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Declaring a dining truce

Places for picky eaters and parents

When confronted with the reality of a small child making his very vocal objection to grown-up food, it can be easy to pull up at the drive-up window.

Don’t. V Life Weekend found four family-friendly cafes that don’t approach health food, but there isn’t a Happy Meal in sight.

  LAY OF THE LAND: EATS: PARENTAL PLUS:
Malibu Country Mart
3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu
More than a mini-mall, this upscale shopping center attracts parents with its informal dining and park-like courtyard. Kids can choose burgers, dogs or falafel at Malibu Mutt; Tra DI Noi has pizza, paninis and salads. A sandbox and swings are located in the center of the action, so adults can relax while kids play.
Kidspace
480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena
This childrens’ museum near the Rose Bowl keeps little ones busy for hours with hands-on exhibits as well as climbing towers and a stream. As so often the case in Los Angeles, it’s Wolfgang Puck to the rescue. His Nestle Café serves mac ’n’ cheese, burgers and chicken nuggets; for hardcore picky eaters, there’s a cheese cubesand-grapes plate. Puck’s Chinese chicken salad or barbecue chicken sandwich will keep grown-ups happy. Kids can safely run wild with giant rubber balls in the museum’s courtyard while adults finish a more leisurely lunch.
The Stand

17000 Ventura Blvd., Encino

Hot dogs are a kid-diet staple, but dogs at The Stand are a treat for adults. And the shady patio seems miles away from busy Ventura Blvd. Kids will go for a hot dog or turkey dog with homemade fries and a root beer float. Parents can choose from 12 different hot dogs and sausages (including bockwurst and andouille) as well as blue cheese-bacon burgers and homemade toppings like chili, glazed onions and pepperonata that are guaranteed to make your kids wrinkle their noses. Parents can sip a glass of pinot noir or a pint of Stella Artois on tap. Even better, kids eat free on Sunday nights, while dogs are just $1 on Monday nights.
Zanzabelle
2912 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake
This sweeterie is the place to reward children who have been very, very good indeed. Kids can play with the owner’s daughter on the front lawn while adults chat at outdoor tables. Giant cookies, deep dark chocolate brownies, espresso and cupcakes. Hand-scooped ultra-premium ice cream from Dr. Bob’s is almost too good for kids — adults will appreciate the creamy, grown-up cappuccino crunch. Nostalgic candies like the Idaho Spud bar let you relive childhood; vintage toys let you pick up a present for the next birthday party.

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