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02 November 2012


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I have this problem with big portion sizes, but we generally fix it by just sharing a meal with my son. GeekBaby and I negotiate on what we'd like, make a compromise, and then share a meal and there's usually just enough for a ravenous small boy and his very queasy mommy to share.

Places like Ghengis Grill work out well because we can pick and choose what to put in the bowl, then GeekBaby gets the broccoli (!!! he's weird) and I get the snow peas (again, he's weird). But this is only possible because he's both an adventurous eater and relatively well behaved about eating his dinner even if he doesn't like part of it. I don't know how this happened, but I wish I could bottle it.

There are some restaurants we patronize that are ideal models for how to handle a kids meal - Chuy's (Tex-Mex), at least here in Houston, is one. They have a great kids menu, with a mix of the typical kids menu stuff and smaller portions of some of the simpler Tex-Mex meals. And the menu is pictoral! GeekBaby has been ordering his own food there since he was two and a half, because he can identify the cheese enchilada by the picture without needing to read. And the kids drink comes with a properly sized straw! And they ask the parents discretely if their child can have the ice cream pop they offer with the kids meal instead of causing a scene! And there's no playground! It's an all around good training restaurant for kids

When we were kids, our training restaurant was the Pasta House in St. Louis, but it was sold around the time we moved to Texas, and it's just never been the same.


Do you run into the problem where you have to be under 12 (or whatever) to order from the kid's menu? I know you've mentioned before that you split your plate with one of your kids. Can you convince your kids to share an adult order? What about reckless off-menu ordering?

We were in the US in May, and Dagmar (that's my baby) was 8 months. Usually we just ordered an extra empty plate for her and fed her pieces of our own food. But when we wanted things that she was not up to spicewise or allergywise, I just came up with annoying instructions to the waitperson because getting a whole child's menu at that age is crazy. So "1 plain pancake" and "a little spoonful of tuna salad, bread on the side". They probably hated me, actually. I don't know if I would take her anywhere now, because she is a Mess on Legs.

I don't know about over there, but here you can get really expensive/German/biodynamic juice boxes that you wouldn't need to be ashamed of including in any child's menu.


Nobody has ever refused me a kid's meal or a senior meal. Maybe they might have charged me extra; I don't know.

Agree with Geek Lady about the "Mongolian Grill" type restaurant, also salad bars. Bar-tyoe restaurants that have lots of small-plate bar food are also good. One near us has fish tacos (=high quality fish sticks) and the Giant Plate of Nachos -- everyone likes it and you can all share. Especially good during happy hour!

There is a breakfast place near here that has a $1.99 early bird special: eggs, bacon, and pancakes. At that price, screw the kids' meal. Special for everyone, and we split a large orange juice!

Christy P.

We tend to split an app or adult meal between the kids.

One of our favorite restaurants has a great kids' meal grilled cheese - sharp cheddar on crusty sourdough with a pickle and garlic fries for $5 which is big enough that we split it between the kids. It's so good that we encouraged my vegetarian BIL to get it as his meal.

Seems to me that brewpubs do kid food well. Another that we visit in SoCal offers a great kids menu for $8 with interesting food. http://www.stoneworldbistro.com/bistro_menus/kids.asp


I have to laugh that $6-$7 for a kid's breakfast is considered reasonable. Her definition of reasonable is different from mine.

We generally don't order juice when eating out because it is a money sink. And the orange juice is usually gross pulpy. We also don't generally give the kids carte blanche over the menu. We will give them 2-3 options from which to choose. If we are at an ethnic place, the generic kid food is not among the choices. Ordering two kid's meals will feed all three of the children.

Of course, I'm reading this comment and it makes it sounds like we go out to eat a lot. Um, no. :)


"I have to laugh that $6-$7 for a kid's breakfast is considered reasonable. Her definition of reasonable is different from mine."

The writer is a magazine food writer (also, incidentally, male); so I'm guessing that this would look reasonable. When you go to a non-chain restaurant I think it's pretty typical for kid's meals to cost more than 5 or 6 dollars.

Maybe frequent-commenter Darwin would comment on the pricing strategy of kid's meals!

Christy P.

One of our local Thai places offers kids a scoop of any stir fry or curry with rice for a dollar. That says to me "Kids are really welcome here"


Like Christy P., we tend to split an adult meal between the kids. A lot of times the kids meals are $5 but entrees are $8 or $9. We'll get a drink for them to share because everywhere around here seems to give the kids 12-20oz drinks. We live 20 miles out of town and there aren't THAT many bathrooms on the way home!


Yeah, 12 oz of anything is big for a kid under 10. Bring back the six-ounce soda!


Kids menus stink for my family since we have to eat gluten free. By age 8 or so a burger with no bun isn't filling enough. So we often split adult entrees between the younger kids and the start ordering adult meals quite young, but it's pricey. Typical kid fare is not friendly for kids with dietary restrictions.

We don't eat out often, for sure. We usually drink water in restaurants. I figure if they're eating fries they don't need a soda or lemonade. Juice, as you noted, is often not the best offering for kids.


The thing that gets me is when there's some kind of delicious Macaroni and Cheese on the regular menu, and the kids' menu has Kraft! I think going to a breakfast restaurant with an early bird special is the way to go. When we had one car and had to take my husband to work if we wanted to run errands, this was my personal reward to us. We both ate for less than $5, and it was so much better than fast food!


I don't know, my four year old can easily down 8-10 oz. of water when he wants, especially at a restaurant with hot salsa (which he will insist on eating). But then he won't drink soda or lemonade etc. at all. He's just... relentlessly healthy habited for a preschooler, it makes me ashamed of myself.

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