Let’s face it. Dining out with kids can be a challenge.
Their attention spans are, well, limited. And meltdowns happen to the best of us.
But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid taking your kids out to eat.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding a place where you and your littles can feel welcome.
We found more than 30 of the best places in the Milwaukee area that are locally-owned AND serve up good food, even on the kids menu. From downtown Milwaukee to the surrounding suburbs, these fun restaurants do their best to help all their guests (big and little) feel at home.
Whether they have a playroom, a killer coloring sheet, or just a really friendly wait staff, our team and readers have identified the following restaurants as A-OK for the whole family.
No matter if it’s a special occasion or just because, rest assured knowing that you won’t be the one doing the dishes tonight.
Let’s dive in!
1. 3rd Street Market Hall
275 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203
New in October 2021, this market allows you to explore the culinary traditions found throughout Milwaukee all in one place. From Dairyland burgers and frozen custard to fresh bread and homemade pasta, there’s something for everyone in the family.
After grabbing a bite to eat, unwind in the gaming lounge, play a round of shuffleboard, take a swing in a virtual golf sumulator, or toss a few cornhole bags.
Plus, you won’t want to miss the Photoverse Selfie Museum, where you’ll find 27 interactive and dynamic photo stations (including the one pictured above) for taking Instagram-worthy selfies and family portraits.
2. AJ Bombers
1247 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
This downtown Milwaukee burger joint actually allows you to write on the wall with markers, which is great news for any family with young kids. There are all kinds of kitschy decorations to keep you entertained. Don’t miss the peanut delivery system that sends you peanuts through a rocket tube near the ceiling. Get a free burger on your actual birthday!
3. BelAir Cantina
1935 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
2625 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211
6817 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, WI 53213
410 W. Town Square Way, Oak Creek, WI 53154
250 High St., Brookfield, WI 53045
This modern Mexican restaurant has a few locations around the Milwaukee area, and they offer a special “niños” menu on a coloring and activity sheet for the kids.
4. Café Hollander
2608 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211
7677 W. State St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213
20150 Union St., Brookfield, WI 53045
Lowlands Group restaurants strive to bring the Dutch concept of “gezellig” to their restaurants, which is roughly translated as a cozy atmosphere or the warm feeling you get when spending time with friends.
Their food is made from scratch, often organic, and they use Wisconsin suppliers for many products. There is no high fructose corn syrup in their food, and their beef is grass-fed and grain-finished with no antibiotics. They have plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options, and every choice on the kids’ menu comes with fresh fruit and vegetables.
5. Classic Slice
2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207
Classic Slice is indeed a Bay View classic. The slices are so huge they can probably feed more than one child! There are always plenty of families in this casual pizzeria, so you won’t get the evil eye when your toddler throws a fork across the room.
6. Hubbard Park Lodge
3565 N. Morris Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53211
Located in picturesque Hubbard Park on the Milwaukee River, their Sunday Lumberjack Brunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet that includes pancakes, eggs, carved ham, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, frittata, Door County cherry French toast bake, cheesy hashbrowns, breakfast sausage and bacon. There’s even a made-to-order omelette bar! All meals are served with homemade doughnuts and fresh fruit. The log cabin feel is cozy and inviting for your whole family.
How to get there: Bike there via the Oak Leaf Trail, or park in the lot at the intersection of North Morris Blvd. and E. Menlo Blvd. Access the park and lodge through a pedestrian tunnel running under the Oak Leaf Trail. Your kids will love this short nature walk, and you’ll get to burn off some extra calories on the way home.
7. Lakefront Brewery
1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212
Make an early reservation for the Friday fish fry at Lakefront Brewery, a craft brewery located along the Milwaukee River.
Your kids will love the polka music, dancing, and delicious food. Our readers highly recommend it!
8. Milwaukee Public Market
400 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
You won’t have to worry about keeping your kids still and quiet at the bustling Milwaukee Public Market, though you will have to deal with some crowds. The best part? You’ll find lots of different food options to please everyone’s pallet, and you can eat in the casual dining area upstairs.
You’ll find a local coffee shop, artisan cheese and sausage, fresh fish, soups and salads, a variety of ethnic food options, and an amazing bakery. Don’t miss the vegan restaurant with a real vintage bus.
9. Miss Katie’s Diner
1900 W. Clybourn St., Milwaukee, WI 53233
Milwaukee’s original 50’s diner, located two blocks west of Marquette University campus, has hosted Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Henry Winkler, and more legendary figures. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
10. Oscar’s Frozen Custard
Frozen custard joints are always a safe bet for kid-friendly cuisine in the Milwaukee area, and Oscar’s delivers at three different locations. The Franklin location has a model train setup that will delight young children.
Location: Top Secret (Okay, okay. It’s 779 N. Front St., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
The SafeHouse, if you can find it and figure out how to pass the agent authorization process to enter, is the largest spy museum in the Midwest.
(And, don’t miss the new mural outside near the entrance!)
Your kids will love this spy-themed restaurant, where every turn presents an adventure full of interactive elements, spy technology, gadgets, and riddles. You’ll learn about 50 years of spy history and see the world’s largest puzzle wall, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and more.
The junior spy menu includes “Golden Bullets” (mini corn dogs) and “Goldfingers” (chicken tenders), and all kids meals are served with a beverage in a souvenir color-changing cup.
Adjacent to the SafeHouse is the Newsroom Pub, where you’ll find hundreds of real and authentic signatures. Theodore Roosevelt dined in this room in 1910 (he was shot in Milwaukee four blocks from the SafeHouse).
12. Transfer Pizzeria
101 W. Mitchell St., Milwaukee, WI 53204
The love of pizza knows no age or size! This establishment welcomes all ages through their doors. Everyone can order their own personal pizza, so there’s no quibbling over toppings.
13. Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern
234 E Vine St, Milwaukee, WI 53212
A cozy, tucked away, brunch spot in Brewers Hill. The coloring page is a separate menu for little ones inspired by the Owners’ memories of family dinners out.
14. Zócalo Food Park
636 S. 6th St., Milwaukee, WI 53204
Milwaukee’s first and only food truck park, Zócalo has something for everybody. The name Zócalo is Spanish for “plaza” or “town square.” It’s a gathering place where everyone belongs. The expansive patio is the perfect spot to snag a seat and enjoy some global cuisine.
15. Highland House
12741 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, WI 53092
Feast on Carribean-style fare with a carefree island atmosphere and plenty of food options for all ages. There is even a video game room for antsy kids and adults. It’s just one mile north of North Shore Cinema, making it the perfect stop before or after a movie with your kids.
16. Bavarian Bierhaus
700 W. Lexington Blvd., Glendale, WI 53217
On Tuesdays, kids 12 and under eat FREE at this longstanding German restaurant nestled in Old Heidelberg Park (one free kids’ menu meal with the purchase of each Adult Bavarian Specialties Entrée).
17. Dr. Dawg
6969 N. Port Washington Rd #100, Glendale, WI 53217
853 N Mayfair Rd, Wauwatosa, WI 53226
With locations in Glendale and Wauwatosa, Dr. Dawg is a quick, casual place for burgers & Chicago-style hot dogs. The menu features “Puppy Dawgs” for patrons of all ages. They are slider-sized franks, available with a variety of toppings. Mix and match different styles for a trio, or buy them buy the half dozen or dozen so everyone in the family can sample.
22 N. Main St., Hartford, WI 53027
Your kids will love exploring the 5,000-square-foot game room, and you’ll love the family specials and Just for Kids menu. Sunday Brunch (8 a.m.-2 p.m.) features bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, assorted salads, bread pudding, fresh fruit, homemade bakery and desserts, and pancakes made to order.
19. Pizza Crafters
N56 W15560 Silver Spring Dr., Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
This fun and healthy pizza buffet committed to using simple, local ingredients. Kids can create their own masterpieces on the chalkboard wall.
20. Sprecher Brewing Outdoor Oasis
2200 W. Bender Rd., Glendale, WI 53209
Who doesn’t love a root beer float? Sprecher Outdoor Oasis is an outdoor beer garden located at the Richard E. Maslowski Community Park. It’s a family-friendly beer garden with award-winning Sprecher beverages and a food menu filled with everyone’s favorites.
Just off the Oak Leaf Trail, this full-amenity location also offers a possibility playground, indoor restrooms, a war memorial, baseball fields, and the Johnson Controls Outdoor Amphitheater.
Note: Opens for the season on June 1, 2022.
21. Wisconsin Big Boy
N116 W15841 Main St., Germantown, WI 53022
Remember going to Big Boy as a kid? Well, it’s back in Wisconsin! Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (closed on Monday). Wednesdays are Classic Car Nights.
22. Centraal Grand Café & Tappery
2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View, WI 53207
The menu here features fresh ingredients, many of which are sourced from local purveyors and farmers. They sometimes host kid-friendly events, and the kids’ menu is delivered on a fun activity/coloring sheet to keep your little ones busy. Outdoor dining options include a courtyard and a streetcar that can be reserved for private groups of 6-8 people (beverage package included).
23. Fish Fry in the Parks
Whitnall Park Golf Clubhouse
Grant Park Golf Clubhouse
During the warm weather months from Memorial Day through Labor Day, you can have your Friday night fish fry in the beautiful surroundings of the Milwaukee County Parks.
24. Georgie Porgie’s Treefort
9555 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, WI 53154
Burgers and frozen custard served in a unique, family-friendly treefort atmosphere.
25. Organ Piper Pizza
4353 S. 108th St., Greenfield, WI 53228
This Milwaukee landmark, opened in 1976, boasts delicious thin crust pizza and the country’s finest organists to entertain you. (Did you know that one of the organ players here is also the organ player at Miller Park?) There is also an arcade and a small merry-go-round. This place is known for being boisterous and noisy, so your kids will likely fit right in!
26. Original Pancake House
16460 W. Bluemound Rd, Brookfield, WI 53005
Expect fresh orange juice, great coffee, friendly servers, especially delicious pancakes, and omelets larger than your head. There are always plenty of families here, plus comfortable large booths to accommodate squirmy kids. They offer coloring sheets for children and kids’ meals.
27. North Star American Bistro
19115 W. Capitol Dr. #100, Brookfield, WI
Enjoy traditional American favorites along with more sophisticated fare at this upscale but casual eatery. There’s a separate family dining room and a full children’s menu.
28. The Chocolate Factory
W62 N577 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, WI 53012
3230 Golf Rd., Delafield, WI 53018
13475 Watertown Plank Rd., Elm Grove, WI 53122
7963 S. Main St., Oak Creek, WI 53154
1077 Summit Ave., Oconomowoc, WI 53066
161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Pewaukee, WI 53072
2120 E. Moreland Boulevard, Waukesha, WI 53186
1402 S. Main Street, West Bend, WI 53095
This local chain offers fresh subs with warm crusty rolls and fresh, premium ingredients, plus a delicious homemade mayonnaise. Top it off with local Wisconsin ice cream or choose from a variety of sundaes. (If you love The Chocolate Factory, be sure to visit the airy Pewaukee location right along the beach on Pewaukee Lake.)
18880 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, WI 53045
5373 N. Port Washington Rd., Glendale, WI 53217
7631 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, WI 53220
A local landmark, this frozen custard chain has not one but TWO flavors of the day. We dare you to pick only one!
30. Sully’s Sandwiches
9211 W Center St, Milwaukee, WI 53222
From the Owners of Miss Molly’s Cafe & Pastry Shop, this super family-friendly counter service spot has a dedicated kids’ area with a play kitchen, foam blocks, and plenty of space to explore during lunch.
OTHER READER RECOMMENDATIONS
Capri Di Nuovo
8340 Beloit Rd, West Allis, WI 53219
Kids get a small ball of pizza dough to play with while you wait for your food.
Cleveland Pub & Grill
14000 W. Cleveland Ave., New Berlin, WI 53151
Arcade games are available to occupy wiggly kids.
3832 Hillside Dr., Delafield, WI 53018
The full kids’ menu includes a carnival corn dog, BBQ pork and a quesadilla.
Eagle Park Brewing Company
823 E Hamilton St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Check out the hidden kid’s cabinet full of coloring books, crayons, and tiny toys.