Dear Janice: Do you have any recommendations for kid-friendly places to eat? We have a well-behaved 3-year-old. We know a couple of places that are good and kid-friendly (and no place has specifically made us feel unwelcome), but we seem to be left with choosing chains or pizzerias for the most part. Some healthy options would be helpful, too. Thanks.

-- Bill, Kenmore

This is a good question, Bill. And certainly many options are available. For instance, you can try the ethnic restaurant route.

Most children love pasta, so you could take your child to an Italian "Mom and Pop" dining spot. There are many in the area, but I'll suggest Chef's, 291 Seneca St. Why? Because there are two fish tanks in the dining room, which generations of Western New York tots have gawked at through the years. If restlessness sets in, take a little walk to see them -- you won't bother other diners at all.

Also, the staff is good with children. Yes, there is a children's menu (skip the chicken fingers), but that's not what I mean. True story: When our grandson was very little, we went to Chef's and he was put out because everyone else at the table was served salad -- never mind that he didn't like salad at the time.

He quietly slid under the table and sat there for a while -- as I said, he was very small, so he fit. The staff stayed cool and we ignored him. Eventually, he crept out. Your child would never do this, of course, but it's good to know.

(The kid is in college now and eats a lot of salad.)

Other small ethnic restaurants are good for kids, too. Greek places, for instance. The Family Tree, 4346 N. Bailey Ave., Amherst, is a true family restaurant. It is comfortable, though certainly not fancy, and it has a kids' menu and incredibly nice service.

Or, nearer to you and larger, try Plaka, 2904 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.

Asian food is another good choice. You'll get a warm welcome and good food at Red Pepper, 3910 Maple Road, Amherst. Or try Eastern Pearl, 938 Maple Road, Amherst, for a little more ambience.

And then there is Curly's, 647 Ridge Road, Lackawanna, a fine restaurant with a friendly staff. The children's menu sports those ubiquitous chicken fingers and fries, but a child may also get pasta with or without red sauce and/or a grilled cheese sandwich.

And Mom and Dad can feast on jerk chicken.

Send your dining questions and comments to longtime Buffalo News restaurant reviewer Janice Okun at