Letting a restaurant take care of family dinner is the dream—until the kids find "nothing good" on the menu, everyone is antsy before drinks are even served, and a fat check arrives anyway. Luckily, Boston and the surrounding 'burbs are home to some fantastic, family-oriented restaurants. Some feature play areas where children can get their energy out while you linger over your meal. Others, listed here, allow kids to eat for free. At these local eateries, children dine gratis on certain days or times, allowing you to enjoy family time without stressing about the bill. We know what you'll be making for dinner tonight: reservations.
1. Friendly Toast
- Boston, Cambridge, Burlington
617-456-7849; 617-621-1200; 781-272-9777
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served all day, every day, at this colorful, quirky local chain. Kids eat free on Wednesdays.
2. Kirkland Tap and Trotter
As if critically acclaimed fare wasn't draw enough, kids eat free Sundays through Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30pm when they order off a children's menu featuring all-natural fried chicken and house-made spaghetti.
3. The Independent
This comfy pub in Union Square is a neighborhood fave. Kids eat free from 4:30 to 6:30pm on Sundays through Thursdays.
4. Longwood Grille and Bar
The children's menu here is unapologetically full of reliable fare, like pb&j and Kraft Mac and Cheese. Kids eat free Tuesdays and Fridays for lunch or dinner when an adult entree is also ordered.
- Jamaica Plain
Southern comfort food reigns supreme here, but chicken tenders and simple cheeseburgers are on the menu for kids, who eat free every day from 5 to 6:30pm and for just $6 any other time.
6. Osaka Japanese Sushi and Steakhouse
Kids love hibachi-style restaurants where Japanese chefs perform their culinary magic on the grill right at the table: It's live entertainment, after all! Here, kids (one per adult) eat free on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 3 to 5:30pm.
7. Samba Steak and Sushi
Another hibachi restaurant a little farther out in the Metrowest, Samba also has a big sushi menu if that appeals to your kids' palates. Every kid per one adult eats free on Sunday nights.
8. John Brewer's Tavern
- Waltham, Malden (and sister property Brewer's Coalition in Newton)
781-894-9700; 781-324-8800; 617-964-7600
There's a lot to like about the children's menu at this local pub chain, including steak tips and fish and chips. Kids eat free Monday nights in Newton, and Tuesday nights in Waltham and Malden, when a grown-up orders a salad or specialty item.
9. Village Manor
Pizza is a kid-fave here, but the pasta and seafood are tasty, too. Kids eat free on Tuesdays (one meal for every adult entree ordered).
- Malden, Wakefield
Children's meals include healthy choices like baked haddock and grilled chicken, and come with a visit to the ice cream bar for dessert. Kids eat free on Monday nights when an adult orders an entree from the main menu.
11. Hale Street Tavern
There's a fun mix of culinary delights at Hale Street, from seafood to sushi. Kids eat free for lunch or dinner on Sundays.
Who doesn't agree on pizza for dinner? There's good pasta and a family-friendly vibe here, too. On Tuesdays, kids don't eat exactly free, but for just $1, which goes toward a Children's Hospital donation.
13. Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill
This is the spot if you head to Patriot Place: If not for the fried bologna sandwiches, fried Twinkies, and mechanical bull, for the free kids' meal with the purchase of an adult entree on Mondays.
14. Owen O'Leary's
- Southborough, Brockton/Easton
There's a big menu at this local chain, with lots of crowd-pleasing sharing apps like loaded nachos and wings. Kids eat free on Tuesdays from 4 to 8pm with the purchase of an adult entree.
15. Barrett's Ale House
- Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, North Attleboro, Fall River
508-697-4800; 508-510-4202; 508-316-0912; 508-674-3600
Little ones are a real focus here, with fail-safe children's entrees like burgers and pizza that include a Hoodsie ice cream cup. Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree worth $15 or more.
In addition to the local restaurants above, there are several national chains with multiple locations in the Boston area that offer free kids' meals on certain days throughout the year. Because these specials sometimes fluctuate, reach out to your nearest location for current kids' freebies:
Moe's Southwest Grill