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The key to eating out with small kids is choosing a spot where kid noise is welcome, prices are reasonable, and there’s food on the menu that your kids will actually eat.
We’ve got the list of the best restaurants for kids, grouped by what they’re best known for. You’ll want to double-check with your local restaurant, as some offers and prices vary by location, but rest assured — you’re gonna find something your whole family will love in this list.
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1. Best restaurants for kids’ birthdays:
Celebrating a birthday party at a restaurant can be a very special event for kids. Restaurants on my list are reasonably priced and provide a host of goodies including food, party gifts, and experiences.
Chuck E. Cheese party packages run $26.99 – $33.99 per child.
Chuck E. Cheese is one of the best restaurants for birthdays. They offer two party packages, Ultimate Fun and Mega Fun. They’re the same, except the Mega Fun package includes a 1 large 1-topping pizza for the adults, an extra 50 bonus E-Tickets for the guests, and 1,000 bonus E-Tickets for the Birthday Star. Otherwise, here are the highlights:
- All You Can Play games & Play Pass
- 2 slices of a 1-topping pizza and drink with free refills
- 1 collectible cup per child
- 1 Dippin Dots® ice cream per child
- 50 – 100 bonus E-Tickets per guest
- 1 Chuck E. Goody Bag per guest
- 2, 000 – 3,000 bonus E-Tickets for the Birthday Star
- Chuck E. Tote Bag for the Birthday Star
- 6 Helium Balloons
- Recognition in the live Birthday Show with Chuck E.
Go on an Auntie Anne’s Pretzels field trip for $5 a kid.
Auntie Anne’s doesn’t offer birthday party packages, per se. However, they do offer field trips for up to 10 guests.
The fee gets you a tour of the kitchen where kids learn how pretzels are made and roll out their own pretzels.
Tour the kitchen for $5.49 a kid during an Uno Pizzeria birthday party.
Uno Pizzeria birthday party packages run $5.49 per child. Kids get a tour of the restaurant and kitchen to see the chefs work and learn about pizza making, and each child gets their own dough and toppings to make their own pizza.
Cicis Pizza birthday party packages range from $11.99 – $21.99 per child.
Cicis Pizzeria offers three different birthday party packages that give you an unlimited buffet, soft drinks, a party host, and a reserved area for 90 minutes. All packages require a minimum of 8 kids.
The three different packages — Silver, Gold, and Diamond — cost between $11.99 and $21.99 per child, with increasing numbers of gaming credits for guests and the birthday kid.
Pay $15 – $20 a guest for a Rainforest Cafe birthday party.
For that price, Rainforest Cafe gives each kid:
- Meal from the Wild Bunch menu
- An activity book and crayons
- Wild Safari hat
- Collectible kids’ plate
- Free invitations and envelopes
Call your local restaurant for under 10 guests
A Chick-fil-A birthday party package costs $120 for 8 kids.
The Chick-fil-A birthday party package includes:
- 8 – 4-count kids nugget meals
- 8 – IceDream cups
- 8 – mini plush cows
- 15-minute visit with the cow
- 64-nuggets tray for adults
- One gallon of sweet or unsweetened tea
- Unlimited use of the playground
- Extra kids will cost you $7.99 each
Best restaurants where kids eat free (or really cheap):
There are a number of restaurants that let kids eat at no cost or at a discount. For a more detailed list, check out my comprehensive guide to kids eat free restaurants. Here are a few to get you started:
- Applebee’s: Kids’ meals are $1.99 (or free) on select days depending on location, but typically Sundays or Tuesdays.
- Beef ‘O’ Brady’s: Kids 12 and under eat for $2.99 on Tuesdays.
- Buffalo Wild Wings: Kids eat free or for $1.99 on select nights.
- Cicis Pizza: Some locations let kids under 3 eat free, while others charge $1 (a drink is extra) for kids 3 and under every day.
- Culver’s: Kids get a free scoop of custard with a purchased kids’ meal every day.
- Denny’s: Kids 12 and under eat free every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 – 10 p.m.
- Jason’s Deli: Kids eat free (or for $0.99) on Sundays and get free ice cream with purchase of an adult meal.
- McAlister’s Deli: Kids 12 and under eat for $0.99 on Saturdays with the purchase of an adult meal.
- Ponderosa: Kids eat for $0.99 every Tuesday after 4 p.m.
- Red Robin: At participating locations, kids eat for $0.99 on Tuesdays after 4 p.m. with purchase of an adult meal.
- Shari’s: Between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. every Tuesday, you can get one free kids meal per order at Shari’s, and if you’re ordering online use the promo code FREEKIDSMEAL.
Best restaurants for kids’ menu items:
Enjoy kids menu items at Red Robin for around $7.
Red Robin‘s kids’ menu offers fun options like mini corn dogs, mac & cheese, and more. All kids’ menu items come with bottomless drinks and sides fresh veggies and fruits, and of course, a free birthday sundae!
Kids’ meal prices:
- Red’s Cheeseburger $6.99
- Cluck-A-Doodles (breaded chicken tenders) 2-piece $6.99, 3-piece $7.29
- Corn Doggies 6-piece $6.49, 9-piece $6.99
- Mac It Yours (mac & cheese) $6.99
- Grilled Cheesy $6.49
Find healthy (tasty) options on the Chick-fil-A kids menu for under $6.
Chick-fil-A has healthy menu options that your kids will actually enjoy, like grilled chicken nuggets, choice of applesauce, waffle fries, or a fruit cup as a side, and milk or juice to drink.
Kids meal prices:
- 5-piece Nuggets Kid’s Meal: $5.19
- 2-piece Chick-n-Strips Meal: $5.65
- 5-piece Grilled Nuggets Meal: $5.75
Jason’s Deli kids menu items include organic produce for less than $5.
At Jason’s Deli, you can get a healthy kids meal made with organic produce, nitrate-free lunch meat, and whole-grain bread. J.D. Pickle Meals and Kidwich Meals cost between $4.09 for Mac & Cheese, or Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza, and $4.89 for Chicken Tenders.
Chili’s kids menu offers Pepper Pals meals for about $5.
Chili’s kids menu Pepper Pals meals come with your choice of a side like broccoli, house salad, mandarin oranges, and more, and drink. Most Pepper Pals kids menu items cost $5.25 for the Grilled Cheese to $5.75 for the Grilled Chicken Dippers. Check here for additional kids menu options.
Order “build your own” options for around $5 from the Chipotle kids menu.
Two options for Chipotle’s “build your own taco or quesadilla” makes every kid happy. Each is served with seasonal fruit or chips, and juice, soda, ice tea, or organic milk.
Kid’s meal prices:
- Build Your Own Taco $5.35
- Kid’s Cheese Quesadilla $4.20
- Kid’s Meat Quesadilla $4.90
Cicis Pizza lets kids eat free; if they’re 3 or younger.
Cicis Pizza is an all-you-can-eat buffet that includes pizza, soups, pasta, salad, and desserts. Kids can choose from the pre-made buffet pizzas or have any custom-made pizza they want, made especially for them.
Kids’ meal prices:
- Kids 3 and under: Free
- Kids over 3: $4.19
- Drink: $1.29
IHOP kids menu has breakfast and dinner items for under $6.
The IHOP kids menu items include breakfast and dinner combos.
Kids’ meal prices:
- Funny Face Pancake Combo: $5.29
- Jr. Cupcake Pancake Combo (a pancake with cupcake icing, whipped topping, sprinkles, one scrambled egg, and a bacon strip or pork sausage link): $5.29
- Silver 5 (five pancakes, one scrambled egg, and a strip of bacon): $5.29
- Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: $4.99
- Jr. Cheeseburger with a side of Mott’s applesauce: $5.99
Perkins kids menu offers 9 meal options for under $5 each.
Perkins kids meals include a side, beverage, and a dessert of your child’s choice. Sides include a cup of soup, fruit, salad, broccoli, corn, fries, mashed potatoes, or applesauce, and you can add additional sides for just $0.99.
Kids meal items cost between $3.99 for Rainbow Pancakes or Silver Dollar Short Stack and $4.99 for Chicken Strips or Cheeseburger.
Steak ‘n Shake kids menu items include four meal choices for less than $5 each.
At Steak ‘n Shake, kids can select from four meals. Each comes with a drink and choice of applesauce or Thin ‘n Crispy fries.
Kids meal prices:
- Steakburger Meal $4.49
- Grilled Cheese Meal: $3.99
- Hot Dog Meal: $4.49
- Chicken Fingers Meal: $4.99
Kids meals cost $5.49 or $6.49 at Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill.
Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill kid’s menu has a “make your own pizza” kid’s meal that gets kids their own pizza crust, toppings, cooking instructions, and a pizza coloring sheet with crayons.
Other kid’s menu items run $5.49 to $6.49 and include options like Make-Your-Own-Pizza Kit, and Kids Chix & Stix (chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, and fries).
Best restaurants for overall kid-friendly environment:
Applebee’s: Applebee’s gives each child a coloring page and crayons, and for $1.99 kids can play unlimited games on the tabletop tablets!
Buffalo Wild Wings: Kids can play in the arcade or with each table’s tablets that are loaded with games. Kids also get a coloring book, crayons, and a Buffalo Wild Wings paper hat.
Chick-fil-A: Let kids play in the playground. Chick-fil-A also hosts event nights like princess nights, pirate nights, mom & me, and dad & me nights. And starting in 2022, look out for the return of wearing costumes on Cow Appreciation Day.
Chili’s: Chili’s gives each child a coloring page and crayons. For $1.99 kids can play unlimited games on the tabletop tablets.
Chuck E. Cheese, Dave & Buster’s, and Fuddruckers: All three of these restaurants have arcades, so no need to worry about noise (or entertainment).
Cicis Pizza: After eating as much as they want from Cicis unlimited buffet options, kids can have more fun playing in the arcade. Many Cicis locations have an arcade located in the back of the restaurant for kids to play, with games starting at just $0.25.
Cracker Barrel: Relax in adult- and kid-sized rocking chairs outside, or play games like checkers while you wait. The Old Country Store at the front of the restaurant also has toys and a wide selection of candy. Kids dining in get an activity book and crayons, and the Cracker Barrel games are at each table for kids to play.
Joe’s Crab Shack: Some Joe’s Crab Shack locations have playgrounds for kids. Plus each child gets free coloring pages and crayons.
Rainforest Cafe: Giant animals, trees, huge fish tanks, waterfalls, and jungle “showers” every 30 minutes (including thunder and lightning) and an attached store for souvenirs make it practically impossible for kids to get bored. Each child also gets a free activity book and crayons.
Red Robin: Red Robin entertains kids from the minute they walk in the door. There are ceiling-to-floor chalkboards to draw or write on in the waiting area. Each table also has a tablet with games for only $1.99. The kids’ menu doubles as an activity sheet, and each child gets free crayons. On the way out, your child can pick out a balloon to take home from the “balloon tree” at the front of the restaurant.
Steak ‘n Shake: Each child gets a menu, which doubles as an activity page, crayons, a Steak ‘n Shake hat to color and decorate, and a paper car with stickers.
Texas Roadhouse: Buckets of peanuts in the waiting area and at every table keep kids occupied from the moment they walk in the door. Who doesn’t get a kick out of throwing peanut shells on the floor? Many locations offer a Kids Night with free face painting, balloon animals, and games.
If you fancy a restaurant, not on my list, give them a shout-out in the comments below and I’ll try and include them in my next update.