We've heard your requests loud and clear. In our series, Time For Dinner, we feature favorite family-friendly restaurants throughout the city.
Guest Post by Richard Hastings, DBFA Board Member.
"Family Restaurant" There, now, what comes to mind? Menus with pictures of food? I would posit that a family restaurant is one that works for your family at various stages, occasions, etc. Geckos is one of those great neighborhood gems that keeps welcoming us. When Amy and I were dating, it made a great launching pad to meet up with friends for a night out - when we have a sitter, it still does. After settling together in Butchers Hill, Geckos made for a great weeknight dinner to catch up with each other's days - or discuss baby names! Both sets of in-laws even love it! Life continues to change... now we need a table for four with a high chair and room to park the stroller and Geckos continues as a casual favorite.
It's about leadership:
Nick, the owner, is always ready with a smile and a warm welcome. He also tends to remember your favorite drink and actively supports the community. The casual hospitality and personal service describes Nick, his staff, and the overall feeling of the place. Consistency, often a challenge for neighborhood places, is a strength here. Margaritas? Consistently great. Sangria? Always top-notch. And two Mango Chipotle BBQ Chicken Enchiladas ordered months apart? Strikingly similar and super tasty.
So what about the food?
The house made chips and salsa are a necessity. Some of our favorites are the Southwestern Caesar, the Grilled Portabella Salad, and the Southwest Cobb. Salads are definitely entree-size and always fresh and crisp. Entree favorites in addition to the aforementioned are the Wild Mushroom and Cheese Enchilada and the Jerked Chicken & Sweet Potato Quesadilla. Consistent, yes, but there is also an ever-evolving list of specials to keep you coming back. The food is always freshly prepared and always interesting.
And the kids?
Sometimes previously warm and friendly places cool a bit when your family grows, right? Not Geckos. We stopped by early on a weekend night with our daughter a few months after her birth, received congratulations delivered with a genuine warmth normally reserved for family. Our now one-year-old in her stroller are always greeted with smiles by owner, staff, and patrons alike. But be smart. Lunch or early dinner works great for our little one and the others we see there. Past bedtime on weekend nights, the place gets crowded. There are a few high chairs but not a fleet. Until high chair age was upon us, having our daughter join us at the table in her stroller worked well. A lift over the entry threshold is necessary for that stroller and there are several steps up to the dining room. There is no space in the restrooms for a changing station but, when diaper changes have been necessary, we have been able to find a discrete corner on one of the four levels.
Going for playtime in Patterson Park? In need of a casual date night? Looking for a unique neighborhood place out of town friends will enjoy. Geckos fits our family.
Richard Hastings is senior associate director of external affairs for the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University. Richard credits longtime friends in Fell's Point for introducing him to Baltimore, to his lovely wife Amy and to Johns Hopkins. Amy and Richard reside in Butchers Hill with their daughter Eliana, who they welcomed in the summer of 2010. Richard is chair of the Resource Development Committee for the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance.