Sure, kids love chowing out of boxes at the golden arches, but Milwaukee is filled with many other easy, affordable restaurants just waiting to clean the food, sugar packets and forgotten small toys from under your table.
In an effort to compile a comprehensive list of places for you and your family to dine -- other than the usual chains -- we asked Milwaukee parents from all parts of the city to tell us their secret and not-so-secret eateries of choice. Certainly we didn't get 'em all, so please contribute to this list by using the talkback feature.
"The Lakefront Brewery Palm Garden, 1872 N. Commerce St., is great for a Friday night fish fry with kids. My neighbor's 2-year-old son loves to dance to the polka music," says Holly Schiek.
Indeed, Lakefront Brewery's Friday night fish fry scene is a great venue for decent food (fish fry, pasta dishes and sandwiches), indoor exercise (thanks to the large dance floor and house band, Brewhaus Polka Kings) and freshly tapped beer for those parents weary from a long week.
"I can't say enough about Maharaja, 1550 N. Farwell Ave. They really, genuinely like children, have great food and attentive service," says Denise Lubotsky about the East Side Indian restaurant with lots of space, a fleet of high chairs and a Buddha-patient staff.
Ferch's Malt Shoppe, 5356 Broad St., in Greendale, is an old-fashioned ice cream shop where Stephanie Simmons likes to take her kids for a bite.
"It has a counter with 'swirly seats' and some booths in the back. They also have a jukebox," she says. "The food is great too. They have a selection of wraps as well as other diner food."
The Comet, 1947 N. Farwell Ave., has high chairs and is non-smoking on one side of the restaurant. Plus, the Americana cuisine is popular with picky eaters. Comet's sister cafe, Fuel, 818 E. Center St., is also very kid-friendly, especially now that it's sans smoking.
Milwaukee has no shortage of Mexican restaurants, and many are mucho kid-friendly. Riverwest's Jen Lucas votes for La Fuente, 625 S. 5th St.
"It's so noisy that I never feel self conscious of my kids' volume," says Lucas. "They genuinely seem to enjoy and welcome little ones. One time I swear two or three waiters worked overtime picking up toys and forks that my youngest kept dropping or throwing."
"Conejitos, Conejito's, Conejito's," says Shorewood's Mike Bradford, referring to Conejito's Place, 539 W. Virginia St. "Cheap, good food and great margaritas."
"We go to Sunset Family Restaurant, 535 W. Sunset Dr., in Waukesha. The staff is always really nice to my kids and their beverages are always put in a cup with a lid and straw," says Kristen Rose.
Many local 'rents recommend Beans & Barley, 1901 E. North Ave. "Beans" has a kids' menu and a kid-friendly placemat that comes with crayons.
"The casual dining area is great for kids and the food is wonderful! We love to go there for breakfast. There are always a lot of kids there from newborns on," says Lori Kuchinski.
"There is a nice toy section to look through when you are waiting for a table. I always feel safe letting my oldest run to the bathroom or look at the deli section while we eat," says Jennifer Lucas, mom to daughters Autumn and Zoe.
The Chancery features "kids' night" every Tuesday, meaning kids are measured and charged a penny-an-inch for their meals. Barb Schreffler enjoys visiting the Chancery in Mequon, 11046 N. Port Washington Rd. Three other locations: 7615 W. State St., 4624 S. 27th St. and 2100 E. Moreland Blvd. in Waukesha.
Schreffler doesn't limit her options to places with free crayons. She also dines with her family in a few surprisingly kid-friendly restaurants like Mama Mia's, 8533 W. Greenfield Ave., 2615 W. Silver Spring Dr. and 18880 W. Blumound Rd.
"My husband and I will take our 7-year-old and 18-month-old just about anywhere," she says.
More kid-friendly restaurants in Brew City:
4900 S. 76th St., Greenfield, (414) 282-0141
1305 E. Capitol Dr., (414) 963-9880
18355 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfleld, (262) 797-0166
1827 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 289-9993
Red Robin Restaurant
7575 Edgerton Ave., Greenfield, (414) 421-2257
StoneFire Pizza Co.
5320 S. Moorland Rd., New Berlin, (262) 970-8800
Add your favorite kiddie eateries by using the Talkback feature.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.