In my last post, I shared some lessons (some learned the hard way) for how to make dining out with your kids a reasonably pleasant experience. I promised a list of kid-friendly restaurants. Before I get into the list, I should note a few things. I did not include fast food or chain restaurants (small local chains being the exception). The restaurants had to be places I would go to even if my kids were not with me. This list is Providence-focused, not because we do not explore other areas of the state, but because we tend to frequent places that are a short walk or drive away. Last, I asked my 12 and 8-year-old to weigh in since frankly, their endorsement means more than mine. Here is our list:
- Gregg’s – They both gave this high marks. My daughter likes the quick service, pickles, and rolls as soon as you sit down and turkey dinners year-round. My son likes the chicken nuggets, the fact that they sing happy birthday to you, and the way they display the desserts.
- Hope Street Pizza – Both like this one as well. The owner and waitstaff recognize us when we go in and try to get us fed as quickly as possible. My daughter commented on the variety of non-pizza options and the outdoor tables, and my son likes the giant fish tank.
- Three Sisters – My daughter gives it two thumbs up for healthier choices like salads, as well as having over 20 flavors of ice cream. She also noted that the kid meals include ice cream. Oh, and did she mention the ice cream?
- Red Stripe – My son’s favorite “fancy” restaurant because, “they have the best mac and cheese and I like going to the bookstore next door.”
- Rocky Point Clam Shack (Warwick) – About as no-frills as you can get and you have to get over the fact that you are eating in a parking lot. The food is good, the lines are reasonable and, if you have little kids, bring quarters for the small rides. My son, who is a very picky eater, will go through a whole order of clam cakes in about 10 minutes. Iggy’s is great too, but the lines tend to be longer.
- T’s Restaurant (Multiple locations) – Three words: breakfast all day. My son cannot say enough good things about the chocolate chip pancakes. Their Cranston restaurant is located close to the Roger Williams Park Zoo.
My daughter, the more adventurous eater, wanted me to mention that she likes to branch out and have ethnic food that is not pizza. I hate to admit that when you have one picky eater and one adventurous eater, the more daring one tends to get the shaft when it comes to picking restaurants. When we get the opportunity for greater variety, she loves Rasoi and India for Indian food, Haruki for sushi and Gourmet House or Apsara for Thai.
The bottom line: the earlier you get your kids acclimated to eating in restaurants the easier it will be to enjoy them. If you pick the right place, with quick service, ambient noise and forgiving patrons, it can be a lovely evening (or 45-60 minutes) out for the whole family.