There are kids’ restaurants and then there are kids’ restaurants. Parents are so thrilled to find a place they can bring a baby that they may continue patronizing a restaurant their child has long outgrown. Habana Outpost, in Fort Greene, is great for kids (and adults) of all ages.
Several aspects make it special. There is the food: a Cuban/Mexican mash-up that most kids can’t get enough of — corn dusted with spices and cheese (hold the spice for gentle palates), burgers, hot dogs (and veggie alternatives), and quesadillas and wraps for more adventurous tastes. There is no children’s menu, but with sides like black beans and rice ($3 each) or mango on a stick (also $3), you can let junior sample a few dishes and not break the bank.
Adults are treated well, too. There is cactus salad, and a catfish or mushroom & goat cheese wrap, with spicy sauce. And the bar makes a mean mojito with rum and mint; $8, for at least double the size you get in most restaurants.
On weekends, Habana Outpost has a kids’ corner, with arts and crafts, face painting, and free coloring books. If your child has outgrown the crafts table and little kids’ chair, he might be intrigued by the small herb garden, the ladybugs, or the worm box where compost is made. And weekends also feature an open-air market; teens can shop for jewelry, sandals or brightly-colored clothing before or after a meal. The restaurant is very community minded; the artists at the flea market are local (including one who works at Habana, and designs T-shirts for kids with multi-colored ‘superhero’ capes), and there is free Wi-Fi.
Food service is very much self; you order at the bar and pick up your food from the ‘kitchen’ outside, a retrofitted truck. You might share your picnic table with another family. And you are expected to sort your trash. The cutlery, plates and cups are made from plant products, and can be composted. Children can be given the job of sorting it all out. Kids can also make a fruit smoothie using a bike blender; this saves you a dollar. The pedaling powers the blender — you choose your fruit. The bike is wildly decorated with horns, bells and streamers; the woman who runs the bike blender will also make a spectacle of you or your child making a smoothie, so if you are shy, let her know.
Habana Outpost serves organic food and is solar-powered, so you truly get an ecology lesson with your meal. Collected energy is used to power the ceiling fans inside, and the speakers outside, which broadcast the live DJ’s music. On Sunday nights in the summer, there are free outdoor movies. The outpost (a branch of Café Habana in Soho) is open year–round; the market and kids’ activities run through the end of October.
Where: 757 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
When: Wednesday-Friday, 4pm-midnight; Saturday & Sunday, noon-midnight
How to get there: Don’t drive! The restaurant is literally on top of the C train’s Lafayette Ave. station. You can also take the G, N, R, 4, 5, D or Q to nearby stations.
For more info: (718) 858-9500; www.ecoeatery.com
Note: Cash only
“There was a solar powered restaurant. I made a smoothie by biking. It was mango with O.J. I got a shirt with a cape behind it. It’s really cool! They use a recycled mail truck as their kitchen. They have famous corn. It’s grilled with cheese. Yum!! The toilet stall has an open roof. The sprinkler comes from the truck instead of gas. It also waters the plants and is fun for a hot day. There is a kids’ corner and I made a duck hand puppet. There is a fountain. There also is movie night.”
— Nora Brown, 8