Madison has so many things going for it, including a vast number of real-food restaurants that can please even the well-traveled foodie. After having my eldest daughter and going through dining-out withdrawal I have made it a personal mission of mine to scope out and find kid-friendly restaurants in the Madison area. Thankfully this city is packed full of places that won’t kick you out for dropping food on the floor or crying before your meal comes. YOU are no longer banished to the fast food chain or your kitchen table. So get out there and give one of these a try. I would love to hear of your favorite kid-friendly restaurants.
Crema Cafe, located at 4124 Monona Dr (near Happy Bambino). This adorable cafe has been a favorite of mine for years. Serving breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends. Great food (using many local sources), coffee, smoothies, bakery goods and toys for kids to take to their table and play with. I love the kid’s menu because all items come with FRESH seasonal fruit. They have a diaper changing station in the bathroom (this is critical information, am I right fellow diaper changing mamas?). They also have a good supply of highchairs. I could go on and on about this place but I’ll let you try it for yourself. PS. Try the bluebird sandwich, you won’t be sorry.
Yola’s Cafe, located at 494 Commerce Dr. This is another great breakfast and lunch place. Or even just to grab a cup a coffee with a friend while your kiddos are entertained in their play area. Yep, I said play area. I know, I had you at play area. They have many homemade foods on the menu including Belgium waffles. They have a kid’s menu and all kid’s menu items come with a bowl of fresh fruit. They have highchairs and the bathroom has a diaper changing station.
Dumpling Haus, located inside Hilldale Mall. This is a fun place for lunch or dinner that your kids will love. Don’t be afraid to try something out of the box with your kids, mine always surprise me at what they like (or at least try). The owners are kind and welcoming and always compliment on how cute your baby is (or at least they did mine). They serve traditional and authentic dumplings and noodle dishes (they have gluten-free noodles, too). My girls love the dessert dumplings filled with custard (custard bao) and I love the homemade honeydew green ice tea. They have highchairs and the bathroom (located in the mall, not too far away) has a diaper changing station. A blend of modern and traditional, this place is a must-try in my opinion.
Liliana’s, located at 2951 Triverton Pike Drive, Fitchburg. Named after the owner and chef’s daughter this place is a wonderful combination of good food and family friendly. Serving New Orleans cuisine the kid’s menu states “all kid’s meals are made from scratch with fresh whole ingredients”. I love this. Too may times restaurants take the time and effort to develop a unique adult menu then have a kid’s menu consisting of boxed mac and cheese and heated frozen food. Not this place. In fact I credit Liliana’s for me discovering Bianca liked raw peppers at age 2. I had no idea until they brought her some raw veggies and she gobbled them up! They have an awesome family night on Sunday’s where a meal from the kid’s menu is free (for kids 12 and under) with the purchase of an adult meal. They have highchairs and the bathroom has a diaper changing station.
Madison Sourdough located at 916 Williamson st. A cozy little cafe with mis-matched wood chairs and tables that serves a fantastic breakfast and lunch menu using local and seasonal ingredients and their fabulous bread. The kid’s menu items are served with fresh fruit. The coffee is wonderful and served in glass mugs. They have highchairs.
Roman Candle Pizzeria located at 1054 Williamson St. – Madison, 1920 Parmenter St. – Middleton, 2685 Research Park Dr – Fitchburg. A go-to place for pizza with a unique menu, organic milk boxes for kids, chocolate shoppe ice cream and both Fitchburg and Middleton locations have play areas with kid’s toy and games. Personally I feel Fitchburg is the best set up for family dinning with a huge playroom that you can literally keep eating and chatting while the kid’s play. Sometimes they even play movies on their projection screen. Kid’s can choose from pizza or pasta with side options like carrots and fresh fruit. They tote a huge list of local ingredients and now offer Gluten-Free crust available in small size pizzas (I have yet to try). I’m not sure about the Willy street location but both Fitchburg and Middleton have highchairs and a diaper changing station in the bathroom. PS. they have beer and wine (for the grown-ups)!
Ella’s Deli, located at 2902 East Washington Ave. This fun and unique place is a historic treasure in Madison. The have a very extensive menu (the dessert section is literally PAGES long). They make their delicatessen style food from scratch and offer sit down waiter service or counter service for ice cream or dessert. The decor is eclectic and animated and will keep the kids entertained. You will need to get them past the toy, trinket and candy counter but all you need to do is entice them with the outdoor carousel (open spring-fall). My girls adore the carousel, in fact Ella’s was Bianca’s first carousel ride ever. They have high chairs and diaper changing station in the bathroom.
Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace located at 2009 Atwood Ave. A fun little taco joint perfect for families. They make their food from scratch and have a fun menu (including many vegan and gluten-free options). My girls loved the kid’s quesadilla with avocado that came with fresh fruit. The guacamole is wonderful but a little spicy yet that did not deter Iyla a bit, she polished off all of mine. They have highchairs and the bathroom has a diaper changing station. They also have an extensive craft beer and tequila menu (for the grown-ups)!
Novanta located at 8452 Old Sauk rd. A fun, new place by Cafe Porta Alba offering authentic Neapolitan pizza fired in a wood stove imported all the way from Italy. The quick service location offers white and red pizza options, salad and desserts. My husband and girls loved the pizza and the garbanzo salad is my favorite. The service is so quick that I have yet to even check out the restrooms (this is shocking I know) so I cannot say if they have a diaper changing station but they did have highchairs.
Footnote: I received no compensation for this review. We paid for our meals ourselves.