Admit it—going out to eat tastes better when you don’t have to pay for the kids’ meals. Don’t be shy, you can say that you’ve driven out of your way, or eaten at a restaurant you would’ve been happy to skip, just to save a few bucks on dinner. Taking advantage of kids-eat-free opportunities makes complete sense when the chances are high that your kids might only eat half of their meal anyway.
North County San Diego has lots of activities for families. Carlsbad has Legoland, Escondido has Safari Park. And there’s the little known indoor playgrounds like Playwerx, Kidsville, and Pariland. So, how’s a family supposed to save money? By eating at restaurants that don’t charge for feeding your kids. It’s almost like going to grandma’s.
Here are some restaurants in Carlsbad, Oceanside and Carmel Valley where we’ve scored free kids meals in the past or at least called them to make sure the offer is good. Note: All of the kids eat free offers mentioned below are available with the purchase of an adult meal.
Tin Leaf Fresh Kitchen | Located in the mall behind the La Costa Cineopolis, this is my favorite lunch spot for grabbing a fantastic salad. They also happen to create healthy and delicious comfort food including entrees with salmon, tri tip steak, meat loaf and more. Friendly service, outdoor patio seating, benches with pillows and yummy french fries. Yes, they also have a few craft beers, wine and irresistible desserts. Picture above was taken at Tin Leaf. Tip: Kids eat free on Sundays 4pm-close. 1 free little chef’s meal with each adult entree purchase (10 & under). Dine in only.
Luna Grill | Our go-to place when we’re on a diet. Terrific Mediterranean food including kabobs, greek salads, and wraps. They also service beer and wine and cupcakes — even mini cupcakes for the kiddos. We go to the Carlsbad location with friends where you can reserve the big table in the back. Tip: Kids 10 and under eat free in Carlsbad on Sunday 4pm-close and on Tuesdays at Carmel Valley 4pm-close.
Denny’s | The easy American food best eaten on road trips and Grand Slam birthdays. Tip: Kids 10 and under eat free Tuesday and Saturday between 4pm and 10pm in Carlsbad in the Village. Two kids can get a free meal with one paying adult meal. There are lots of locations so call ahead to see if the Denny’s nearest you offers a similar deal.
Al’s Cafe in the Village | This down-home diner is very family-friendly. Kids can eat for free (off the kids menu) every day, all day as long as a grown up is paying for their meal. Not too shabby, eh? I’ve been known to go in there for breakfast and stay a while since they also have free Wi-Fi. I’m a sucker for their Hawaiian-style Loco Moco.
Monday: Al’s Cafe in the Village
Tuesday: Luna Grill (Carmel Valley), Denny’s (Carlsbad), Al’s Cafe in the Village
Wednesday: Al’s Cafe in the Village
Thursday: Al’s Cafe in the Village
Friday: Al’s Cafe in the Village
Saturday: Denny’s, Al’s Cafe in the Village
Sunday: Tin Leaf Kitchen, Luna Grill (Carlsbad), Al’s Cafe in the Village
If you have a tip for where kids can eat free in North County – please tell us in the comments. I’ll consider going and adding it to my personal list. Thanks!