Best Family Restaurant Choices I’ve always enjoyed going out to eat, it is my lone vice. Unfortunately, I had to begin sharing that vice once I had kids, taking them with me and trying desperately to find kids’ menu items that would satisfy them so I could continue to enjoy my favorite entrees. Sometimes it worked, other times, well…. Finding a restaurant that is conducive for both you and your kids can be problematic. Kids tend to prefer flashier noisier places that offer toys and meals served on trays, while parents usually prefer the more laid back, sit down and relax approach. How do two such divergent roads ever manage to meet? Well, you can try Denny’s. The children’s menu here is nothing short of ambitious, with star shaped chicken nuggets, anti-gravity grapes, and astronaut themed applesauce…they even get a rocket shaped cup. For adults, the restaurant provides nutritional value for all of its dishes (that can be good or bad), and offers healthy Fit Fare items. You may not be aware of this, but many locations provide call ahead seating options! P.F. Chang’s China Bistro offers communal family dining (you all scarf it out of the same plate). Kids get easier to use chopsticks (although I still don’t understand how chopsticks can be simplified), and again, they post all of their nutritional info on their web site. The down side is that there isn’t a separate menu for children, but there are enough kid friendly items to keep the youngsters satisfied. Red Robin is a lesser known but increasingly popular chain featuring a mascot that actually makes occasional personal appearances, making it a fun place to take the kids. They also have a new kids menu with healthy offerings, as well as adult entrees that are easy on the heart such as grilled chicken with Parmesan noodles, veggie burgers, and attractive side choices such as cantaloupe wedges, carrots with dip, and apple slices, any of which are preferable to the normal fries or rings. Chili’s is a favorite stop for my family, due in large part to the extensive kids menu, with new side addition such as corn, mandarin oranges, and pineapple. They also offer one of the widest ranges of entrees found in restaurants within this price range. Chili’s is also active in charity events, such as fundraising for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital ($8 million last year). I’m even willing to forgive them for deleting my favorite item from the menu, even though my ordering it alone should have been more than enough to justify its existence. Mimi’s Café has one of the best answers to rowdy, impatient kids that one could ask for…..a free appetizer plate filled with Cheerios, crackers, and orange slices, not to mention a healthy kids menu with turkey, soup/salad, spaghetti, and offered with healthy side options such as vegetables, fruit, and applesauce. Mimi’s also sports one of the widest beverage ranges in the industry, as well as parental favorites such as hand wipes and bibs. One of my kids’ favorite places to go is Cici’s Pizza, and it also makes the list due to its excellent buffet style bar, $3 meals for kids, toddlers eat free, and your choice between 16 different types of pizza. Of course one of the perennial favorites for any family is IHOP. A nice alternative to the slightly pricier Chili’s or Applebee’s, IHOP serves breakfast 24 hours, with appealing kids items such as the Funny Face or Create A Face pancake. Texas Roadhouse became a favorite of ours once the kids discovered that they could chunk their peanut shells on the floor. What is lambasted at home is celebrated here. Some locations serve the kids meals in a cowboy hat. Another favorite for this family is Sonny’s Real Pit BBQ. While I question the authenticity of the term BBQ (I was raised in the Carolina’s so I’m slightly biased) Sonny’s still offers great food at reasonable prices, with a kids menu that is only a smaller portioned version of the adult one, offering pulled pork, smoked turkey, and ribs. So there you go. When it comes to dining out with your kids and making sure an enjoyable time is had by all, you do have options. Just don’t let the kids pick unless you want to spend the evening ordering out of a clown’s head.