Not-so-breaking news: kids can sniff out a fast-food chain with a jungle gym faster than any adult in the near vicinity. But grabbing a meal with little ones doesn’t have to mean mediocre burgers and questionably sanitary ball pits. In fact, finding a standout meal that pleases grown-up palates and caters to the school-age crowd is easier than ever. Nashville restaurants are embracing the whole family experience with inventive dishes featuring high-quality ingredients that keep the adults entertained while the little ones run around in an open patio space or color to their hearts' content.Read More
14 Great Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Nashville
The breweries, bowling alleys, and leveled-up burger places that keep that whole family well-fed and entertained
The kids’ menu at Lockeland Table features smaller versions of the essential East Nashville restaurant’s popular wood-fired pizza, plus special kids’ sides and desserts that include mac and cheese, roasted veggies, and Oreo balls. Though the attractive space can feel a bit small for maneuvering children, an additional side patio makes a great option for family dining.
BoomBozz Craft Pizza & Taphouse - East Nashville
The East Nashville location of this casual pizza joint has an impressive playground setup that’s a popular option for families looking to let off a bit of steam with a side of create-your-own calzones and green chile chicken pies. Kids have their own menu here featuring eight-inch personal pizzas, buttered noodles, and chicken bites, but for the grown-ups: a beer menu featuring local and domestic options.
On its surface, Joyland Restaurant bears all the hallmarks of your typical fast-casual burger joint: counter service, playful primary colors as decor, a simple, takeout-focused menu, and the smell of grilled beef in the air. But because Sean Brock’s at the helm of this East Nashville spot, everything’s a cut above. The burgers benefit from a proprietary blend of beef from Bear Creek Farm, for example, and the biscuits and beer bear one of Brock’s go-to grains: Jimmy Red corn. Don’t miss the house-made soft serve ice cream with sprinkles — the perfect treat to enjoy on the patio outside.
Nectar Urban Cantina
This Donelson favorite has a children’s play area outside that lets adults grab their own kicky beverage from the beer garden before settling in for some casual crowd-pleasers like tacos (stuffed with buttermilk chicken or beer-braised brisket), burritos, nachos, and churros. Be sure to check Nectar’s events calendar for kids' music nights and concerts on the lawn.
Frothy Monkey has four boisterous cafes in Nashville and several more throughout Tennessee/Alabama (not to mention its own coffee roaster and bakery operations). They’re especially popular for well-made breakfast and lunch dishes featuring local ingredients, and they all serve a kids’ menu that includes French toast, cheesy eggs and bacon, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Nicky's Coal Fired
This Nations hotspot dispenses some of Nashville’s best pizza from “Enrico,” a four-ton coal-fired oven. Alongside classic margherita, signature pies like the Aces High (with crushed meatballs, mozz, and pecorino), and dippable garlic bread, Nicky’s offers kids their choice of butter or red-sauce noodles to enjoy with a side of vanilla Italian soda. Every Monday starting at 4 p.m. is family night where kids 12 and under eat free and grown-ups can enjoy $5 select drinks.
Bowling — that’s what’s for dinner at Pinewood Social, nicely situated in Nash’s Historic Trolley Barns. If you can pry your child away from the lanes for a brief moment, they’ll surely find something to love on a special kids’ menu with cheeseburgers, buttered noodles, grilled cheese, and chicken fingers. For adults: crispy tots with paprika aioli, short rib mac-and-cheese, and a banana chocolate sundae — to share or not to share.
It’d be easy to relegate an upscale place like Rutledge Hill’s Husk to date-night territory. But then you’d be missing out on chef Ben Norton’s perfect rendition of a grilled cheese sandwich — a dish that’s available for the kids in the group but definitely warrants a bite for the adults. Beyond that, the Southern veggie platter is the easiest way to get little ones to eat their greens with fun and unique preparations, dips, and sauces to experiment with. Outside, Husk’s garden is a great spot to show little ones the charm of growing local, seasonal produce.
Another welcome entry in the category of leveled-up nostalgia trips, this mini fast-food chain by Pat Martin (of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint) serves filling burgers (including slugburgers), barbecue sandwiches, and hot dogs at three locations. Kids love the patio play area at the Berry Hill and Charlotte Avenue locations and the roster of creamy old-school milkshakes with ice cream.
Jasper’s is a casual Midtown hang for when the weather isn’t playing ball. The two indoor game rooms are equipped with board games, an air hockey table, old-school arcade consoles, and a basketball free-throw machine — all free for customers. The portions here are generous, so expect plates and bowls brimming with mounds of chili cheese fries, and cauliflower poppers, along with sizeable flatbread and burgers. Most of the items here can be modified for those with gluten sensitivities, too.
Otaku Ramen Gulch
The Gulch’s popular noodle shop offers kids the one thing that’s taboo at so many other restaurants: the ability to loudly slurp a big, steamy bowl of broth. Grab a seat at one of the wooden tables and order up a chocolate boba for your pint-sized partner before pursuing the children’s menu — the kid-size tonkotsu is a winner.
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Mezcal for the adults and refreshing agua frescas for kiddos — a meal at 12 South or East Nashville’s Bartaco is an easy win for everyone in the fam. Settle into a booth or table and get your little one situated with the children’s menu, which includes “not spicy” guac, mini tacos, and a tray with a quesadilla, taco, corn wheels, and a fruit skewer. Come early, though — the crowds get unruly later into the evening.
Edley’s is easily one of Nashville’s best barbecue joints; at all of its relaxed locations around town, little ones can enjoy a smaller version of the popular barbecue sandwich plus other items from the kids’ menu, including mini corn dogs, grilled cheese, and chicken tenders.
Tailgate is open to visitors of all ages, has tons of indoor space and outdoor patios at taprooms throughout the city, serves crowd-pleasing pizza, and offers family-oriented events. Its headquarters in West Nashville often shows movies on an expansive lawn and hosts activities in the heated barn — you’ll even find a children’s menu with pizza, waffles fries, chicken nuggets, and sandwiches.