One of the biggest challenges for parents is finding a place to take the family for dinner that everyone will like. Few kinds have an adventurous palate, so trying to find something they will like and still allow the parents to get something other than the same predictable meals is difficult. Unfortunately, most families end up going to the same family style restaurant time after time. After a while, nobody looks forward to dinner out. One of the easiest ways to beat this difficulty is to forgo the familiar national chain restaurants and look for locally owned locations.
Any of the big name restaurants that you can find across the country are beholden to ordering the food from the same purveyor. While that is nice in building a consistent image nationwide, it limits the amount of creativity that the cooks have in the kitchen. They don't have the variety of options that a restaurant who prepares their menu from scratch with fresh ingredients does. In other words, if you are looking to get your kids something other than chicken nuggets, a grilled cheese, pasta or a hamburger, you are probably out of luck.
Many privately owned restaurants have a standard children's menu that might read remarkably like that, but that is a convenience they offer the parents for the pickiest of children. As kids grow older, they may not want to order off of that but might still be intimidated by the regular menu. This is where having that boundless opportunity in the kitchen comes in handy. The chef and his team can work with their customers to take the menu items that they have and create something different that is not overwhelming by substituting in a more familiar meat or taking out some of the more exotic spices. As beneficial as this is for the kids, it is equally special for the parents. They rarely have an opportunity to dine out somewhere that features dishes and menu items they might not be familiar with. They may have heard about an exciting new restaurant in town but have not been able to coordinate their schedules and arrange for a babysitter to have a night out to try it. Now, not only do they have the chance, but they can also help their kids taste something that is out of the ordinary. Going out is fun for kids, and in the more relaxed atmosphere of being away from home, they may be more willing to try something new.
Family friendly dining does not just mean choosing a place where kids can draw on the placemats. There are plenty of local restaurants where the kids can have a great meal that is not the same old same, and parents have a chance to indulge their taste buds as well.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has spent over 20 years covering the food and beverage industry.