Dear Glutton: Dining With Newborns

Do babies belong in nice restaurants?

Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile (Photo by John Anderson)

Dear Glutton,

Can you recommend a place to have dinner with our new(ish) baby that doesn't feel too much like a Chuck E. Cheese's?

– Sleep Deprived

The issue of whether or not babies belong in nice restaurants has been hotly debated by rude internet strangers for years now, a uniquely pointless op-ed battle over whether we should relegate small humans (and their parents) to the more sticky-tabled corners of the fast casual segment. I can understand perspectives on both sides; parents deserve to leave the house, but babies are not generally celebrated for their command of the social graces fine dining seems to necessitate, given, as they are, to randomly screaming and soiling themselves with little concern for the comfort of others.

As your local restaurant etiquette expert, however, I say bring on the babies. Having babies is an adult decision that, one hopes, is carefully made by two considerate and reasonable adults (or one considerable and reasonable adult and their sperm donor/adoption agency/intergalactic forces who sent the baby to them for protection) which, after they make it, doesn't make them any less like, well, considerate and reasonable adults. We have this weird thing we do in America where we rope each other off into kid-having and nonkid-having territories, as though the two modes of living are so deeply irreconcilable that we can't even begin having a conversation with one another, like the people who have babies should be holed up in their ranch houses complaining about the frivolousness of people without babies, and the people without babies should be at some kind of leather bar at 3am on a Tuesday complaining about the stolidity of people with babies. It's all quite silly.

So that's the bad news. You probably can't bring your baby to a Michelin-starred type joint without attracting a few dirty looks. But the good news is a) who cares, and b) Austin isn't much of a town for overly formal dining anyway. We like our restaurants like we like everything else – trendy, outdoorsy, and full of dudes wearing unnecessary bandannas (a far greater public menace than babies, imo). Options abound, but if I were you, I'd go to Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile. There's a free valet, saving you from a long walk lugging the enormous car seat I'm envisioning you owning. The menu is unfussy and satisfying, and I bet your sleep-deprived self could plow through an entire serving of that family style mac & cheese right about now (trust me, you should spring for the bacon). Plus, you can sit outside, which has a beautiful view, and is far enough removed from the action that if your baby decides it's time to scream, you won't be bothering anyone.

Still, I'd like to end on a note of caution, courtesy of my all-time favorite Yelp review, written by an erstwhile young father in Brooklyn who had been removed from a local dive bar for bringing in his baby in an enormous Bugaboo stroller. As the owner of the bar explained to him, people come to bars to get away from their babies. Besides, the baby clearly wasn't 21. The moral of this story is clear: Know your baby's limits, and trust me when I say the dude does not wanna go clubbing with you.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

MORE Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile
Ranch Dressing
Ranch Dressing
Jacoby's does country for city folk

Rachel Feit, Nov. 7, 2014

Change for the Better
Change for the Better
The Jacoby family brings the ranch-to-table tradition to Austin

Veronica Meewes, Sept. 5, 2014

More Dear Glutton
Premium Pre-Mosquito Season Patio Hang Zones
Premium Pre-Mosquito Season Patio Hang Zones
Sawyer & Co. is full of culinary maximalism

Emily Beyda, April 19, 2019

Dear Glutton: How to Have a Romantic Low-Key Valentine's Day in Austin
Dear Glutton: How to Have a Romantic Low-Key Valentine's Day in Austin
It’s the little things, not heart-shaped confetti, that count most

Emily Beyda, Feb. 8, 2019

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle