Parents look at the world a little differently than the non-parents do. Fingerprints on the storm door are just part of everyday life, everyone needs an afternoon snack, and the laundry will never (ever) be caught up. Parenting also affects how we look at dining out. Many people consider things like price, quality of food, and service. As important as those things are, the one thing that I really look for when it comes to a restaurant is family-friendliness. Here is a list of my favorite kid-kind joints:
- Buffalo Wild Wings – “BDubs” ranks very high on the list due to the noise factor. This is not a sit-down-and-have-a-deep-conversation type of place. The constant din is at full volume, so we don’t have to worry so much about the kids using their indoor voices. They love the food (even though I find it just so-so) and with about a thousand TV’s they have no problem staying occupied. It’s also not very expensive, which is nice when you have a family of five.
- 17th Street Bar and Grill – Not as noisy as Buffalo Wild Wings, but the kid’s meals come with a free scoop of ice cream. I hate it when restaurants charge nearly as much for a kid’s meal as they do a regular entrée, and it’s barely big enough for a baby to eat. The portions are relatively generous, and the kids were shocked when the waitress asked them what kind of ice cream they wanted. 17th Street, unlike BDubs, has food that I like too, which is always nice. The biggest bonus? Every table has a roll of paper towels, so you never have to ask for more napkins.
- Chili’s – aka “The Big Pepper”, Chili’s has quite a bit going for it. While it doesn’t quite get up to the crashing roar of Buffalo Wild Wings, it is still a pretty raucous place. The kids get a choice of both entrée and side dish, and mommy gets a pomegranate margarita (as long as daddy is driving, of course). I do have to consider that fancy electronic doodad on the table, the Ziosk. You can pay for your meal whenever you like (a plus when we need to get the kids home and into bed) and can play games for a small fee (a potential plus, but we don’t use it for that most of the time).
- Garfield’s – The kids (and parents) can color on the table. Do I really need to say more than that?
Ironically, one of my absolute least-favorite restaurants for the family is McDonald’s. Yes, they have cheap food the kids like, but despite the apple slices in the Happy Meals it is just not healthy food. Yes, many of them have a Playland, but I have actually had to venture inside one of them to rescue my wandering tot. I could not take enough showers that night, and have been loath to let the kiddos play in that biohazard again.
Good luck and happy dining!