365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
Ogre considered going to Central Market last night, but I told him that TUESDAY night, KIDS EAT FREE, so we decided we’d head there tonight. An added bonus is that my dad (Lolo) is working tonight, so he’d be able to pop in and sit with us for a bit. Mina was very excited to go to “HEB Central Market” for dinner.
When we arrived, we detoured through the main entrance. It is a ritual to get a balloon when we walk in. Mina said, “Can I have two balloons?” I replied, “You can have one balloon and Benjamin can have one balloon.” “Oh, I was just about to say that,” she said. We got our balloons and set out to find Lolo. We ran into Uncle Tony, who helped us find Lolo, hard at work. Benjamin was super excited to see Lolo and did not want to leave him behind. When Lolo picked him up he rejected both my and Ogre’s advances to take him back. We finally had to force him to come with us while Lolo finished up his work before his break.
We walked through the store to get to the Cafe on the Run, only getting minimally distracted by the various groceries. We have never eaten-in before so we were a little naive. We didn’t know that we could get the entrees that were cold (to be warmed at home, typically) warmed up here. So, we ended up going for their hot entrees and sandwiches. I opted for a custom sandwich (ham, salami, and proscuitto with brie on a ciabatta roll with tomatoes and carmelized onions-don’t let that drool mess up your computer) and Mina wanted PB&J. I decided to get Benji a hot dog and fruit for both of them. Ogre went to the hot grill to order up the Two Taco Platter, which came with rice and beans.
I took the kids to sit down and Benji and Mina were immediately drawn to the kids’ tables with crayons. Mina was too scared to stand in line for the balloon so I stood in line for her. Then she decided she wanted her face painted and she went to stand in line for that. I was about 3 kids back when Ogre arrived with the drinks and some of the food. He needed a hand so I gave up my place in line for Team Phipps. He went back to get the rest of the food, and Lolo showed up to join us for dinner much to Benjamin’s delight. I cut up Benji’s hot dog and grapes (WARNING! Hot dogs and grapes are choking hazards if you don’t cut them up!!!!!) so that he could start his dinner.
Just as Ogre got back with our sandwiches, Mina had morphed into a kitten. She was very, very happy with her face painting. If you know Mina, then you’d know why we should have done the face painting after she ate -she was very paranoid that she was messing up her face paint by eating and wiping her face. We had to keep prodding her along to eat and reassure her that she still looked fabulous. Benjamin, on the other hand, needed no prodding at all. I think he ate 3/4 of that hot dog and 1/2 of his grapes.
Ogre wolfed down his meal like he normally does. My sandwich was ridiculously huge -about 3 times the size of the one I had at Eatzi’s. They piled on the meat and the brie was probably 1 cm thick. I tried to figure out how to eat it, but once I did, boy was it tasty! I had to take the chips I was sharing with Mina away from her because she was not doing a good job of eating her sandwich. She asked me if she could get a balloon, which gave me a good reason for telling her that she had to eat half her sandwich. My smarty pants daughter then asked if she could half of half of her sandwich and be done. Of course, the answer was no and she just laughed and said “Oh, I knew that.” Lolo looked down at his watch and, unfortunately, it was time for him to head back to work. Benjamin said “Ba, Lolo,” and waved with his little fingers. Mina, now with motivation, had no problems finishing up her half sandwich and ran off to have her balloon made.
Benji and I finished dinner and I let Benjamin off to run around a bit. He mainly stayed by the little tables and chairs. Mina came back to show off her balloon, but then immediately wanted to go over to the little tables to color. Ogre and I decided it was time for dessert, so he went over to the little gelato stand to get some Paciugo gelato. Mina told him she wanted chocolate, she was too having too much fun to accompany her Papa. Benji wandered over to the door to the outside, and sadly asked for “Sigh, sigh” (outside). I had to tell him “yucky wet, no outside.” He hovered by the door, and luckily, Papa came back with ice cream and he forgot all about his outside woes. Mina came over to the table, too. I noticed she didn’t have her balloon flower with her and told her to go back and get it. When she went to get it, we heard a POP!! Her eyes told me something different than her upbeat response of, “It still looks like a flower.” Poor Mina, I could tell she was really sad that the stem popped. I told her that it looked like a very cute flower and that we’d put it somewhere special when we got home. She seemed okay with that and we all enjoyed our (and each other’s gelatos). Mina’s chocolate gelato tasted like Nutella/Hazelnut chocolate, I had Dulce de Leche loveliness, and Ogre got Passion Fruit, which he said reminded him of Hawaii, especially when he ate it with Mina’s gelato because we got Passion Fruit Chocolates over by the International Market on Oahu.
Mina asked if she could play outside and I begrudgingly said yes, warning her that it would still be pretty wet. Ogre went outside with her and I stayed with Benji until we were done with our ice cream. Then we joined them outside until it was time to head home. Of course, on the way home, Mina complained about being wet!
I thought the food was pretty good for a walk up cafe. Who can complain about a sandwich with proscuitto and brie, though??! It was a hefty size -I only finished half, so there was more than enough. They had cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, and paninis. My sandwich was a custom order. They had many different choices to choose from for meats, cheeses, dressings, and veggies. Ogre said his tacos were really good. He said they grilled the tortillas right along side the meat and you could put just about anything on it at no extra charge. There were also hot choices for pizza, stir-fries, wraps, and curries -from the website, it looks like the choices change frequently, which can be fun. If you go with one of the entrees that can be warmed up or other side dishes, the choices are endless. They even have sushi.
For children’s menu choices, they had a mini-cheeseburger, quesadilla, hot dog, PB&J sandwich served with either fries or fruit. I tasted Benji’s hot dog, and I could see why he ate so much of it; it was really good! Ogre tried Mina’s and said that it all tasted very fresh -the jelly was raspberry jam.
This is walk up service, grab when ready, and sit down. Bus your own tables. Very casual and laid back.
Central Market may have actually thought of everything. At least on Tuesday nights. On Tuesday night, they have kid-friendly music playing -Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy was danced to at one point, there’s a ballon artist, and a face painter. AND, if a parent is so inclined, they have a massage therapist in the back corner!
Even on regular days, they have the little kids’ area with coloring pages and crayons, and, of course, when the days are nice, there is play area intended for 3-12 year olds. It’s a huge red barn with 3 slides and lots of places to climb up and around on. There is a nice patio with tables and chairs right by the play area, too.
Total: $19.99 (did not include our gelatos)
Central Market also has the best bathrooms ever! As we were leaving, Mina hugged her brother and said “Eww, my brother stinks, I think he pooped.” Ogre and my nose agreed. Benjamin suffers from Second Child Often Forgotten syndrome and we did not have his diaper bag with us. Luckily, from previous experiences caught without the diaper bag, we had one of those diaper emergency packs that comes with one diaper and a few wipes in the trunk. I took Benji to the “family” restroom, which was big and clean. There was a nice changing station built into the countertop and there were two sinks. One was low enough that even Benji could wash his hands at it!! Very cute and very well-thought. Kudos to you, Central Market Bathroom Designer!
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!