I’ve had a couple of people request restaurant suggestions. Then a couple of blogs have been talking restaurants lately. At AOA, they’re offering up Albany Jane’s Must-Try Cheap Lunches. Yum. I’m considering it a to-do list. And then at the TU’s Parent-to-Parent they’re talking about Worst Kids-in-Restaurant Behavior. This sort of post just always depresses me. But it’s like all sorts of crazy cosmic forces are telling me to do the dang restaurant post. So I’ve been polling random mom friends about their favorite family restaurant destinations. And along the way, I’ve made two major discoveries.
Discovery #1: This groovy mealeo website. I’ve seen similar sites, but this one actually had plenty of different menus, and it tells you which restaurants deliver: more than I expected. Definitely helpful.
Discovery #2: My idea of favorite family restaurant destinations, apparently, is abnormal. People kept making the same suggestions that sort of made me groan. A little bit like, Really? Is that the best you can do? So, first, I’ll share the conventional wisdom on local family-friendly choices. Then, I will launch myself into one of those mini-rants that I go into every once in a while. You know, when I’m telling you that you shouldn’t be scared of taking your kids to the theater or that you can breastfeed anywhere.
Okay, here are the frequently-suggested choices for family dining in the Capital Region. Many of these have more than one location, so I’m just linking you to the main site:
Serve-yourself fast-ish food chains that appeal to kids:
- Five Guys Burgers & Fries–Peanuts while you wait, but they’re everywhere, so it’s not your place if anyone’s got nut sensitivities. I know that a ton of people love this place; our family doesn’t. It is so greasy that no matter what we order, everyone feels sick afterwards.
- The Pasta Factory–great options for kids and adults. The girls and I love this place. At the Rte. 7 location, kids eat free on Tuesday nights and Mr. Twisty adds to the fun.
- Moe’s Southwest Grill–a favorite to pick up or eat there. They let kids eat free on Sundays in Clifton Park & on Wolf Road, and on Wednesdays on Central Ave.
- Panera–my kids love-love-love the broccoli cheddar soup. Even the pickiest eater will be willing to eat a plain bagel or some yogurt, right?
Sit-down Chains that folks consider family-friendly:
- Red Robin–“Delicious mac and cheese”. I have never, ever been here, but several people suggested it as a family favorite.
- Johnny Rockets–Tasty retro diner food with criminally cheerful service and your own juke box–kids love it.
- Bucca di Beppo–“Amazing chocolate cake, and if you’ve got 12 or more, the Pope Room is really fun”. They serve family-style portions, which can be nice and flexible when you’ve got kids who are picky or who are a little too small or too big to “fit” a kid’s portion.
- Friendly’s–I understand that children love this, but I will always strive to go somewhere else.
Many people also enjoy some favorite seasonal spots for ice cream, hot dogs, and other basics.
You know what? I’m going to save my rant for tomorrow. Because it’s after 11 pm. I mean, even as I started this thing I recognized that it was ridiculous because I’m super tired and we’re hosting a birthday party tomorrow. So consider this part one. Tomorrow I’ll talk about where we like to go. And, maybe I’ll rant a teensy bit.