Feeling like a slave to the kitchen as you prepare mac and cheese for the third time this week? Drop the ho-hum dinner routine and head to one of these local restaurants that serve up food and fun.
A number of eateries in Nassau and Suffolk counties pair kid-sized meals with giant-sized fun. So whether you prefer the neighborhood mom-and-pop or the local destination of a national chain, your little ones are guaranteed a good time and a healthy lunch or dinner choice.
For more inspiration, see our guide to kid-friendly dining on Long Island. And while you're at it, check out our list of LI restaurants where kids eat FREE.
Applebee’s — Islandwide
For a small fee kids can play on a tablet at Applebee's while the family dines. The crayons are FREE.
Benihana — Manhasset, Westbury
Your little chef can don a cardboard hibachi hat while having a fiery good time at these Japanese-style eateries. Once your child is done wearing it—insert eye roll here—he or she can draw on the activity sheet printed on the back of the hat.
Activities abound for your kids during dinner at Bertucci's.
Bertucci's — Hauppauge, Melville
Keep wandering hands from emptying the salt shakers. Kids 12 and younger are offered a dough ball to play with, and Bertucci’s team members even cook the dough in a brick oven to memorialize the special creations. Playful adults are welcome, too. Of course, this is purely tactile fun and kids should not eat the dough balls. Bertucci's also offers activity booklets and crayons. FREEBIE ALERT: Kids eat FREE every Wednesday, and kids 12 and younger get a FREE kids meal with every adult purchase of $10.99 or more.
Buffalo Wild Wings — Islandwide
While you might have to pay out of pocket for a digital babysitter at Applebee's or Red Robin, Buffalo Wild Wings gives them out for FREE upon request. You must order, of course. Little artists can also ask for crayons.
The Buoy Bar — Point Lookout
On the eastern end of the barrier island of Long Beach, the dockside Buoy Bar overlooks picturesque Reynolds Channel and also boasts a small beach. On Wednesdays, kids can fish from the pier while mom and pop watch from the restaurant deck. You pay a service for this; we realize allowing them to fish unsupervised wouldn't be in parents' best interests.
RELATED: The best family brunch spots on Long Island
Create your personal pie at California Pizza Kitchen.
California Pizza Kitchen — Huntington, Lake Grove, Westbury
The restaurants give out four-page activity books and crayons to keep little hands busy until dinner is ready.
Enjoy dinner as the kids take part in beach games at The Clubhouse.
The Clubhouse — Bellmore
Lit palm trees, beach chairs, sand, a corn hole, giant Connect 4, hula hoops, and more make this Key West-inspired South Shore spot festive and fun. On select Sundays the owners also bring in a face painter. Live music and sunset views are the perfect way to end the day.
RELATED: Destinations for afternoon tea on LI with kids
Sample the decadent cannolis at Mio Posto.
Mio Posto — Hicksville, Oceanside
On most Friday evenings a magician dazzles tableside as you dine. Be sure to save room for dessert at these Italian hotspots; it is decadent.
RELATED: Old-fashioned ice cream parlors on LI
Kids can get their tech fix on at Olive Garden.
Olive Garden — Islandwide
Kids can get their gadget fix while you peruse the menu in silence. A parent can dream, right? Request a pack of crayons and start an old-school game of tic tac toe.
Pops Seafood Shack & Grill — Island Park
Overlooking a channel in the bay, Pop's boasts oversized Adirondack chairs, cabanas for rent, and a sandy area for kids to play in while you sip on a refreshing strawberry daiquiri. It also has DJs, dancing, fire pits, and games. Note: Pops is open May through September only.
Red Robin — Bellmore, Carle Place, West Babylon
Let the kids poke around a tabletop tablet while you enjoy some adult conversation. Note: There is a nominal fee. Share the mountain high mud pie for dessert—one plate, many spoons.
Texas Roadhouse — Deer Park, East Meadow
If you've got a case of the Mondays, ditch the kitchen and head to Texas Roadhouse. The Deer Park location has a magician on hand to make weekday blues poof away. The East Meadow location has bendy balloon twisting. Oh, and a sweet deal: Kids dine for a mere $1.99 with the purchase of an adult entree.
Photos courtesy of the restaurants