50 States of Kid-Friendly Restaurants
These restaurants are stepping up their family-friendly dining game by offering scratch-made kids' menus that feature creative takes on the classics as well as approachable palate-expanding options, plus entertainment options galore and extra-friendly service. From bakeshops to brewpubs to bowling alleys, here are the spots you and your brood should check out in your home state or on your next family vacation.
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The Hangout in Alabama
Perched on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, The Hangout lives up to its motto of "Fresh fun served daily!" with live music and an outside courtyard with a giant sandpit, foosball and ping pong, and a giant foam machine. The fun continues inside with walls covered with Pez dispensers, matchbox cars, rubber ducks and toy collections, and a crowd-pleasing kids’ menu. You’ll find the usual suspects like burgers and hot dogs, but for a local taste, encourage tots to try the popcorn shrimp, served in an actual popcorn bag with local shrimp, popcorn and French fries. For the adults, a winning order is the Ragin’ Shrimp Tacos paired with a beachy signature cocktail, like the Sassy Southern Belle.
Bear Tooth Theatre Pub in Alaska
If dinner and a show is your ideal family night out, Bear Tooth Theatre Pub in Anchorage delivers on both counts with a creative menu of pizzas, tacos and salads delivered to your movie theatre seat. Order a signature pie for the whole family or let kids under 12 choose options like beef tacos, quesadillas and fruit or veggie plates from the dedicated kids’ menu. Adults can share appetizers like oven-baked pretzel sticks basted in Broken Tooth Brewing’s Pipeline Stout, served with a side of Prince William Porter cheese sauce, and dishes inspired by Alaska’s coastal bounty, like seared salmon tacos or blackened cod burritos. If your crew is more inclined to just grab a bite, drop by Bear Tooth Grill for burgers and creative Alaskan seafood- and Tex-Mex-inspired entrees, or Moose’s Tooth for scratch-made, stone-baked pizzas and craft suds from Broken Tooth Brewing.
The Purple Cow Restaurant in Arkansas
The Purple Cow is a '50s-style diner slinging gourmet burgers and old-fashioned soda-fountain treats with a side of nostalgia and friendly service. The locally owned restaurant first opened in Little Rock in 1989, and now includes several locations across the state. Many are located near attractions like the Little Rock Zoo or Pinnacle Mountain, making a stop at The Purple Cow ideal on family outings. Bright purple and spotted décor — complete with the namesake mascot, Polly — and seasonal activity sheets keep kids busy while they wait for Kid's Fun Spot menu favorites like the signature Elvis Sandwich or corndog nuggets to arrive, rounded out with healthy sides like fresh fruit cups and applesauce. Cap off your meal with a round of milkshakes, like the signature Purple Vanilla for kids and the adult shake Apple Pie Lightning, made with Rocktown Distillery's Apple Pie Lighting moonshine and chunks of homemade apple pie.
Camp Social in Arizona
Phoenix's Camp Social is a shout out to summer campers, RV'ers and outdoorsy types, complete with decorative touches like a carved wooden bear and a starry night-inspired ceiling, as well as a menu that subtly nods to the outdoors and national parks. While kids play in the game room — outfitted with giant Jenga, ping pong, shuffle board, a large-scale Connect Four and vintage video games — adults can relax with a cocktail like the Firefly, a sweet-and-spicy vodka-based tipple. Kids can opt for pizza and chicken fingers, but the real incentive for finishing dinners is dessert: The camping vibes continue with a DIY s'mores kit, letting diners toast their own homemade marshmallows.
Au Fudge in California
Leave it to some of Hollywood’s most-stylish celebrities, actress Jessica Biel and stylist and designer Estee Stanley among them, to come up with a restaurant that delivers foodie-approved menus and a family-friendly experience in a very chic space. At Au Fudge in West Hollywood, parents and kids can dine together in the main dining room on familiar favorites like chicken nuggets with sweet mustard, or palate-expanding options like cauliflower steaks. After the kids eat, parents can check their children into the kids’ section, a separate play area spanning two rooms that’s monitored by special restaurant employees called Au Pairs. Treat yourself to a brunch favorite like the Benedict Burger, a beef patty topped with an egg, Gruyere, arugula, red onion compote and tarragon-spiked béarnaise, all piled onto a brioche bun. Check the calendar to catch special events like Parent and Me Pilates and weekend workshops covering hands-on activities like cooking, gardening, knitting and robot building.
Next Door Eatery in Colorado
With its farm-fresh American menu and five locations state-wide, Next Door Eatery in Denver has become a go-to for families who don’t want to sacrifice quality eats just to keep kids happy. Next Door’s menu upholds its promise of "serving real food sourced from American farmers" with colorful, kid-friendly favorites like scratch-made mac and cheese with a side of their locally beloved kale chips (order extra for sharing at the table), or the fan-favorite beet burger slider paired with tomato soup. Kids can keep themselves busy with stacks of games and kids’ menus printed with puzzles, while parents soak up the laid-back vibes with wine or beer. Besides serving wholesome food in their restaurants, Next Door’s co-owners, Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk, further their passion for childhood nutrition with Big Green, their non-profit organization that builds outdoor Learning Garden Classrooms in schools state-wide.
Arethusa Farm Dairy in Connecticut
As you leave Connecticut's coast, the scenery turns into a pastoral painting of farm fields dotted with cows, largely because of the state's concentration of dairy farms. At Litchfield's Arethusa Farm Dairy, visitors can get up close to their prize-winning Holsteins, Jerseys and Brown Swiss cattle roaming the five-acre plot and sample craft-made dairy delights. Take a tour of the farm (on Saturdays you can visit the milking barn), then stop by the dairy shop for scoops of handmade ice cream crafted with milk from Arethusa's herd. The classic flavors are all here, but keep an eye out for seasonal scoops like peach, raspberry or maple-walnut. If you're craving more sustenance, grab bakery treats like pastries, doughnuts and bagels from Al Mano, or sample Chef Dan Magill's refined seed-to-table cuisine, starring produce from Arethusa Gardens and the dairy's milk, cheese, butter and yogurt.
Crooked Hammock Brewery in Delaware
With its giant hammocks on a manicured turf lawn outfitted with lawn games, and a menu of casual cookout eats and craft beers, Crooked Hammock Brewery reads like the backyard barbecue of your dreams. It’s the perfect refuge after a day of fun in the sun at Lewes-area beaches or adventures in Cape Henlopen State Park. Let your kids customize their order from the dedicated kids’ menu, and throw in the fan-favorite giant German pretzel. The backyard playground is ideal for kids looking to burn off energy, with corn hole, ping pong, giant Jenga or ring toss for older kids. Keep the endless summer vibes going with an order of Pineapple Express wings, slow-cooked chicken wings in a crisp coconut breading served with a sweet-and-spicy pineapple sauce, and pair with Crooked Hammock Brewery’s craft suds, like the house favorite Wai Ola, a California-style coconut ale. Cap off the evening with an order of the DIY Fireside S’mores.
Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour in Florida
An old-fashioned ice cream parlor and restaurant, Jaxson’s serves up homemade ice cream and classic American eats with a side of nostalgia. Its collection of American antiques and memorabilia — including license plates, stuffed animals, a vintage fortune teller machine and a working carousel — makes it a favorite among Dania Beach locals and Ft. Lauderdale tourists alike. After they take a ride on the carousel, kids can order crowd-pleasers like burgers and hot dogs from the Jaxson’s for Juniors menu. Dishes from the Juniors menu come with an ice cream sundae — choose from 50 flavors, plus housemade toppings like cherry-pineapple or chocolate syrup — capped off with whipped cream, a cherry and a lit sparkler if it’s your birthday. Adults can’t go wrong with the line-up of salads and sandwiches, like corned beef or hot pastrami on marble rye, a nod to original owner Monroe Udell’s Jewish roots. Beloved scoops include seasonal Key lime pie and mango, or the locally-inspired B-100 Scoop of the Century Mocha Caramel Coconut Crackle, created in celebration of Broward County's 100th birthday. Kids often go for the Oreo flavor.
Torched Hop Brewing Company in Georgia
With its stepped-up pub-grub menu and house-brewed craft suds, Atlanta’s Torched Hop Brewing Company is a win-win for Peach State families. Housed in a former warehouse in Atlanta, Torched Hop has ample entertainment options for kids of all ages, like shuffleboard, a bocce ball court and vintage arcade games, including a Nintendo 64. There’s no kids’ menu, but the pizzas and small plates of pimento mac and cheese or Wu-Fries, topped with buffalo chicken, ranch, cheddar and bacon, are beloved by little ones, and great for sharing. Adults can choose from 20 rotating beers on tap, like the Georgia on My Grind, redolent of coffee and chocolate, or the Double Ponce de Leon; it’s named for the brewery’s location, but its stone-fruit flavors are also a subtle nod to the Peach State. Save room for the banana pudding, a classic Southern dessert made from a family recipe passed down from Executive Chef Dan Brown’s grandmother.
Ted's Bakery in Hawaii
Oahu's North Shore may be best known as a surfer's paradise, but it's also home to Ted's Bakery, which s ideal after a day at the beach. The local institution started selling coffee and pastries in 1987, quickly gaining a following for their Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie. These days, you can also find savory sustenance all day, including local favorites like the Loco Moco, a hearty breakfast of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy, or a plate lunch, Hawaii's answer to the Southern meat-and-three. Choose from favorites like garlic shrimp, Hawaiian BBQ chicken or teriyaki beef, served with two scoops of white rice and macaroni salad (or sub in brown rice and a tossed salad); portions are shareable, so order a couple to split. There's plenty of outdoor seating, but many visitors order food to take on a picnic at nearby Sunset Beach Park. Beyond the Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie, try the Pineapple Macadamia Nut Upside Down Cake, made with macadamia nuts from the Big Island's Hamakua region.
Fork in Idaho
Though it's housed in a centuries-old historic building in the heart of downtown Boise, Fork is a modern American eatery that's become a local go-to for families. As parents of little ones themselves, owners Cameron and Amanda Lumsden know first-hand how hard it can be for parents to enjoy a night out, so they provide a small box filled with toys, crayons and coloring books to keep little ones engaged while they wait for entrees like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken fingers, served with a bowl of fruit or scoop of local Cloverleaf Creamery ice cream for dessert. Sharing is encouraged with fan-favorites like asparagus "fries" with ranch dipping sauce, and tomato-basil fondue served with garlic-basted grilled cheese squares, but for a true taste of the region, opt for the Idaho river trout served with grilled kale and roasted red pepper coulis and basil oil. Bonus: Fork welcomes dogs on the patio, pampering them with dog treats and water bowls.
Roots Handmade Pizza in Illinois
Chicago’s culinary calling card may be its deep-dish-style pizza, but there’s another pie vying for the honor: Quad Cities-style pizza, named for the small region of four cities located where Iowa meets Illinois. In the Windy City, you can find it at family-friendly pizzeria Roots Handmade Pizza, where the pies honor the pizza style’s defining characteristics: a malt-heavy, chewy-nutty thin crust with a chile flake- and cayenne-laced red sauce, served in scissor-cut strips. There’s a pie for every palate, with toppings like housemade sausage, taco fillings or short rib, as well as a specialty pies created by local guest chefs. Kids get pizza dough to play with throughout the meal and a kids’ menu to color on; kids’ non-pizza options include mini corn dogs or housemade fettuccine with butter. The mozzarella sticks — using housemade mozzarella and garlic-herbed breadcrumbs — are perfect for sharing. Build in a family outing and stop by Roots’ West Town location after a day at Kids Science Labs or Little Adventures, or the Lincoln Square location after visiting Lillstreet Art Center and Winnemac Park.
Hollyhock Hill in Indiana
The origins of the Hoosier State’s nickname are murky at best, which explains why pan-fried chicken is a Hoosier tradition that just simply is. Get a taste at Hollyhock Hill, an Indianapolis institution that’s been around since 1928. They’re beloved for their family-style Indiana chicken dinner, starring skillet-fried chicken that follows a 90-year-old recipe: a mix of light and dark meat chicken are dredged in a proprietary tri-flour mix and fried in lard to exceptionally crunchy-juicy results. The spread is rounded out with classic sides like sweet corn, smoky green beans and mashed potatoes and pan gravy, and homemade biscuits and rolls with apple butter. The dinners are a hit with the whole family, but little ones who want their own dish can go for chicken tenders served with a side of homemade ranch dressing, and mac and cheese with a crust of crushed Goldfish crackers. Be sure to stop by Hollyhock Hill’s two wishing wells for a family photo opportunity and to toss in a coin and make a wish.
Bluebird Diner in Iowa
Bluebird Diner set out to be a casual go-to spot for updates on classic American fare. With their location near the heart of the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, and a from-scratch menu that has something for everyone, Bluebird Diner quickly became a family favorite. To wit, menu highlights include soft scrambled eggs topped with shaved black truffles and a chile-rubbed New York strip steak topped with bourbon-maple butter. Kids can’t get enough of the fluffy pancakes topped with bananas, strawberries or chocolate chips, and the Lil' Elvis, a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich served on housemade bread. Don’t miss the Huevos Epsteinos, with pulled pork, Parmesan polenta, two eggs and green chile, and be sure to save room for one of their seasonal homemade desserts, like the perennially popular blueberry pie.
River City Brewing Company in Kansas
Wichita's River City Brewing Company is housed in the former historic Bennett Paint Co. building, but in 1993 it made history of its own as the first brewery to open in Wichita in over half a century. And while it has earned a following for its craft-brewed suds, the brewpub is also a favorite family-friendly destination. While you're in the Old Town entertainment district, plan a visit to The Museum of World Treasures, then unearth culinary treasures from River City Brewing's scratch-made menu, like housemade pork rinds and six kinds of mac and cheese, including the cult-favorite original made with jumbo shells, creamy sauce and toasted breadcrumbs. Adults can double down on the beer theme with the apple cheddar ale soup, made with River City Brewing's flagship Rock Island Red Ale and local smoked pork sausage. Be on the lookout for highly anticipated events like the Christmas Eve-timed The Grinch, where the namesake house-brewed barley wine is served alongside a breakfast of green eggs and ham and biscuits and gravy.
Doodles Breakfast & Lunch in Kentucky
With its light-flooded glass-enclosed dining room and cherry blossom-lined patio, Doodles Breakfast & Lunch doesn’t look like it’s housed in a former gas station. For nearly a decade, Doodles has served Lexington locals and visitors "comfort food with a conscience," emphasizing scratch-made and local ingredients. Factor in a stop at Doodles before a family outing to nearby Lexington Children’s Museum, Lexington Children's Theater, Rupp Arena or the Convention Center. For the kids, there’s the best-selling Johnny Cakes, Southern-style pancakes made with cornmeal and served with whipped cream, sprinkles and chocolate chips. There are also crowd-pleasing signature dishes like the Pigs and Puffs, featuring a duo of beignets and bacon topped with fruit and powdered sugar, and the KY Hot Brown Quesadilla, a riff on the state’s famous hot open-faced turkey sandwich that features a grilled whole wheat tortilla filled with local eggs, bacon, turkey, tomatoes and cheddar cheese.
La Boulangerie in Louisiana
In a nod to the Big Easy’s French heritage, La Boulangerie in New Orleans is equal parts French bakery and neighborhood bistro. Whether families stop by for morning coffee or an after-school treat, the dazzling display cases offer an eye-popping assortment of beautiful pastries, like morning buns, lemon meringue tarts and the fan-favorite chocolate croissants, made with creme-de-la-creme Valrhona chocolate. If you’re lingering for lunch, you’ll find locally inspired favorites like seasonal crawfish dishes or muffuletta stromboli, featuring meats from sister restaurant Cochon Butcher. The bakery also serves seasonal housemade ice cream in waffle cones, which make a perfect treat after a day at the nearby Audubon Zoo.
DiMillo's Restaurant and Lounge in Maine
Waterfront dining doesn’t get much better than DiMillo’s Restaurant and Lounge, a historic floating restaurant in Portland that’s dished out Maine’s freshest catches since 1982. There’s plenty to choose from, like steamed Maine clams served in broth, fried North Atlantic shrimp and walnut-dusted Atlantic scallops, as well as, of course, lobster. Maine’s most-famous crustacean rightfully claims its own menu section: lobsters in the shell are served steamed or stuffed-and-baked, and you can opt to gild the lily by topping it with more Maine lobster or crab, or get it out of the shell sautéed in butter or deep-fried. There’s also a locally famous lobster mac and cheese, with bowtie pasta and lobster meat tossed in a lobster-mascarpone cheese sauce finished with lobster stuffing crumbs. Kids’ meals feature entrees like baked haddock with veggies, or pasta with meatballs, and come with a drink, fruit or veggies with dip on the side, and ice cream or an ice cream sandwich for dessert.
Breaking Bread in Maryland
Baltimore natives Kimberly and Edward Ellis built a local following with their Stickywings, first at area farmers' markets and food festivals and now at their Pigtown brick-and-mortar joint, Breaking Bread, which reflects their philosophy of creating a place where everyone is welcome to sit down and eat. As parents and grandparents, they prioritize fostering a family-friendly atmosphere, so staff are especially friendly and well-trained, and they host family game night, which includes games like Uno, Trouble, Connect Four and Jenga, with free popcorn and Kool-Aid. The scratch-made menu features kid-approved favorites like mac and cheese and chicken tenders, plus the aptly named wings, made with Kim's top-secret Asian-inspired, honey-based sauce and available in jerk, barbecue, hot honey or Buffalo, and a roster of gourmet burgers (get the jerk turkey or lamb). The Ellises further their mission to feed others through Kim's Chewmanity project, which helps families with young children learn to make nutritious meals and gather around the table at least once a week; they also serve the community with clothing drives, fundraisers, cooking classes and mentoring.
The Summer Shack in Massachusetts
No matter what winter storms swirl through Massachusetts, it’s always summer at The Summer Shack. The Boston and Cambridge restaurant pays homage to the traditional New England clam shack with a menu of regional favorites like raw Atlantic oysters, clam chowder and Jasper’s famous pan-roasted lobster, prepared with bourbon, chervil and chives. Kids can see live lobsters in tanks (not on the restaurant floor) and staff offer "lobster lessons" by sharing facts and picking up the clawed crustaceans for children to observe up close. From the $10 prix-fixe menu, kids can get in on the seafood theme with options like grilled Florida gulf shrimp or locally sourced fish sticks, paired with a side of fries, peas or corn on the cob. It’s a family-friendly affair all around, but particularly on Sunday nights, when there’s a balloon artist on site and a make-your-own-sundae bar. Special events like clambakes and lobster dinners are eat-with-your-hands-affairs that level the playing field with bibs for all.
Zingerman's Roadhouse in Michigan
Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw opened Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor in 1982 with the goal of serving great sandwiches made with locally sourced, artisanal ingredients. Their meticulous sourcing is evident across their mini empire of restaurants, including Zingerman’s Roadhouse, which serves a menu of regional American classics, using Niman Ranch pasture-raised hogs for their whole-hog pit barbecue; Amish chickens for their buttermilk fried chicken; pasture-raised beef that’s butchered and dry-aged in-house to create custom burger blends and steaks; and artisan Martelli pasta for their Alton Brown-approved macaroni and cheese. There’s a separate kids’ menu, but smaller portions of barbecue, fish and chips and gourmet grilled cheese are also available, for children looking to expand their palate. The staff is exceptionally accommodating, offering to put kids’ orders in first, and even making pig-shaped crayons to accompany the kids’ coloring pages. No visit to Zingerman’s is complete without a doughnut sundae — you’ll have to stop in every day of the week to try them all, but Monday’s Everything is Better with Bacon Sundae, starring housemade Dutch buttermilk doughnuts, bacon-chocolate gravy, Applewood-smoked bacon and bourbon-caramel sauce, is a good place to start.
Tilia in Minnesota
Family-friendly vibes? Check. Quaint neighborhood location? Check. James Beard Foundation Award-nominated chef? Check. When Tilia opened its doors in 2011, chef and co-owner Steven Brown and his business partner, Jörg Pierach, were both fathers of young children, so it was important that the restaurant delivered both quality scratch-made food and a welcoming atmosphere. That mission rings true today: Kids are welcomed with a "busy box" filled with sketch books and crayons and fun toys like rubber dinosaurs and finger puppets, and the value-priced kids’ menu ($4 for kids under 12) includes favorites like meatloaf made with Wild Acres’ turkey, and fish and chips made with Canadian northern pike, plus homemade cookies for dessert. Parents can enjoy signature hand-rolled pastas like ricotta cavatelli or cacio e pepe tonnarelli, paired with local brews (look for Pryes Brewing Company’s Miraculum IPA) or a glass of wine from the well-curated list of natural and small-producer wines. Be sure to stop by Wild Rumpus Bookstore a few doors down — besides an outstanding assortment of kids’ books, there’s a menagerie of pets, including ferrets and chickens, walking around.
Shaggy's in Mississippi
No matter which of Shaggy’s three open-air waterfront locations you visit, you’ll find the Mississippi Gulf Coast trifecta: food, family and fun. The chalkboard kids’ menu includes options like popcorn shrimp and the junior cheeseburger, with sides like French fries, tater tots, veggies, fruit and salads. A supply of chalk is on-hand for little ones to decorate the chalkboard while they wait. Parents can’t go wrong with seafood — the shrimp basket and chargrilled oysters are perennial favorites — but Shaggy’s has also earned a cult following for its namesake cheeseburger. Whatever you order, keep the breezy vacation vibes going with a signature cocktail like Shaggy’s Coronarita or a coconut cream pie martini. There’s also plenty of fun to be had: Each location has a designated kids’ play area, like a pirate ship playground, private beach or deck outfitted with games like Giant Jenga, Connect 4 and Corn Hole, and activities like kids’ karaoke and face painting. The restaurant also funds The Shaggy’s Kids Foundation, which strives to educate children about Gulf Coast marine life.
Fritz's Railroad Restaurant in Missouri
Despite its name, Fritz's Railroad Restaurant was originally a drive-in restaurant, but after founder Fritz Kropf designed and developed a food-delivery system that took on the look of a train, he adopted and enhanced the railroad theme. To wit, kids get their own paper engineer hat, there are several operating model trains chugging throughout the restaurant, and after you place your order by telephone, food is delivered directly to your table via an overhead train and elevator system. The Little Engineers Meal features kid-friendly options like cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets or grilled cheese, all served with French fries or fruit. From the roster of old-fashioned burgers, opt for the Gen Dare, a hash brown- and grilled onion-topped cheeseburger named after Fritz's wife, Virginia. Fritz’s Kansas City Crown Center location makes it a staple for family outings, especially to nearby LEGOLand and SeaLife.
Starky’s Authentic Americana in Montana
With its proximity to Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky Resort, Bozeman is a year-round draw for tourists, so it’s a good thing that Starky’s Authentic Americana is particularly adept at serving families — it was owners Glen and Kathy Stark’s dream to open a restaurant catering to travelers with families. Kids’ orders are taken first — try the local Montana beef burger or grilled chicken dinner — drinks (with lids and straws, if needed) are delivered quickly, and snacks are offered to particularly hungry tots. While adults settle in with a glass of wine or a beer, little ones can keep themselves entertained with kids’ menu games and a bucket of crayons, or roam the dining room to ogle the display of house-baked giant cookies or mini cupcakes (which make for a great incentive to behave). In their mission to offer #goodfoodforall, Starky’s menu features scratch-made American classics like their famous "Montana’s Best Reuben" and a nearly equally lauded vegan version made with seitan, plus a wide variety of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options. And don’t worry if there’s a wait: Leave your name and number with the host and pass the time at neighboring Rocky Mountain Toy Company.
Kitchen Table Omaha in Nebraska
As the name suggests, Kitchen Table Omaha’s goal is to make diners feel like they’re at their own kitchen table, a natural meeting point for families to gather, eat and make memories. Regulars are greeted by name and out-of-towners, fresh off a flight at the nearby airport or a day at the Joslyn Art Museum, are welcomed with a seat at the table. The food reflects the homey vibe with a focus on scratch-made comfort foods filtered through a local, seasonal lens — 90% of the menu is locally sourced from more than 40 local farms. Kid-friendly options include a PB&J crafted with housemade nut butter and jam, housemade veggie dogs served as sliders atop flaky, cheesy pastry, and a rotating roster of gourmet grilled cheese served on house-baked sourdough bread. The community-driven focus also extends to their footprint: At both their downtown and Film Streams Dundee locations, the restaurant composts and recycles glass, aluminum and cardboard, and wine and local beers are served on tap to reduce waste.
Honey Salt in Nevada
With its chic farmhouse decor, relaxed vibes and focus on local ingredients, farm-to-table restaurant Honey Salt in Las Vegas shines like an oasis in the Nevada desert. The special kids’ menu, Cole’s Corner, is named after and inspired by owners Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla’s son, highlighting "Cole Tested, Mom Approved" entrees like cornflake-crusted chicken tenders and sides like grilled asparagus, tater tots or broccoli and cheese. Perennially popular dishes include the shareable flatbreads (try the prosciutto with Bellwether farms ricotta, Mission figs and grilled pears) and the Grain Power, a salad of red and white quinoa and beluga lentils topped with avocado, shaved fennel and radish dressed in a citrus vinaigrette. For dessert there’s the kids’ menu "sushi," a sweet twist on maki rolls made with puffed rice cereal and gummies, or the Brookie, a chocolate chip cookie and fudge brownie hybrid served with salted caramel chunk ice cream. Keep an eye out for their monthly Farm Table series, which highlights chef collaborations, seasonal celebrations like Chinese New Year or specific ingredients, like Nevada’s Borda Family Lamb.
Mr. Mac's in New Hampshire
Mr. Mac’s believes in the unifying power of comfort food, so the staff went all-in on a mac and cheese restaurant, with locations in Manchester and Portsmouth. All 21 of the signature mac-and-cheese entrees are skillet-baked to order, but for a true taste of New England, opt for the Lobstah Mac (spelled with the regional pronunciation). Al dente macaroni is tossed with béchamel sauce and sharp cheddar, baby Swiss and a touch of Pecorino Romano to create an exceptionally creamy sauce, folded with chunks of claw and knuckle lobster meat, then baked until bubbly and golden. Other fan-favorites include the Taco Mac, where noodles are mixed with ground beef, taco seasoning, salsa, American and cheddar cheeses, all layered with tortilla chips; the Classic Mac melds cheddar and American cheese into nostalgia-inducing effect for the adults. Kids can also let their creativity shine with the Make Your Own option, letting them customize their cheese, sauce, seasoning, veggies and meat.
Jefferson Diner in New Jersey
In a state famous for its diners, Jefferson Diner stands above as a truly family affair. Brothers Nick and Jimmy Seretis are co-owners, their mom makes the daily homemade soups, and a section of the impressively large menu honors their Greek roots (featuring their mom's famous moussaka). The retro diner atmosphere is family-friendly, but the staff is particularly adept at catering to kids and keeping them entertained while parents finish their meal. The children’s menu offers several healthy and homemade options, like a turkey dinner with house-roasted turkey served with homemade mashed potatoes, gravy and steamed veggies, and few — young or old — can resist ordering the oversized, fluffy pancakes. New Yorkers seeking refuge from the city often build in a trip to nearby Lake Hopatcong, where you can work up an appetite or work off a stack of pancakes with a lake-side stroll.
Green Jeans Farmery in New Mexico
With its location in Albuquerque’s Midtown Arts & Entertainment district, Green Jeans Farmery could be mistaken for a contemporary art installation. It’s actually a food hall fashioned from repurposed shipping containers, which house local food vendors in a space outfitted with two outdoor-decks for mountain and volcano views. There’s a fire-pit-anchored courtyard, a kids’ playhouse and an indoor area with a 20-foot long chalkboard wall, kid-friendly furniture, giant surfboards and Legos. On the food front there’s something for everyone, including wild mushroom tacos at Rockin’ Taco, brick-oven-fired pies from Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria and smoothies at Zeus' Juice & Nutrition. Sample New-Mex fare at Chumley’s Southwestern, where kids get Play-Doh to keep them occupied while adults nosh on classics like the green chile-smothered 505 Breakfast Burrito. You can get your chile fix just about everywhere, too.
Serendipity 3 in New York
In a city spoiled for dining options, beloved New York City destination Serendipity 3 stands out for its whimsical, fantasy-inspired décor (there are even Tiffany lamp shades for sale), family-friendly vibes and fantastical desserts. Since 1954, diners have indulged in a roster of comfort-food classics, like meatloaf, omelets and shrimp fettucine, along with kid-friendly favorites like foot-long hot dogs and spaghetti and meatballs. Don’t miss the iconic Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, a creamy frozen drink starring a top-secret blend of 14 gourmet cocoas blended with milk and ice that’s finished with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The original has been around since 1954, but contemporary additions include salted caramel chocolate and s’mores flavors. Serendipity 3’s reputation for outrageous desserts is built on other frozen sweet treats, including the aptly named five-scoop-large Outrageous Banana Split, and the insanely over-the-top Golden Opulence sundae, which comes with three scoops of 23-karat edible gold leaf-covered Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream, a drizzle of Amedei Porcelana (the world’s priciest chocolate), chunks of rare Chuao chocolate and sweetened Grande Passion caviar infused with fresh passion fruit, orange and Armagnac — for a $1000 price tag.
Bull City Burger and Brewery in North Carolina
Bull City Burger and Brewery is not just another brewpub: Its commitment to quality food and brews shines in every element of the space. The food menu reflects the commitment to locally sourced ingredients for from-scratch dishes, including burgers crafted with pasture-raised, grass-fed North Carolina beef topped with housemade mayonnaise, pickles and buns. Kids can pass the time waiting for their food in the designated kids’ play area, outfitted with toys and coloring pages, where kids’ masterpieces are then put on display. Nosh on an order of the locally famous pickle chips, which are dredged in a pretzel crust and fried to order. The beer list reflects 60 different styles of beers, each named after a piece of Durham’s history. Try the flagship Parrish Street Pale Ale, an amber-hued, fruit-forward beer named for the brewery’s street address. There’s also a self-serve wine dispenser with red, white and rosé on tap. Weather permitting, take the party outside and soak up sun and suds on the garden-lined patio.
Blackbird Woodfire in North Dakota
Blackbird Woodfire embodies the pioneer spirit that settled the Great Plains: owner Casey Absey began making wood-fired pizzas in his backyard, then expanded to a mobile pizza truck and now dishes out signature pies at his brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown Fargo. The dough is made with a proprietary blend of North Dakota-grown and milled spring wheat flour, Absey’s top-secret sauce and housemade and locally sourced toppings whenever possible, which is no small feat given the state’s bleak winters. The open kitchen is a draw for kids who can watch their pizza being made, from stretching and throwing the dough to the 90-second bake in the 900-degree Tuscan pizza oven. For a taste of the region, opt for the Hot Chica, which celebrates North Dakota’s status as the nation’s largest producer of honey by drizzling spicy honey over a pepperoni pie; grab an order of bison meatballs, topped with tomato sauce and served with fresh-baked pita. Be sure to save room for a wood-fired brownie smothered in homemade whipped cream, or a seasonal cobbler or crisp.
101 Beer Kitchen in Ohio
Founded by Chef Thad Kittrell and his wife, Jessica, 101 Beer Kitchen reflects the Kittrell’s desire to create the type of place they could eat at with their four kids: an approachable gastropub serving scratch-made food and craft beer. Fan-favorite kids’ menu entrees include Parmesan-crusted chicken tenders, and mac and cheese made with a six-cheese mornay sauce and Panko breadcrumb topping; each kids’ entrée comes with two sides, a dessert and a drink, all served on a cafeteria-style tray. The regular menu changes seasonally, but the Loaded Tots are a perennial favorite, featuring fried potato nuggets and cheese topped with sriracha cream, pork croutons, shredded cheese and scallions. Wash them down with one of 20 beers on tap, like Cincinnati’s MadTree Brewing Company’s PSA, a clean, medium-hopped pale ale that perfectly cuts any richness.
Coolgreens in Oklahoma
What started as a small salad shop in Oklahoma City has blossomed into a full-scale eatery dishing out good-for-you foods from salads to flatbreads to quinoa bowls. Coolgreens’ menu features a line-up of fruits and vegetables to build your own salad or bowl, or the popular "tasting plate" for kids, which includes a choice of four fruits or veggies and a protein. Another fan-favorite is the flatbread, topped with marinara, fresh mozzarella and herb-roasted chicken served with a side of fresh fruit. There’s a menu of suggested combinations, like the Spicy Southwest Salad, starring mixed greens and arugula, black beans, poblano peppers, sliced avocado, corn, tortilla chips, Monterey jack cheese and southwestern vinaigrette. Save room for the cult-favorite banana-chocolate chip cookie or peanut butter energy bites made with chocolate chips, oats and flaxseed. Coolgreens’ healthy living mission extends beyond the plate to partnerships with local fitness trainers, yoga studios, nutritionists and community organizations, with free community-based classes and workshops. Coolgreens now counts seven locations across the greater Oklahoma City metro area and has set its sights set on Tulsa, too.
Slappy Cakes in Oregon
Slappy Cakes brings homemade pancakes from the kitchen to the restaurant table with a fun, kid-friendly DIY pancake experience. There are griddles built into every table and four different batters on offer, including buttermilk, peanut butter, chocolate and vegan- and-gluten-free, plus a seasonal batter like lemon poppy seed or gingerbread. The batter is served in squeeze bottles to keep it safe for kids (and rein in messes), and everyone can let their creativity fly by making their pancakes into shapes. Round out your kids’ breakfast with a side of eggs, potatoes or bacon. For options beyond pancakes, try the range of the eggs benedicts, like the pork belly benedict which features house-cured pork, perfectly poached cage-free eggs, cider slaw and hollandaise on house English muffins. There’s a full range of espresso drinks as well as cocktails like the Heart Beat, a beet-infused vodka bloody mary, and the Lavender Spritz, a lavender syrup- and lemon-based sparkler.
Jimmy John's Pipin' Hot Sandwiches in Pennsylvania
West Chester is steeped in history — there’s the Brandywine battlefield, Brandywine River Museum and a charming historic downtown — but Jimmy John’s Pipin’ Hot Sandwiches stands out for making history of its own. Not to be confused with the sandwich chain, Jimmy John’s has earned a loyal following for its frankfurters and roster of American classics like burgers, cheesesteaks and onion rings since 1940. There’s a reason "Famous for Frankfurters" is lit up in large letters across their roof: People travel from all around to sample their old-fashioned frankfurter, made with a natural casing that pleasantly snaps when you bite into it; some diners make it their first stop after landing at Philadelphia International Airport. You can opt to have your Frank topped with homemade chili, cheese or bacon, or doctor it up with self-serve condiments like sauerkraut, relish, mustard, pickles and peppers. Jimmy John’s other claim to fame is their electric trains, with three-full scale electric train displays on full view for tots to watch while they nosh; kids’ meals include fries and a drink with either a hot dog (no casing), chicken nuggets or a Sloppy Joe. Every five years the restaurant celebrates its anniversary by lowering the prices of menu items to the anniversary cost — on their 75th anniversary, hot dogs and drinks were 75 cents each.
Luxe Burger Bar in Rhode Island
There are classic burgers, and then there are Luxe burgers. In the center of downtown Providence, at Luxe Burger Bar, you can build the burger of your dreams with everything from Wagyu beef to bison to vegan veggie patties, a dedicated list of buns, assorted cheeses and toppings, all of which adds up to more than 400,000 different burger combinations. The kids’ menu offers entrees like cheeseburgers, popcorn shrimp or grilled cheese, paired with French fries or salad, a drink, and an ice cream sundae for dessert. After they order, kids can color directly on the menu, then enter their masterpiece in a monthly contest to win a $50 gift card. Feeling extra hungry? Take on the Frankenstein challenge: Finish the meaty monster of two buttered rolls piled high with four Gold Label burgers, two jumbo all-beef hot dogs, four slices of smokehouse bacon, four slices of American cheese, Herford chili and coleslaw served with a double order of fries to win a free t-shirt. When the weather warms up, snag a seat on the patio (dogs are welcome and have a dedicated doggie menu) and linger past sunset to catch a glimpse of WaterFire, where installations light up over eighty braziers from Waterplace Park to Memorial/South Main Street Park.
The Alley in South Carolina
Among historic downtown Charleston’s quaint Victorian- and French- inspired architecture, The Alley stands out with a 17,000-square-foot building housing a restaurant, sports bar, retro arcade and eight-lane bowling alley. With a full-scale restaurant, the food goes beyond typical bowling alley fare, including clever riffs on Southern classics, like a fried green tomato BLT or a chicken and waffle slider smothered in cayenne maple syrup, plus healthy options like house-made black bean quinoa burgers and kale salads. When kids aren’t playing Skee-Ball or trying to beat the Ms. PacMan high score, they can try crowd-pleasers like cheeseburgers, hot dogs and pizza, plus healthy sides like fruit or broccoli with Parmesan. Weekend brunch is a sacred ritual in the Holy City, so stop by Saturdays and Sundays for shrimp and grits with a bloody mary made with Charleston Bloody Mary Mix.
Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in South Dakota
Located in the town of Custer in the middle of South Dakota’s Black Hills, Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. is a family-owned, family-friendly destination that’s particularly popular with visitors. On your way back from Mount Rushmore or after a drive through Custer State Park, stop by for a round of freshly ground beef or bison burgers on housemade buns. The most-popular signature burger is The Hot Granny, which tops diners’ choice of patty with cream cheese, bacon, fresh jalapenos and a sweet-spicy jalapeno sauce. For the vegetarians, there’s a hearty black bean burger. Burgers are a sure bet from the kids’ menu too, as are the breaded chicken strips, which come with a choice of fries, applesauce or carrot sticks with ranch, all served on colorful animal-themed plates. Kids also get games and coloring books to keep them entertained throughout the meal, and staff — which includes husband-and-wife team Claude and Christie Smith and their three kids — is particularly adept at interacting with kids of all ages and making dining out a fun experience.
Holler & Dash in Tennessee
You know you’re in the South when there’s a whole restaurant dedicated to biscuits. At Nashville’s Holler & Dash, you’ll find sweet and savory takes on one of the South’s most-iconic culinary staples, all built around chef Brandon Frohne’s perfectly buttery, flaky biscuits. The sweet biscuits are especially popular with kids (including Frohne’s own), like the signature Strawberry & Dash, topped with cream cheese, marinated strawberries and fresh whipped cream for a riff on strawberry shortcake, or the Jam Biscuits served with Nutella and local raspberry jam. There’s also a menu of gourmet toasts (which may be easier for some tots to handle), including peanut butter and banana with chia seeds and Trubee honey, or roasted blueberry and lemon ricotta with mint and honey. On the savory side, there’s a lineup of chicken biscuits like the Chicken.Set.Go., a nod to Nashville hot chicken that stars crisp fried chicken, smoked pimento cheese, pickled jalapenos and a drizzle of sorghum syrup, or the Kickback Chicken, which gussies up chicken with sweet pepper jelly, goat cheese and scallion.
Hat Creek Burger Company in Texas
Texas native Drew Gressett started his burger odyssey sampling burgers nation-wide while travelling with the University of Texas basketball team, then funneled that research first into a burger food truck followed by a beer-and-burger joint in downtown Austin. Since then, Hat Creek Burger Company has transformed into an all-day, family-friendly restaurant with 11 locations dishing out beef burgers, sandwiches and salads. Kids' meals include fan-favorites like a slider-sized Tiny Hat burger or flash-fried chicken nuggets and sides like tater tots or fruit. Beyond milk and juice, kids’ drink options include kid-sized shakes, including customizable flavors from the milkshake bar or the signature shakes like Strawberry Shortcake or Nanner Puddin'. Each location is anchored by a unique playscape where kids can run free and parents can enjoy the all-coveted hot meal. For a taste of the Lonestar State, order the Cowboy Hat, featuring two patties topped with shredded cheddar, bacon, red onion, pickles and homemade barbecue sauce. If you're gluten-free or Paleo, any of the burgers or sandwiches can be turned into a lettuce wrap or bowl.
The Lion House Pantry Restaurant in Utah
For a homey, pioneer-worthy meal with a side of history, dine at The Lion House Pantry Restaurant in Salt Lake City. The cafeteria-style eatery is located on Temple Square in the personal residence of Brigham Young, the founder of Salt Lake City and second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The daily menu includes comfort foods like chicken pot pie or brown-sugar- and spice-baked salmon, served with rice or mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable and a famous warm Lion House Roll with honey butter. The Cub’s Meal is perfect for smaller appetites, and includes chicken tenders with all the fixings, and a fountain drink. Save room for dessert: there’s JELL-O (Utah’s official state snack), irresistible homemade chocolate chip cookies and a lineup of fruit pies, cream pies and cake, like the Sting of the Bee, a raspberry preserves- and pastry cream-filled German cake with a honey-almond topping, named for Utah’s Beehive State nickname. Wash it all down with sarsaparilla, a root beer-like drink with notes of clove that was popular in the 1800’s. Planning a birthday? The Lion House also offers Pioneer-themed parties which include pioneer games, taffy-pulling and fun history facts about The Lion House and Brigham Young.
King Arthur Flour in Vermont
You may recognize the King Arthur Flour name from your grocery store’s baking aisle: Founded in 1790, it’s the oldest flour company in the country. Stop by the Norwich, Vermont, campus to visit the brand’s bakery and café. Located less than a mile from the Montshire Museum of Science, it’s a popular lunch stop for families with young kids, who get an extra dose of engagement by watching the King Arthur bakers through the glass windows. Fresh baked goods are the foundation of Camelot Café’s menu, including sandwiches like the perennially popular Brie and apple on a baguette or the Cabot Cheddar grilled cheese. Kids’ meals feature sandwich combos like Berkshire smoked ham and cheddar or peanut butter and Vermont jam, which come with Vermont Village organic apple sauce, carrot sticks and milk. At breakfast, the artisan loaves are showcased as toasts served with a variety of local, small-batch spreads, and the hot chocolate — made with McNamara Dairy milk, homemade chocolate ganache and housemade marshmallows — is a fan-favorite among kids (and adults) of all ages. When the weather’s nice, take advantage of picnic tables on the outdoor courtyard.
FoodE in Virginia
Fredericksburg is so steeped in history, when you eat at Fredericksburg’s FoodE you might not realize you’re dining on sacred ground. It’s located in the historic National Bank Building, once the nation’s longest-running bank operation (until 2014); during the Civil War, it was where President Lincoln addressed Union troops on one side of the building and Jefferson Davis addressed Confederate troops on the other. The menu takes a decidedly contemporary turn, imbuing seasonal fare with Southern flair and a dose of California cool, a nod to Executive Chef Joy Crump’s Los Angeles cooking roots. You’ll find creative, locally sourced dishes spanning everything from award-winning fried chicken to an open-faced cauliflower melt, and kids’ menu fan favorites like cheeseburgers and fried chicken sandwiches alongside palate-expanding options like hummus, salads and grain bowls. Besides serving up flavor, all kids meals are "Dr. Yum-approved," by pediatrician Nimali Fernando MD, MPH of the Doctor Yum Project, which fosters healthy eating and lifestyles.
Phinney Market Pub & Eatery in Washington
With its stepped-up pub-grub menu, micro brews on tap and kids’ play area, Phinney Market Pub & Eatery is every family’s dream neighborhood eatery. The restaurant takes its name from Phinney Market, which was a beloved Phinney Ridge grocery store and community gathering place for 15 years. Since 2011, the restaurant has upheld the community spirit and earned a loyal following of neighborhood regulars and cross-town diners, many of whom stop by for brunch after a visit to nearby Woodland Park Zoo. While kids wait for their meal, they can play or read at the custom-built double-decker train table (laid out as a mini-Phinney Ridge) inside a designated play area, where parents can supervise while sipping local craft beers. Kids can opt for mini cheeseburgers or mac and cheese from the kids’ menu or sample Northwestern-inspired fare with smaller portions of adult entrees. Get a taste of Seattle coffee culture with the True North espresso-rubbed burger, made with Northwest grass-fed beef, Swiss, Zoe’s smoked bacon, poblano pepper and chipotle aioli, on a Macrina Bakery brioche bun. Take the family on a post-meal stroll through neighborhood to soak up views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and San Juan Islands to the West and Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range to the East.
Iron Horse Tavern in West Virginia
An elevated pub menu plus West Virginia beers on tap mean that Iron Horse Tavern is a favorite among the West Virginia University crowd, but it’s also fit for the whole family. Gourmet twists on classic pub fare include the Bangers & Mash, serving beer-braised local sausages in a mushroom gravy with caramelized onions, chives and fried leeks, or the locally legendary housemade tots, loaded with three-cheese béchamel, white truffle and bacon sour cream and a scattering of freshly snipped chives. Kids’ menu highlights include a BBQ chicken sandwich and chicken tenders, rounded out with sides like housemade chips and sautéed seasonal vegetables. Iron Horse’s Sunday brunch is a local favorite, where you’ll find creative riffs on brunch staples like Cap’n Crunch-encrusted French toast with peanut butter mousse and the Colonel Eggs Benedict of two fried eggs, chicken fritters, honey-baked ham and jalapeno gravy over two buttermilk biscuits. Adults can wash down their meal with a bacon bloody mary, garnished with a pickle spear and a bacon swizzle stick, or a local brew like Mountain State Brewing Co.’s Miner’s Daughter Oatmeal Stout.
SAP Brunch in Wisconsin
At SAP Brunch, owners and sisters Kristen Sickler and Nicole DeFranza combine their love of the classic diner with everyone’s favorite weekend meal to create a family-friendly eatery dishing out farm-to-table brunch all day. Sickler and DeFranza both have children, so the designated kids’ menu is a thoughtful mix of sure bets and smaller versions of regular dishes — there’s everything from mini grass-fed burgers to omelets, but the fluffy buttermilk pancakes are a fan-favorite (for an extra $1 upgrade to local pure maple syrup). Kids can pass the time with a pail of crayons and coloring sheets, or ogle the rainbow-hued confections lining the pastry cases, like funfetti cupcakes and gold-dusted macarons. For the adults, there are huevos rancheros and salads, but the Nola’s Red Flannel Hash, featuring a medley of roasted beets, sweet potatoes, onions and bell peppers, and the Sunday-only Chicken and Waffles have a dedicated following. SAP Brunch’s staff has also built a reputation for being particularly adept at handling food allergies (DeFranza’s son has allergies) and are extra-friendly to kids (even on those days when you question bringing them out in public).
Café Genevieve in Wyoming
Dining at Café Genevieve feels like home in every sense: It’s housed in a historic log cabin; it dishes out homey fare inspired by grandma’s kitchen; and the restaurant is named for Genevieve Van Vleck, a member of the nation’s first all-female town council who raised her family in the cabin while establishing the town of Jackson. Kids can get inspired by the animal paintings on the wall while they color in their kids’ menu, and during warmer months they can play on the front porch and watch the horse-drawn stagecoaches pass. Breakfast is served until 3 p.m. daily, so kids can fuel up on Belgian waffles with whipped cream and maple syrup while adults nosh on favorites like Cajun eggs Benedict and chicken and waffles before heading to Grand Teton National Park or hitting the slopes at Snow King. On your way out, pick up a package of their famous Pig Candy — a sweet-savory treat starring slow-baked, thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon coated in sugars and spices (Guy Fieri is a fan, too!).