8 Best Kid-Friendly Family Restaurants – How Affordable Are They?


When you have children, your approach to dining out undergoes a major shift. Before becoming a parent, you may have thought nothing of dropping $100 or more on a fancy dinner for two, complete with candlelight, wine, and elaborate dishes.

But when you start eating out with kids, your tastes shift toward eateries with booster seats and child-friendly menus. On the plus side, no one there complains if your kids make noise or decide to play hide-and-seek under the table. But their menus can be a bit unambitious, leaning heavily on chicken nuggets and spaghetti.

Fortunately, there are plenty of child-friendly chain restaurants across the country that aren’t adult-unfriendly. They offer menu options for both childlike and sophisticated palates, and some can even provide a glass of wine with your meal. And their prices won’t break the bank when you’ve got three or four mouths to feed.

Top Affordable Family Restaurant Chains:

Several chains show up repeatedly in print and online lists ranking the best kid-friendly restaurants based on their menus, atmosphere, and service.

These eateries offer good menu options for the whole family, including those on special diets like vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, or gluten-free. They have locations across the country, and their prices won’t break the bank. And many of them provide extras for kids, like crayons and activity placemats.

The top picks made the list based on their menu choices and cost. The list doesn’t include fast-food and quick-service restaurants since most sources evaluate those separately. These aren’t places to grab a quick bite in the middle of a shopping excursion. They’re places to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal with your family.

1. Red Lobster:

Menu Selections for Adults:

All about seafood – fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, in generous portions.

Light and low-carb options, indulgent fare, and some steak and chicken selections.

Main courses come with a choice of two sides, including Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Emphasis on sustainably sourced seafood, eco-friendly practices.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Kids menu includes beginner-friendly seafood dishes and standard options like chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese.

Kids’ entrees come with one side dish.

Special Deals:

Family meal deals for groups, family-size soup, appetizer, or dessert to share.

Weekday specials, Ultimate Endless Shrimp Monday.

My Red Lobster Rewards program, weekday specials, and Fresh Catch News for additional discounts.

2. Outback Steakhouse:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Australian-themed with a focus on steak, but also offers chicken, ribs, seafood, grilled pork, burgers, and sandwiches.

Limited options for vegetarians and vegans; gluten-free versions available.

Known for appetizers like Bloomin’ Onion and rich desserts.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Joey Menu with kid-sized portions of steak, chicken, macaroni and cheese, and more.

Sides include plain steamed broccoli, fresh fruit, and fries.

Special Deals:

Combo meals for four or six people, varying array of specials.

Dine Rewards program for discounts on future meals.

Discounts for seniors, military service members, veterans, and AARP members.

3. Red Robin:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Specializes in burgers with various options; also offers grilled or fried chicken, fish, sandwiches, wraps, pizza, and salads.

Accommodates special diets with allergy-friendly menu, gluten-free buns, and vegetarian options.

Main dishes come with unlimited refills of choice side dishes and bottomless drinks.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Kids menu with burgers, pasta, pizza, and chicken fingers.

Healthy options through partnership with Kids LiveWell.

Special Deals:

Red Robin Royalty program for birthday rewards and discounts.

Various limited-time promotions throughout the year.

4. IHOP:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Emphasis on traditional breakfast foods available all day.

Breakfast options include waffles, French toast, omelets, and various pancake selections.

Dinner options include burgers, sandwiches, and all-American main dishes.

Vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free options available.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Funny Face pancake combo, chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, and more.

Special Deals:

Budget-friendly with low prices on nearly every menu item.

55-plus menu for older adults, IHoppy Hour specials.

MyHop loyalty club for free pancakes, birthday treats, and special offers.

5. Olive Garden:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Generous portions of uncomplicated Italian fare with a focus on pasta.

Pasta dishes, chicken, seafood, and various Italian classics.

Vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

Bottomless soup, salad, and garlic breadsticks with every meal.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Special kids menu featuring Ollie and friends with kid-friendly Italian dishes.

Children’s dinners with one side dish and a glass of 1% milk.

Special Deals:

Prices justified by generous portions; specials change throughout the year.

Olive Garden eClub for early access to specials and additional offers.

Free dessert on birthdays.

6. Cracker Barrel:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Southern-style comfort food including cheeseburgers, country-fried steak, smoked ham, and chicken and dumplings.

Country-style breakfast all day, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and biscuits.

Vegetarian options available; limited options for vegans.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Scaled-down versions of adult menu items, fun and playful dishes.

Coloring and activity booklets, games for kids.

Special Deals:

No specific discounts; already low prices for budget-conscious diners.

Family meals to go for groups.

7. Chili’s:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Family favorites with a Southwestern flair – burgers, ribs, steak, and Tex-Mex cuisine.

Broader selection of lighter fare, salads, and Guiltless Grill options.

Limited vegetarian options, gluten-free menu available.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Pepper Pal kids’ menu with familiar options like mini-hamburgers, chicken strips, and pizza.

Charitable donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Special Deals:

3 for $10 special with a beverage, appetizer, and main dish.

My Chili’s Rewards for free items, birthday treats, and special offers.

8. Applebee’s:

Menu Selections for Adults:

Varied menu with salads, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, and pasta.

Extensive drink menu with cocktails, beers, and wines.

Limited vegetarian options, gluten-sensitive menu available.

Kid-Friendly Choices:

Kid-approved menu with chicken tenders, grilled cheese, burgers, and pasta.

Special Deals:

2 for $20 or 2 for $25 meal deals, various promotions throughout the year.

Applebee’s Eclub for exclusive offers and a birthday surprise.


Eating out with kids can be enjoyable without compromising on flavor or straining your budget, contributing to your early retirement savings. Family-friendly restaurant chains provide options for all, from the adventurous to the fussy young diners. Opting for eateries that welcome families ensures a relaxed dining experience, helps in building cherished memories, and could also lead to saving some extra money along the way.

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