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Family Friendly Madison (updating!)

As a 'foodie' before kids (fbk), I don't like the idea that the only restaurants termed 'family friendly' tend to have pre-printed kids menus on the back of garish placemats, and the exact same 'kids menu' of chicken nuggets, hot dog, grilled cheese and some other generic american entree. To me, family friendly means I can go out and feel like an adult in decent surroundings (and no stuffed animals serving my meal), have a good if not great meal in record time, my child will enjoy something on the menu, and a little bit of childhood enthusiasm won't get us stared out of the building.

What IS family friendly? Baby changing area (clean with a working strap/belt?), clean bathrooms, child friendly, quick service, menu items 0-5 kids will like, high chairs (clean WITH a working strap/belt), good hours. Extra bonus - child play area that is child proofed and safe (outlet covers, no lamps or tables that can tip, no potporri out, no equipment or bus trays near, etc.), with toys that are clean and not a choking hazard for little ones. Some restaurant listings below don't note changing tables - so if you know more about the restaurant than I do, please let me know.

Pizza Brutta
1805 Monroe Street - located right across from Trader Joe's
Phone: 257-2120
east central west county
lunch, dinner
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

Opened in November of 2007, this local family owned restaurant is definitely child friendly. This fast-casual dining pizzeria is packed with families most evenings from 5-7PM...and don't worry about having to wait long - you get your food fast! While there is not a dedicated children's menu, they offer a kids' size pizza (called The Gabriel, named after their first-born). Pizza Brutta has organic milk and offers many organic, natural and local ingredients on their salads and pizzas. They also have a baby changing station in both the men's and women's bathrooms!
Hours: Mon - Thurs. 11:00 - 9:00; Fri - Sat. 11:00 - 10:00; Sun. 5:00 - 9:00


Tex Tubb's Taco Palace
EAST - 2009 Atwood Avenue
Madison WI 53704

Phone: 608-242-1800 |||||| website
east central west county
lunch, dinner, sunday brunch
?baby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up (no changing table)

Meet Tex Tubb. A solid citizen with talent and charm. To our good fortune he just happens to hail from Texas and he can cook and he can sing. And he loves to do both. That’s how Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace came to be. It’s where his two worlds collide. It’s informal, friendly, casual, rustic, chaotic, comfortable, affordable, and fun. A joint, a bar with great food, authentic food. It’s his home away from home, it’s his palace.

Cuisine: Tacos, burritos, tacos, chimichangas, tacos, tostadas, flautas, tacos, and enchiladas.

What a mom says about Tex Tubb's: "The tacos are perfect sized for toddlers and they have several varieties (fish, chicken, mushroom, avocado and the list goes on). It is a place with
great energy for kids to feel like themselves and fit right in."


The Froth House
11 N. Allen St.
east central west county
coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

A small kid friendly cafe off the corner of Regent and Allen St. Offering a cozy interior, a kids corner with toys/books, outdoor garden seating, and an outdoor window "Stroller Drive Through" this cafe is a great match for moms with kids.

What a mom says about The Froth House: "The food is great, they serve Mimosas, and the cozy front window was a fun spot for my boys to play with the toys and books in the corner. We didn't eat outside, but the garden seating and walkup "Stroller Drive Through" looked like a great touch. Many small cafes in town don't have changing tables - but they have a new clean one!"

Tuvalu Coffee and Tea
300 S. Main St.
Verona, WI
east central west county
coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

We are a family-owned coffee shop and art gallery serving fair trade, organic coffee and tea. We have on display and for sale works by twenty-nine local arists and fair trade crafts from around the world. We look forward to seeing you!!

What a mom says about Tuvalu Coffee & Tea: "They have great high chairs with trays attached and tons of kids toys in the play area including a huge wooden train layout in the middle. I was very impressed and will take my son there often."

El Pescador
2810 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI
Hours: Monday through Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m
east central west county
lunch, dinner, desserts
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

El Pescador, a Mexican restaurant specializing in seafood, has opened on East Washington Avenue. Owned by one of the principals in the local Laredo’s restaurants, this restaurant is influenced by Brazilizan, Colombian, Peruvian and other Latin American cuisine.

What a mom says about El Pescador: "When we went on a recent Sunday night, there were several families with kids of all ages, the noise level was reasonably high (which we like, as it hides a baby's cry), they have high chairs, and the wait staff were EXCITED to have our son there. I've heard many others say the same. Plus, the food is good and cheap--the menu is extensive-- and the margaritas are strong."

Great Dane @ HILLDALE
357 Price Place, Madison, WI 53705
Phone: 608.661.9400
east central west county
lunch, dinner
Xbaby -toddler Xpreschooler & up

What a mom says about the Great Dane @ Hilldale: "One of the best children's menus I've ever encountered - with healthy choices such as baked chicken and steamed vegetables, along with favorites like pasta and grilled cheese - and reasonable prices (around 3 - 4 dollars). Clean changing table in bathroom; friendly and helpful staff. Convenient for a quick lunch while shopping!"

Java Cat Cafe
3918 Monona Drive Madison, WI 53716 • Phone:
east central west county
bakery, sandwiches, soups, coffee, gelato
-baby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

Drive through window, child area with a few toys, nice interior.

What a mom says - I haven't checked for a changing table yet - but my little guys had fun wandering around and checking out all of the cat sculptures and sitting in the kids corner!

Zuzu Cafe & Market
1336 Drake St. Madison, WI (608) 575.2426
east central west county
bakery, sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, kids menu
-baby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

Not only is this cafe near the zoo, but it also has a train table! Bright and fun, it is a great spot for adults and children alike. Child friendly environment, family oriented events, and much more! Visit their website.

Roman Candle Pizza

1054 Williamson St - Madison
Hours: 11 am-11 pm Mon.-Sat.

east central west county
lunch, dinner, dessert, carry out
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

This is one of those restaurants that is 'cool' enough to make you feel like you didn't drop off the face of the planet when you became a parent, but child-friendly enough that your kids will be happy.

Ella's Deli
2902 E. Washington Ave
east central west county
coffee, snacks
-baby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

Not only does Ella's have a staggering sandwich selection along with soups, salads and other standard fare, but they also are filled to the rim with carnival themed 'stuff'. Kids love the bright loud interior, but are ecstatic about the outdoor full size carousel, which kids can ride in the summer.

Cool Beans Coffee Cafe
1748 Eagan Road (near east towne mall)
east central west county
coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up

Cool beans offers a great modern interior and gourmet sandwiches, salads and more combined with a nice childrens play area and child sized table top and chairs.

What a mom says about Cool Beans: Small play area right up front - you may want to bring a few of your own toys if your child is under 1 or over 2. Recommend - if you have a small child or baby, do a sweep for chokable toys before you set your baby down! Very great idea, and a yummy menu - even a few kids meals (grilled cheese or pb&j). The interior is nice and I look forward to spending snowy afternoons sipping a latte while my 2 kids play a bit.

Ginza of Tokyo
Odana Road West
East Washington East
State Street Central
east central west county
lunch dinner
Xbaby Xtoddler Xpreschooler & up
Ginza offers a great Japanese menu which includes sushi as well as other fare such as steak, seafood, noodles and more. There is a childrens menu, but for very small children they can eat from moms plate, or try the yummy Yakitori appetizer (chicken on a stick) with dipping sauce.

What a mom says about Ginza: Most people know about the hibachi tables up in front, which is really for older kids. I love to reserve a tea room, which offers privacy, an enclosed area and excitement. We can dine with our baby and toddler no problem. Service is usually quick too!







dining tip

Carry a restaurant 'kit' in your car. Keep fun adhesive backed place mats, crayons, coloring pages, stickers, silly straws, toy cars, a mini photo album, and an old cell phone in a fun little bag. I sometimes even carry a digital voice recorder... Your child can play and putter while you wait for your food!


Kids Eat Free Nights in Madison

Monday night:
Ela's Deli (after 5:00)
Flat top

Tuesday night:
Mexicali Rose
Ela's Deli (after 5:00)
Fazoli's ($.99)
Flat top

Wednesday night:

Please call ahead to be sure this is still offered, and what is available!