Hello CH'ers! I found a few older threads touting New Orleans, NYC, SF, Montreal, Vancouver, Oaxaca, etc., but I wondered if folks with young children could chime in, too, about North American cities for a culinary vacation. FYI, we're not yet ready to spend the time and money to fly all 4 of us to Asia or Europe from the West Coast.
Our daughters are 5 and 8 and adventurous eaters, but the 5 year old has peanut and fish allergies. We are cautious when going to any restaurant that uses peanuts (e.g., Thai or Vietnamese) due to cross-contamination concerns. I'm less concerned about restaurants that serve fish, so we regularly eat at sushi and seafood restaurants.
Food is the priority for us when we travel as a family. We typically rent a place with a kitchen (DH loves to cook, even while we're on vacation) and eat breakfast there. Then the remainder of the day is spent planned around restaurants or food markets to explore. When not eating, we spend a lot of time relaxing at the rental (reading books, playing board games, watching TV, surfing the net, playing in the pool) and exploring the outdoors (beach, mountain, etc.). We are loungers, not go-go-go vacationers who want to see all the sights. We never go to historical sites where you have to stand in line (like an old mission), museums, etc. while on vacation. We'd rather just be like the locals and eat and relax while on vacation.
For what it's worth, we've traveled throughout California (road trips are fun and DH has taken us to nearly every lake with bass fishing within a 5 hour drive), take annual trips to Maui, and DH and I have taken adults-only trips to NYC, Vegas, and Texas. I took a solo business trip to Chicago last summer and that was a great dining destination, too.
I'm leaning toward either Montreal or New Orleans right now. Both sound amazing, though I think they offer very different types of experiences. Since we'll be bringing our kids, I don't plan to indulge in high-end dining. While my girls are well-behaved (I just had an older man compliment me on their behavior last week while we were waiting for passport photos), I personally don't feel comfortable taking them to the high-end/special occasion restaurants. We have taken them right at opening (like 5:30!) to "nice" restaurants (meaning real tablecloths and mid-range price points) but otherwise we focus on restaurants offering really delicious food rather than ambiance when we're planning family meals.
We live in the SF Bay Area so we often take the girls to casual ethnic restaurants (Afghan, Burmese, Korean, Mexican, etc.). We also enjoy "destination" adventures like snacking at the Ferry Building in SF with oysters and clam chowder (plus grilled cheese sandwiches for them) from Hog Island, bread from Acme, more cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, charcuterie from Boccalone, etc. Montreal's Jean-Talon Market sounds like a similar fun food playground! Yet I know my girls also would love to eat beignets, jambalaya, and po boys.
Thanks for any tips or feedback!