Weekly Family Dining Review: We're looking for places that are kid friendly, have good prices and healthy menus. Here is the rundown on our IHOP experience:
When I mentioned we were going to IHOP for dinner, the kids thought we were going to some sort of bunny-themed restaurant. We had a long discussion about acronyms and eventually they got that we were talking International House of Pancakes, not hopscotch or Thumper.
Good old stand-by favorite of kids everywhere.
Sticking with the budget-friendly theme of our past several family restaurant excursions, I chose IHOP because most of the franchises have Kids Eat Free specials several nights each week.
Sure enough, we found one that offered one free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entrée.
As soon as we were seated, our server swooped in with the colorable kids menus and crayon packets (bless those), and we were soon filling in the crossword puzzles and creating the first-ever hot pink and baby blue space shuttle while perusing the menu options.
IHOP's Just for Kids menu includes many of the usual suspects like grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken strips, macaroni and cheese and cheeseburgers. But there also are some not-so-usual choices for kids craving breakfast for dinner or healthier alternatives.
There's the signature Rooty Jr., which includes a scrambled egg, bacon, sausage and a fruit-topped buttermilk pancake with whipped topping. There's also the cheese omelet, silver-dollar pancakes, a fresh fruit dish, a create-a-face pancake and the Jr. Fish entrée. Most meals include a fresh fruit side dish.
Both kids chose chicken strips with a fresh fruit dish. I went with strawberry-and-banana topped pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns. And then, of course, we shared.
The pancakes were up to their usual IHOP standard of tastiness, and the kids polished off the fruit and crispy chicken strips in no time -- a sure sign that they were well-received.
I'd like to point out how much I appreciate restaurants like IHOP that serve the kids' drinks in cups with lids and straws. Those always make for a meal with a lot less cringing and "watch-your-drink" reminders from Mom.
After finishing, we walked out with full tummies and a wallet lighter by less than $20, including the tip. The good food, inexpensive price and easy-going family atmosphere left me with an extra hop in my step. Maybe the kids were right about the name after all.
Contact your local franchise for information about ongoing specials like the Kids Eat Free Ppromotion. For information about locations, hours and more visit www.ihop.com.