We like to eat out. Okay, we LOVE to eat out. It's part: getting amazing eats, and part: knowing I don't have to plan, cook, and clean up after the meal :) Also, as one of eight kids growing up, eating out was a luxury. I don't remember ever eating out with my family as a kid. I didn't think anything of it at the time--no pity party here, but maybe that's why it became such a novel thing to do as I got older?
Also, the social aspect of eating out is important. It feels like you are part of something bigger and as a parent with young kids, you want to feel like you are more than just a person who cooks, cleans, works, and forces the kids to clean their room!
OUr main goal: kid-friendly restaurants with really good food
We are by no means experts and don't consider ourselves, "foodies," but we do like good food and we have kids. Here's a list of some of our favorite places to eat in and around Denver (with a kid-friendly rating for each one!):
1. 5280 Burger
This is our favorite burger place around Denver. We also like Hopdoddy Burger Bar down by Union Station, but there is something about the meat at 5280 Burger. It's juicy, flavorful, tender and they cook it to the temperature of your liking (a big deal to Joe who basically likes his beef one degree above 'moo.') . They offer beef, bison, chicken, and even quinoa as your burger meat of choice.
They only use Colorado beef and have really funny and creative combinations. My favorite is the A$$hole whose description is: "we spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff but if you know better we will make it your way!!"
Their fries are hand-cut and amazing! They have great appetizers and kids burgers and hotdogs. (Note: there are sesame seeds on the buns, which can be a turn-off for some kids *coughTOWNEScough*)
Attached is their very own ice creamery and it makes the entrance to 5280 Burger smell amazing!
The ambiance is fantastic and Joe and when Joe and I meet up for lunch during the school year, we don't have to ask where. Just what time to meet and we both know.
5280 Burger Bar's buns are hand-made daily and they even offer a gluten-free flatbread that I really like.
Kid Rating: 5 stars It's loud in there, so you never have to worry about your kids disturbing anyone else and what kid isn't enticed to eat if their is ice cream for dessert!?
A neighbor (a Texas transplant) clued us in to this Tex-Mex restaurant with locations around Denver. I had driven by many times and had written it off as a lame chain with average food, but boy, was I wrong!
Their roasted tomato salsa is to die for. I could just drink it from the bowl....we have to really show some self control and not fill up on all the chips and salsa before our meal arrives.
As for the main course, the beef fajitas are fantastic...nice and medium on the temperature with an amazing spice rub that just kind of expands in your mouth. So.stinking.good. I used to try to be healthy and get the chicken, but what's the point? The beef is so much better it's silly to waste money on the chicken LOL
As for other standard Tex-Mex, Joe goes crazy for the carnitas enchiladas. The pork is smoky, tender, and flavorful. Plus, you can choose from 12 different sauces ranging from green to red and mild to spicy. For the record, Joe gets the spicy hatch green chile sauce on top of his enchiladas and then the 8-chile-caliente sauce on the side because he's trying to burn a hole in his stomach.
The tortillas are hand-made and absolutely divine--even the corn tortillas.
Kid Rating: 4 out of 5 stars It's a great atmosphere and the kids really like the chicken tenders. The fries are meh (no surprise, it's a tex-mex restaurant!) and while we love the guacamole, it has jalepenos! Too hot for our kids.
3. Del Frisco's
You can't really go wrong at Del Frisco's and we've never had a bad experience. What's that saying? You get what you pay for. The menu is full of variety and the steaks melt in your mouth. It's served 'family style' which I've never been a big fan of, but what does it matter when you're eating out with your husband/date?
Be sure to ask for the "skillet potatoes." They aren't always listed on the menu and they are homemade skillet-fried potato chips with sauteed/caramelized onions. SO GOOD. We like ordering that with the creamed spinach and dipping the chips in the spinach because we are classy like that.
We've taken the kids here twice, once on Joe's birthday and then again on Christmas Eve. Our meals were delicious, but we learned the hard way to order for the kids off of their 'bar menu' since the main restaurant menu really is for older kids and adults (unless you have a child who loves fancy and unique food in which case we can't be friends. Just kidding: TELL ME YOUR SECRET).
Del Frisco's is a great special occasion restaurant--they don't rush you and it feels really special!
Kid Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars It's plenty loud in the restaurant, so no worries if your kids are being especially "spirited," but if you have a picky eater, you might want to look elsewhere.
Okay. You may or may not be aware of my love affair with this Texas transplant restaurant. I've curbed my addiction as of late, but for a while, I was there multiple times in a week. It has a super cool atmosphere, a bar, and awesome tacos on the cheap. What more do you need?
Oh, you might need their "Lil' Nookies" which are fried cookie dough balls tossed in powdered sugar. I stay away from them, because I have no self control. But everyone else loves them. The only bad thing about those Lil' Nookies is they put one of those maraschino cherries on top! WHAT?! Who even likes those on anything? It's gross. Easy to pick off, but there's definitely some cherry residue that hangs on. Good thing I'm not eating them!
My favorite tacos: The Wrangler, The Migas, The Wranch Hand, and The Crossroads. Oh and May's "Taco of the Month" was called "Tokyo Drift" with Korean BBQ and a fried wonton and more and oh my gosh it was the tastiest thing I've eaten in a long time.
They are best known for their "Trailer Park" taco that you can get "trashy" (melted cheese on top) or "classy" (with lettuce and no melted cheese). Their "street corn" is also a fan favorite that I can't even begin to explain. It's like a saucy, spicy side corn dish.
I love that you can cherry pick what you want on their tacos (meaning: if you don't like jalepenos, ask them to leave them off) and you can get them on a corn or flour tortilla, or no tortilla (in a bowl)!
Kid Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars The taco combos that they serve are a little too extravagant for our kids--even the Trailer Park (which is essentially chicken tenders) doesn't work because they don't have any sauces that are mild enough. If your kids can handle the heat (or they like breakfast tacos), I say, go for it!
5. Thai Lotus
Joe and I are big fans of Thai food and this little gem is hidden in the Denver Tech Center. Brace yourself: it's a total dive. In fact, I think they do the majority of their business through take-out orders. We like eating in the restaurant, but we generally get take-out.
Our regular order includes the pork dim sum (the dipping sauce and sauteed garlic that they sprinkle on top are amazing), Chicken Pad Thai (extra chicken and "Thai Spicy" because again: Joe is trying to burn a hole in his stomach, and Drunken Noodles Chicken (extra chicken and mild). I realize that we could branch out and really test the waters and probably find some other favorites on the menu, but we're not foodies and we LOVE this order, so why mess with it?
Kid Rating: 2 out of 5 stars UNLESS your kid likes Thai food. In which case: 5 out of 5 stars :)
6. View House
View House tends to be hit or miss when it comes to the adult menu--sometimes they knock it out of the park and other times you're left scratching your head ("did they forget some of the ingredients?").
BUT, it's a great atmosphere. The location in Centennial is so much fun when the weather is nice. They have awesome outdoor eating on the balcony and out back in their play area. It's complete with a volley ball court, oversized Jenga, corn hole, oversized Connect Four, and free space for the kids to run around while the adults enjoy a cocktail and some vittles.
It definitely attracts a younger, single crowd, but also families. And the singles help keep the vibe young and energetic.
When you have picky eaters (*coughTOWNEScough*), getting out to a place where the kids menu is good and they have the freedom to roam and play while we're there earns View House mad props in my book.
Kid Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars The cheese pizza, burgers, and fries are really good and Kate even likes their sushi! Plus, it's loud, and a total party for the kids. BONUS: a homemade ice cream sandwich comes with every kids meal.
My hair stylist tipped me off to this steakhouse and we're grateful she did. The menu is varied (almost too many choices) and the quality of the food is top notch. Plus, they treat you like a VIP even when you're not feeling very VIP and I just noticed that they talk about this special customer service on their website. They call it the "WOW Factor" and I love it! They nail it.
Eddie Merlot's is known for its steaks, so that's what I tend to stick with when we go. But Joe has branched out a bit and I think has had the veal and maybe even the pork chops.
Their appetizers are amazing--favorites include the steak carpacio, the filet mignon potstickers, and the Ahi tuna wontons. Joe and I have even gone in and sat at the bar and ordered a couple of apps instead of doing a full dinner.
The Centennial, CO, location is huge and includes a nice bar area in case you didn't make a reservation and want to have a drink while you wait.
My biggest complaint is that the desserts are ridiculously oversized. You can probably share them with 6 people and still feel full!
They have a robust kids menu that we'll try out when we head there this weekend for Father's Day.
Kid Rating: 5 out of 5 stars for having varied menu options (sliders, salmon, mac&cheese). I'll update this after our kids have had a chance to eat here!
Honorable Mention: Surena Persian Cuisine
I haven't eaten here, but Joe has several times and he raves about it. It's fairly new, they've been in Centennial for about a year. They have great yelp reviews which is how Joe found them and they give you so.much.food.
Last time he went in he chatted with the manager and Joe said the next time he comes in he's just going to ask them to cook "whatever you would eat." And the manager ended up cancelling Joe's normal 'stew' order and whipping up something just for him.
He was still drooling over it when I saw him hours later. I will definitely be joining him the next time we go out on a date! I'm betting I'll be doing some Insta-stories while we're there :)
Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Denver
We've lived in "south Denver" for nearly three years (!!!) and we're slowly racking up a list of our favorite restaurants that are kid-friendly. I'm sure we haven't even scratched the surface of the Denver area restaurant scene, but the above list truly represents the places we frequent.