Eating out as a family was once a luxury, a splurge reserved only for special occasions, but today, taking the family to a restaurant for dinner is on the regular. While it’s easy to hit a local drive-thru or fast-casual spot, finding a place to have a relaxed sit down experience with kids along is a bigger challenge. We ate our way around some of metro Denver’s popular eateries, to find these 10 locally-owned, order-at-the-table restaurant experiences where families are served up a yummy meal with a side of welcoming atmosphere, hold the judgy looks.
Asian Inspired Cuisine
Specials: Ping-pong hall, dining reservations available online
Location: Uptown Denver
Instead of the standard Chinese take out, Ace Eat Serve offers dishes elevated just enough for even the pickiest eaters. Their kids’ menu offers versions of Asian cuisine favorites like bao buns, wok tossed rice noodles, or dim sum. Each $9 kids’ meal comes with complimentary shave ice. But what really makes this space great are the 12 ping-pong tables, including several on the heated patio. Families can brush up on their paddle skills during happy hour for $10 an hour per table.
Four Styles of Pizza: Detroit, Classic Italian, Chicago Cracker Thin, and New York
Specials: Kids age 12 and under eat free every Wednesday night from 4 p.m. to close (details vary by location)
Locations: West Highlands and Congress Park
Known for their thick, cheesy Detroit-style pizza, Blue Pan also serves up an excellent kids menu featuring two styles of pizza, meatballs, chicken, and veggies; but the real winner is the make-your-own pizza. For $8, hand-tossed dough is brought out on a mini pizza peel for the child to spread with sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and adorn with their choice of toppings. Eat-in at the Congress Park location if you need a little more wiggle room, but order pickup or delivery at either location.
Specialty Pasta, Wood-Fired Pizza, and Burgers
Specials: Vintage arcade game room, ski lift and gondola seating options, each server has a mobile credit card reader to speed up payment
Locations: Olde Town Arvada and Washington Park
From the ski lift chairs and wood accent walls, to alfresco tables and meals made with fresh, local ingredients, Homegrown Tap and Dough offers families the true Rocky Mountain dining experience. Kids’ menu options reflect the regular menu specialties, with a choice of pasta (fusilli), sliders, or pizza, served with a side and a small ice cream sundae for $6. Hit the Après happy hour Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. for $5 one topping eight-inch pizzas and $7 classic burger with fries specials; moms and dads can add on a $3 glass of house wine or Park Session Ale.
Specials: Friendly staff, patios, room to roam
Locations: Platt Park, Highlands, Hilltop, and RiNo
Park Burger is the go-to spot for families seeking gourmet burgers. With four neighborhood locations, this family-friendly joint serves up some of the tastiest patties around, in addition to fries (don’t miss the sweet potato and truffle-parmesan fries) and mouth-watering milkshakes. Kids’ meal options include a cheeseburger slider, grilled cheese, or hot dog, served with fries and a soft-serve ice cream cone for dessert, all for $5.
German Favorites and Beer Garden
Specials: Four bocce ball courts, happy hour Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.
Go for the ample beer list, and stay for the hearty German favorites and pleasing kids’ menu. Rhein Haus serves up German staples like schnitzel and wurst plates for adults, while the kinder (child) menu features käsespätzle (cheesy, soft egg noodles), chicken nuggets, pork schnitzel, and Nuermbergs (mini sausages) ranging from $5 to $9. While the grownups enjoy a brew, the kids can get down with some bocce ball on one of the many indoor courts.
American, Greek, Mexican, Diner
Specials: Roomy booths, Liks ice cream by the scoop
Locations: Downtown Denver, Glendale, Aurora
This traditional diner has served Denver since 1927 with a menu a mile long, including classics like open-faced turkey sandwiches and meatloaf and mashed potatoes covered in gravy. Burgers, Greek and Mexican dishes, and breakfast served all day also satisfy a wide range of tastes. It’s the casual diner atmosphere that makes it easy for parents and kids to relax while the friendly staff helps them get their order just right. And, there’s no need to worry about keeping littles occupied—the food comes out diner-fast. Kids’ menu items include favorites like burgers, corn dogs, and grilled cheese served with tater tots or fruit salad and a drink starting at $4.
Regional Diner Favorites
Specials: Reservations accepted for any party size, wide variety of allergy options, house-made ice cream and desserts
Locations: Denver and Arvada
It doesn’t take long to notice the little touches around Steuben’s that make families feel welcome. From kids’ meals served on nostalgic lunch trays to a reservation system that eliminates hangry kids melting down during a long wait, there is a sense that this is the place for parents and kids to sit down and eat together. Parents appreciate classic regional favorites like lobster rolls, green chili cheeseburgers, and the oh-so-satisfying Monte Cristo, and kids get a choice of entrees served with a variety of bite-size nibbles to keep their mouths and hands busy.
Modern Mexican Street Food
Specials: Happy hour daily from 3 to 6 p.m., all night Monday
Locations: Highlands, Governor’s Park, and City Park
While the street tacos are the main attraction at Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey, their happy hour menu features kid-favorites like sliders, nachos, and cheesy fries. There isn’t a kids’ menu, but tacos are a hit with many kids. For less adventurous eaters, they’ll whip up a tasty cheese quesadilla for just under $3, with the option to add meat. Wait times get long and it gets crowded and noisy later in the evening, so it’s best to go early in order to avoid the crowds. Ask to sit at the chef’s counter (Highlands location only) and kids can watch the chefs prepare the food.
Southern Comfort Food
Specials: Large patios, live Music in the Yard at the Lafayette location
Locations: Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, and Rosedale
Eating at The Post is like pulling up a chair at Grandma’s table, that is, if your grandma is a super hip southern woman dabbling in elevated comfort food. The tasty menu at this relaxed neighborhood favorite specializes in humanely-raised, Colorado-style fried chicken and house-brewed beer. For $6, kids can order a house-made entree—chicken tenders, buttermilk waffles, chicken sandwich, or hot dog—with a side of fruit, French fries, mashers, or mac and cheese. For the true family-style experience, order the Family Love meal which feeds three to four people with chicken, two large sides, and four biscuits for $40. If you have hungry teens, opt for the Big Bubba Family Love that feeds six to eight for $74.
Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan
Specials: Lunch and dinner buffets at the Arvada, Denver, and Westminster locations
Locations: Arvada, Brighton, Denver, and Westminster
Yak and Yeti may be just the answer to introducing your picky eater to something new. There is a kids’ menu, but it’s the buffet that offers kids and adults the chance to sample a variety of Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan dishes (buffet hours vary by location). Try the vegetable samosas, chicken tikka masala, and tandoori with Gulab Jammun for dessert (deep fried milk balls dipped in sugary syrup). The buffet also includes rice, fresh cut vegetables and fruits, soup, rice pudding, and more for kids who like it mild and simple. Everyone will love the naan flatbread, and grownups can sip the hand-crafted beers, brewed at the Arvada location.