For this annual issue dedicated to all things small-fry, I turned my thoughts to the attention restaurants pay to their smallest customers: namely, kids’ menus. Most kids’ menus feature some variation of the hamburger-chicken finger-mac and cheese trifecta, and for good reason; there are plenty of kids who won’t eat anything but.
Yet I’m impressed and grateful for the restaurants that understand that there are also children out there who might want something more. I put a call out to Boulder County parents for their favorite kids’ menus and got some great suggestions:
The Kitchen [Next Door] seems like the one to beat when it comes to awesome kids’ menus. The menu includes a pork sandwich, a beet-burger slider, and ham and cheese fritters, each served with your choice of garlic smashers, roasted carrots, roasted beets, quinoa, beans, soup or an arugula salad. Even better, $2 of every kids’ meal is donated to The Kitchen’s nonprofit to plant school gardens.
I got several nominations for Sushi Zanmai from local moms. Their kids’ meal comes with a choice of two entrees—including tofu, shrimp, egg and rice, Japanese-style “chicken nuggets,” and gyoza—a cup of miso soup, rice, edemame, fruit and vanilla or green tea ice cream for dessert. Not only healthy, but safely “exotic” as well.
Reuben’s Burger Bistro offers a pretty traditional kids’ menu with all-natural burgers (veggie and regular), baked chicken tenders, and mac and cheese—they are a burger place, after all—but they win points for offering organic milk, a veggie plate with every order, and an entree salad in a kid-sized portion. Imagine that!
This column was originally inspired by the genius chicken with peanut sauce on the kids’ menu at Harold’s of Longmont. Grilled chicken and fresh green beans served with a very tasty peanut dipping sauce—perfect for a toddler who loves “dip” of any kind. Easy, healthy, and interactive. What more could you want?
The Village Tavern at FlatIrons mall in Broomfield offers a pretty large kids’ menu, including grilled chicken and—almost shockingly—grilled salmon in kid-sized portions, as well as a large selection of sides. Salmon is probably the most kid-friendly fish, so they get big kudos from me for that.
More than one parent also suggested forgoing the kids’ menu altogether and ordering a small plate or appetizer portion for foodie kids—The Med and Boulder Chophouse both got nods for kid-friendly appetizers. For small appetites, ordering from the “sides” or “a la carte” portion of the menu is also a great option.
And a note to restaurateurs: if you are amenable to kids in your restaurant and you put your menus online, go ahead and put the kids’ menu online too. A lot of parents want to make sure there’s something their kids will enjoy available before they get to the table.