Taking kids out to dinner can be a fun or fretful experience – especially when on vacation. I learned just how fretful when my son was nine months old and inconsolable while dining in a nice restaurant with another couple while traveling. My husband and I took turns sitting in the parking lot while the other gobbled dinner.
Fortunately, there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants in Tallahassee. Some even offer special deals for kids. Here are some suggestions.
Cabo’s Island Grill & Bar on Apalachee Parkway has friendly service, a fish tank and a loud and relaxed atmosphere. It offers a kids’ menu with all items priced at $4.98 and kids eat free from 4 PM – closing on Tuesday nights and 11 AM – 4 PM on Saturday.
Red Elephant Pizza and Grill offers an extensive kids menu, activity and coloring sheets at the table and an arcade. The atmosphere is casual and fun.
Zoës Kitchen on Thomasville Road offers a kids’ menu with choices such as fruit cups, quesadillas with grilled chicken and/or grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches.
Asian restaurants are another popular choice because they are typically casual and many children like fried rice and noodle dishes.
At Azu, popular kids choices include entrees such as honey chicken or chicken meatball lo mein. On Mondays Azu offers one free kids meal with every adult meal purchased and kids buffet for $8 (must be 8 years old or under to qualify).
Even restaurants that don’t offer specific kids’ meals or aren’t typical family-friendly eateries can be accommodating. If you know your child is well-behaved at restaurants, you can always call ahead to see if the restaurant welcomes children and offers smaller portions at reduced prices.
For a list of other restaurants offering deals for kids CLICK HERE. Menus and policies change. Be sure to call restaurants to check whether deals are still available.
Here are some tips for dining with kids:
- “To have a stellar performance it is vital to rehearse,” writes etiquette consultant Lisa Orr, from her July article,How Not To Get Thrown Out Of Restaurants When Dining With Kids. She recommends at least two or three “fancy dress” rehearsal dinners. Set the table, let the kids order and make them wait for their food to help them get ready. Coach them along the process.
- Timing is crucial. You don’t want to take a kid out to eat just before naptime or bedtime. If you’re going to a special event and your child will have to be up late, try to work in a nap or rest time. Try to go out at your kids’ usual meal time.
- Request a booth. “It’s more private, more comfortable, and more fun for the kids. Also much easier to hide when they challenge all notions of civilized society,” writes Andy Ward in an August article on the Bon Appétit website.
- Order as soon as you get to the restaurant and ask the server to make sure the kids meals come out quickly. I’ve had experiences where the meals for the youngest diners inexplicably came out last, and the kids wound up eating off their parents’ plates till they were served.
- Come prepared. Bring crackers, a kiddie cup, baby spoon, crayons and other appropriate toys. OK, this sounds old school but you can entertain “hangry” kids without forking over your cell phone. Try a coloring book or a family “who is it” game.
- Find out if the restaurant has high chairs or if you’ll need to bring your own.
Photo credit: Red Elephant Pizza and Grill