9 restaurants where kids eat free

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As we long for artisanal charcuterie, our children crave fries.

While we dream of fluffy Spanish omelets, our kids want chicken fingers shaped like dinosaurs.

As we thirst for earthy reds, our youngsters hope for fizzy sodas – preferably served in a plastic take-home cup.

While you and your kids might disagree on what makes a good meal, you can enjoy a night out together regardless of what's on the table. If your kids agree (however reluctantly) to take a few bites of broccoli or give lobster a try, you can reward them with a meal at one of their favorite restaurants.

And after treating your kids, you might be surprised when you take a look at your bill at the end of the meal. Many eateries offer free kids meals on certain days of the week, when you can take out your whole family for dinner on the cheap.

[See: 10 Fun, Frugal Ways to Spend Your Free Time.]

Read on for a list of restaurants and dates when little ones can eat free. Keep in mind that these offers are typically for children who are 12 and younger and usually require the purchase of an adult entree.

Double check our restaurant schedule, load your tykes into the minivan, and head to one of these nine spots with free kids meals.

1. Applebee's

Dates: Varies

Applebee's entices young diners with a colorful menu of kid classics. Kids can pair mains like grilled cheeses and chicken grillers with nutritious sides. Think apple dippers, carrots and yogurt. Meanwhile, you can enjoy dishes from a diverse menu of pasta, seafood, burgers and salads. Only select locations participate in kids eat free nights, so be sure to check in with your local Applebee's.

2. Bennigan's

Dates: Tuesdays after 4 p.m.

This Irish-themed eatery features a mix of American favorites and Irish classics. The kids menu includes several healthy options, including a chicken salad, chicken wrap and roasted veggies. Meals include a side and a surprise.

[See: How to Live on $13,000 a Year.]

3. Denny's

Dates: Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Though Denny's is famous for its 24-hour breakfast, it does have a selection lunch and dinner comfort foods. Your kids can opt for breakfast-for-dinner selections, such as chocolate chip pancakes and French toast. Or they can go for more traditional supper items, such as spaghetti and junior cheeseburgers. You'll be faced with the same choice (breakfast food or dinner food), plus the decision of whether to give into temptation and order the chocolate lava cake.

4. Dickey's Barbecue Pit

Dates: Sundays

The kids menu at Dickey's Barbecue Pit is short and simple. Your kiddos have a choice of three meals: chicken nuggets, a sandwich plate or a meat plate. It's an opportunity to introduce your kids to the wonders of hickory smoked barbecue while you enjoy your own plate of beef brisket and pork ribs.

5. Ikea

Dates: Tuesdays

Hidden among the sofas and build-it-yourself dressers at IKEA, you'll stumble upon a Swedish-style bistro. After a long Tuesday of shopping for furniture, you can reward your kid with a free meal. Your youngsters can sample the tastes of Sweden with a plate of Ikea's famous Swedish meatballs. We suggest ordering a plate for yourself, too.


Dates: All week long

IHOP treats youngsters to free meals not one, not two but seven nights of the week. The kids menu focuses on breakfast items, including the whimsical make-your-own face pancakes. You have the opportunity for culinary creativity too with create-your-own omelet and breakfast combos.

7. Pizza Hut

Dates: Tuesdays

To unlock this deal, purchase the adult pizza buffet. While you peruse an endless selection of pizza, pasta, salads, and more, your little ones can look over the kids menu. The children's selection includes pizzeria classics, such as spaghetti, garlic sticks and – of course – pizza.

[See: 12 Habits of Phenomenally Frugal Families.]

8. TGI Fridays

Dates: Mondays and Tuesdays

An American-favorite since 1965, TGI Fridays boasts an extensive menu of freshly grilled steaks, burgers and imaginative cocktails. While you flip through the many-paged menu, your kids can choose from classics designed for "smaller appetites" and "heartier appetites." All kiddie meals come with carrots and celery sticks.

9. Uno Chicago Grill

Dates: Tuesdays

In addition to kid's classics, the Uno children's menu includes a make-your-own pizza option. Your children can happily decorate dough with sauce, cheese and toppings while you dig into Uno's signature Chicago-style deep dish.

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