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Mom’s Guide to Iowa City: Kid Friendly Finds on the Ped Mall

My husband and I lived in Iowa City BK (before kids).  At that time in my life I thought of the ped mall as a great place to go out to eat as a party of two.  In my mind, the ped mall was the place to go for a nice date night meal (we ordered our first bottle of wine at a restaurant on the ped mall).  In fact, after we had our first two kids we pretty much avoided the ped mall altogether when we were eating with our two little ones in tow.

Last year, when we moved back to Iowa City and were looking for places to eat as a party of five we started trying out restaurants on the ped mall again and I was pleasantly surprised to find that quite a few of the eateries were, in fact kid-friendly.

Kid-FriendlyRestaurants in Downtown Iowa

Just so we’re clear, I am not classifying a restaurant as “kid-friendly” just because they happen to have a stack of highchairs in the corner of the restaurant somewhere.  My husband and I learned the hard way that a restaurant with a kid’s menu and a highchair; does not a kid-friendly restaurant make.  Anyway, here are my favorites:

1. Bread Garden–the buffet has lots of kid and mama-friendly items and you pay by weight, so my two-year old can eat for about $2.50 (not counting the milk).  Bonus: you can eat outside and make a quick trip to the public library/play structure right outside of the open air eatery.  Another Bonus: they have their own parking lot!

2. The Wedge–a neighbor to the Bread Garden, I love to bring my kids to the Wedge for their brunch menu.  The kids menu has great portions and the fresh fruit bowl is, well, fresh!  Bonus: The Wedge is in the same building as May’s Cafe (translation great coffee for mom and ice cream for the kids!) Another Bonus: public library/play structure.

Molly'sCupcakes3. Molly’s Cupcakes–hello, the restaurant is designed to look like an elementary school classroom; complete with swings, lunch boxes, and board games.  Aaaand right around the corner is Whitey’s Ice Cream (next time you’re there order the chocolate covered frozen banana rolled in salted mixed nuts–trust me)  and right around the corner is Yotopia. Bonus: you’ll be eating ice cream, frozen yogurt, or/and cupcakes 🙂

4. Noodles & Z’Mariks–my preference is to support local businesses (Z’Mariks) but both offer noodles in a variety of shapes and sizes, with almost any sauce you can imagine.  (Of course, my children only order plain elbow noodles–butter and/or cheese will result in a serious meltdown).

5. The Bluebird Cafe–does this count as the ped mall?  Either way the food is awesome.  You know when you have those mornings when for whatever reason everyone is up and at ’em before 6am?  (Please say this isn’t just me and my brood).  Those are the mornings we usually head to the Bluebird Cafe.  My favorite is the oatmeal with chocolate chips and strawberries–my kids love the french toast and my husband is a fan of the chorizo/egg/pepperjack cheese thing.

Finally, I haven’t eaten at Pepperjacks Grill or Swanky Frankie (both on the ped mall), but I’ve heard rave reviews from other ICMB contributors/friends.  Word on the street is that kids eat for $0.99 on Wednesdays at Pepperjacks and Swanky Frankie serves hotdogs, fries, and soda . . . I think that’s every kid’s dream, right?

So, what ped mall fav’s have I missed?  Where do you and your little ones like to eat on the ped mall?

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2 Responses to Mom’s Guide to Iowa City: Kid Friendly Finds on the Ped Mall

  1. April August 25, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Mickey’s!! Earlier than later so you avoid bar crawls now that the students are back, but they have free popcorn while you wait for your food, their mac & cheese is a family favorite and they have chocolate milk. Not to mention, they also have patience with the kids! 🙂

  2. Kate August 25, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    I’ve never eaten there…we’ll have to give Mickeys a try! Thanks for the suggestion.

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