Great Food for Children

School breaks always offer the temptation of a warm getaway.

With at least  6 or 7 weeks till then, it gives you lots of time to make your plane reservations, secure hotel accommodations and whisk yourselves off to an exotic (but familiar) destination. Exotic because undulating palm trees are not the view you see as you shovel the snow from your driveway; yet familiar because you don’t have to worry about getting a passport. Or changing money into a foreign currency. Puerto Rico uses the same dollars, same postal service, same language (well, one of them, anyway; it’s amazing how many people in San Juan are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English.)

So the big thing is: “I know they have wonderful beaches and a warm ocean,  and the big hotels have exciting casinos, with lobbies often having live music to dance to… but what about entertainment for the kids? What will they do all day? And is there food that they’ll eat?” (Not an insignificant question, that. Many years ago, even before I was a teenager, my pre-teen cousin would only eat hamburgers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t remember how long it lasted, but his father, having a meat market, helped fuel his fixation. )

There are marvelous restaurants for kids in San Juan; restaurants that serve familiar food in kid-friendly surroundings.  (That’s in addition to the familiar stateside chain restaurants: Pizzeria Uno’s, for instance, is on Ashford Avenue in Condado. The latest chain is the Cheesecake Factory, which recently opened at Plaza las Americas, the Caribbean’s largest shopping center…a 10 or 20 minute ride from Ashford Avenue, depending on traffic.) But there is also the kind of restaurants the kids will remember as “different” when they get back home and tell their schoolmates what they did on their April vacation.

One such restaurant is The Piña Colada Club at the Caribe Hilton Hotel.   A colorful dining room has an adjoining terrace with a coloring wall, where kids are encouraged to create their own artwork on the side of the building!. The kids’ menu includes stateside favorites such as chicken tenders, mini burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. I personally prefer the luscious Big Hot Cuban Wrap, a mix of roasted pork, ham and Swiss cheese with pickles and mustard, wrapped in a flour tortilla. Yum!  Everybody loves the dessert, which  includes a warm chocolate fudge brownie served with ice cream… or the make your own ice cream sundae with every kind of topping you can think of, plus pineapple, chocolate or caramel syrup. With whipped cream and a cherry, of course.

After lunch, it’s time to feed the ducks at the Caribe Hilton’s lovely pond… or join other kids at the resort’s supervised activities .More about kids next time.  But remember to make somebody happy; make reservations for dinner.

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