Dining With Kids.
The Thomas the Train table isn’t the only draw at Walnut Creek’s Denica’s Real Food Kitchen. With blueberry-eyed piggy pancakes and frosted cinnamon rolls as big as a newborn’s head, this place is a kid’s fantasy. For a mid-day treat, spoil them rotten with one of Denica’s signature cookies: snickerdoodles, sugar, and double chocolate (washed down, of course, with a cold chocolate or strawberry milk). 2280 Oak Grove Rd., Walnut Creek, (925) 945-6200, denicascafe.com.
Menus to color on spark the creative flow at Skipolini’s, where junior chefs are encouraged to brainstorm and hand form their own pizza. Dough, tomato sauce, and a choice of toppings are delivered to your table. Then, the resulting masterpiece is transported to the deck ovens. While the pie blisters at the Walnut Creek and Clayton locations, kids can skip to the outside patio, with its jungle gym and mini arcade. 1033 Diablo St., Clayton, (925) 672-1111; 2001 Salvio St., Concord, (925) 680-6888; 1535 Giammona Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 280-1100, skipolinispizza.com.
Bring the doggy to Ed’s Mudville Grill, where you can dine on the patio and enjoy Clayton’s vistas while the kids whoop it up in the game room. The $5.17 children’s menu is a bargain. (Why not let the kids cover the change?) If you can swing it, make a reservation for St. Patrick’s Day—Ed’s busiest—to enjoy Irish dancers and corned beef. (Good kids can skip the cabbage.) 6200 Center St., Clayton, (925) 673-0333, edsmudvillegrill.com.