Dining out with kids can be an experience in itself. From constant trips to the restroom with my four-year-old to my two-year-old’s constant attempts at dumping the entire salt shaker out on the table, sometimes I find it so stressful that I would rather just stay home. But alas, there are so many food adventures to be had in central Ohio and sometimes I just don’t want to cook. I refuse to be vanquished to the play place at McDonald’s (full disclosure: my children love it). That’s why I’m always excited to find new restaurants that are interesting or entertaining to my children.
Here are some restaurants that have been a great experience for my family. Give them a try!
Combustion Brewery & Taproom, Pickerington
Yep, I’m going for it and starting with the last place you’d expect to be kid-friendly: a brewery. Open less than a year, Combustion has quickly become a local favorite. Although my husband and I were thrilled to see that the owner (Keith Jackson, formerly of Gordon Biersch) said the establishment would be kid-friendly from day one, something made me feel apprehensive about bringing my little ones. So, one Saturday afternoon with friends in town and kids in tow, we sauntered in, half expecting judging eyes from all directions. We found a calming vibe and open tables next to a corner clearly dedicated to children.
What Makes It Fun: Your kids can play with a variety of toys and a train table while the adults sample beer infused with blueberry, chocolate and coffee. The menu at Combustion is small (mostly snacks and a few sandwiches), but they bring in food trucks regularly. Our kids had fun ordering from the food truck and overall it was a relaxing experience for the whole group.
Website: Combustion Brewery & Taproom
Facebook: Combustion Brewery & Taproom
Bravo Cucina Italiana, Lennox Town Center
Am I the only momma who gets a little nervous about taking my kids to restaurants with white tablecloths and cloth napkins? Yes, Bravo is a chain, but I cringe at the thought of my shrieking children ruining the ambiance for the couple sipping wine at the next table. But… Italian food. Who can resist it? Our fun, kid-friendly dining experience was icing on the cake.
What Makes It Fun: Bravo has a kids menu with good options and the typical crayons and activities to keep kids occupied. What really stood out was that the server brought each child a ball of dough to play with and shape while we waited for our meals. Then, their creations were baked in the pizza oven to be eaten or taken home. My daughter still talks about the Minnie Mouse we made. We even splurged on dessert, which was fun for our kids to choose from the dessert tray.
Website: Bravo Cucina- Lennox Town Center
Facebook: Bravo Cucina
The best time to visit Marshall’s is for brunch. One half of the place looks more like a small family restaurant and the other half like a bar. I was disappointed to walk in to find the more family-friendly appearing portion of the restaurant was closed and we were seated on the other side, but our experience ended up being better than I imagined.
What Makes It Fun: There is a large fish tank full of koi fish that wraps around a wall. We sat close by and our kids loved watching the fish while we waited for our food. Leave plenty of time to visit the great park right across the street at Pierce Field (which was what brought us to Marshall’s in the first place).
Blystone Farm, Canal Winchester
This place takes farm fresh to a whole new level. My family has been going to Blystone Farm for high-quality local meats and bakery items for years, but the best part has always been the farm experience. We were beyond excited when the store expanded into a restaurant and taproom less than a year ago.
What Makes It Fun: The restaurant and shop looks like a red barn and is literally located on the Blystone family farm. My kids are always eager to visit their two friendly ponies and search for other friendly farm animals like horses, kittens, and the family dog. The atmosphere, friendly service and delicious food keep us coming back.
Website: Blystone Farm
Facebook: Blystone Farm
94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, Sawyer Road
There’s something my family finds so charming about the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, located near the airport. I’ve seen a number of negative reviews about this place, but it’s definitely worth checking out even just once for the experience. And, the mashed potatoes are delicious!
What Makes It Fun: Even before entering the restaurant, you’ll feel like you’ve been taken back in time, from the music to the World War II era fighter plane. History buffs will find plenty of memorabilia to look at and read on the walls. My kids love airplanes, so sitting next to the windows is fun because they can watch planes taking off and landing throughout the meal. Also, according to the website, kids under 5 eat brunch free on Sundays.
Website: 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant
Facebook: 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant
There are so many other fun and interesting restaurants to check out in central Ohio. A few on my list to try with my family include Moe’s Original Barbeque, Barnstormer Restaurant and Buca Di Beppo. I don’t think dining out with small children will ever be completely stress-free, but mixing it up with interesting locations can help make it more of an adventure for your whole family.