If spring and summer family travel plans place you smack dab in the middle of a big city with a family of big appetites to match, fret not! Don’t let visions of tired old kids’ meals or un-welcoming wait staff keep your crew from enjoying a family meal on the town. Not in the big city anytime, soon? Check out our top selections in family-friendly chain restaurants with locations nationwide.
New York City
Kelly and Ping: Chinatown gets a taste bud-approved update with Kelly and Ping’s Asian Grocery and Noodle Shop. Young diners can choose between traditional Chinese favorites with punchy names like Bowl of Sunshine (broth, noodles, roast chicken) or The Warrior (grilled chicken breast, steamed snow peas, jasmine rice).
Ditch Plains: A self-described “family-friendly Upper West Side restaurant, awesome surfer bar, and casual Sunday brunch spot,” what’s not to love about Ditch Plains? We were blown away by the kids’ menu, which includes USDA-friendly MyPlate dishes like whole wheat quesadillas with chicken, cheese and veggies.
Home Run Inn Pizzeria: Several locations around Chicago give tourists and locals alike the chance to snag a slice of deep-dish pizza. Home Run Inn is a budget-friendly choice for family lunch in the Windy City that includes hearty kids’ options for less than $6.
Park Grill: The largest al fresco dining area in Chicago is also a popular choice for families strolling down Michigan Avenue or exploring Millennium Park. The Park Grill offers Mom and Dad the chance to enjoy lunch with an upscale vibe, even with kids in tow.
Chick-a-Biddy: Treat the fam to a leisurely weekend brunch with omelets packed with farm-fresh vegetables, gluten-free almond pancakes or a “build your own” biscuit. Your little Southern foodie will love a zesty fried chicken sandwich and a choice of sides including black beans and rice, loaded mashed potatoes or wood-grilled veggies.
The Varsity: An afternoon of exploring the World of Coca-Cola or the Atlanta Aquarium requires adequate refueling. The Varsity is Atlanta’s perennial burger and shake destination for locals and travel weary patrons. Be sure to ask for an iconic paper hat to give little diners the full Varsity experience…and create the perfect family photo op.
Magnolia Café: Pegged as “Everybody knows, Everybody goes” (and for good reason), the Magnolia Café, with two locations, features a menu filled with south-of-the-border flavors you’d expect from a Tex-Mex joint. Locals give Magnolia high marks for its reputation of happily accommodating families.
Rudy’s BBQ: The Lonestar state offers a dizzying array of barbeque joints, but Rudy’s pairs the taste of Texas and an appreciation for dinners of all ages. Dine on all the BBQ classics like brisket, potato salad and spicy beans, and be sure to end dinner on a sweet note with chocolate pudding.
Rigolo Café: Accessible French cuisine will make even the pickiest eater swoon. Adults and adventurous kids will enjoy a hot cup of French onion soup on a trademark, chilly, spring day in the Bay area.
Pacific Catch: Seafood aficionados will love the just-off-the-hook eats at Pacific Catch. Low-key atmosphere and an authentic San Francisco feel make this multi-location local favorite a destination that Mom, Dad and kids can simultaneously enjoy. Expand young palates with coconut shrimp or fish tacos.
Clyde’s: When Clyde’s promises that “Patriots of all stripes dine at Clyde’s,” they really mean it. Voted one of DC’s most accessible sit-down restaurants for families, Clyde’s offers a delectable menu for brunch to late night, and a kid’s menu with meals for less than $8.
Kramerbooks &Afterwords Cafe: Instill a love of reading over a delightful selection of sandwiches, salads and omelets. Kramerbooks provides an array of children’s titles and a full-shop bookstore. The outdoor patio is for a lunch when the family just needs a breath of fresh air.