Hello chowhounds! We are taking a road trip with our 3 year old and 6 year old girls next month with stops in Monterey, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara and would greatly appreciate some restaurant recommendations.
Both girls are well-behaved, eat a wide array of foods (so no need for a kid's menu), and don't need any special accommodations (e.g., no high chair necessary). The younger one does have a peanut allergy, so I usually avoid Thai restaurants. Also, DH has a lactose intolerance, so we avoid French restaurants given the heavy cream.
We eat at a wide variety of ethnic restaurants and have also taken the girls to more upscale American restaurants (think white tablecloths but folks are still in business casual or even jeans). We try to eat right when the restaurant opens at 5:30 or earlier if we go with the kids to a place that doesn't offer a kids' menu. They know to keep their voices low in such restaurants, but I'm also hyper conscious of ruining other diners' meals. I know I hate it when I hear whiny obnoxious kids at upscale restaurants--it distracts from my dining experience. I've paid good money for the meal and babysitting for my own kids! But that's another thread for another time.
We try to avoid chain restaurants, though I'm assuming we will have to hit an In-N-Out at some point on our road trip when we're in the middle of nowhere. Since this is a coastal road trip, it might be nice to have a lot of seafood, as our suburban city doesn't have good access to quality seafood. I would prefer to avoid ethnic fare, as I'm assuming none of these cities will have ethnic fare as "authentic" as what we can get in the SF Bay Area. What are these areas known for? Budget is wide open. Since it's a road trip and we're not flying anywhere, I'm happily spending our funds on the food. Of course, given the fact that the 2 kids are with us, we are not going to any Michelin-starred places this time around so I assume we're not going to the super expensive places.
In Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove, DH and I have enjoyed Passionfish several times (on nearly every trip down!) but it is quite cramped and I'm not sure I've ever seen young kids there. Yet I'm willing to do it at opening if there aren't other recommendations.
In Pismo Beach, we ate with friends at Giuseppe's and enjoyed the food. It also seems perfectly kid-friendly with its Italian menu and more casual vibe. The other places we visited in Pismo Beach/Avila Beach/SLO on our last kid-free visit aren't as appropriate for kids.
We haven't ever been to Santa Barbara so any and all recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you!