– Casual –
There’s nothing fancy at the Ninety-Nine, but there is good food and good prices. Prime rib, steak tips, burgers, chicken and seafood are the mainstays of the menu. Kids can pick from a variety of tried-and-true favorites including macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken fingers and a junior sirloin steak. Seating is often at a booth, and high chairs are readily available. Kids give the Ninety Nine high marks – crayons and free bowls of popcorn keep them occupied while waiting for their meals. Parents prefer the Ninety Nine over other family restaurants because there’s a full bar, and the place is loud enough so that no one will care if your kid isn’t perfectly behaved.
Once a popular singles hangout, T.G.I. Friday’s was so successful that the singles met, married, had kids and brought them back to the place where it all began. Now, this chain attracts a mix of young professionals and families who appreciate the good food and friendly service. Friday’s eclectic menu includes imaginative salads, chicken, sandwiches and seafood. New are special Atkins Diet-approved items like sizzling chicken with broccoli and a bun-less double cheeseburger. For kids, there’s the ever-popular hamburgers (with a bun), pizza, ribs and macaroni and cheese. T.G.I.Friday’s always seems to make every day feel like the weekend is just getting underway.
350 East Main St., Marlboro
235 Old Connecticut Path, Framingham
Who knew you could find authentic barbecue this far north of the Mason Dixon Line? Firefly’s “Bodacious Barbecue and Beyond” takes diners way beyond the usual offerings of ribs and pulled pork – all the way to the deep South – where plates are stacked high with hushpuppies, country fried steak, catfish and pecan pie. While the decor is decidedly Disney (kids love it), the food is the real deal. Homemade meat loaf, fried chicken with white cream gravy, three styles of ribs, pork chops with sweet potato gravy, and fried oysters. Kids can feast on ribs, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and even a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. Leave room for dessert, which includes Coca Cola Cake and white chocolate bread pudding.
– Interactive Dining –
75 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington
It’s a jungle in here. Life-sized mechanical gorillas roar, thunder crashes, and kids squeal with delight. Enter the Rainforest Café through an enormous tropical fish tank, and you’re surrounded by a starry fiber-optic sky, lush vegetation and the sounds of animals, distant drumbeats and a thunderstorm after 15 minutes. Kids have plenty to look at while they wait for their animal-shaped chicken nuggets, pizza or burgers. The Rainforest Café is revamping their children’s menu, so look for new, healthier selections to join the favorite standbys. Adult fare, with entrees such as Rasta Pasta and Carribe Chicken, tips its hat to Asian, Caribbean and Brazilian cuisine. Reservations advised – otherwise the wait can be beastly.
– Pizza –
They’ve been around for a while, and they’ve always catered to families. Papa Gino’s serves up satisfying pizza, pasta, salads and subs. The chain also offers birthday parties, as well as entertainment and discount meals on Kid’s Night (every Thursday evening). The pizza here is consistently good, and Papa Gino’s Family Meal Deals help parents and kids on-the-go. For $14.99, you get a large cheese pizza, chicken tenders and cinnamon sticks; for $5 more, you get all of that plus a second large cheese pizza.
Multiple Massachusetts locations
Malden, Marlborough, Taunton, Framingham, Chester and West Springfield have one thing in common – they are all home to a Classic Pizza. But while these pizza shops aren’t related through some kind of national chain, they have caught the attention of many of our readers (and in various communities!). Think authentic, classically made pies, dough tossing and those huge pizza ovens. We salute them all. If there’s a Classic Pizza near you, check it out