Just because you’ve got kids doesn’t mean you’re destined to dine at Red Robin for the next 18 years. Arm yourself with crayons, sticky string, and sippy cups, and head off to these grown-up spots. Simply make sure you dine early, make a reservation, and give the restaurant a heads up.
Frank Bonanno’s Asian-inspired spot makes itself irresistibly family friendly with a noodle-centric menu (hello, kid food!) and an arsenal of coloring sheets and sippy cups. Order the flavorful udon noodle or the veggie ba mee bowls, but ask the server about spiciness (and beware of the heat—these dishes are served piping hot). Finish with soft-serve ice cream. 701 Grant St., 303-860-2929, bonesdenver.com
? Sushi Sasa
Sushi for a child? Indeed! Sushi Sasa encourages youngsters to experience—and, it hopes, appreciate—Japanese cuisine. Order crowd-pleasers such as edamame and miso soup, and move on to zucchini or sweet potato tempura. Dare to give the rolls a try—the kid-friendly California or the avocado rolls are excellent starters—and let the kids eat with their fingers. 2401 15th St., 303-433-7272, sushisasadenver.com
? Café Aion
At this unpretentious Boulder restaurant, the menu is loaded with accessible dishes such as the polenta with poached egg or the Mediterranean-inspired butternut squash tagine. Choose from breakfast, lunch, or dinner; sit at one of the cozy banquettes by the window; and ask for toys (there always seems to be a box around). Good eaters get a cupcake du jour—which, if nothing else, is a powerful motivator. 1235 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, 303-993-8131, cafeaion.com
At this hip Uptown spot, Sunday brunch is a family treat. Sit by the kitchen, and begin with the pastry basket. Your child will love the buttery goodies (and you’ll appreciate the workings of pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom). Then enjoy savory dishes such as the breakfast flatbread or the sausage hash. Reward good behavior with a handcrafted blood-orange soda. 719 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-5050, olivearestaurant.com