Kid-friendly restaurants can appeal to adults, too

Having no kids, I generally avoid places that are crawling with rugrats. But I do have friends and family members with little ones that I enjoy dining with from time to time, so I have a couple of go-to spots. Some are places my wife and I frequent on our own that also happen to be great for kids. Others are places I generally wouldn’t set foot in unless I was looking to keep a child amused. When looking for family-friendly food, all of these are great choices.

We all know kids love pizza. Pizza Rock has quickly rocketed to the top of the local pizza scene, thanks in no small part to their huge variety of styles (they’re now up to 11), all of which are done well. While the nightclub vibe and the hip downtown location don’t immediately seem conducive to family time, take another look around. What kid won’t be impressed by the Peterbilt truck DJ booth that seems to be crashing through the wall? And there are crayons on the tables to keep everyone amused while you wait for your pies. There’s something here for everyone, both young and old.

The only thing kids generally like as much as pizza is burgers. But let’s face it, the gourmet versions offered at most celebrity burger joints aren’t what they’re craving, and fast food generally isn’t all that great. Enter Bobby Flay. His Bobby’s Burger Palace is probably the best counter-service burger restaurant out there. The combinations are creative but not too crazy. The prices are reasonable enough to treat the whole family without breaking the bank. (Nothing is over $10.) And what kid could resist the chance to “crunchify” a burger by adding a layer of regular or barbecue potato chips for free? There’s also a great selection of shakes — some for the kids and some for parents who might want a touch of booze during their stroll down the Strip.

Our recent readers’ pick in this category, Hash House A Go-Go, isn’t a place I frequent often. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the big sloppy comfort food, which is actually pretty darn good. It’s just that I hate to waste food, and I don’t know a lot of people who can finish these massive servings. But their comical size is guaranteed to amuse all of the kids in your party, especially when they try to figure out how to attack their dish. So plan on bringing home plenty of leftovers, and give your children some of the largest, silliest-looking meals they’re ever likely to eat.

One of my favorite types of meals to have with kids is teppanyaki, particularly if they’ve never seen the fire and twirling knives of Japanese table-cooking before. While the cuisine is making a comeback on the Strip, the best places there are expensive, and many of them avoid the flashy tricks. So head off-Strip to one of two Osaka locations. Not only do they still light the onion volcanoes, juggle the eggs and flip shrimp tails into their hats, they also have an extremely reasonably priced children’s menu.

Finally, since the massive Brooklyn Bowl doubles as a 21-and-over rock club, it might seem like an odd place for kids, and most of the time they’re strictly verboten. But visit before 6 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday and you can take the whole family bowling, and enjoy great food from the Blue Ribbon chain of restaurants. From deviled eggs to French bread pizzas to the famous fried chicken, the grub is family-friendly, while the lanes are state-of-the-art. When your meal is over, you’re just a few short steps from the High Roller — that massive observation wheel your kids have probably been bugging you to ride since they first saw it hovering over the Strip.

Do you have a favorite place for family-friendly eats? Visit the new Best of Las Vegas website and cast your vote.

Al Mancini is a dining expert and co-author of “Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants.” Read more from him here.

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