For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."
When I was growing up, going out to eat was a treat. My family didn't do it often â€“ usually it was Hamburger Helper or hot dogs at home â€“ but when we did, my sister and I had a blast.
We never went anywhere fancy, usually to now-defunct joints like Barnaby's or Captain's Steak Joint, but Jenny and I had fun doodling with the free crayons on the paper placemats, checking out the restrooms and ordering french fries and sugary drinks with cherries in them.
Today, my family doesn't dine out a lot, but we eat out more than I did as a kid. We tend to visit the same places, usually somewhere very affordable and what I perceive as kid-friendly, like a pizza joint, Mexican place or Indian buffet.
Recently, my kids started complaining about going out to eat. They are sick of the places we go to and would rather eat at home than go out. This blows my mind and really annoys me. I recognize this is another example of the tired "Well when I was a kid..."-type story, but really, I never once complained when my parents took me out to eat as a youngster.
So I finally ask my son, "What exactly don't you like about festive atmospheres, soda fountains and tortilla chips?"
And he answers the question with a question: "Why can't we go somewhere good, like Noodles?"
Noodles & Company, I'm convinced, is serving up squiggly noodles laced with kid crack. Every child I know loves the place. Personally, I find it a tad pricey for what you get, so-so in quality and I don't really care for the atmosphere. We haven't eaten there in at least two years, and yet, it's still the kids' top choice.
Sometimes I think about giving in and taking them there, just so they'll eat and not whine, but instead, I usually play a classic mom card and say, only partially joking, "You're going to Conejito's ... and you will like it."
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