This past weekend, my husband and I Took The Kids Out To A Restaurant. (If you can’t tell by my use of Caps, this was a Pretty Big Deal.)
With four kids ages 4, 5, 9 and 12, we nearly always have our hands full anyway. Add in expectations of inside voices please, table manners for the love of God, leave the sugar packets alone and oh please just stop running around the table, and by the time it’s over, we just drive straight home and nap for the rest of the afternoon.
But in the name of shaping tiny humans into adults who eventually will master all the rules of going out to eat, we soldier on.
The stress aside, it also costs a pretty penny to pay the tab for a family of six. One of the best ways to take the family out on the cheap is to take advantage of “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants.
A couple caveats: Make sure to double-check the exact rules of each place; some require an adult purchase for each free kid. And when I take advantage of a kids-eat-free deal, I make sure to calculate how much we would have spent on the whole family and calculate my tip accordingly. Lord knows the waitstaff is working just as hard, especially with my family.
To make it easy for you to find a day and time, here’s a calendar of kids eat cheap or free, according to the night of the week.
Monday — Our kids love going out to Broadway Pizza on Monday nights between 5:30 and 7 p.m., because usually there’s a magician wandering around to each table to perform a few tricks. We love it because kids 12 and younger eat free from the buffet with a paid adult.
Or, head to Godfather’s Pizza on Mondays for a similar deal — you can get one kid’s buffet (8 and younger) free for each paying adult from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday — You have by far the most options on Tuesday evenings, so I’m going to list them rapid-fire style.
Perkins offers a free kid’s meal with each paying adult from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays. Kids eat free at the Pizza Ranch buffet in Stewartville from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (one free kids’ buffet with each paying adult). Denny’s offers a two-for-one deal on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.: You can get two kids’ meals for free with each paying adult.
Carlos O’Kelly’s offers half-price kids’ meals with a paid adult all day on Tuesdays. Famous Dave’s offers a free kid’s meal with each paying adult, too, and at Fazolis, kids eat for just 99 cents on Tuesdays from 5 p.m.to 8 p.m.
Finally, Hy-Vee North (37th Street) offers a free kid’s buffet from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the purchase of an adult entrée.
Wednesday — If Wednesdays is your family night, head to Wild Bill’s Sports Saloon, where kids 12 and younger eat free off the kids’ menu (one free kid per paid adult). Pro tip: Wednesday is also rib night at Wild Bills, so grab a half rack of barbecue pork ribs for just $7.99 and keep the savings coming.
On Thursdays and Fridays, you might be out of luck! Send me a note if I’m wrong, and I’ll run it in a future column.
Saturday — As mentioned in the big Tuesday list above, both Denny’s and Perkins let kids eat free on Saturdays. At Denny’s, you get two kids’ meals for each paying adult from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; at Perkins, it’s one kids meal per paying adult from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday — There are a few fun local options to try on Sundays, which is the day my family went out most often growing up. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit offers free kids’ meals (12 and younger); one kid’s meal per paying adult for dine-in only.
Ground Round offers 99-cent kids’ meals all day, and at Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill, kids eat free.
What did I miss? Send me a note, and I’ll run it in the future. Happy family eating!