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Evan Huber (6), Emily Tedesco (6) and Brian Huber (8) at the Riverhead Grill on Sunday. (Credit: Laura Huber)

How many times have you come home from work, stared at the sole block of cheese in the refrigerator and thought, “let’s go out to dinner tonight.” Simple … unless you have children, that is.

And if your kids are like our kids, they each only eat five things. And the five things one kid eats, the other kid won’t touch. Also, our little guys, like most others, hate sitting still for more than five minutes.

Chain restaurants make it really convenient to dine with kids, featuring cutesy menus, crayons and plenty of ice cream. But for comparable prices, you can have a great family meal, support a local business and give your kids a new favorite restaurant. 

Here are my picks for kid-friendly restaurants on the North Fork.

Riverhead Grill

We have a sweet vs. savory breakfast battle in our house every morning. If you’re trying to feed kids with different breakfast tastes, Riverhead Grill offers scrambled eggs, egg sandwiches and chocolate chip pancakes. We recently took my boys Brian and Evan, their friend Emily and a giant art kit to breakfast at this downtown staple. Everyone ate quietly, drew pictures, and was polite and pleasant. They ate quietly (mostly), finished all of their food, drew pictures and were very civil. For a few minutes, Bill and I thought we were there alone.

87 East Main Street, Riverhead

Digger’s Ales and Eats

One of Brian and Evan’s favorite places is Digger’s in Riverhead. You won’t find a kids’ menu on their website, but they do serve items like chicken fingers, hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries, and buttered noodles. Plus, kids can get vanilla or chocolate ice cream served in fancy dishes. It’s a little bit on the noisier side, so your little one could have a meltdown and turn only three or four heads.

58 West Main Street, Riverhead

Braun’s To-Go

If seafood is on your kids’ approved food list and you’ve had enough of being indoors, get takeout from Braun’s To Go in Cutchogue and head out to a local beach for a picnic. My boys love fried clams, french fries and eating near the water. Order yourself some fried calamari or fried oysters and offer some to the kids. They’ll eat anything fried, as long as you don’t tell them what it is.

30840 Main Road, Cutchogue

Hellenic Snack Bar

Brian took his first trip to Hellenic Snack Bar in East Marion before he was two. He was too little for a kids’ menu then, but he ate a plate of tomatoes, a side serving of buttered orzo and sips of Mom’s lemonade. Since then they’ve added items like fish and chips, hot turkey sandwiches and Magic Fountain desserts to their kids’ menu. If your child is more adventurous, get them started on gyros early. And get them their own lemonade.

5145 Main Road, East Marion

So pack up some crayons, paper, a couple of books, some dolls, a few toy cars, a couple of sweatshirts, baby wipes, a favorite stuffed animal and your kids and try something new with them. Don’t be afraid to break the chains and get them eating locally before they lose all their baby teeth.

Here are a couple of other places your kids might enjoy:

J&R’s Steakhouse
4362 Route 25, Calverton

Cliff’s Rendezvous
313 East Main Street, Riverhead

Funcho’s Fajita Grill
1156 West Main Street, Riverhead

119 Main Street, Greenport

Laura Huber