Restaurants That Are Fun for Kids in Orange County

By Al Derr
Kid-friendly restaurants make dining out with children enjoyable.
Kid-friendly restaurants make dining out with children enjoyable.

Dining out with children can be intimidating and frustrating. Impatient, picky eaters who have not yet mastered dining etiquette do not necessarily make the best dinner companions. However, dining out with kids can be enjoyable if you set them up for a successful experience by choosing a kid-friendly restaurant. Many restaurants in Orange County happily cater to patrons with children (which means the kids won't be getting glares from diners at the next table) and have menus, themes or activities that keep the little ones occupied until their meal arrives.

Restaurants With Themes

Family-friendly Orange County has many themed restaurants that appeal to kids. For instance, at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament kids can feast on chicken and potatoes while cheering for knights in a staged jousting tournament. Pirate's Dinner Adventure features a "swashbuckling, side-splitting, musical" pirate adventure along with a dinner buffet.

If dinner theater does not appeal to the adults in the dining party, other Orange County restaurants have prominent themes without the complete theater experience. At the Rainforest Cafe kids will feel as if they are eating in a rain forest, complete with animatronic animal friends and regularly timed "thunderstorms." The Claim Jumper chain of restaurants has a Gold Rush theme and is known for its large portions. Since Disneyland is in Orange County, kids can also enjoy Disney-themed restaurants, like Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel.

Restaurants With Activities

If the kids are too young to sit still through an entire meal, choose an Orange County restaurant with a play space or kids' activities. For example, at Beach Pit BBQ in Costa Mesa, adults can enjoy barbecue while the kids play in a fenced yard featuring a playhouse and a variety of toys. John's Incredible Pizza Co. features themed dining rooms, some of which offer token-based games. At some restaurants the meal preparation itself can provide entertainment. Consider taking kids to Benihana, where the chef will entertain the children by preparing the entire meal at your table.

Restaurants With Kid-Friendly Food

A restaurant does not have to be specifically for kids for them to like it; many children enjoy eating at any restaurant that serves their favorite food. Think about the types of food your child will always eat at home and then find a restaurant that serves his favorites. If your child likes pizza and spaghetti, try a casual Italian restaurant like Maggiano's or the Spaghetti Warehouse. Many kids like American standards such as hamburgers, French fries and milkshakes, so a diner like Ruby's Diner or Watson's Drug Store and Soda Fountain may prove to be a hit.

Restaurants With Fast Service

A restaurant experience is more likely to be successful if kids can get food into their stomachs quickly. For this reason, buffet restaurants are always a good bet, but kids will also have fun choosing their own food from the buffet. Orange County is home to a wide variety of buffet restaurants such as Osaka Seafood Buffet, Happy Buffet, and Souplantation.

About the Author

Al Derr began writing professionally in 2010 and has published work in "Theatre Journal." She is a freelance writer, tutor and theater director. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater and secondary education from Texas Christian University and a Master of Arts in theater history from Texas State University, San Marcos.