Family Foodie 411: Bluebird BBQ, Barrio & South End Kitchen


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Looking for a family-friendly place to eat? These three Burlington spots definitely make the grade.

Bluebird BBQ

Malcolm and I enjoying the scenery on the patio at Bluebird BBQ.
Malcolm and I enjoying the scenery on the patio at Bluebird BBQ.

Bluebird BBQ is probably the most family-friendly place I’ve been to eat in Burlington. There were lots of families with small children there when my husband and I arrived at 4:30 with the munchkin in tow (yes, we ate dinner at 4:30, cause we’re old fuddie duddies now). We sat on the entirely screened-in, covered patio overlooking the river. There was a gorgeous breeze and the whole thing managed to feel still and peaceful, despite the fact that our baby was squealing and happily chattering away the whole time.  The atmosphere is extremely casual and family-oriented, so we felt right at home.

We got there at 4:30 on a Sunday just in time for the early bird special. We enjoyed the BBQ for two plate for $10 off the regular price– it’s three types of meat and four sides, your choice. Also, on Sundays, kids eat free, which will be an awesome bonus when Malcolm is BBQ-eating age. You get a lot of food for the value, too, which makes for tasty, next-day lunches.

So what else makes Bluebird so kid-friendly? The service is prompt and friendly, the food comes out of the kitchen quickly, and the waitstaff can wrap up your meal for you in a flash (in case the kiddos start melting down and you need to abort your dinner plans). I saw women there nursing at their tables and even in the restaurant lobby in perfect comfort.

And let’s not skip over the food: Amazing! I recommend the Texas brisket– tender, rich, sweet, fatty (but come on, let’s be honest– fat is flavor) goodness. I also liked the pulled pork, which they cover in a mustard-based sauce. It’s not the “Carolina style” BBQ that I grew up with in Carrboro, NC (mustard is more of a South Carolina thing), but it was pretty tasty nonetheless.

Bluebird BBQ definitely gets a gold star from me for family dining! We can’t wait to go back!


Barrio Bakery

Barrio Bakery in the Old North End (formerly Pandero) was one of my favorite breakfast and coffee spots when I was pregnant, but it’s also a pretty darn good place to go with kiddos too. They make a seriously-good cup of coffee, and for those of you limiting your caffeine intake, Barrio makes an amazing decaf espresso. (Yes, that’s right– you can still enjoy strong coffee, even if you’re pregnant or nursing, without giving baby a buzz). For breakfast, try a perfectly flakey croissant. For lunch, I like their mozzarella, arugula, and roasted red pepper sandwich on buttery, freshly-baked focaccia. For dinner? Barrio becomes a pizzeria. And if you’re looking for a sweet treat, they’ve got you covered there as well: I recommend the lemon-lavender cupcake. Barrio is a neighborhood place with a relaxed vibe; It’s chill and not even the tiniest bit snooty. On a nice day, you’ll find people lounging in the adirondack chairs out front reading or socializing. The staff are warm and personable. Kids are welcome (sometimes you’ll even catch a glimpse of the owners’ sons running around sampling the baked goods!). On Wednesday mornings, Barrio does kids’ cookie decorating. Parking is on-street, but not usually hard to come by. The indoor space is a bit tight, but I felt totally comfortable leaving my stroller parked outside.


South End Kitchen

SEK is a new breakfast-lunch (and sometimes dinner) cafe owned by Lake Champlain Chocolates and located right next to their Pine Street location. I went there with my neighbor and her kids (3 and 4), who were fascinated to see chocolate being made through the enormous glass window into the factory. SEK is spacious and calm– and quite clean (at one point the kids were dragging each other along the floor, so we got to test that thoroughly). It could, however, use more kid-friendly seating: a lot of the chairs are extremely high, backless stools, which are no good for young kids. I enjoyed a very rich, dense chocolate brownie and a great cup of coffee. I also sampled the cheddar soufflé and artichoke tartine from the lunch menu (both were truly excellent). However, I was a little disappointed at the prices and tiny portion sizes. The cheese soufflé, for example, was $10 and was barely the size of a hockey puck. Now, I know that a good soufflé is not easy to make, but at the same time, it’s only butter, flour, eggs, and cheese (not exactly expensive ingredients to source), so what gives? There is a reasonably priced kids menu consisting of burgers, chicken tenders, or grilled cheese, so that’s a plus, but it would be nice if there was more variety or some healthier options for the kiddos. A major bonus of SEK is the teaching kitchen, where they offer cooking and chocolate-making classes for both kids and adults. I love that they offer classes to teach children about making food, and I can’t wait to take one of these courses myself! This place has some serious potential as a chic family eatery, so I’ll be eager to see what SEK does in the coming months.


Would you like to review a local eatery? Drop me a line and let me know what your experience was like, kellyannmangan at gmail dot com.


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