by Liz Coscia
Skip the supermarket and cancel the sitter, go ahead and prepare for a dining experience the whole family can enjoy (we’re not joking). We’ve put together a list of 10 kid friendly restaurants we love — and struggled because there are so many excellent eateries in our area that will welcome your little ones with open arms (yep, you read that right).
So grab the kids and head out for a dinner you’re sure to enjoy. Your tykes will be entertained and you and your other half can enjoy a night out, good food, and even an adult beverage or two.
1. Casa Comida, Long Branch: It is time to go south of the border and add a little Mexican flare into the meal mix. Located in Long Branch, the lofty menu always has a fun option for the ninos. And its rep for refreshing margaritas, will keep Mom & Dad feeling festive as well. Pick your night by its weekly specials — fajita night, buffets and more.
2. Molly Maguire’s Blackpoint Inn, Rumson: This cozy Irish pub (which recently changed names) has turned into a staple in the Two Rivers neighborhood. And given the whole pub vibe, most of the food here is appealing to kids, making for a tantrum-free meal. The wee ones can choose from their own menu with some kid classics like pizza, fish & chips, burgers and more. There’s a lively family friendly atmosphere with large booths and lots of TVs, which are perfect for entertaining the tykes.
3. Shaka, Pier Village, Long Branch: Your mouths will be watering over the burritos, quesadillas and genuine Hawaiian shaved ice. No worries if your little dudes and dudettes aren’t digging the island-style meals, it has the traditional mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, etc. Bonus: Kids meals are served with apple slices or baby carrots and tortillas. And note to the parents: Shaka supplies the bucket and ice, but bring your own brew.
4. On the Deck, Atlantic Highlands: Talk about dinner with a view. Inside or outside, there’s a view of the Sandy Hook Bay and New York City skyline. The kids’ menu has classics like grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fried shrimp and burgers with fries. And we love that the kids’ entrees are all named after the owners’ tykes. We hear the sangria —white or red – -is fabulous.
5. Joe’s Crab Shack, Eatontown: Joe’s may not be top of mind when it comes to a family-friendly restaurant, especially if your kids don’t think fish is delish. But we think you should give this new-to-the-ara restaurant a try. Not only does it have some of the typical faves when it comes to the kids’ menu, but there’s a playground here. Grab a table and let your kids play while enjoy some adult time. And if you’re interested in expanding your little pals’ palates, we recommend the Kid’s Steampot, Snow Crab, and Corn on the Cob.
6. Kanji, Tinton Falls: Get ready for a hip alternative to chicken fingers and fries at this great hibachi and sushi restaurant. For years they’ve been getting rave reviews for its great food and fresh sushi. Not only will you get a stellar meal, but kids will love to sit around the hibachi and watch the show, including slicing, dicing and all kinds of tricks. It’s BYOB, but there’s a liquor store right next door.
7. Barnacle Bill’s, Rumson: This is a favorite on the Navesink. There’s no kids’ menu but there are more than enough options from pasta to chicken fingers to please every picky eater. The place has a fun vibe and is loud (translation: no one notices our toddler’s pre-entrée meltdown). A signature icon of Barnacle’s is that the floors are always covered with peanut shells. TIP: if you have to wait a bit for a table, walk down to the dock to feed the ducks, or look at the docked boats. Don’t forget your quarters, the video games will keep the kiddos entertained.
8. Pops Garage, The Grove West, Shrewsbury: Want to infuse a little surf art, culture and community into your next meal? Pop’s Garage in both the Grove West and Asbury Park brings the laid-back cuisine and culture of Mexico straight to New Jersey. Indulge in an over-stuffed burrito or some homemade tacos. We’re fans of the Skirt Steak Jaliscos and the Pop’s Cuban Corn! Also, the Shrewsbury location, when season allows, adds local flavor to the dishes, vegetables and herbs harvested right outside the restaurant from the Grove West Community Garden.
9. Charley’s Ocean Grill, Long Branch: Sit back enjoy a great meal with the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean only a few steps away. It offers a little bit of everything from steaks to seafood, to burgers and stir fry. Although a little pricier than most kids’ menus, your gang will love that they get wikki stix with their meal.
10. Broadway Grill: Located in the heart of Red Bank, this family-friendly restaurant has been a staple for locals for many years. And the theatre décor alone is a great conversation piece for the fam, be it the art or music from the likings of the “Lion King,” “Wizard of Oz,” or many others. Breakfast, lunch or dinner can be served up anytime — so whatever your tiny tykes’ mood, they’re sure to leave with a satisfied stomach. TIP: Monday night is BOGO Burger Night.
Liz Coscia is Publisher of Southern Monmouth Hulafrog, the go-to website for parents in the greater Red Bank area. Visit www.hulafrog.com to find thousands of local events, class providers, and places to go for kids and families. Sign up for the free “Our Pick” newsletter for a heads up on can’t-miss activities and deals near you