From cute children’s corners to fun kids menus – in these 10 family-approved Bernese eateries, being child-friendly is the first item on the menu.
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We all know there’s nothing kids enjoy more than running, climbing, and having fun. So what could be a better place for a café than a former school gym? There’s enough room for playing and climbing as well as a large box filled with toys and games to keep the kids are occupied and let parents catch their breath. Unfortunately, however, at a certain age, the stairs become very tempting, so mom or dad might have to get up every once in a while to pluck the kids from the steps. In the summertime, you can enjoy your yummy food and beverages in the large courtyard, where kids have enough room to run around and play hide-and-seek. Our recommendation: with a bit of practise, the falafel from Pittaria in Turnhalle’s courtyard can be eaten using only one hand, if there happens to be a toddler in or hanging from your other arm. In the wintertime, there are family concerts (including a syrup bar) once a month on Sunday afternoons, organised by Bee-Flat. Hooray for family-friendly partying!
Turning it up at Turnhalle
Not just popular with vegetarians: the kids’ corner with its books, coloured pencils and paper is almost never unoccupied. The newer one of the two Tibits’ in Bern is a true mommy magnet. If you have a baby, it is an especially practical place, as the large and comfy armchairs are perfect for nursing. And there are loads of high chairs as well as a changing table on the ground floor. The central location and the fact that you can choose exactly how much of the many different delicious foods you want is another plus (especially if your kids are fussy eaters!). However, it can get extremely full around midday, so it’s better to go by in the morning to sip a hot chai latte, a freshly pressed juice or a babyccino (frothed milk in an espresso cup) in peace, without having to stand in line or fight for a place to sit.
To the urban oasis
The café and co-working space at 10 Effingerstrasse might not be very big, but it’s laid-back and there is a wonderful kids’ corner. It’s perfect for having a good cup of coffee while the little ones draw, play with Duplos or listen to a story on an iPod. The staff is super friendly and knows all the regulars by name. At lunchtime, they serve soups and quiches, and the chocolate cake is to die for. The only problem: Effinger is way past being an insider’s tip, so it can be hard to find a place to sit. To bridge the waiting time, head over to nearby Kocherpark for a quick stroll or pop into the children’s store A&O right next door – the wonderful café is worth the wait.
Sit down and relax
Shh, don’t tell anyone! Just a few steps from the hectic train station, there’s an oasis for families hidden behind thick sandstone walls: the Berner Generationenhaus (Bern House of Generations). When it’s sunny outside, you can sit in the lovely and surprisingly quiet and green courtyard, when it’s cold and rainy, head inside to the laid-back café. And, for a change, we’re not referring to the restaurant Toi et Moi, situated in the same building, but to the small cafeteria on the opposite side of the house (go in through the main gate and turn left behind the entrance). Guests get their coffee from the vending machine and bring their own snacks or picnic. A small branch of the Kornhaus library awaits next door, with reading material for old and young. And at the counselling centre for parents, also in the same building, you’ll find one of Bern’s most beautiful changing tables (not that it matters, but it’s definitely a bonus!).
Uncomplicated, economical and centrally located
Lorenzini might not be the perfect place to go if you have several active toddlers: white table cloths, lots of glasses (for the large selection of wines) and lots of business people – need we say more? But with older children, a visit to Lorenzini is a wonderful experience. Where else can children (aged 12 and under) choose their meals from the “big” menu? And at a very fair price (15 Swiss francs for three courses!). The classic Italian cuisine, executed to a very high standard at Lorenzini, is popular with all age groups, which is why the restaurant with its many “salotti” is also perfectly suited for elegant family dinners and celebrations. As is the case for all restaurants of the Bindella group, children are not just tolerated, but very welcome. If you’re looking for something a bit more simple: the Spaghetti Factory on Kornhausplatz (Granary Square) is also highly recommended for families.
Mangia, mangia, piccola!
What place could be more child-friendly than a former fire station? At Löscher on Viktoriaplatz (Viktoria Square), kids can marvel at the large pole that the firefighters used to slide down as well as play with the toys and look at the books that are provided for the little guests. The staff is friendly and uncomplicated and doesn’t mind crawling toddlers and playing children. The food is good, too: everything on the varying menu is seasonal and regional. There’s no children’s menu, but all meals can be ordered in smaller portions. There’s also a courtyard that’s perfect for running around and playing in the summertime. The same building also houses two other family-friendly places, Repaircafé and Leihbar. Please note: Löscher doesn’t take cards, so don’t forget to bring cash.
Quench your thirst here
Eating in front of the TV? What might be strictly forbidden at home is part of Sportbar’s concept. Sportbar Bärn calls itself an “extended living room for sports fanatics and their families and friends”. The many screens can be seen from pretty much every seat and show soccer, ice hockey, tennis and other matches that are broadcast regularly. In the Summer, you can sit on the patio outside while the kids play on Sportbar’s very own playground or watch the tennis players next door – so no need to bring any colouring books or the like. The menu is simple, but with its different fries, burgers and salads, it offers the perfect basis for your next adventure – at the Ka-We-De public swimming pool or Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli, for example, conveniently located nearby.
Ready, set, go!
Here, in the west of Bern, this café offers a luxury that’s rare in the city centre: enough space! Becanto may be a rather small place, but the inside feels airy and spacious while still being cosy. You can stop by for a tasty breakfast (until 4 p.m.!) on weekdays or a delicious, large Sunday brunch. Kids are very welcome at Becanto, there’s a kids’ corner and a children’s brunch package, and the staff is very friendly. And there’s even more: the café’s large outdoor area – partly fenced in – is the perfect place for some quality family time in the summer. And if you want to combine your visit with a bit of physical activity: the Weyermannshaus sports facilities are only a 10-minute walk away. So Becanto is great for a cup of hot chocolate after a visit to the ice skating rink or a refreshing iced tea after a day at the outdoor swimming pool.
A restaurant that has been around for 50 years must be doing something right. Casa d’Italia at 57 Bühlstrasse is a small Italian enclave in Bern: the staff speaks Italian, the pizza oven sits right in the middle of the restaurant and the noise level is high enough to allow for babbling children. The menu is full of Italian classics – antipasti, risotti, Saltimbocca and of course all kinds of pasta variations. Rumour has it that Casa d’Italia serves the best homemade basil pesto in all of Bern, and the Tagliatelle Mamma Leone are divine, too! Our tip: the portions here are large, so bring your Tupperware from home and have the leftovers the next day.
Italianità à Berna
In Bern, everyone knows the Bimano. Visiting the fantastic indoor playground has quickly become a super popular activity for families. Our recommendation for a relaxed dinner with your family: their restaurant, Zent. The adult menu is seasonal and ingenious, the kids’ menu offers quick, simple foods (potato wedges and pasta are always on the menu). While you wait for your food, the little ones can dive into the ball pit or watch the skaters practise their tricks. In sum: Zent is the perfect place for a yummy and relaxed family dinner! The only downside can be getting to its location behind Guisanplatz (Guisan Square) if you’re travelling by public transport and the weather is bad. But the tasty food, the laid-back atmosphere and the fact that your kids will be knackered and fall asleep on your way home are definitely worth it.
Can’t get any more child-friendly than this!