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