Bakers George, Ameen and Wadi Choueiri know about family. They learnt their craft from dad Chafic, who established Melbourne institution A1 Bakery, beloved for its Lebanese pizzas. Now the brothers have their own slice of the pie with Zaatar in Coburg. Decorated with colourful Middle Eastern flair, savoury pastries are baked daily to dad's exacting recipes. There's a happy hubbub with teens in hijab gossiping over spinach and sumac pies, and families tearing into pizzas dotted with soujok (Turkish pepperoni). The simple, herbaceous zaatar is a standout, while a cheese and Vegemite pie will win over even the pickiest eater. With no pastry over $5, you can feed the hungry horde without breaking a sweat.
Zaatar, 365 Sydney Road, Coburg, 9939 9494. zaatar.com.au
A family-friendly cafe in the 'burbs might not be a shock. But take that cafe, add some coffee-geek chic in the form of a fully manual Synesso machine, and you've got a winner on your hands. Chapter Too is the second chapter in the lives of Rob Salha, Varun Mahindru and Nick Panagopoulos, who threw in their day jobs to bring some inner-city zing to the outer east. Families love their new local for its funky fitout, pram-friendly access and 5 Senses coffee. There's a kids' menu with pikelets and fruit salad, or you are invited to call fusspots' bluff with the breakfast board. This is a shareable feast of eggs, chorizo, Bircher muesli, vanilla bean yoghurt and other goodies.
Chapter Too, shop 3, 110 Canterbury Road, Heathmont, 9720 0544. facebook.com/ChapterToo.
Famous Blue Raincoat
Settle in for the school hols at South Kingsville's Famous Blue Raincoat. This much-loved local haunt has undergone a facelift, ditching the grungy vibe with fresh white walls and shiny dark floorboards. A colouring-in page doubles as a kids' menu, with generous serves of spaghetti and meatballs or toad in the hole for a mere $5. Littlies will love checking out co-owner Kaz Seed's kitsch salt-and-pepper shakers, including everything from swans to VW Kombis. The courtyard boasts a chilled-out gazebo, where grown-ups can lounge on couches while kids get busy with chalk. On Sunday afternoons, bring the children in for a boogie to some live tunes while parents sip sangria.
Famous Blue Raincoat, 25B Vernon Street, South Kingsville, 9391 8520. famousblueraincoat.com.au
Hands up who's set up holiday craft for the kids, only to be left with spilt glue, hand prints on the walls and a killer headache? If you're tearing your hair out and craving a coffee, bundle them up and head to Crafternoon. Here, you can order from a craft menu just as you would a cappuccino. There's painting (trinket boxes and picture frames), playdough in three colours and badge making for bigger kids. Kids get all the gear and owner Tegan Cumerford and team do the clean-up afterwards. Masterpiece complete, it's time for Ninja Bread (fairy bread in ninja shapes), toasted sandwiches in two sizes or the Hulk Smash - avocado, mint, lemon and goat's cheese on toast.
Crafternoon, 531 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, 9077 6998.
Yes, it's a stone's throw from Rumi and 400 Gradi, but would you head there with children on board? Feed the family at laid-back Jimmi Jamz, which focuses unashamedly on cheap pizza and cheap wine. Each thin-based disc clocks in for less than $12 and might feature bocconcini and basil or even Korean barbecue beef. The bases aren't overly filling and some versions can be a touch oily, but teens and tinies alike will still tuck in with gusto. Stop in at lunchtime or all day Monday and Tuesday, when selected pizzas are $6. The Brunswick East location has a courtyard, while in Elwood, there's a kids' cubbyhouse and $3 cleanskin wine at happy hour.
Jimmi Jamz, 175-177 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, 9388 0146; and 130-132 Ormond Road, Elwood, 9531 4130. jimmijamz.com