Our Staff Shares: Favorite Family-Friendly Restaurants

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“Where do you eat with your kids?” We posed this question to our staff whose children range in age from young toddlers to college age. “Taking a kid out is always tough!” says Senior VP of Publishing Rory Gillis. “I think my kid is pretty well behaved for a 1-and-a-half-year-old, but she likes to talk loudly, drop food, giggle and repeat the same word over and over and over.”

So, where can Rory’s daughter, Rowan, be her chatty self while Mom and Dad, Devin, enjoy a nice meal, too? On the flip side, where is it cool in our community for older kids to dine with their folks?

The parents – and grandparents! – of Chapel Hill Magazine, Durham Magazine and Chatham Magazine have some insights.


Carrboro and Durham

“Oh man. I know everyone will say this, but Elmo’s is so great for kids. We go there for emergency pancakes or when we just don’t want to make dinner. My boys, Eli, 6, and James, 2, share a large order of sweet potato or pumpkin pancakes, and each get a side order of turkey sausage … which they dip in the whipped cream that comes with the pancakes, because kids are weird.” – Briana Brough, Chief Visual Officer and Director of Photography

Cayden, 8, and Miles, 2, like the pancakes, sausage and spaghetti.” – Kevin Brown, Creative Director

Kevin Brown’s son Miles at Elmo’s in Durham, before getting his hands on some pancakes. Photo by Kevin Brown


from Cayden & Miles Brown

NOSH’s pizza

Picnic’s mac-and-cheese, grilled cheese and barbecue

The Little Dipper’s fondue

True Flavors Diner + Catering’s mac-and-cheese and fruit

Lucky’s Delicatessen’s hot dog

Parker and Otis’ grilled cheese and fruit



Carrboro and Durham

“There’s something on the menu for our whole family – even our picky eaters. My kids – Trevor, 19, Ole, 13, Emily, 11, Sophie, 10 – love Tyler’s sweet potato fries!”
Heather Johnson, Chatham Magazine Associate Publisher

Briana Brough’s sons James Ferrell, 2, and Eli Ferrell, 6, enjoying some Locopops at NanaTaco. Photo by Briana Brough



“NanaTaco and The Original Q Shack are our favorite lunch spots with Rowan. Rowan will eat anything on the menu! And, they serve enough food that you can share your plate without having to get her a plate of her own.” – Rory

“We also love NanaTaco. They’re incredibly kid-friendly, and Mama can get a margarita with her tacos. My older son loves their chili-rubbed pork butt taco (with guacamole and nothing else!) and my youngest devours their rice and black beans (and usually ends up wearing them, too). I usually give in and get them each a Locopop at the end, which buys me five minutes to finish my meal in peace.” – Briana


Chapel Hill

“My son, Jack, is only 18, but he has a full, luxurious beard that makes him appear older. He likes to head to Franklin Street with us and try to pass himself off as a college student bumming a free meal off his parents. That way, he’s not embarrassed to be seen with us. We hit up Buns for the burgers, but they are really just an excuse to order the cheese fries. The grilled cheese with bacon is also a hit.” – Christy Wright, Graphic Designer



“My kids beg to go there for a special treat, and the staff is always so patient letting them try a few flavors before deciding.” – Briana



“When we go to Angelina’s Kitchen, Angelina knows what my kids will and should eat. She feeds them fresh chicken bites, hummus (made in-house) with Screech Owl Greenhouse’s cucumbers, pita points and Chatham County blueberries!” – Heather


Carrboro and Chapel Hill

“These restaurants have proven to be kid-friendly restaurants. The staff members have always been friendly, accommodating and fun when I take my grandkids out for dinner. Some have gone so far as to learn each of the kids’ names and their favorites!” – Amy Bell, Business Manager

Rory Gillis’ daughter Rowan, 2, and husband, Devin, relaxing on the outdoor seating area at Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Restaurant. Photo by Rory Gillis



“Guglhupf and Scratch are our favorite Durham brunch spots. It is loud enough that no one minds Rowan’s loud talking, and there is outdoor seating so she can run around when she is restless, and there are plenty of food options that she loves! We always order an eggs Benedict, farmer’s omelette and pancakes on the weekend and share. At Scratch, Rowan will eat a full adult order of cheesy grits till the very last spoonful!” – Rory

Kem Johnson’s daughter, Tessa, 23, munching on a salad from Saladelia. Photo by Kem Johnson


Durham and Chapel Hill

“I think older kids are into healthy dishes. We dine with our daughter, Tessa, 23, at Saladelia and Jujube, two of her favorites.” – Kem Johnson, Senior Account Executive



“Ponysaurus is the perfect place to grab a beer and hang with other parents.” – Rory



“There are nice big tables so my kids can spread out. We always run into our neighbors, and inevitably somebody slips the kids a few quarters to play the Claw Toy Grabber machine! For food, my kids like the Mickey Mouse pancakes complete with M&M faces.”   – Heather

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Laura Zolman Kirk

Associate Editor Laura Zolman Kirk is a Kentuckian turned Chapel Hillian and totally in love with this special slice of North Carolina.
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