Going out to eat as a family can be fun if you know the right places to go. Many restaurants cater to families, especially children, and are great spots to enjoy a meal. You will also come across other restaurants that don’t even have kids’ menus, making it difficult for them to find something they would like and with the right portion size. This is why family-friendly restaurants are often the best options.
Here are our 16 favorite family restaurants to make it easier to decide where to go and enjoy dinner together. Everyone deserves a break; sometimes, taking the night off from cooking is needed after a long week. Many of the restaurants we included are well-known and can be found internationally. Each of these chains has specific qualities that make them unique, and a variety of cuisines can help you pick a spot that pleases every family member.
Reasons We Chose These Family-Friendly Restaurants
What made these 16 family restaurants stand out above the rest? Consider the following when you are going out to eat with the family:
- A kids’ menu
- Highchair availability
- Kids’ activities like coloring
Family Restaurants We Love
Everyone loves breakfast food, and IHOP is known for its buttermilk pancakes and seasonal specials. They also have a family-friendly atmosphere and a fun menu for kids. There are always crayons and activities for the kids while waiting for their food. The iconic funny face pancake is an all-time favorite, and they have kid-friendly foods such as Kraft macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders. Their price range is also very affordable.
Denny’s has almost anything you can imagine on its menu. This includes building your own breakfast, which is popular. They also provide junior sizes of ice cream and milkshakes so they can enjoy a sweet treat at the end of their meal. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they include kids’ food staples like macaroni and cheese.
3. Olive Garden
My kids love going to Olive Garden. They get their paper menus where they can mark off their dinner selections and color and work on fun word searches. Did you know there are so many options for kids, including creating your pasta? After all, their slogan is “We’re all family here.”
Like other family-friendly restaurants, Applebee’s provides an excellent atmosphere for parents and their children. With a kid-friendly menu and, you guessed it, crayons and coloring, the little ones are occupied and happy while they wait for dinner. Like the rest of the restaurants here, they offer high chairs and booster seats for toddlers and young children.
5. Cracker Barrel
When you walk into a Cracker Barrel, it feels comforting. I like the fact that they are very focused on family-style meals. For instance, they have meal packages for Easter that you pick up to enjoy a homecooked meal without doing any work. They also have a couple of party platter options. If you have been to a Cracker Barrel, you are likely familiar with the country store filled with cute little trinkets.
This is one of the most famous restaurant chains, and I remember loving eating there with my family growing up. The meals for kids include great food and many options. It’s one of the best places to take picky eaters. They even have a variety of desserts for the kiddos to pick from, which are included as part of their lunch or dinner.
7. Ruby Tuesday
I love family restaurants with great takeout options. Ruby Tuesday has family bundles that include burgers, chicken tenders, or baby back ribs. It’s perfect if you want to keep the oven off and enjoy a night in and save money while you do it. Their kids’ menu has favorites like a cheese quesadilla and macaroni and cheese. It’s great for picky little ones.
8. Moe’s Southwest Grill
Moe’s is one of my favorite spots for delicious Mexican food. They have child-sized versions of almost everything on their menu, which makes it appealing for us to take the whole family there for lunch. It’s also customizable, so they can skip ingredients they don’t like. Plus, kids eat free all day on Sunday!
9. TGI Friday’s
TGI Friday’s has a variety of wings, appetizers, and dessert platters, which are great for family gatherings. If you go to dinner as a family, you will also be interested in the kids’ menu. This one doesn’t have lots of options, but there are several choices for sides, which my kids love. They get to switch it up when we go out to eat, so they don’t have to eat the same food every time.
Chili’s has one of the greatest perks of any family restaurant — a great rewards program. They often offer a free kids’ meal by purchasing an adult entree. It may not sound like much, but it can be helpful because of how expensive it is to dine out. The Chili’s kids’ meals also include a drink and many choices for sides and main courses. It’s one of our favorite places when everyone craves a different cuisine.
Family restaurants like Panera have dining rooms where you can sit wherever you like, which I enjoy. My kids love looking outside, so we typically pick a table or booth by the windows. The kids’ menu offers favorites like grilled cheese and yogurt tubes as the side. You can’t get any more kid-friendly than that. Plus, I find the wait time is minimal, so they don’t get restless as quickly while they wait for their food.
12. The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory’s kids’ menu is extensive! There are so many options to choose from which makes it great for picky eaters. From pasta to corn dogs, there is something for any child. Plus, they have great options for desserts, too.
13. Red Robin
This burger joint is a popular spot for families. The kids’ menu offers chicken tenders as well as smaller burgers. Our favorite part must be the milkshakes. They offer kids several flavors to enjoy a delicious treat, too. The price range on their menu is also affordable, and the kids’ shakes are only $2.99 each.
What’s unique about Maggiano’s Little Italy is its family-style options. You can all share a pasta entree, salads, and a sampler of desserts. It’s a great cost-effective option for families. Plus, the kids’ menu offers small portions of some of their most popular pasta dishes and the classic macaroni and cheese.
15. Ted’s Montana Grill
This is a great family-friendly restaurant for classic American cuisine. They have a great rewards program you can sign up for, earning discounts and free stuff. The kids’ menu offers various choices, including salads and bison — what they’re known for — and classic kid favorites like grilled cheese and fries.
16. PF Chang’s
Does your family enjoy Asian cuisine? PF Chang’s is reasonably priced, making it an excellent option for a family restaurant dinner. Order appetizers and sushi or some noodle dishes to share. There are also vegetarian options.
Tips For Going Out to Eat With Kids
Here are some helpful tips to ensure you enjoy your family restaurant experience with your children.
- Bring entertainment. Pack a bag with little things to keep them occupied while waiting for food. Great examples are books, coloring books with crayons, small cars, or a tablet (if they have one and you allow screen time out in public).
- Let them help choose their meal. Look at the menu together to pass the time. Show them their options and let them choose what they want for dinner.
- Go early. The dinner rush can mean longer wait times. I recommend arriving before you usually have dinner at home to allow time to order and prepare meals.
- Order appetizers. Select a kid-friendly appetizer (anything with chips or mozzarella sticks are huge hits) and let them graze to take the edge off their hunger.
Dining out doesn’t have to be stressful, especially if you have a big family to feed. Many family-friendly restaurants are accommodating for kids, making it more appealing to go out and enjoy yourself rather than stay in to cook and clean dishes. Everyone deserves a nice night out!