The Best Family Restaurants in America Gallery
March 15, 2018
Food and fun for all ages
The Best Family Restaurants in America
Dining out with the whole family can be an ordeal. Between finding a place that has something on the menu to satisfy every palate and making sure it’s affordable as well, it can be tough to figure out where to go. If you have younger patrons among your party, a fancy restaurant will be difficult to do, so it’s important to figure out a dining option that will both be tolerable to the kids and will tolerate kids without being full of screaming, disruptive guests. However, going out for a family dinner can be a great time to bond, which is why we set out to determine the best family restaurants in America.
Our list consists of 75 restaurants that have something for every member of the family, from kids to grandparents. We’ve made sure they’re not too expensive with a wide selection of food for every taste. A good family restaurant isn’t too kid-oriented (although children are decidedly most welcome), yet has an upbeat and fun atmosphere. Having a unique and varied children’s menu doesn’t hurt, although some of the spots on here have such kid-friendly options on their regular menus that they don’t need one.
Big cities are your best bet, of course. New York City leads the list, with 10 of the options on this list having locations in Manhattan and four of them in Brooklyn. California also has a total of 14 restaurants featured here, six of which have locations in Los Angeles and three in San Diego. Austin and San Antonio are each home to locations of four of these restaurants, and Texas as a whole is home to nine of these restaurants (which isn’t surprising, considering Texans eat out nearly six days a week.) However, we’ve found great spots all over the country, so to find a good place to eat out with your loved ones near home or while visiting another city, check out our list of the best family restaurants in America.
This list was compiled and contributed to by The Daily Meal senior editor Dan Myers – author of 101 Best Pizzas in America – and written by The Daily Meal travel editor Syjil Ashraf.
Alice’s Tea Cup (New York City)
It’s always a good time for some tea, and at Alice’s Tea Cup, this is especially true. Full of wonder and whimsy, this tea house has three locations throughout Manhattan and is especially family-friendly due to its Alice in Wonderland theme, as well as its wonderful menu featuring over a hundred teas, as well as cakes, scones, sandwiches, and more to accompany them. Kid-friendly snacks include cookies and milk, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade PB&J, and even puréed baby food for the youngest guests.
Au Fudge (Los Angeles)
Hollywood A-lister Jessica Biel opened Au Fudge back in 2016 specifically with families in mind. A kids’ play area takes up two rooms, and children’s events, such as movie nights, art workshops, and themed dinners, are regularly held at the restaurant. The menu includes everything from chicken nuggets to lobster rolls to seared albacore and different types of salads, and desserts range from shakes and sundaes to DIY s’mores, pudding, cobbler, and even ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Ballard Pizza Company (Seattle)
Ballard Pizza Company is dedicated to providing an environment where the whole family can have some great local pizza. Its location in the Ballard neighborhood is great for birthday parties with a big private party space, while the restaurant in the Frelard neighborhood has a play area for the kids to enjoy while their parents enjoy their meal.
Barking Crab (Boston)
This open-air seafood shack directly overlooks the Boston Harbor, and on a nice day there are few places in the city more perfect for enjoying some fried seafood, particularly some of the best fish and chips in the country. There isn’t an official kids menu at the Barking Crab, but it doesn’t need one; the menu features plenty of beloved dishes such as lobster mac and cheese, lobster rolls, and all kinds of fried seafood. It also helps that it’s just a block from the Boston Children’s Museum.
Baumgart’s Café (Edgewater and Livingston, N.J.)
A pan-Asian-American restaurant with two locations in New Jersey’s Bergen Country, Baumgart’s Café is a local family favorite. With fish tanks and a menu full of noodles, fries, burgers, hotdogs, and Chinese-American favorites like sesame chicken and lo mein, there’s plenty on the menu to keep both adults and kids happy — and there’s also a ton of ice cream.
Berardi’s Restaurant (Huron, Ohio)
Berardi’s Family Restaurant/Yelp
Berardi’s started out as a French fry stand in 1942, and today it thrives as a popular family-owned restaurant serving up fresh, homemade fare in a family-friendly environment. The menu features plenty of kid-friendly foods such as cheese sticks, onion rings, and a variety of sandwiches. They also serve family meals, dishes meant to serve three to four people, such as chicken parmesan over spaghetti, cheeseburgers, and meatloaf.
Big Bad Breakfast (Birmingham, Ala.)
James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence is the master of the Southern breakfast, and his menu at Big Bad Breakfast (which has another location in Oxford, Mississippi) is chock full of classic breakfast staples like shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, and flapjacks. Biscuits and jellies are made from scratch, the Bloody Marys are spectacular, and it’s open daily at 7 a.m., serving the best brunch in the state.
Big Daddy’s (New York City)
Big Daddy’s has two locations in Manhattan serving both burgers and breakfast, with fantastically kid-friendly items such as their pancakes (with delicious varieties that include Oreo, Cookie Dough, and Berry Berry Yummy), s’more waffles, alphabet chicken soup, Buffalo mac and cheese, junior sliders, and hot dogs. Big Daddy’s also has all kinds of shakes, cakes, sundaes, and ice cream floats on the menu, and it’s the perfect place for birthday parties or sports team dinners.
Border Grill (Los Angeles)
Border Grill Downtown LA/Yelp
Border Grill has had such great success that when its owners took it to the road, it ended up on our list of the best food trucks in the country. The restaurant in downtown LA is far more family-friendly, of course, with a wonderful dining room surrounded by vibrant murals. The menu features some fantastic Mexican finger foods such as tacos and quesadillas, as well as delicious desserts such as churros, tres leches cake, and homemade ice cream and sorbet. Come in on Taco Tuesday, when you get two tacos for just $5 and the adults can get a Modelo draft for $3 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Buttermilk Channel (Brooklyn)
Not only is Brooklyn’s Buttermilk Channel one of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s favorite date spots, but Queen B was also spotted bringing the pair’s eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, when the latter was just a toddler. In addition to burgers and sandwiches, kids can also order from their own menu which features organic all-beef hot dogs, mini-cheeseburgers, and cheddar grilled cheese, as well as ice cream.
Calico Bar & Restaurant (Jackson Hole, Wyo.)
Calico Restaurant and Bar/Yelp
One of the reasons Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is one of America’s best weekend getaways is its food scene, and should you visit, Calico Bar & Restaurant is a must. One of the oldest restaurants in Jackson Hole, this American-Italian eatery has a children’s menu that costs only $3.50! The menu offers guests ages eight and under a choice of macaroni & cheese, a slice of pepperoni or cheese pizza, and pasta (with a choice of spaghetti, penne, or angel hair) with either tomato sauce or meatballs, plus a fountain drink or milk. A huge outdoor patio and an acre-and-a-half lawn also provide plenty of space for kids to burn off their energy so that parents can take a break to enjoy their own meal.
Campfire (Carlsbad, Calif.)
The entire family is sure to love the rustic, natural setting at Campfire, which features picnic tables, fire pits, and a patio complete with a 12-foot teepee for the kids to play in. The menu includes all kinds of sandwiches, grilled foods, ice cream, and of course, s’mores for you to make yourself.
Carmine’s (New York City)
Carmine’s Italian Restaurant-Times Square/Yelp
Casa Bonita (Denver)
If the 85-foot-tall pink tower façade isn’t enough to pique your interest, then the restaurant’s size surely will. Boasting 52,000 square feet, Casa Bonita is a Mexican-themed restaurant and family entertainment destination, one of the most bizarre eateries in the world. In addition to their delicious burritos, tacos, and enchiladas, kids under 12 can pick from the children’s menu which features fried chicken strips and grilled cheeseburgers. A 30-foot-high Acapulco-inspired waterfall features shows with cliff divers, and other entertainment includes, musicicians, puppet shows, and arcade games.
Casa de Reyes (San Diego)
Another restaurant that’s made its name with great Mexican food and entertainment is Casa de Reyes, located in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. On Mondays, kids 10 and under eat for free, and even for older kids, the Mexican fare here is more than worth it. Free entertainment is featured every day of the week, including a mariachi band and folklorico dancers.
Chinook’s at Salmon Bay (Seattle)
Located in Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal, Chinook’s has both a fantastic view of Seattle’s waterfront and a fantastic menu featuring some of Seattle’s best seafood. Kids are encouraged to bide their time with crayons and coloring paper before being served from the kid’s menu, which features fish and chips, pasta, grilled cheese, and mini hot fudge sundaes.
City Tavern (Philadelphia)
You don’t expect a tavern to be considered family-friendly, but Restaurant Hospitality once awarded Philadelphia’s City Tavern the Best Kids Menu in America Award. Taking its “colonial tavern” vibe very seriously, servers are dressed up in colonial-era clothes, and the award-winning menu in question is filled with eighteenth-century items such as turkey pot pie, grilled ham and cheese, cornmeal-crusted chicken tenders, and fish and chips.
Modeled after the family ranch of one of the co-owner’s, Contigo features a menu that includes chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, and a burger in fries among the kid-friendly offerings The family-friendly environment means kids can play in the yard with the restaurant’s friendly dogs or take part in a game of washers among a relaxed environment.
Crosby’s Kitchen (Chicago)
Dat Dog (New Orleans)
This New Orleans hot dog joint has three locations and serves some of the country’s best franks thanks to owner Constantine Georges' commitment to serving the highest-quality hot dogs and sausages possible — with a killer sense of humor. Menu standouts include a brilliant pairing of duck sausage with blackberry preserves as well as crawfish sausage, alligator sausage, and bratwurst, but make sure you save room to try their hot sausage, custom-ground by a local butcher and tucked into a bun that’s steamed then toasted, to make it both soft and crispy. The sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings, but you can’t go wrong with their addictive beef stock-based andouille sauce.
With six locations, Dick’s is a Seattle institution, and its owners know: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For nearly 60 years, Dick’s has been serving an unchanging menu of never-frozen, 1/8-pound burgers that are delivered daily, hand-cut fries, and milkshakes. The Double Deluxe is the platonic ideal of a hamburger: two patties, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle relish on a soft, squishy bun, sold for a whopping $2.90. Want onions? That’ll cost you an extra 5 cents, please. Dick’s is family-owned, and they treat all employees like family as well, offering full benefits, scholarships, child-care assistance, paid community service, and a starting hourly wage of $10.
Originally opened in Faneuil Hall Marketplace in 1827, Durgin-Park is one of America’s oldest restaurants and of its top family-friendly eateries. Today, as always, Durgin-Park is known for its infamously sassy waitresses, as well as for traditional Yankee recipes for clam chowder and baked beans, which are eaten at the restaurant's long communal tables. The children’s menu includes burgers, chicken fingers, spaghetti and meatballs, and grilled cheese among its kid-friendly fare.
El Real Tex-Mex (Houston)
Located inside a restored theater in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, El Real — co-owned by Daily Meal Council member Robb Walsh — serves Tex-Mex classics like chili con carne, nachos, and Frito pie, but we recommend you head directly for the San Antonio Puffy Taco Plate, with smoked chicken. The deep-fried and puffed-up shell gets a smear of refried beans, then the chicken (smoked whole before being shredded) is liberally applied before lettuce and tomato are added on top. It’s a taco you’re not likely to forget any time soon.
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto (multiple locations)
San Diego-based Filippi’s Pizza Grotto has 15 locations in California, but they’re all family-owned, lending to their family-friendly vibe and friendly, personal service. The Italian-American menu features kid favorites such as pizza, spaghetti, and ravioli, and parents don’t have to worry about volume levels in this lively spot.
Fire + Ice (multiple locations)
Have your meal prepared in front of you at Mongolian grill chain Fire + Ice with three locations: Boston, Anaheim, California; and South Lake Tahoe, California. Both kids and adults will be wowed by the culinary show put on by their deft chefs as well as amazing dishes they create, mixing Asian, Latin, Italian, and American flavors.
Foreign Cinema (San Francisco)
Movie-loving families will love this restaurant-theater hybrid, which offers a daily changing California/Mediterranean-inspired menu for you to enjoy during the screening of a foreign or independent film in a covered outdoor courtyard. We suggest a visit during Sunday brunch, when the menu includes organic “Pop Tarts,” baguette French toast, and delicious sandwiches.
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill (Clearwater, Fla.)
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is great for a family meal, located right on the beachfront where you can get an outdoor seat to soak up the sun and take in some deliciously fresh seafood and Floribbean cuisine. Live music from local artists is featured daily, and the kids’ menu features fried shrimp and grouper nuggets in addition to chicken tenders, grilled cheese, and cheeseburgers. End your meal with a Beach Brownie Blowout: a homemade walnut brownie served with cookies ‘n cream ice cream and topped with caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts.
Gates & Brovi (Madison, Wis.)
Guelaguetza (Los Angeles)
With the 1994 opening of Guelaguetza, the Lopez family introduced Los Angeles to authentic Oaxacan cuisine. Now the number of local Oaxacan restaurants trails only those of Mexico City and Oaxaca itself, at least according to respected critic Jonathan Gold — and much of that can be attributed to the success of this Koreatown spot. Named for Oaxaca’s famous traditional summertime festival, Guelaguetza is a year-round destination for its tamales, memelas (chubby cornmeal cakes similar to sopes), unstuffed enchiladas, and of course, exquisite moles.
Habana Outpost (Brooklyn)
If you can’t afford a vacation to Cuba at the moment, you should definitely at least consider taking the entire family out for some authentic Cuban cuisine. At Habana Outpost, you’ll find exactly that. New York’s first solar-powered restaurant and market, it’s only open in the warmer months (currently set to re-open this year in mid-April), when you should be sure to take advantage of its delicious Cuban sandwiches, burritos, tacos, and more. Habana Outpost also hosts Movie Night every Sunday when it features a classic film, and their Kids Corner features events throughout the summer in which kids can make recycled arts and crafts such as corn husk dolls and paper bowl hats.
Hominy Grill (Charleston, S.C.)
Unpretentious, classic Southern dishes are key at downtown Charleston’s Hominy Grill, where chef–owner Robert Stehling serves flawless versions of straight-ahead Southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried chicken, ribs, she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and chicken country captain in a comfortable and light-filled space. The classic 1950s diner signage, old-fashioned wooden chairs, and untouchable menu items embody everything comfort food stands for. The restaurant’s signature smoked pork and chicken are roasted over a brick pit, and the brunch menu, with its famous Charleston Nasty Biscuit (fried chicken breast, Cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy on a homemade biscuit) is just as renowned as its dinner menu. Save room for a slice of coconut cream pie, chocolate Heaven High meringue pie, lemon icebox pie, or a chocolate pudding that is far more delicious than it has any right to be.
Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat (Philadelphia)
With two locations in Philadelphia, Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat has a menu as straightforward as its name. A wonderful brunch spot, the kid’s menu features either a burger with fries and a pickle or a breakfast plate complete with pancakes with maple syrup, egg, and fruit. Adults can go for a breakfast salad, brisket tacos, or a vegan sloppy joe.
Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe (Santa Monica, Calif.)
Owned and operated by Santa Monica natives Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Bakery & Café has a thoughtful children’s menu created with their own children in mind. Kids can have scrambled eggs with bacon and toast, organic chicken fingers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on brioche, and grilled cheese on country bread. In addition to a coffee bar and loose leaf teas, adults can also enjoy treats such as an organic fried chicken sandwich made with spicy coleslaw, honey, hot sauce, and aïoli on a brioche burger bun or a wagyu roast beef and Gruyère panini.
Jack’s Home Cooking (Miami)
Jam on Hawthorne (Portland, Ore.)
Jam on Hawthorne has a fantastic Portland-style brunch that it serves daily from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. With house specialties like Grand Marnier French toast and lemon ricotta pancakes, as well as plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, there’s something for everyone here. While parents enjoy the creative cocktails at Jam, kids can also have fun in their children’s play area featuring blackboard floors and chalk.
Junior’s (multiple locations)
Brooklyn-based Junior’s is a family restaurant known for its iconic New York cheesecake, but it has far more to offer as well. Soups, salads, and sandwiches are regularly enjoyed by people of all ages at its five restaurant locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Connecticut, and Florida, which also serve burgers, barbecue, seafood, and steak. Junior’s Junior Menu features burgers, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese, as well as macaroni and cheese, and linguini marinara.
Kitchen No. 234 (Oklahoma City)
Located inside one of the Oklahoma City’s most historic buildings, Kitchen No. 324 is a seasonally-inspired café that’s about as low-key as it gets. The bakers arrive daily at 4 a.m. to start making doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, danishes, croissants, cookies, and kolaches, and guests arrive starting at 7 a.m. to enjoy their dishes made with local, organic, and sustainably farmed ingredients. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, the menu is varied throughout the day with children’s options including pappardelle pasta with tomato sauce and fresh veggies served with pesto buttermilk dressing.
Kroll’s Diner (multiple locations)
Kroll’s has four North Dakota locations, open daily from 6:30 a.m. and going strong since 1972. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this diner offers up some great American and German cuisine from a six-egg omelette to burgers to sauerkraut and their famous knoephla, a thick and creamy, bright yellow chicken and potato soup.
La Gloria (multiple locations)
La Gloria’s mission is to celebrate the street foods of Mexico’s interior. With four locations in San Antonio (including one at the airport) and one in Las Vegas, it’s managed to serve its purpose quite well. Beyond the delicious tacos, tortas, and ceviches, you’ll find coctéles de mariscos from Veracruz and Oaxacan tlayudas (think Mexican pizza), but make sure you don’t forget to order one of the unforgettably delicious molcajetes, a volcanic stone bowl filled with either hot queso in spicy tomato sauce, arrachera en adobo (skirt steak in chile pasilla sauce), or puerco en chiles, any of which will seem to keep bubbling for 20 minutes.
Landmarc (New York City)
This French and Italian bistro, with two locations in Manhattan, is the brain child of chef Marc Murphy and his wife, Pamela Schein Murphy. While the contemporary look and award-winning wine list give it a sophisticated vibe, don’t be fooled. There’s plenty of room here for children, who have their own menu which features classics like burgers, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese, as well as a Grafton Cheddar macaroni and cheese and classic rigatoni pomodoro. There’s even a “big kids” option of lemon and herb roasted chicken breast.
Little Beast (Los Angeles)
This neighborhood restaurant has a nice outdoor patio in addition to its indoor seating, with a seasonal menu full of dishes meant to be shared such as pan-roasted organic chicken breast and roasted butternut squash hash or charred flatiron steak. The kids’ menu features a junior version of their Little Beast Burger as well as pasta, quesadillas, and roasted chicken.
Little Goat Diner (Chicago)
Little Goat Diner/Yelp
You can get breakfast any time to the day at Little Goat Diner, which is a lucky thing considering This Little Piggy Went to China is one of the most epic egg sandwiches in the country. You can also take your pick of a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and soups in addition to delicious dishes such as their chicken pot pie, mushroom ragout, and beef cheek Stroganoff. Dessert includes ice cream floats, shakes, and sundaes, and the diner also has a bakery featuring all kinds of cakes, cookies, scones, muffins, and more.
Loveless Cafe (Nashville)
Loveless Cafe, named after founders Lon and Annie Loveless, has an ironic name. Not only is their fried chicken one of the city’s most beloved dishes, but a lot of love goes into their food — and has for over 60 years. The fried chicken recipe, which has remained unchanged since 1951, uses self-rising flour and a special house blend of spices. Other famous items from the Loveless Cafe menu include Kentucky Bourbon Peach Shortcake and the Bee Sting Moonshine Cocktail.
Mamacita’s (multiple locations)
Mamacita’s five locations throughout Texas celebrate Mexican and Southwestern cuisine with delicious chalupas, fajitas, enchiladas, and “cowboy favorites” such as baby back ribs and different types of steak. Children can also order from their own menu with kid-sized chalupas, tamales, tacos, chimichangas, and more delicious Southwestern treats.
Marathon Grill (Philadelphia)
Eat at any of Philadelphia’s three Marathon Grill locations for a menu that will satisfy foodies of all ages. All types of soups, salads, and sandwiches are on the menu, as well as well-loved plates like chicken quesadilla, pasta Bolognese, and crispy chicken parm. The Marathon Kids Menu features a Big Kid Burger made with Vermont cheddar, chicken matzoh ball soup, and mac and cheese among other favorites.
Max Brenner (multiple locations)
As a chocolate restaurant, Max Brenner is bound to attract patrons of all ages to its locations in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to its chocolate bar where you can overdose on chocolatey desserts, menu items include Max’s Cocoa Spiced Waffle Fries, Cheesesteak Waffle Sandwich, and the Oozing Mac & Cheese Burger.
Melt Bar & Grilled (multiple locations)
Melt Bar and Grilled/Yelp
This legendary Cleveland-based restaurant, with multiple locations throughout Ohio, offers a mind-blowing selection of nearly 30 grilled cheeses, divided into six different categories: Classics, Beef, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, and Veggie. Some of the most outrageous offerings are the Parmageddon (pierogis, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, and sharp Cheddar); Mighty Macaroni (homemade deep-fried mac and cheese, cheese sauce, and melted cheese); The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, marinara, roasted garlic, provolone, and Romano); Korean War Pig (Korean barbecue-glazed pulled pork, seared pork belly, kimchi slaw, pear onion cilantro relish, and Muenster cheese); Chicken & Waffles (fried chicken, Belgian waffle, sriracha butter, pepper jack cheese, and maple syrup); and Big Popper (jalapeño poppers, Cheddar, and herb cream cheese, deep fried and topped with powdered sugar and berry preserves). If you’re feeling especially gluttonous, you can also take the famous Melt Challenge, with three slices of grilled bread and an insane 12 different types of cheese.
Mi Tierra Café y Panadería (San Antonio)
Locals and visitors alike fill this big, boisterous, absolutely dependable Tex-Mex restaurant and bakery — bedecked with Christmas lights and open 24 hours a day — for fajita platters, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more (including first-rate menudo for breakfast). The flour-tortilla tacos are some of the best in the country — especially the ones filled with carnitas Michoacán: pieces of pork marinated in orange juice and spices, perfectly fried and presented with guacamole, pico de gallo, and beans. Kids will love the energy.
Miss Shirley’s Café (Baltimore and Annapolis, Md.)
Miss Shirley’s has two locations in Baltimore and one in Annapolis, and it’s nothing short of legendary around these parts. It’s open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch every day of the week. It’s been run by chef Brigitte Bledsoe since opening in 2005, and the menu is super-creative and absolutely massive. We’ll list off just a few of the specialties, but you should check it out for yourself: loaded Southern-fried deviled eggs; monkey bread; benne seed chicken and waffles; shrimp or salmon and grits; crab cake and fried green tomato eggs Benedict; barbecue mac and cheese skillet; loco moco; a fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy omelette; Maryland omelette with jumbo lump crab, tomato, Swiss, and Old Bay; cinnamon Danish pancakes or waffles; make-your-own salads; pulled pork grilled cheese; seafood sliders; Angus cheeseburger; and some super-creative cocktails like chocolate-covered pretzel hot cocoa. This place is an adventure.
Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage (Cambridge, Mass.)
In 1960, Joe and Joan Bartley took over a small convenience store facing Harvard Yard with the mission to perfect the great American hamburger. The Viagra — a 7-ounce freshly ground chuck burger dressed with blue cheese dressing, bacon, lettuce, and tomato — made it to our list of best burgers in America, but there are plenty of kid-friendly and non-burger options on the children’s menu, as well as gluten-free options, salads, and sandwiches on the main menu.
Ms. Cheezious (Miami and Coral Gables, Fla.)
Miami’s best food truck now also has two locations in Florida. You can build your own grilled cheese, or choose one of their “Must Haves.” The most popular gutbombs include Frito Pie Melt (chili, American cheese, jalapeños, onions, and Fritos); Mackin Melt (creamy Gouda mac and cheese with house-cured bacon); Southern Fried Chicken and Waffle Melt (fried chicken and Cheddar house-made waffles, country gravy, syrup); and S’Mores Melt (roasted marshmallows, salted chocolate hazelnut spread, graham cracker crumble on sourdough).
Noble Sandwich Company (Austin)
Austin’s Noble Sandwich Company is known for their — what else — sandwiches, such as their epically over-the-top chorizo and egg, Knuckle Sandwich (made with roast beef, horseradish, caramelized onions, and cheddar), and the Noble Pig (ham, pulled pork, and provolone with spicy mustard, mayonnaise, and bacon). Kids will enjoy their sandwiches, burgers, and mac and cheese, as well as their weekend breakfast specials such as chicken and waffles.
Paradise Cove Beach Café (Malibu, Calif.)
Rent a chaise lounge, a double beach bed, or even a beach terrace at Paradise Cove Beach Café, a great spot to enjoy surf and turf both on the menu and on the beachfront. Share an iced or hot seafood sampler or try their famous tacos (fish, barbecue chicken or prime steak, shrimp, red crab, pulled pork, or smoked pork belly) with a fresh fruit boba rum drink or one of their Super Duper 3 Scooper Häagen-Dazs Gourmet Milkshakes. Kids can enjoy anything on the main menu or something from their own, such as slider burgers, fish and chips, and hot dogs.
Pete’s Restaurant (Canton, Ohio)
Since 2004, Pete’s Restaurant has been a family-owned and operated restaurant that takes pride in their family-friendly environment and menu options. Black Angus burgers, melts, wraps, and paninis make for wonderful comfort food, and a special kids’ menu includes burgers, pizza, hot dog, French toast, pancakes, and more.
Phillips Avenue Diner (Sioux Falls, S.D.)
Phillips Avenue Diner is the best place in South Dakota for brunch, as well as the best place to take the family no matter what time of day it is. Have delicious Belgian waffles or a huevos rancheros burrito for lunch or dinner or a delicious sandwich or burger. Kids will love the kids menu, featuring burgers, mini corn dogs, and other kid favorites, as well as their malts and shakes, such as the Chocomint Crunch (chocolate, crushed Oreos, and mint) or the “Emmanomnom!” (chocolate, M&Ms, and cookie dough bits).
Red Iguana (Salt Lake City)
One of Salt Lake City’s best restaurants (owing in no small part to a feature on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), Red Iguana has been lavished with more awards than you can count, and their authentic Mexican family recipes are sure to be a hit with people of all ages. Their kids’ menu offers some great dishes for less than $5 for kids 12 and under, such as quesadillas, burritos (including one made with peanut butter and jelly), and tacos.
Ritz Diner (Livingston, N.J.)
Sarabeth’s (New York City)
With five locations through Manhattan, Sarabeth’s doesn’t have a children’s menu, but it is family-friendly. Their menu, which changes with the seasons, often includes favorites like buttermilk pancakes, gourmet burgers, and different kinds of pastas. Their pastries are often a hit with people of all ages too, such as their currant scones and cookies.
Serendipity 3 (New York City)
Renowned for its signature Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (of which it recently offered a $99 version for the Oscars), Serendipity 3 is a popular New York City spot offering a wide variety of foods such as burgers, nachos, dim sum, soups, casseroles, sandwiches, crêpes, pasta, and more. The Golden Opulence Sundae is one of the priciest dishes in the country, let alone the menu, at $1,000 — but you don’t need to spend that much to truly enjoy all they have to offer.
Steuben’s Food Service (Denver and Arvada, Colo.)
Steuben’s knows how to do comfort food; their chicken and waffles are some of the best in America and their Green Chile Cheeseburger made it to our list of the best burgers as well. The kids’ menu features food like salmon, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese, along with fruits and veggies served up on sectional trays like the ones you see in a school cafeteria so that they don’t all touch each other. Finish up with delicious desserts like cupcakes, Mississippi mud pie, shakes or malts, or a salted caramel choco-taco.
Sweet Chick (multiple locations)
Co-owned by rapper Nas, Sweet Chick is a Brooklyn-based joint with two locations in its home borough, as well as one in Manhattan and one in Los Angeles. Here, the whole family can sit down to enjoy some of the best fried chicken and waffles in the country, as well as other Southern-inspired comfort foods like pork belly nuggets, crawfish hush puppies, and The General (fried chicken with General Tso’s sauce, rice, and a broccoli waffle).
Sylvia’s Restaurant (New York City)
New York City’s most famous soul food restaurant was founded in Harlem by the late Sylvia Woods in 1962, and it’s still pulling in the crowds every night of the week. The likes of President Barack Obama, Malcolm X, and Magic Johnson have dined here, and even Bernie Sanders once met up with Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s for breakfast. Fried or smothered chicken, barbecue ribs, baked ham, chicken and waffles, and beef short ribs with brown gravy (especially when partnered with collard greens, garlic mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, or cowpeas and rice) are second-to-none, but the food is only half the experience; the huge restaurant, with its large crowds of happy customers, puts you in a good mood the minute you walk in the door.
The Backyard (New Orleans)
True to its name, dining at The Backyard feels like you’re at a family get-together with dips, burgers, smoked meats, Louisiana beef, and craft beers plus flat-screen TVs and a big backyard. Children 12 and under can be served from the kids’ menu which includes burgers, chicken bites, grilled cheese, hot dogs, and sloppy joes with a side of fries or tater tots.
The Bubble Room (Captiva, Fla.)
This fun restaurant in Captiva Island, Florida, is interesting because of its overwhelming décor. Even the tables at The Bubble Room are made of small memorabilia and pictures under a glass top. You’ll find antiques everywhere, as well as Christmas decorations, old photographs of celebrities, colorful lights, dolls, and a toy train close to the ceiling that moves through different rooms of the restaurant. The food always satisfies, and the desserts, such as their red velvet cake and orange crunch cake, are a must.
The Pirates’ House (Savannah, Ga.)
The Pirates’ House, a seafarers’ inn founded in 1753, became a favorite haunt for pirates and thus was formerly not so kid-friendly. Times have changed, however, and this historical establishment will charm families with pirate lore, fanciful décor, and outstanding Southern comfort fare, including a lunchtime buffet.
Tick Tock Diner (Clifton, N.J.)
Literally everyone from northern New Jersey has heard of the Tick Tock Diner, and just about all of them have dined there as well (seriously, ask them). The reason? It’s located on Route 3 in Clifton on the way to/from New York City, and it’s also really, really good. All chrome, neon, and glass brick, this diner is a quintessential New Jersey hangout, with a menu about as long as War and Peace. If you get one thing, however, make it the Disco Fries, Jersey’s answer to poutine: fries topped with melted mozzarella and brown gravy.
Top Notch (Austin)
One of the top burger joints in Austin is Top Notch, which serves up 100 percent pure beef charcoal broiled hamburgers, fried chicken, shrimp, and sandwiches in addition to shakes and malts. True to its 1950s theme, kids are served their food in paper hot rods. Don’t miss out on their after-school special; corn dogs and kids’ shakes are just a dollar each on weekdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tops Diner (East Newark, N.J.)
In a state with no shortage of spectacular diners, this East Newark institution has risen to the top of the pack. Open since the 1920s and operated by current owners Jimmy and John Golemis since 1972, Tops opens at 6 a.m. daily and serves a menu that keeps regulars coming back again and again. All the expected diner classics are on offer here, expertly prepared, but everything’s been elevated to historic levels of greatness. Eggs are local and cage-free, and standouts include Eggs From Heaven (three eggs baked with cheesy grits in a spicy tomato jambalaya sauce with chorizo and toast), Sunrise Burrito (filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, chicken chorizo, cheese, fried potatoes, avocado, and peppers and onions and topped with spicy ranchero sauce), steak and eggs with a 12-ounce New York strip, multi-grain buttermilk pancakes topped with cinnamon and fresh fruit, Louisiana Benedict with spicy chorizo, chicken and waffles, and brioche French toast stuffed with peanut butter and spiced bananas. And that’s just breakfast! If you’re more in the mood for lunch, you can’t go wrong with the massive array of salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta dishes, and even ribs.
Tribute Pizza (San Diego)
Tribute Pizza is a great pizza place with all kinds of pizza, salad, and small plate offerings, as well as breakfast calzones and wood-fired sandwiches. Children 10 and under can get a cheese pizza or mac and cheese for just $5 (with pepperoni added to the former or bacon lardons to the latter for just a dollar extra) and a vanilla soft serve for just $3.
Tycoon Flats (San Antonio)
At Tycoon Flats, you’ll find all kinds of specialty burgers from the Flats Signature Burger (a half-pound burger with cheddar, Flats Caramelized Signature Sauce, and the works) to the Bacon Balsamic Blue Burger (a half-pound burger with grilled onions, blue cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette), as well as sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, soups and salads. Their Future Tycoons menu gives kids a choice of grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, a plain hot dog, or the Mini-Tycoon Burger, all served with Yukon fries and soda or milk.
Vios Café at Third Place (Seattle)
With a separate kids menu for both breakfast and later in the day, Vios Café at Third Place is a great family-friendly hangout serving delicious Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. A play area with books and games is also available to keep the kids occupied while parents enjoy a lamb souvlaki plate or some chicken skewers.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (multiple locations)
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar/Yelp
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar made waves by bringing a Southern charm and influence to Miami, a place better known for its Cuban and Spanish food. Since then it’s opened up locations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and even Singapore. Its main claim to fame is its fried chicken, but it also has delicious biscuits, shrimp and grits, and skillet cornbread. Before heading out to one of these amazing places, however, we suggest you make sure your family knows not to make these rude restaurant mistakes.
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