By Amy Suski
If you haven't yet been to an American Girl restaurant, I'll let you in on a little secret: the food is REALLY good and well worth the money any day of the week. In addition to plenty of fun kid options (fruit kebobs, mini cheeseburgers, cake pops) there are delicious adult plates, my favorites being the spinach dip and the salmon. [I've been tempted to sneak in myself after a day of shopping at the mall, but somehow going without my daughter would seem like a betrayal!]
Another secret is that you don't have to purchase a birthday package to ensure your daughter's birthday is celebrated in style. Our daughter Izzy has attended official birthday parties there before (which were a big treat) but we've had just as much fun (for less money) with a "ladies lunch" approach and a few special friends.
How do you get the royal birthday treatment? Just make sure your server knows its your daughter's birthday and she'll offer up options to make the meal special -- some free (birthday sticker, birthday candle with dessert) and some for an extra charge (favor bags, birthday cake). Other fun stuff that doesn't cost a dime: every guest may borrow a doll to share lunch with and the waitress will bring tiny cups and plates for the dolls. Also, when the girls had leftovers, the waitress packaged them up in teeny signature red shopping bags which made them very happy.
All said and done, our birthday lunch for 4 girls and 2 adults was around $140 ($17 per person plus beverages, tax and gratuity). If we'd gone the official party route, I expect it would have been $200-$350, depending on the options (see below). What did we miss? We didn't get the cake, but the girls were just as happy with the regular desserts. Whether you purchase the birthday cake or not, the staff will happily sing Happy Birthday when they bring out the desserts. We also didn't get the goody bags, keepsake, or stationary but we're ok with that. Instead we brought dollar store tiaras for the girls, made our own invitations, and sent everyone home with some candy from the Bistro counter. The truth is, any meal at the Bistro is special and celebrating a birthday there is doubly special, with or without the extras.
After eating, the girls enjoyed browsing through the store. If you time it right, you can also participate in one of the store's free crafts or special events. For crafts and special events check the website and ALWAYS make a reservation for your meal (the Bistro often fills up quickly). To find a celebratory meal that fits your budget, prices are listed below:
Disclaimer: Prices do not include tax and gratuity and are subject to change. Prices are based on those at the Washington, D.C./Tysons Corner store but may vary by location. The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and do not represent those of American Girl. We received no special discount or benefit during our visits to American Girl or for this blog.
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