Taking the entire family out to dinner is no walk in the park. Unless, of course, you go to an actual park in which case, no worries. You can make sure there’s food your kids will actually eat and no one cares if they run around screaming as soon as they’ve thrown their chicken nuggets at each other. Restaurants, on the other hand, aren’t always so easy. When looking for the best family-friendly restaurants, ambiance is one thing, but without good kids’ menus, what’s the point? And when I say “good” kids’ menu, I realize that this may be a very subjective term, because what works for one kid doesn’t always work for another. For my family of diverse eaters, a menu that consists of chicken nuggets, a hot dog, or a hamburger with fries as the only side, never quite cuts it.
Another issue with many kids’ menus is the age-to-portion-to-selection ratio. By the time most kids hit 10 or so, they didn’t want chicken nuggets, but can’t manage to finish a $20 adult entrée. And last but not least, I’m not a cheapskate (usually), but when the kids’ menu items cost nearly as much as an adult meal, I kind of stop seeing the point. So what’s a mom to do?
The answer to that is simple – find the best kids’ menus out there based on the following standards:
- Reasonable pricing
- Wide selection
- Healthy options
- Options for adults – from food, to drinks, to ambiance
The following Richmond area restaurants passed my test with flying colors. But most importantly, they made the kids happy. And while “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” might be true at home, if you’ve ever eaten out with kids, then you know that happy kids is the only way to guarantee a successful dinner out.
As a quick note, we typically like to include restaurants and businesses in our “best of” lists that are local only to Richmond. However, for this list, we’ve included one place that can also be found in Northern Virginia and Maryland, as well as Richmond, and another that has restaurants in many other states. Why did we break our rule? Because, eating out with kids doesn’t always happen locally – and it’s always good to know where to go if you’re on the road, visiting friends or seeing family in another city or state. With that being said, we’re sure this is one list you’re going to love.
Take a look at our top five favorite kids’ menus in Richmond and let us know if you have one that you think should be on the list. We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Ahhh, Joe’s Inn. This neighborhood favorite has been a Richmond go-to since…well, forever. With comfort foods galore, countless beers on tap, and a homey, where-everybody-knows-your-name kind of vibe, Joe’s Inn is a classic. So it’s no wonder that Joe’s is one of our favorite options for the younger crowd, as well. It’s not the most expansive menu on our list. And it’s not the most organically-inspired menu on our list. But what it is is yummy and cheap and all-around kid-friendly.
Joe’s serves up a kid-sized menu of burgers, grilled cheese, spaghetti, chicken fingers and more, along with some tasty breakfast items (which are served for grown up and kids all day, in case you were wondering) all for $4.75 or less. You’ll be happy. They’ll be happy. And Joe’s will handle the rest.
Why we love them: It’s not so much “why we love them” as it is “why wouldn’t we love them?” Joe’s has something for everyone. It’s not Richmond’s top choice for fine dining, but who wants to drag kids out for white linen tablecloths and crystal anyway? What Joe’s is, is a happy, homey, easy-to-be place that offers comfort foods for the whole family at prices that won’t empty your wallet.
Sunday – Thursday, 8am – 12am
Friday and Saturday, 8am – 2am
205 N. Shields Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
Firebirds is an adult favorite, no question. Even though it’s a national chain, they keep their menu innovative, their ingredients fresh and their service top-notch. And while the ambiance is decidedly great for grown-ups, it’s kid-friendly at the same time – which is a welcome combo for a family dinner out.
But, what really impressed us was the kids’ menu. Not only do they offer a wide selection, they offer options that mirror the adult menu. So, if you’re like me and have a kid that loves steak, but you really don’t want to pay regular entrée prices because you know she’s not going to finish it, go for the Kid’s Filet Medallions for $8.95 – adult-sized deliciousness with kid-sized portions and prices. Same goes for the grilled Mahi, half-rack of ribs or shrimp tacos. Of course, if it’s burgers and chicken tenders you’re looking for, no worries, they have plenty of standard favorites, as well. And all entrees come with two sides (veggies, fruit, fries, etc), a pack of Oreos and a drink, with prices between $6.25 and $8.95.
Why we love them: Firebirds may be a chain, but don’t let that fool you when it comes to healthy options. Firebirds participates in the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell Program, offering many menu items that are certified as healthy, kid-friendly alternatives to many standard chain or fast food restaurant offerings. With Firebirds locations across the country, including two restaurants in the Richmond area, you’ve got a healthy, delicious and completely satisfying option for the whole family, even when you’re travelling.
Sunday – Thursday, 11am – 10pm
Friday and Saturday, 11am – 11pm
Richmond – Belvedere: (804) 440-0000
Richmond – Short Pump: (804) 364-9744
The Shoppes at Belevedere
11448 Belvedere Vista Lane
Richmond, VA 23235
Short Pump Town Center
11800 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23233
Toast is all about a relaxed atmosphere and friendly service – which is a great starting point for a family-friendly restaurant, right? But relaxed or not, the main question is still…WILL MY CHILDREN EAT THE FOOD?! We don’t know your kids, but at Toast, the answer is probably “yes.”
We can say this with confidence because Toast caters (no restaurant pun intended) to the younger crowd with favorites like burgers, mac n’ cheese, buttered spiral noodles, grilled turkey and cheese (with or without the turkey) and good ol’ fashioned PB & J. However, they also recognize that kids get to an age where they don’t want to order off the kids’ menu, because they’re just too cool for that. That’s where Toast’s “Little Adults’ Menu” comes in. Featuring slightly larger portions of the kids’ classics, it also provides your taste-savvy tween with more sophisticated options like salmon, grilled chicken, or spaghetti squash and veggie “meat”balls. And don’t worry, while the kids’ menu is priced at $6 across the board (and includes a side and drink), the Little Adults’ Menu stays at $10 and under, with most options between $6 and $8.
Why we love them: We haven’t mentioned the adult menu yet. So suffice it to say that with food that can only be described as “classic American with a twist,” you’ll find all your favorites and most likely discover a few new ones, like Shrimp and Crab Nachos, Parmesan Crusted Rockfish, Gouda Mac n’ Cheese and much more. Add this to the amazing kids’ options and Toast is the trifecta of taste, affordability and variety. Everybody wins.
Monday – Thursday, 11am – 11pm
Friday, 11am – 12am
Saturday, 9:30am – 12am
Sunday, 9:30am – 11pm
Village Shopping Center
7007 Three Chopt Rd.
Richmond, VA 23226
If you’ve ever spent time in the Northern Virginia area or Maryland, then you might be familiar with the Silver Diner. But if not, then trust me when I say this is not your standard greasy spoon. The Silver Diner delivers the funky, retro vibe of a 1950s diner, which makes it a fun option for kids and adults alike. But when it comes to menu options, they’re all about fresh, local ingredients. Their award-winning kids’ menu offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts, but all with a healthy spin, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. In fact, more than nine of their entrée options are certified by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell Program.
Choose kid-friendly classics like mac n’ cheese, burgers and hot dogs or satisfy a more discerning palate with Teriyaki Salmon featuring sustainable fresh salmon, reduced sodium teriyaki, brown rice and mixed veggies. Kids can choose from more than a dozen entrees and a great selection of sides like salads, mixed veggies, applesauce and much more. And when it comes to price, nothing on the menu is over $6.49, with most entrée options coming in around $5.
Why we love them: The Silver Diner meets all of our requirements for a top five menu with ease. But they’ve taken their kid-friendly options one step further with Kids’ Night every Tuesday from 5pm-8pm, featuring entertainment and activities. Plus, when you join the Kids’ Club (and by “you,” I mean those in your house 12 and under), you’ll get a free shake on kids’ night and a free kids’ meal on your birthday. Last but not least (yes, there’s more!), the Silver Diner may be a chain, but they are all about their local communities. Through their Eat Well, Do Well program, you can help raise money for ten Richmond-area schools with every purchase.
Sunday – Thursday, 6:30am – 12am
Friday – Saturday, 6:30am – 2am
10890 West Broad Street
(Corner of West Broad and Cox Road)
Glen Allen, VA 23060
Located in Carytown, The Daily Kitchen and Bar is just the kind of socially-conscious, locally-sourced restaurant that Richmond is proud to host. It’s got everything you could ask for in a feel-good restaurant: great food; environmentally friendly standards; organic, all natural, local and sustainable ingredients; fair prices; and a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and paleo options. Perfect for all of you parents out there, right? Well, for once, you won’t have to leave the kids behind when trying to “eat right,” because their kids’ menu takes the cake – or the Organic Mexican Flourless Chocolate Torte, as it were.
With kids’ menu options like edamame, veggie stir fry, Thai noodle bowls, and salads, your healthiest eaters will be more than satisfied. But for those who prefer kid-classics like burgers, pizza and quesadillas, there’s more than enough to choose from. Organic milk and juices round out the kids’ offerings, with everything on the menu staying around the $5-$6 range.
Why we love them: I am the first to admit that there’s a bag of frozen chicken nuggets in my freezer at this very moment. And I say that without shame. But I try to keep the menu options at home on the healthy side, so I want to do the same when I go out. However, eating organic ain’t cheap, am I right? Well, at The Daily, you can count on local, organic meals for kids that are the same or less than what you’d spend at a fast food restaurant. Combine that fact with their incredible selection for kids and adults alike, and The Daily wins our top prize, hands down.
Breakfast: Monday – Saturday, 7am–11am; Sunday, 7am – 10am
Lunch: Monday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm
Dinner: Sunday – Thursday, 5pm – 10pm; Friday – Saturday, 5pm – 12pm
Brunch: Sunday 10am – 4pm
2934 W. Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221