It isn’t easy for families to eat out nowadays. Whether it’s a tight budget, a restaurant’s atmosphere, a family member’s dietary restrictions or just the need for pure efficiency, each family has different considerations for eating out with success.
For the Waterman family of Hope Valley, Michael and Jennifer find that when eating out with Noah, 6, and Kenley and Juliet, 4, price and efficiency both figure into the equation when it comes to choosing a restaurant.
“We like coupons and deals, such as the kids being able to eat free, and we like a family-friendly restaurant,” Jennifer says. “Wait time plays a huge factor. With the girls being so young, they have limited patience.”
The family enjoys Arrooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar, 615 Greenwich Ave., Warwick; Applebee’s, which has locations in Smithfield, Woonsocket, Warwick, Cranston, Coventry, Seekonk, Fall River and Attleboro; Red Robin, 400 Bald Hill Rd., Warwick; and Uno Pizzeria & Grill, with locations in Providence, Warwick, Smithfield and Attleboro.
Dinner out isn’t a regular occurrence for Sarah Gagnon, boyfriend Rick McDermott and their two children, Mason, 4, and Violet, 6, of Pawtucket, but breakfast out is a more budget-friendly option and they enjoy the food at Don’s Luncheonette, 169 Benefit St., Pawtucket.
Stephanie and Bryan Mills of Cranston and their son Emmett, 5, agree that eating out for breakfast or lunch is often their preference, too. Mills recommends Green Acres Cafe, 2131 Plainfield Pike, Johnston, for breakfast or lunch, citing the restaurant as being family-friendly and reasonably priced, with a wonderful staff.
Barrington’s Stan and Emily Klein are always looking for options that are both reasonably priced and adhere to their family’s many dietary restrictions when they eat out with their sons Jose, almost 12, and Carlos, 11.
“Rasoi is popular with our family, since we get both needs addressed there, and so is Wildflour Bakery and Juicebar,” she said.
Both are at Blackstone Place, 727 East Ave., Pawtucket. Rasoi, an Indian restaurant, is well known for its vegetarian fare, and Wildflour Bakery and Juicebar for its vegan baked goods.
Allergies are also a concern for Jenn and Brad Maguire and their kids Erin, 8, Katelyn, 14, and Ryan, 17, who lived in Rhode Island for many years, and now live in Tennessee. When they come back to visit, they know that they can count on T’s Restaurant, 1059 Park Ave., Cranston, to be a safe place for their family to eat.
“T’s is awesome with their food allergy policy,” Jenn said. “The manager comes out and explains what they will do to prevent cross-contamination.”
Although many kids love a good kids’ meal on the menu, parents are often looking for a healthier alternative to macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, fries, or chicken fingers. Cranston’s Carol and Carl Swanson and Anya, 11, are always on the lookout for a variety of foods and healthy options for their dinners out, which they coordinate with their daughter’s dance schedule and Carl’s unpredictable work schedule.
“We would prefer not to eat junk food every time we eat out, although once in a while is OK,” Carol said. The family frequents several popular Cranston eateries, including Tommy’s Pizza, 870 Oaklawn Ave., Campanella’s, 930 Oaklawn Ave., and Uncle Tony’s Pizza & Pasta, 1455 Oaklawn Ave., as well as some chains, such as Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, which has locations in Johnston, East Greenwich, Attleboro and Swansea, Red Robin, and Not Your Average Joe’s, 400 Bald Hill Rd., Warwick and 1125 Fall River Ave., Seekonk.
The Bernaba family of Richmond is also always on the hunt for better kids’ menu options.
“We like restaurants that have more creative kids’ menus,” said Stephanie. She and her husband, Amir, their twins Michael and Magdalene, 6, and son Matthew, 7, like to frequent Moe’s Southwest Grill, with locations in East Providence, Warwick and Wakefield; Denny’s, in Johnston, Cranston and Warwick; The Grille on Main, 50 Main St., East Greenwich; and Cracker Barrel, 825 Centre of New England Blvd., Coventry.
Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowder House is a go-to choice for Mike and Lidia Brooks and their kids, Lorena, 19, Matthew, 10, and Kimberly, 7. Mike grew up in Rhode Island and the family lives just over the border in Voluntown, Connecticut. Iggy’s, at 889 Oakland Beach Ave., Warwick, and 1151 Point Judith Rd., Narragansett, is both budget-friendly with its frequent coupon offers, and provides many meal options for his family’s wide variety of likes and dislikes.
“Iggy’s is our favorite place because there is something for all of our picky kids,” he said.
With kids both big and small, Cranston’s Bruce and Heather Engstrom look for restaurants with healthy, quality food and a kid-friendly atmosphere. Their five children range in age from 2 to 23.
“Big Cheese in Cranston is always good for an inexpensive, good meal and T’s in East Greenwich is great for breakfast.”
The versatile menu and affordable pricing at The Big Cheese, 606 Reservoir Ave., which includes pizza, sandwiches and salads, also appeals to Cranston’s Lisa Gargaro and David Gargaro, and their adult children, David Jr., 20, and Gianna, 19. The family enjoys a tradition of dinner out every few weeks, nowadays working around everyone’s work schedules.
“We choose a family-friendly place that is reasonably priced,” Lisa Gargaro said. “We are comfortable there, their prices are great, and we get to take home the leftovers!”
— Jen Cowart is a freelance reporter and photographer who lives in Cranston. She blogs about food at The Whole Bag of Chips (thewholebagofchips.com). Write her at email@example.com.