Parents, looking for kid-friendly restaurants that’ll you’ll love too? Here’s a quick look at 10 must-try spots.
I’ve got a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, so I understand the pain of trying to find a kid-friendly restaurant that’s still delicious (and cool) for parents. Here’s a quick list of top spots around Charlotte, in no particular order.
Sushi and burger restaurant in SouthPark
Distractions: Waiting for dinner and the kids are over coloring? Go outside and take a photo of your toddler riding the giant sushi fish outside, play some cornhole, view the fountain out back and then go inside to watch the fish inside the massive fish tank at the bar.
Kid order: Go with the kid’s bento box in which you can order a PB&J sushi roll. Oh, and the boxes also come with a temporary tattoo and a Rice Krispies Treat with a Sweedish Fish on top.
(2) Inizio Pizza
Award-winning pizza spot in Dilworth
Pizza magic: The kitchen was designed with kids in mind. Your toddler can stand on a bench and watch the pizza makers roll out the dough, add ingredients on top and put the pizza into the massive ovens.
Dipping: Each pizza comes with a cup of their margarita sauce for crust dipping. Kids love the dip. Order the classic margarita pizza (it’s delicious). End the meal with Inizio’s gelato and ask for the tiny spoons so that your kids don’t get too hopped up on sugar.
(3) Paco’s Tacos
Popular Tex-Mex restaurant in SouthPark
Order: There’s a reason this place is packed with young families at 5 p.m. — kids can pound chips and cheese quesadillas as parents pound margaritas and fajitas.
Upscale Southern comfort food in SouthPark
Underrated: This is the fanciest kid-friendly restaurant in Charlotte. For the kids, order the chicken fingers with french fries — so delicious and the ranch dipping sauce is outstanding. I also play the game with my kids where they count the number of roosters on the wall, and then I act like they’re coming back alive (but maybe I’m a weird parent).
Neighborhood pizza spot in Elizabeth
Kids menu breakdown: Cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, grilled chicken with broccoli, cheese ravioli with marinara, homemade mac and cheese, chicken fingers and waffle fries and angel hair pasta with marinara or butter sauce (all come with a fountain drink). Parents, go with their Hawthorne’s Sicilian, New Yorker or the Elizabeth Special.
Deal alert: Kids 12 years old and younger get a free kids’ meal all day on Tuesdays at Hawthornes. Fine print: One kid per $7 adult entrée, and it’s dine in only.
Low-key spot with quality bar food
Entertainment: Tons of TVs and it’s super family friendly on the right side (even though the left side has a bar vibe). Also, they’ve got several arcade games which my kids could play for hours.
(7) Pizza Peel
Neighborhood pizza spot with locations in Plaza Midwood, Cotswold, Mathews and Rea Farms
Deal: Kids 12 years and younger get a free kids’ meal all day on Tuesdays. Fine print: Two kids per adult, and it’s dine-in only.
Parent pizza order: Go with the peel pepperoni, barbecue chicken, buffalo chicken or Tong’s Thai.
Funky, Asheville-based pizza chain in Myers Park
Paradise for kids: Get there early, grab a seat in the school bus, immediately order the pretzel bites for the kids to load up on carbs, then watch for the balloon guy who’s there on most weekend nights. It’s slammed with kids at 5 p.m. on the weekends.
Trendy Atlanta-based Tex-Mex restaurant in South End
Appetizer: Skip the guacamole and go with the queso fundido – broiled Monterey Jack and Chihuahua cheeses, served with warm tortillas and salsa cremosa ($10). Watch: Ted & Katie’s cheese pull challenge. Kids love cheese.
Kid’s menu breakdown: Superica’s $7 kid’s menu options are tacos, quesadilla or nachos and includes rice, beans, drink and popsicle.
Brunch: I love bringing my kids to weekend brunch at Superica. I order them some eggs and get one of Superica’s pizza-sized pancakes which I cut into slices for the kids. Additionally, I’m a fan of their single room bathrooms and sometimes we walk to Jeni’s for ice cream afterward, which is a huge morning of unhealthy food.
(10) JJ’s Red Hots
Hot dog spot with locations in Uptown, Dilworth and Ballantyne
Kids menu breakdown: Kid’s menu items at JJ’s Red Hots come with a side (chips, fruit salad, fries) and a drink (soda, milk, juice box) and include: puppydawgs (bite-sized corndogs), skinless hot dog, JJ’s peanut butter and jelly and chicken tenders.
Deal: Kids 12 years and under get a free kid’s meal all day on Wednesdays per adult combo purchase.