I haven't been to the spy-themed Safe House restaurant since high
school, and I've got to hand it to them. This Milwaukee institution is super welcoming to kids and families (before 8:00 p.m.), and they create an exciting junior spy experience perfect for kids of all ages. I'm happy to partner with them to spread the word about their kid-friendly offerings.
We visited last Saturday night around 5:00 p.m., and the place was hopping. The crowd was mostly adults, but I saw at least three other families with children there.
A man in drag welcomed us into the clandestine entrance, but none of us knew the secret password to enter. We had to perform a "clearance test" to gain entrance, which had the kids jumping up and down screaming as loud as they could. Once we had proven ourselves not to be informants, the bookshelf and fireplace on the wall magically transformed into a secret door, and we headed into the restaurant for more fun.
Just a forewarning - There's usually a wait on weekend nights, and they don't take reservations. If you do have to wait for a table, ask the hostess for the junior spy scavenger hunt. It's the perfect activity to pass the time!
Keeping them entertained
What's the worst part about taking kids out to eat? For us, it's the waiting. Our kids sometimes get antsy and impatient, and I find myself wanting to reach for an iPad to distract them so they don't cause a scene.
But right from the moment we sat down, our waiter provided the kids with crayons, spy-themed coloring and activities, and a name tag to write their very own junior spy name. Plus, their drinks came in special color-changing cups.
Once we ordered our food, we set out on our junior spy scavenger hunt, also provided by the restaurant. Our waiter told us we were encouraged to walk around and "investigate", and that he would come find us if our food arrived.
Exploring the restaurant
My kids loved the whimsical fun house mirror that shrunk them down to munchkin size. Around the corner, they found a wall that moved if they pushed a giant red button. The colorful cartoon illustrations captivated them, and the wall was covered in interesting information about spy history.
The scavenger hunt then led us to several clever nooks and crannies, including a bathroom door leading to nowhere, a ceiling covered in playing cards, and a giant safe. There is a phone booth covered in name tags of past visitors, and a special spy booth that can only be opened with your fingerprint. It's a six-year-old's dream come true.
Everywhere you look, there is something new and interesting to discover.
My boisterous kids inevitably bumped into waiters along the way, but the waiters responded with a jovial greeting like "excuse me, agent!". I felt relieves that the atmosphere was truly kid-friendly.
The kid's menu at Safe House stays on theme with scrumptious offerings for kids such as the "Jr. Spy Burger with Cheese", "Undercover Mac n' Cheese," and "Mini Golden Bullets." We all enjoyed our meals.
Parking: There are many parking structures nearby. Click here for a map.
Waiting: Just a forewarning - There's usually a wait on weekend nights, and they don't take reservations. If you do have to wait for a table, ask the hostess for the junior spy scavenger hunt. It's the perfect activity to pass the time!
Seating: Ask to sit in the "Disappearing Booth." You can close the doors and enjoy your own secret booth. And it literally turns around and opens up in a completely different space. Your kids will never forget it!
Junior Scavenger Hunt: It starts near the moving puzzle wall and follows a general circle around the restaurant.
Birthdays: You can host a Junior Spy birthday party for any age. Find out more.
Newsroom Pub: Stop by the Newsroom Pub, attached to the Safe House near the back. It's the home of the Milwaukee Press Club, and is home to a large collection of autographs and memorabilia dating from 1885. There's also an interactive Wall of Honor that lets visitors learn more about Wisconsinites who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country.