Best Family-Friendly Restaurant

Tomato Street

click to enlarge Best Family-Friendly Restaurant
Young Kwak photo
Family is everything at Tomato Street.

"Kid tested. Family approved," reads the letter board outside of Tomato Street's Spokane location on North Division.

It's true. On a recent visit by the Inlander, kids and their parents are filling up almost all of the nearby booths. There's a chalkboard filled with kids' drawings, paper-covered tables ready to be colored on, and pizza-themed headwear worn by the efficient, friendly waitstaff.

There's a kids menu, too, of course — for "Little Bambinos," and complete with offers of free ice creams and sodas. Plus, as Tomato Street manager Troy Campbell says, "It's nice for families to come in and not get hit with such a big bill. And our large portions are always nice. It's good to share."

Sharing, by the way, is exactly what I did when I was served my steaming hunk of baked lazonni, topped with mozzarella and hot marinara sauce. What is lazonni, you might ask? It's lasagna, wrapped in pizza dough and then brick-fired along with the sauce of your choice (yum).

Baked lazonni has long been a mainstay on the Tomato Street menu, along with blackened chicken fettuccine, raspberry poppy seed salad and baked mostaccioli with roasted chicken. All around me, adults and children alike are digging into heaping portions of these dishes and more. And, naturally, we all go to town on those buckets of hot, buttery garlic bread.

"It makes sort of a fun atmosphere," Campbell says, and I agree.

Tomato Street's family-centric values, a focus since it opened more than 20 years ago, are also evident beyond the chalkboards, the crayons, the fun bells and whistles.

"We created an environment with our staff that's family-oriented," Campbell explains. "These are my extended family, and guests are even more extended family."

2nd PLACE: Market Street Pizza
3rd PLACE: The Onion
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Embers by the Lake; Hauser and Post Falls