh jam, just-baked whole pies and Jonboy Caramels are sprinkled between organic farms and creameries. And like the Ballard market, dogs are welcome. Plus, you’ll find plenty of spots for the kids to sit and nosh on something savory or sweet.

Broadway & E. Pine St.
Seattle, Wa 98122
206-547-2278
Online: seattlefarmersmarkets.org/markets/broadway
Sunday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m

u district
University District Farmers Market
The oldest neighborhood farmers market in Seattle took it to the streets in October 2013. That’s when the University District Farmers Market permanently moved from the parking lot of the University Heights Center to University Way between 50th and 52nd St. The new setup makes it even easier to get around the more than 20-year-old year old, year-round market. Grab a bite at the mini food court featuring crepes, Indian food, and empanadas. And in addition to all of that produce, kiddos can try cheese from Golden Glen Creamery and you can fill a growler with the addictive Rachel’s Ginger Beer.

Bonus: If you’re a U of W staff member or student don’t forget to bring your ID to the info booth every first Saturday of the month for a free market coupon.

5031 University Way N.E.
Seattle, Wa 98105
206-547-2278
Online: seattlefarmersmarkets.org/markets/u_district
Saturday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

west seattle

West Seattle Farmers Market
A Sunday market with a neighborhood vibe that’s worth the drive from any part of town, the almost 15-year-old West Seattle Farmers Market in the West Seattle Junction is bustling, even in the cold weather months. Warm up with hot cider from Rockridge Orchards, chow down on a trio of salmon sliders from Loki Fish Co. and pick up some fresh tulips from Alm Hill Gardens.

California Ave. S.W. & S.W. Alaska St.
Seattle, Wa 98116
206-547-2278
Online: seattlefarmersmarkets.org/markets/west_seattle
Sunday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Do you have a favorite year-round farmer’s market? Tell us why it’s your fave in a comment below. 

-Sara Billups

Photos from the Ballard Farmers Market Facebook page and Richie D. via Yelp.  

Pucker Up: Where to Score the Best Cherry Pie

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There’s not much kids like more than cherry pie…except maybe cherry pie topped with ice cream. For breakfast. National Cherry Pie Day is February 20, and the holiday is as good a reason as any to hit up one of the Seattle area’s finest pie purveyors. Read on for where to score the freshest, tartist, cherry-ist slices in (and out of) town.

A la Mode Pie

<a target="_blank" href="http://alamodeseattle.com/&quot; target="_blank">A la Mode’s</a> Star-Spangled Sour Cherry Pie is covered with kid-approved cut-out star crust pieces and filled with sour cherries that play perfectly off buttery dough. Bonus: A la Mode sits across from Woodland Park playground and the zoo and is a sweet reward at the end of a family outing. A couple of tables line the window inside, but if it’s nice out you can walk across the street to the park, grab a picnic table, and dig in. 821 Phinney Ave. N. Seattle, Wa 98103 206-383-3796 Online: <a target="_blank" href="http://alamodeseattle.com/&quot; target="_blank">alamodeseattle.com</a>fuck

Did we miss your favorite cherry pie purveyor? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

– Sara Billups

Twede’s Cafe photo by Laura B. via Yelp, A la Mode Pie photo via Yelp, Snohomish Pie Co. by Frederick P. via Yelp; all other photos via business Facebook pages or websites.  

Three New Reasons to Love East Capitol Hill

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A sleepy part of Capitol Hill just scored a trio of locally owned food-centric spots that are about to become some of your favorite places to take the kids. Meet neighborhood cafe Tallulah’s and its neighbors, general store Cone & Steiner and cookie (and ice cream!) shop Hello Robin. Any one of the three justify a visit, but put them together and you’ve got yourself a weekend outing you’ll like as much as your little ones.

tallulah 2

Tallulah’s
Linda Derschang (who’s launched a slew of restaurants/watering holes on the Hill, including Oddfellows, Smith and Bait Shop) opened Tallulah’s last December in a bright, airy corner space in the new 19th & Mercer Building. Named after Derschang’s adult daughter Tallulah Anderson, the eatery is jam-packed at night and doesn’t take reservations for small groups. While it’s a good add to your date night list, the time to go with the kids is during weekend brunch, which gets going at 9 a.m. You’ll find the place filled with as many families as couples, with a kid’s menu featuring reasonably priced options like oversized slices of cinnamon toast, sweet grits with maple butter and a single, monster-sized pancake that’s so delicious it manages to get better with every bite.

550 19th Ave. E.
Seattle, Wa 98112

206-860-0077
Online: aneighborhoodcafe.com

cone 2

Cone & Steiner
Cone & Steiner is a general store that sells everything from single pencils and glue sticks to produce and giftables like good soap and Mason jar candles. Owners Dani Cone (Fuel, High 5 Pie,) Josh Henderson (Skillet, Hollywood Tavern, Westward) and Jon Milazzo and Lori Pomeranz (Retrofit Home) have created a specialty shop that’s inviting and appealing for all ages. You’ll find wine, microbrews, and grab-and-go meals, but kids will be drawn to the oversized glass jars filled with candy that’s sold by the pound.

532 19th Ave. E.
Seattle, Wa 98112
206-582-1928
Online: coneandsteiner.com

robin 1

Hello Robin
Robin Wehl Martin opened her bakeshop at the tail end of 2013. In addition to kid-approved molasses or birthday cake cookies with sprinkles you’ll find palate-expanding concoctions including sweet onion and pecan. But it gets better: Hello Robin includes a seasonal Molly Moon’s ice cream window (at last check it will be open May through September) with pints available year-round. Ice cream sandwiches, anyone?

522 19th Ave. E.
Seattle, Wa 98112
206-735-7970
Online: hellorobincookies.com

Have you visited these new hot spots on Capitol Hill? We’d love to hear about your experiences in a comment below. 

-Sara Billups

All photos by authors

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If you live on the Eastside, it wasn’t long ago that a spontaneous cupcake run required driving over Lake Washington and back just to pop into your kid’s favorite bakeshop. But alongside doughnuts and froyo, Eastsiders now have easy access to oven-fresh cakelets in just about every color of the rainbow. Read on for our list of six close-to-home cupcakeries that are sure to satisfy the cravings of you and your little sweet tooths.

Confetti Cupcakes

Issaquah-based <a target="_blank" href="http://www.confetti-cakes.com&quot; target="_blank">Confetti Cupcakes</a> serves seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice alongside classics, including coconut and red velvet. Kids of all ages can try the “after-school special”--that’s a cupcake with milk for the uninitiated. And if you’re expecting or planning a shower, Confetti bakes gender reveal cupcakes! 94 Front Street North Issaquah, Wa 98027 425-369-2225 Online: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.confetti-cakes.com">confetti-cakes.com</a>fuck

Don’t see your fave Eastside cupcakery on our list? Let us know about it in a comment below. 

— by Sara Billups

Photos via each cupcakery’s website or Facebook page

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Every Thanksgiving, we’re thankful to live in Seattle, where terms like “artisan” and “local” are as common as “coffee” and “rain.” We’ve rounded up some of our city’s best independent markets and specialty shops that can help you create a bountiful holiday table that fits your family’s style. These area bakeshops, butchers and cheesemongers will take your Turkey Day menu way beyond canned cranberry sauce and gloppy green bean casserole. Read on for our picks!

A la Mode Pies

<a target="_blank" href="http://www.alamodeseattle.com/&quot; target="_blank">A la Mode Pies</a> on Phinney Ridge bakes mouthwatering desserts all year round. But the little pie shop across from the zoo really shines when the holiday season hits. What’s better than ordering apple &amp; ginger pear pie stuffed with Washington apples and organic Bartlett pears or pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust? Having it delivered to your door anywhere in the Seattle Metro area. Place your pie order by Monday, November 25 this year to make sure it arrives in time for turkey day, and note that A la Mode doesn’t deliver on Thanksgiving or the day before. 5821 Phinney Avenue North Seattle, Wa 98103 206-383-3796 Online: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.alamodeseattle.com/&quot; target="_blank">alamodeseattle.com</a> fuck

Looking for more farmers markets, home delivery services or farms to help you create a bountiful table? Check out Puget Sound Fresh, where you can sign a pledge to eat local for Thanksgiving.

— by Sara Billups

Photos via each company’s website or Facebook page

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Back when we were growing up, the Golden Arches were the gold standard when it came to drive thrus. But Seattle-area eateries offer takeaway options with a lot more variety and flavor than most standard fast food chains. While there’s still plenty of room for more creative, independently-owned drive thrus around town, we’ve found a range of spots where you can grab a meal or a caffeine fix without hauling the kids out of the car. Click through the gallery for five drive thrus serving everything from healthy options to pastries that are well worth the drive.

Top Pot Issaquah

Local doughnut institution <a target="_blank" href="http://www.toppotdoughnuts.com/&quot; target="_blank">Top Pot</a> opened their first drive thru in Issaquah earlier this year, and since then we’ve contemplated hauling the kids from Seattle to the Eastside cafe for a quick morning road trip. It goes without saying that little ones are wild for Top Pot’s baked fritters, and now you can order a sweet treat (and a coffee for an extra energy boost) curbside. Splitting that pink feather boa to minimize your kiddo’s inevitable on-the-road sugar rush is advised. <b>Top Pot Issaquah</b> 1235 NW Maple Street Issaquah, Wa 98027 425-270-6161 <a target="_blank" href="http://www.toppotdoughnuts.com/&quot; target="_blank">toppotdoughnuts.com</a>fuck

Did we miss any of your local favorites? Let us know your picks for the best drive thru meals, coffee or treats.

— Sara Billups

Photos via Blue Dog Kitchen Facebook page, Top Pot Doughnuts, 60th Street Desserts Facebook page, Panera Bread Facebook page and ernie.ca Flickr page.

Eat Well: Seattle’s Healthiest Food Trucks

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Back when we were kids, the ice cream truck was the closest most of us came to a mobile food vendor. But with the food truck trend bringing colorful bites to dozens of parking lots in Seattle and on the Eastside, it’s a great time to be a kiddo in Seattle. Since restaurants on wheels specialize in churning out fast eats, it’s common to find a plethora of quick-to-prepare melty grilled cheese sandwiches and mondo biscuits coming from food truck kitchens around town. But parents on-the-go and on-the-hunt for healthier options from street food purveyors will need do a little searching to find nutritious options. We’ve scouted out local carts serving bites so tasty your hungry monkeys might not realize they’re chowing down on kale or whole grains. Read on for our picks.

Note: Food truck locations and hours of operation can change, so be sure to check each truck’s Twitter feed before heading out the door.

caravan crepes

Caravan Crepes
Bright lemon yellow food truck Caravan Crepes is a kid-magnet and a cheery contrast to rainy days. The menu conjures warmth from Hawaii, where owner Brooke Sumner worked in a creperie on the North Shore for years before returning to the Pacific Northwest. She opened Caravan last year, concocting an interesting menu starring local, organic ingredients you’ll feel good about feeding your kiddos. Try the Shorty’s: a shareable crepe stuffed with chicken, mozzarella, Harissa, arugula and pickled sweet corn. If you’re looking for ways to satisfy picky eaters, give the roasted spring vegetable crepe a shot: pine nuts with lemon and parsley, melted havarti and pesto transform Plain Jane vegetables.

Twitter: @caravanseattle

Contigo
Odds are, your kids just need to hear the words “taco” and “truck” and they’re ready to hop into the car. But instead of the same old beans and rice gut bombs, check out Contigo. The mobile eatery opened last year and bills itself as “modern Mexican” for its creative takes on kid-approved classics. Case in point: tacos filled with sweet potatoes and pecans or caramelized onions and dark, leafy kale.

Twitter: @ContigoSeattle

contigo

I Love My GFF
It’s hard to imagine an eatery, either mobile or brick-and-mortar, that’s healthier than I Love My GFF: The whole menu is sans gluten and features free-range meats and ingredients without GMOs. Whether they have a gluten sensitivity or not, kids will like ordering “sunshine bowls” filled with sprouted quinoa, chicken and lots of veggies, then dusted with fresh feta and toasted pumpkin seeds. Kiddos can split a single order, then sweeten the deal with chocolate chip cookies made using coconut flour and sweetened with agave nectar.

Twitter: @healthyfoodcart

GFF

How Pickle Got Out of a Jam
Possessing a name kids will unquestionably love (rivaled only by Cheese Wizards and Happy Grillmore) with food to match, How Pickle Got Out of a Jam debuted at this year’s Mobile Food Rodeo May 5 in Fremont. The rotating menu changes based on what’s fresh for the season. Uber nutritious lentil soup is balanced by dunkable biscuits that arrive with a side of house-made jam, like lemony nectarine. Every meal comes with a homemade pickle, too, be it snap peas brined in sugar or yellow beans with basil.

Twitter: @pickleandjam

pickle-jam

COMING SOON: Outside the Box
Outside the Box is Seattle’s first food truck based on the paleo diet. There’s not a trace of processed food, added sugar, gluten or dairy on the menu, but you will find simple, inventive plates that are big on flavor: Kids might just think that pureed cauliflower covered with coconut milk is actually rice. Until the food truck rolls out a regular schedule, Outside the Box currently offers a weekly meal delivery service, with prepared eats delivered to your door on Sundays.

Twitter: @paleofoodtruck

Hungry for more?
Dig into eggplant, basil and roasted tomato sandwiches at the Renton-based Bistro Box; chickpea soup with pita and housemade yogurt sauce at Za’aTar; and fresh rolls at Vietnamese-inspired Curbside.

What’s your fave healthy food truck? Share the love and let us know in a comment below.

— Sara Billups

Photos via Caravan Crepes Facebook page, bionicgrrrl Flickr page, Bruce Tuten Flickr page and How Pickle Got Out of a Jam Facebook page.