Eateries That Deliver Pre-Meal Entertainment

Every parent has been there: you want to dine out but your kids just can’t sit still through a meal. Forget coloring sheets and crayons, the following local eateries take pre-meal entertainment to the next level. From local pubs with play areas to pizza-serving arcades, these restaurants and cafés dish out enough family fun to keep the kids entertained until it’s time to eat.

photo: via Benihana Japanese Restaurant

Benihana Japanese Restaurant
Famous across the globe for its skilled chefs performing intricate knife work and comic theatrics while grilling your five-course teppanyaki dinner at a communal table, this international chain will keep you and the kiddos entertained until you’ve eaten your last bite. Entrees include diced steak, chicken or a seafood, which can be eaten plain or with fun dipping sauces.

Pro tip: Since there are only a certain number of dining spots per seating, reservations are highly recommended.

9205 SW Cascade Ave.
Beaverton, Or

Hopworks Urban Brewery & Bikebar
One of the most kid-friendliest pubs in town, all three of this local chainlet’s restaurants offer good-sized play areas filled with toys, books and games that will keep little hands busy until their meal arrives. The menu offers the usual assortment of pub fare – pizzas, burgers and sandwiches – and all kids meals come with fries, apples, broccoli or carrots and celery.

Pro tip: Try to score a table with a play area view.

2944 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, Or

3947 N Williams Ave.
Portland, Or

17707 SE Mill Plain Blvd.
Vancouver, Wa


photo: Josh Grenier via Flickr

Chuck E. Cheese
Pizza and skeeball, anyone? For a nostalgic lunch or dinner (now sans the animatronic band), head to one Chuck E. Cheese’s metro area locations. Here you’ll find family-size booths, an updated arcade and a multi-story play structure for your young ones to climb all over. If pizza isn’t your thing, look for other menu options like sandwiches, salads and wings.

Pro tip: Tokens to play in the arcade are a separate charge. Prices vary. For the best deals and coupons, check the Chuck E. Cheese website.

9120 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, Or

4145 SW 110th Avenue
Beaverton, Or

7721 NE Vancouver Plaza Dr.
Vancouver, Wa


Wilsonville Family Fun Center & Bullwinkle’s Restaurant
This mini amusement park in Wilsonville will keep you and the kiddos entertained long after you’ve satiated those rumbling bellies. Indoor and outdoor attractions abound, from mini golf and bumper boats to arcade games and laser tag. Bullwinkle’s is more café than restaurant, so expect a menu of pizza, sammys and burgers. Indoor play passes run $25-39/person

Pro tip: Tickets are required for attractions. Discounted tickets are available online. Beat the weekend crowds by visiting on a weekday.

29111 SW Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, Or

photo: Slappy Cakes via Flickr

Slappy Cakes
At this DIY pancake house, meal prep is the entertainment. Each table has its own griddle, so you and the kids can create your own pancake masterpiece from one of five pancake batters and more than 25 sweet and savory toppings. Vegan/gluten-free batter and toppings are also available.

Pro tip: Challenge everyone at the table to make a pancake in their favorite non-round shape.

4246 SE Belmont St.
Portland, Or

Playdate PDX
While the kids frolic on the three-story indoor play structure, grab a table (as well as some much-needed adult time) and kick back until the food arrives. Options range from fresh baked pizza pies and paninis to salads and wraps. Open play rates are $4-8/toddlers and $8-14/ages 4 & up, depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend/holiday.

Pro tip: This family staple is very popular, so for a less crowded experience, go during off times like evening or early morning. On Mondays after 5 p.m. admission is free.

1434 NW 17th Ave.
Portland, Or

— Carrie Uffindell


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