Noodles & Company Giveaway!

by Sally on April 26, 2011

One thing Sam will reliably eat, no trickery necessary: The macaroni and cheese at Noodles & Company. Lucky for us, Noodles (as it’s known around our house) is pretty much the only family restaurant that fits our current criteria of quick, inexpensive, and loud enough to cover any kid-related outbursts.

There’s a lot I like about the food too. I like that everything’s made to order, that you can add lean protein to any dish, and that I can order a dish of steamed broccoli on the side for the kids. They also have a great online nutrition guide, so you can make good choices if you’re watching your calories, sodium, or even avoiding gluten.

So that’s why I’m doing my first-ever giveaway. Noodles & Company recently invited us for a special tasting of their “Grown-Up” Mac & Cheeses (while Sam wouldn’t venture beyond their standard Wisconsin Mac, Henry liked the Bacon Mac & Cheeseburger, and I was partial to the Truffle Mac with Baby Portabellas). These Grown-Up Macs are only around another week, but Noodles & Company is giving one reader four coupons for free noodle bowls that can be used anytime this year.

To enter, leave a comment sharing your favorite kid-friendly restaurant and your best tip for either a) keeping your kids in their seats or b) ordering a meal for your children that doesn’t involve hot dogs or chicken nuggets.

The giveaway will run until Monday, May 2nd at 10pm EST. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email, then have 72 hours to respond with a mailing address.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa April 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Well, lately I really love Zupas because of their options & prices. I just have a little guy who is just now starting to need to be entertained while out to eat at restaurants, but I’d say the way we keep him happy is by giving him little bread bites that he can nibble on at his leisure. :)

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Megan Croy April 27, 2011 at 9:16 am

Noodles is one of my favorites as well, although I’ve also taken to El vaquero. I can get away with not ordering french fries and know that there isn’t citric acid (which my son is allergic to) in the food.

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Phil R April 27, 2011 at 9:32 am

We play the “would you rather” game at dinner sometimes. Most of the time its with potential occupations. And we take turns between the boys. “Would you rather be an architect or an archeologist?” “Architect.” “Would you rather be an architect or a construction worker?” “Construction Worker.”

Surprisingly, “cowboy” doesn’t always win out.

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Gretchen P April 27, 2011 at 10:13 am

We so rarely go out to eat that it’s always a hit with my kids. A recent good experience was a Bravo Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh: they gave the kids some play pizza dough to play with as we waited and they served my daughter some mac and cheese tasty and pretty enough to make all the adults at the table jealous!

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Andrew Oswalt April 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

Maybe I should be embarrassed by this but we like Taco Bell when we are on the road for a few reasons. First, they will make anything to order so we get Finley a burrito with no sauce, onions or cheese because of his aversion to spiciness and his milk allergy. Secondly, it is food that invites being eaten without silverware. And thirdly, when it comes to the noise/lack of decorum factor, no one in Taco Bell will accuse us of being the only hillbillies in the place!

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Janelle Tucker April 27, 2011 at 11:07 am

One of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants is Panera because it’s quick and for some strange reason my two youngest LOVE soup. When we visit a sit-down restaurant I always bring along our travel-sized Trouble (and to clarify, I mean the game, not my three boys). It always keeps them entertained through the wait and at the end of the meal when we’re waiting for our check.
I love the idea of trying Noodles with our boys – thanks for that suggestion Sally!

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MIchelle Montgomery April 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Our favorite go-to’s here in Clintonville are Noodles & NorthStar cafe! Both serve great food for the family and both offer chopsticks- which are my trick for keeping everyone engaged and seated while eating their dinner! They love the challenge of stuffing their faces with those little wooden sticks……

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Shannon Miller Sheridan April 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm

We don’t really have a favorite kid-friendly restaurant, but we like to take our kids out for thai food. Portions are huge, usually inexpensive, and the food is usually ready very quickly. Our kids love pad thai and pad see ew and chicken satay. They also enjoy trying to use chopsticks. And it’s a good way to keep them in their seats. So is the death look. One thing I always do at restaurants is only allow the kids to order drinks other than water after they have started eating. I think my kids were competing for a spot in the Guinness Book for fastest chocolate milk drinker. And after a few uneaten meals, I decided the competition was over.

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Christy H April 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Our go-to is always Noodles. For all of the reasons you stated. We also like Pho (Lane Ave. Chinese) and Pei Wei because the little guy loves his tofu.

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Kate Kelley April 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

We love Mad Mex! We loved it as dinks because they have excellent Tex-Mex, an impressive beer list, beautiful/bizarre artwork by local favorites, and great Muzak. We were surprised that we could also love it as bedraggled parents of two loud fussy eaters (ages 2.5 and 4.5). They have the best kids menu with many fabulous choices other than mac/cheese and chicken nuggets (although they have those, too). As soon as we are seated, the kids are served (each their own) appetizers of carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing, and, to be honest, if they eat that I am happy. But usually they eat that and part or most of a quesadilla or taco with sides of rice and veggies. Plus tiny brownie sundaes for dessert. The kids food is actually quite good. I sometimes just order guacamole (which is excellent) and eat it with the quesadilla half I end up eating from my 4.5 year old’s plate. Meanwhile, my husband gets to order something spicy hot and the kids don’t pester him for it. The wait staff is always young and hip and good with kids, even if it means showing (and explaining) their tattoos and piercings.They are also usually good about not mentioning the free desserts or chocolate milk without subtly asking the parents first. The only trick I had to discover was not ordering the chips and salsa up front. That usually derails the entrees. I order it as a side to come with my meal and specify just “on the side” and not a basket.”

As for keeping the kids in their seats, we engage in who-can-eat-more eating contests with the carrots and celery. The first time we went with both kids, they were offered these etch-a-sketch wannabe toys which were promptly and firmly rejected in favor of Ryan’s eating contest idea. (Which was no small miracle. Nobody would ever eat that at home!)

And lastly, because one of my 2.5 year old is into the unsolicited brain-splitting squeal-scream, the noise and somewhat ruckus atmosphere of Mad Mex covers a variety of outbursts, both happy and sad. The last time we went, we sat in the outdoor bar area (smoking prohibited), and it was so relaxing that we both commented that it felt like we were at the beach (instead of Cranberry Twp.)

Mad Mex is local, though. On the road (and sadly for too many playdate lunches) we go to Chik-Fil-A. Clean tables, bathrooms, and play area. Friendly, helpful staff. And good food options. The kids get big fruit bowls, mom gets a big bowl of soup and dad can have an excuse (although flimsy) to eat fried fastfood. Last time I was there for a playdate, we splurged on a fabulous banana pudding milkshake and four of us shared it. Two bites of that is enough for anyone.

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Lauren Massie April 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Hi Sally! We always try to go places where kids eat for free-for the budget and for the noise! Lately, we’ve visited Old Bag of Nails on Sundays every now and then since kids eat for free and they have a pretty healthy variety. We bring lots of stickers and a mini coloring book to keep Ella busy.

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Adrielle April 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

We like Aladdin’s on N High. The kids like grilled chicken and fruit, and they have good milkshakes for them, too, honey and strawberry or chocolate with banana. I wish I had a suggestion for keeping the kids entertained, but unfortunately, at Aladdin’s we let them out of their seats to play with the old-fashioned phone booth. They pretend it’s an elevator. The table does remain very quiet, though, since the kids aren’t sitting there! :)

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Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) April 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

We often dine with our daughter at lunch time instead of dinner. The meals are often cheaper, wait staff is used to moving more quickly, and she is in a better mood.

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Claire April 28, 2011 at 12:08 am

I like dennys. The kids menu (breakfast) is so cute with the smiley face pancakes lol. I give them the coloring pages and try to have conversations with them, really engage them, and they stay in their seats :)

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Ginny O April 28, 2011 at 7:59 am

My new favorite place to take the kids is Jason’s Deli, down in the new Grandview Yard, off of Goodale. It is a large, very informal place. They also use many organic ingredients and have a larger kid’s menu than many places (turkey & cheese sand., pasta & meatballs, kid’s baked potato, as well as the usual mac-n-cheese and pizza).
But BEST OF ALL they have FREE soft serve ice cream to complete the adventure. “You want ice cream, kid?” THAT is my technique for keeping the kids in their seats!

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Carrie Grome April 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

Our favorite spot is NorthStar cafe. James & I typically split a veggie burger & homemade ginger ale. The acoustics in there lend themselves to kid friendly dining & he usually brings a bag of goodies to play with so that I can enjoy one of their awesome magazines :-)

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Julene Vrieze May 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

We have recently found that our kids love Chipotle, and one of their restaurants near us had added kid’s meals. I don’t know if this is common in other areas, but it was the first time we’d seen them near us. The kids get some choice as to what goes on their quesadilla or taco and since it’s fast, there’s not as much time to worry about keeping them in their seats!

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Sally May 3, 2011 at 7:52 am

Congrats to Andrew Oswalt! Random.org chose comment #5 as the winner of my giveaway. Thanks to everyone for leaving such great suggestions and comments. Now I have a bunch of new places to try and new tricks to try (like sticker books and who-can-eat-more-carrots contest!).

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