Eating out at restaurants with young kids is tough. These five restaurants in Anna Maria, Florida cater to kids and make families feel right at home, all while serving food that will make parents happy to return over and over again.
5 Restaurants in Anna Maria, Florida that will Thrill Kids
For the past three years, my husband and I have taken our toddler on an annual family vacation to Tampa, Florida. We spend half the trip in Tampa and half the trip on Anna Maria Island, an island about an hour outside of Tampa. Anna Maria is everything I imagine an island to be. With gorgeous gulf beaches, a slow-paced lifestyle, and great food, it’s a good vacation spot for families with young kids. If you make the trip, don’t miss out on these five restaurants that are designed with families in mind.
Where to Eat Breakfast in Anna Maria, Florida
Ginny & Jane E’s Cafe & Coastal Store
The name alone gives you an idea of what you’re going to get when you walk through the door. It’s a combination store and restaurant that can only be described in one word – eclectic. You sit at tables that are on sale and all around you are handmade jewelry, home decor, and more that you could take home with your leftovers. And if you are up for sitting in a tiny chair, there’s even a table with coloring books and crayons for the little ones.
The restaurant serves up everything you’d imagine for breakfast from fresh smoothies to breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon rolls the size of your head. The food is excellent and the store is a must-visit in Anna Maria, so be prepared for long lines and often, long waits. Order, get your pager, and search for a unique souvenir to take home.
The Donut Experiment
The Donut Experiment’s reputation of having the best donuts ever, verified by a number of our friends, is one the reasons we chose Anna Maria for our family vacation in the first place. It’s like the Chipotle of donuts. They start with a freshly made cake donut then you choose from a variety of toppings to create your own perfect donut. With kid-friendly toppings like sprinkles, Fruity Pebbles, and M&Ms, even the pickiest of eaters will find something they like.
My favorite is the key lime donut. It was a house special when we were first visited three years ago and has been a mainstay menu item ever since. When you walk in the door, find the order sheets and pencils hanging on the wall to place your order. Other people will loiter about thinking that they order in person at the counter. You can get ahead of the crowds if you grab an order sheet, fill it out, and take it directly to the register.
If it’s busy, head outside to find a table or bench to wait until your name is called then come back to pick up your order. If it’s not busy, stand by the glass and watch as they freshly fry, dip, and top your donuts.
TMOM Tip: Order only as many donuts as you think you’re going to eat while you’re there. Unlike other donuts, they’re not nearly as tasty once they’ve cooled down.
Where to Eat Lunch or Dinner in Anna Maria, Florida
Right next door to The Donut Experiment is a newer addition to Anna Maria, Poppo’s Taqueria. They serve made to order gourmet Mexican street food, but the only thing about this place that is gourmet is the food. Get your kids set up at a table or on one of the swinging benches outside and step up to order at the counter.
With perfectly seasoned chips that are made to order, quesadillas that are crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside, and fresh toppings, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Unlike the donuts, a quesadilla from Poppo’s is just as good heated up hours later. I may have ordered two chicken quesadillas during our last trip with the sole purpose of bringing one on the airplane to eat for lunch.
TMOM Tip: If you order a quesadilla, make sure to double-wrap the bottom side in napkins or foil or else you’ll end up with juicy oil all over your hands and shirt.
Eat Here is casual food at its best. They use clipboards for menus, kitchen towels for napkins, and provide unmatched utensils. It’s a great choice for families with kids of all ages who appreciate good food without having to worry about stares from neighboring tables when their toddler throws a tantrum. They even have a small chalk table just for kids to play on while they’re waiting for their food.
The kid’s menu is full of classic staples from hamburgers to pasta, but the speciality is a make your own pizza menu item. It’s not just a choose your own toppings pizza, the kids literally make their own pizza. Our server brought out a platter filled with a pre-made flatbread in the middle and pizza toppings in small containers on the side. If you ever want your toddler to eat something, let them help make it. My son had so much fun making his own pizza and watching the chef put it in the oven. He definitely ate more at Eat Here than any other night on our trip.
Aside from the kid’s menu, the regular menu is full of innovative dishes like tempura beets with creme fraiche, a kale salad with a not too lemony dressing, and a salmon that changed the way my husband has cooked every salmon at home since. We’ve only tried a handful of things on the menu but based on those items, you could probably order anything and go home happy.
Where to Eat Dessert in Anna Maria, Florida
Finish off your day in Anna Maria with an ice cream cone at Two Scoops. Located right along the main pier on the west side of the island, it’s the perfect place to grab a treat and watch the sun set along the water. Their ice cream is good, and the atmosphere can’t be beat.
If you’re not an ice cream fan, they also serve other kid-friendly treats like chocolate covered pretzels, movie theater candy, and fudge. Even my ice cream hating toddler found something he liked in a chocolate and sprinkle covered pretzel.
TMOM Tip: Superman ice cream makes for a really pretty picture, but it’s really just colored vanilla ice cream. Skip it unless you really like vanilla.