It’s been a long day, and the thought of prepping dinner and cleaning dishes is just a little too overwhelming. Virginia Beach is full of fantastic family-friendly restaurants– here are four favorites to try.
Family-Friendly Restaurants: What’s for Dinner?
Going out to eat with children can be an adventure all on its own- and it can be hard to find good family-friendly restaurants. Parents dream of having a relaxing, and pleasant dining experience. With everyone’s eating what’s on their plate, not fighting, and very little (if any) crying.
But, let’s be real – it’s not always going to be peace and quiet. Especially if the kids are “hungry”, picky eaters, or if there isn’t a kids menu. You don’t need specific kid-themed restaurants to enjoy a good family dinner out. But it’s important to find the good family-friendly restaurants you all can enjoy.
Finding Family-Friendly Restaurants
As the head chef of my own household, I welcome a night or two a week when I’m not in charge of the planning, preparation, execution, and serving of a meal. So when a night calls for hitting the town to eat someone else’s cooking, I’m all in. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, and I (and my family) consider myself to be a good cook, and (almost) always eat everything I prepare. But, it’s nice to have a break.
My husband and I have a bunch of great family-friendly restaurants in Virginia Beach where we eat at often. You know the places and vibes that I’m talking about. It’s those beloved restaurants where you’ve become a regular, or where your kids are excited to go. Added bonus: they’ll happily eat everything on their plates since they’re fun places to eat.
It’s the spot where you don’t get stressed about how loud they’re being, or who’s crying, throwing a temper tantrum. Maybe there’s even an indoor play area for the kids to wear out all that extra energy. We love those kid-friendly restaurants.
Having a family dinner together is important, and it’s a great way to talk to each other without the distractions of added noise. Removing the pressure for mom to cook, brings her to the table quicker. So here are four great family-friendly restaurants to try.
Local Family-Friendly Restaurants: Pelon’s Baja Grill
We love Pelon’s, Baja Grill. This “California-style” food has become a family favorite over the years. From their daily specials (especially FREE Brownie Tuesdays and the 2 for $5 tacos on Wednesdays), Pelon’s is even a restaurant where we go to when we celebrate birthdays or other special occasions with our friends and family. They serve a great dinner for kids. Our oldest will crush a few fish tacos, and our 5-year-old is happiest with the shrimp.
For your kids who prefer their food without spice, there is a fantastic kids menu with many great options (hello, chicken fingers). First, order the guacamole and chips, enough for the whole family. It usually comes right out, so you can munch on the delicious chunks of avocado as you wait for your tacos. After that, you might not even need time passing games or the waiting game as you watch videos of daredevil skaters and surfers.
They recently expanded their space, so there’s plenty of room under the twinkle lights. You really don’t have to worry about the other diners (sans kids) throwing you a side-eye when your hangry toddler starts yelling. Be sure to check out their sticker wall near the entrance; you’ll recognize classic logos of surf, skate, and businesses old and new around town. Betting it brings you a bit of nostalgia that you can share with your kids. This is what we like in family-friendly restaurants, don’t we?
Try Out Beach Bully BBQ Restaurant!
Beach Bully BBQ Restaurant is another fan favorite in our house. In fact, when our first son celebrated his first birthday, we ordered a bunch of Beach Bully’s famous BBQ and served it in large Crock Pots at our Tacky Tourist birthday party on the beach up in the North End. It doesn’t get much more local than that!
There is something for everyone when you eat at Beach Bully. The service is always quick –everything on the menu is good – and it’s one of the most family-friendly restaurants we know. Beach Bully has been around Virginia Beach since 1986, so it’s definitely a local staple.
During the summer, it’s not unusual for my boys and the husband to go on biking adventures across town to stop at Beach Bully on their way back through. It’s extremely kid-friendly, always has a good sports game on TV, and the french fries & hush puppies are delicious! As you wait in line to order that mouthwatering bbq sandwich, be sure to look at the old photos of the Virginia Beach Lifeguard squads from over the years. They do take-out and catering, too.
Family-Friendly Restaurants With a Beach Vibe: Aloha Snacks
Local chef Jesse Wykle opened up Aloha Snacks in January of 2018, and it’s instantly becoming a local favorite. You’ll love the island vibes of Aloha Snacks, with the bright blue floor and silver ceiling tiles. The artwork keeps you smiling as the sunlight pours into the glass windows on three sides. The drive-thru window is a mom’s best friend, especially when your toddler falls asleep in the car on the way home from the beach. Trust me – I’m well known at the drive-thru window.
As a great family-friendly restaurant every night of the week. Chef Wykle will be ready with crayons and a happy pineapple dude for the little ones to color while they wait. Then, turn the page over to play tic-tac-toe or Hangman- two great games to play when you’re bored. You’ll see many happy babies and toddlers in a high chair with the rest of their family. As well as very happy parents eating their poke bowls in peace and quiet! My boys will crush burgers and fries and the delicious cake pops. My middle son usually orders some sort of raw tuna dish (how’s that for a 6-year-old palate?). If your kids are hesitant about trying something new, just tell them that Moana has been known to eat here for dinner. And yes, she is a member of the “clean plate club.”
Budget And Family-Friendly Restaurants: Pizza Chapel
In the quaint Shadowlawn neighborhood of Virginia Beach, you’ll find the Pizza Chapel. It’s nestled in a bright blue building along with a coffee shop, brewery, Mexican restaurant, and an art gallery!
Don’t worry about wearing your wedding best here; this chapel isn’t serving out marriage licenses. Instead, it’s handing out $1 slices of pepperoni and cheese pizza to you on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Since good family-friendly restaurants are always well-frequented, I recommend arriving promptly at 5:00 p.m. when it begins and plopping yourself into the nearest pew. They can even accommodate a booster seat for your toddler. We also get a side of their ranch dressing for the kids to dip their crusts into, because why not? The best part about dollar slice night is that you’ll see your entire neighborhood there enjoying it too!
Pizza Chapel, unfortunately, doesn’t offer gluten-free options though. If you or your child have a gluten intolerance, check out our Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Pizza!
Our Favorite Family-Friendly Restaurants
Beachside Social: While you set yourself up with a beer, there are 10,000 square feet of ocean-liner-inspired space to play games and get social. If you’re not into shuffleboard or bocce ball, there are plenty of board games that everyone will love! How kids have so much energy after eating a big meal is a mystery to me. I’m much more interested in a 2-hour nap. But if you want the kids to have some entertainment after their meal, plenty of places have the right idea.
Rudee’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar: This one will always bring back fond childhood memories for me. My grandparents always had to grab us a table here and enjoy some excellent seafood. Their outside eating area/cabana bar has gliding tables that are VERY spacious, so you’ll never feel crammed into a booth. The children’s menu doubles as a coloring activity page while featuring their favorites, from mac and cheese to crustless PB&J. It’s right on the Rudee Inlet, too, so if you have a little boy or girl who just LOVES to look at boats, this is a great place.
Beach Pub: I’m letting you in on a real secret gem here, so listen up. It’s been a local favorite since 1978. In a small, unsuspecting location (near, but not ON the oceanfront), their laid-back atmosphere paired with good service and great food is a fantastic way to end your long day at the beach. They have a kids’ menu, too, with staples like corn dog nuggets, chicken tenders, and popcorn shrimp.
More Family-Friendly Restaurants and Deals
As much as we love these four family-friendly restaurants, we’re just scratching the surface of kid-friendly Virginia Beach offerings. Local friends also recommended Flip Flops Bar & Grill, No Frill Grill, The Stock Pot, and Waterman’s.
“Kids Eat Free” nights are the perfect time to go out to eat with your family too! It’s even better than free birthday meals since all (or most) of your kids get to eat for free! Here is a list you can refer back to for ideas throughout the week. Not all of them are “kids eat free,” but some have great deals for kids. Be sure to check online or give them a call about deals at specific locations, as they’re subject to change.
Mondays: Huddle House, Plaza Azteca
Tuesdays: Firehouse Subs, TGI Friday’s, El Taco Loco, Firehouse Subs
Wednesdays: Guads Mexican Restaurant (at Hilltop)\
Thursdays: Captain D’s
Fridays: Bruster’s Ice Cream
Saturdays: Steak ‘n Shake, A.J. Gator’s
Sundays: Your Pie, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Steak and Shake
Every day: Cici’s Pizza (with a family buffet); Pizza Hut, Pop’s Diner Co, IHOP, Pie-o-neer Pizza Bar,
Did we miss anything? Any other advice, such as favorite specials or family-friendly restaurants you’d like to share? Be sure to share the love with family and friends on FamilyApp, or comment below!