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Ten family-friendly Denver restaurants you (and your kids) will love!

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Families deserve a break from their own kitchens.

But eating out can be expensive — even out- of-reach — for those whose clans are a few kiddos short of a TLC reality show.

Not to fear: The following Denver-area restaurants offer either free or reduced-price meals for youngsters. Some even provide enough wholesome distractions to let parents eat in relative peace. And that can be priceless.

1. C.B. & Potts Restaurant & Brewery

Thursday is the day to check out this modest chain: Kids can choose from one of about 14 meals for only $1. Children with heartier appetites can opt for midsize meals, dubbed “Bigger Bites,” which are larger than the kids versions but not quite as big as what ma and pa wolf down. (These meals aren’t part of the Thursday dollar deal, though.)

Noelle Olesh, general manager of the Westminster location, says the restaurants’ kitchens are set up to handle requests regarding food allergies. There are several locations across the Front Range. The one mapped is at 1257 W. 120th Ave., Westminster, 303-451-5767. To find other locations: cbpotts.com.

2. El Jardin

Owner Ben Martinez says this restaurant was recently remodeled with families firmly in mind.

“Most families prefer booths . . . mainly so the kids can sit still without running around,” Martinez says.

So El Jardin now offers larger booths, as well as its regular Monday-night special, in which kids can eat free off the children’s menu. But Martinez isn’t under any delusion as to why families stop by his restaurant.

“Kids don’t come here to eat. It’s for the families to get away,” he says. Even so, kids always get free candy before they leave. “To them, that means everything.” 6460 E. 73rd Ave., Commerce City, 303-288-3500; iloveeljardin.com

3. Texas Roadhouse

The Texas Roadhouse restaurant doesn’t sweat it if the kids leave peanut shells on the floor. And that isn’t the only boon for young eaters. The restaurant has “Kids Night” each Monday, inviting balloon artists, holding mashed potato-eating contests and offering an ice cream bar sure to tame the savage sweet tooth. Various locations throughout the state; the one mapped is at 5515 Vance St., Arvada, 303-423-1185; texasroadhouse.com

4. Lodo’s Bar and Grill

Lodo’s general manager Dave Shaughnessy has children himself, and so do his fellow managers. So he made sure to stock up on kid-friendly specials throughout Lodo’s restaurants.

Visitors to the suburban locations (in Westminster and Highlands Ranch) will find free food for those 12 and under each Wednesday. All three locations offer $2.99 kids meals on Saturdays and Sundays. (The selection varies from one restaurant to the next, he says.)

The biggest attraction for young diners just might be the free Wii games, not the meal deals. There are three Denver-area locations. The one mapped is at 1946 Market St., 303-293-8555; lodosbarandgrill.com

5. Old Spaghetti Factory

Visitors to this downtown eatery will be impressed by its large doors and handsome wood accents, but the kids might flock to check out — and sit in — the candy-apple-red trolley parked inside.

The restaurant has a reasonably priced kids menu with meals including salad or applesauce, an entree, dessert and soda, all of which sets parents back only $4.99. Free meals are on the table for children who sign up for the Birthday Club, or for those who enlist in a reading program and power through five books.

If the trolley isn’t a big enough draw, the restaurant invites balloon artists on the weekends. 1215 18th St. Denver, 303-295-1864; osf.com

6. Noodles & Co.

This popular chain doesn’t offer free food for the young ones, yet it still ranked on Parents magazine’s Top Family Friendly Restaurants in 2009.

The restaurant has smaller versions of meals for $4.25 for young patrons. They can select from kid- friendly meals such as Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, Chicken Noodle Soup or Buttered Noodles. Meals can be customized for finicky eaters, and parents can load up their children’s dishes with any of 14 fresh vegetables.

The chain also teams with local libraries for the “Adventures in Reading” program, which encourages reading with free food for those who complete scholastic assignments. More than 40 locations throughout the state. The one mapped is at 550 Broadway, 303-832-6000; noodles.com

7. Las Fuentes

Children 10 and under don’t have to wait long for a chance at free food at this Mexican restaurants; it has them on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Young diners can select from bean tostadas and chicken quesadillas, or fall back on more traditional fare such as chicken fingers.

The restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. They even invite kids — and adults too — to polish up on Spanish skills. The menus include a list of common phrases in English and Spanish. In Denver at 1050 W. Colfax Ave., 303-534-8888, and in Lakewood at 85 S. Union Blvd. (mapped), 303-989-8577; lasfuentesmexicanfood.com

8. Hanson’s Grill & Tavern

Most days, Hanson’s is a fine-dining option for adults who want a pub burger, salad or Mexican dish. Come Sunday, children eat free from the kids menu. The restaurant has plenty of dining options: handsome interior, tables within sight of several TVs or, when weather permits, al fresco on the restaurant’s cozy patio. 1301 S. Pearl St., 303-744-1052; hansonsgrill-tavern.com

9. Fazoli’s

Tuesdays are for the wee ones at this Italian chain. From 5 to 8 p.m., a special section is set aside for children’s fun and games. Kids can color and make crafts between bites of lasagna, pizza, ravioli and fettuccine alfredo.

The Friendly Reader Program, available at participating restaurants, inspires children to read five books to receive a free meal. Multiple Colorado locations. The one mapped is at 111 W. Mineral Ave., Littleton, 303-738-0371; find more locations at fazolis.com.

10. Lansdowne Arms Bistro & Pub

Irish-themed pub food doesn’t immediately seem family-friendly. But Lansdowne Arms is trying to change that.

Lansdowne serves up one free kids meal per adult meal purchase on Sundays until 4 p.m. for tykes younger than 12, according to manager Danny Beer. The children’s menu features popularly requested entrees including fish and chips, chicken tenders and grilled cheese.

“It’s comfort food,” Beer says — and a comfort to parents looking to shrink their meal tabs. 9352 Dorchester St., Highlands Ranch, 303-346-9136; lansdownearmsbistroandpub.com

-By Christian Toto

C’mon Moms, let’s hear it. What are some of your favorite non-fast food restaurants that are kid-friendly?

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck May 16, 2010

    I have to give a shout-out to Qdoba for recently implementing kids eat free with each paying adult. The other night, the kiddos wanted to go out to eat but we didn’t want to drop a lot of money or do fast-food. We decided upon Qdoba and our meal cost less than it wold have at some burger joint, plus both parents and the kiddos loved it.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz May 16, 2010

    Great list! Some ones on here that are new to me.

    My kids like Parisi’s in NW Denver (44th & Tennyson). They get to watch the pizza man make pizza and even get their own ball of dough to knead. Plus, there is delicious gelato (by Red Trolley) for dessert!

    The chocolate covered salt caramel is divine.

  • comment avatar Kathy May 16, 2010

    HELP! I want to take my Minnesota Mom and Pop to a restaurant for a Denver omlette. Advice?

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck May 16, 2010

    Hands down, the best breakfast place in town is Country Road Cafe. Well, except that it’s about 15 minutes outside of town in Kittridge. I’ve never had their Denver Omelette but their breakfast burrito, smashes and pancakes are the most amazing I’ve ever had. http://www.countryroadcafe.com

  • comment avatar Jenna Hallock May 16, 2010

    Kathy, I think The Egg and I or Le Peep are both a great place for a Denver Omelette – some of the first places I was introduced to when I moved to Colorado!

    Lori, We LOVE Big Bill’s NY Pizza in Centennial for the same reason – kids can watch the pizza being made, can play with dough, plus they can have a Yoo-Hoo!

    My hubby and I enjoy Lansdowne Arms, but have never taken the kids… we will have to try a Sunday afternoon very soon.

    We’ve also done Old Mill and Merle’s (downtown Littleton) with our kids frequently – everybody leaves happy!

  • comment avatar The Mommyologist May 18, 2010

    This makes me miss Denver so much!! We used to love C.B. Pott’s, and Lansdowne Arms was just down the street from our house in Highland’s Ranch. Such a great city! We’re hoping to bring our son back sometime next year to show him where he was born (Sky Ridge), etc.

    Do me a favor and enjoy some Brothers BBQ for me. I miss that the most!

  • comment avatar Aimee Greeblemonkey May 18, 2010

    I am not sure you want my answers because my kid eats sushi and mussels and crazy things – so I never really have to think “kid-friendly.” ;)

  • comment avatar Carla Sanchez May 21, 2010

    TOKYO JOE’S is the best! Great portions, healthy, inexpensive, fun and yummy for mommy and daddy too! :] My little guy loves using the ‘helper chopsticks’ and dipping his broccoli in teriyaki sauce. You can find locations everywhere in Denver. Enjoy!

  • comment avatar Terry May 24, 2010

    We don’t have our kid yet, but I’m REALLY looking forward to taking it to Chipotle. Why?

    They have the build your own tacos thing!

    And they use quality meats.

    Also, I really enjoy eating there myself, so the kid will just have to learn to love it. Hah!

  • comment avatar Colin October 26, 2011

    This list is completely invalid for top 10 family restaurants if it excludes Casa Bonita.

    White Fence Farm should probably be on there, too.

  • comment avatar Mike September 17, 2012

    I can not believe that Casa Bonita is not on this list!

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