Here's a list of the top 10 child-friendly restaurant chains in the U.S., as of 2011. With colored menus and friendly staff, these are the restaurants that parents most enjoy going to.


IHOP, better known as the International House of Pancakes, was founded in 1958 by Jerry Lapin, Al Lapin and Albert Kallis, with the help of Sherwood Rosenberg and William Kaye, in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, California.

It is owned by DineEquity, with 99 per cent of the restaurants run by independent franchisees. The chain has more than 1,500 restaurants across all 50 states, as well as Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

While IHOP's focus is on breakfast foods such as pancakes, French toast and omelettes, it also offers a menu of lunch and dinner items.

Chipotle Mexican Grill

This is a chain of restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada that specializes in burritos and tacos. Founded by Steve Ells in 1993 and based in Denver, Colorado, the name is derived from chipotle, the Mexican-Spanish name for a smoked, dried jalapeño chili pepper.

The company, which is known for its large burritos, assembly line production and use of natural ingredients, is, currently, at more than 1,000 locations.

Panera Bread

Also known as the St. Louis Bread Company in the St. Louis metropolitan area, this is a chain of bakery or café-style quick and casual restaurants in the U.S. and Canada that sells breads, sandwiches, soups, salads and other bakery items. The headquarters are in Sunset Hills, Missouri, which is a suburb of St. Louis.

The company, which was founded by Ken Rosenthal, was purchased by Au Bon Pain Co. in 1993. Panera is also the largest provider of free Wi-Fi in the U.S. and their service includes SonicWALL Internet filtering, which queries a central database before blocking or allowing access by category.

Claim Jumper

The Claim Jumper chain of restaurants is headquartered in Irvine, California and found at 45 locations in Arizona, California, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin and Oregon. Craig Nickoloff opened the first Claim Jumper Restaurant in Los Alamitos, California in 1977.

Claim Jumper restaurants are usually known for the level of detail in their atmosphere. The restaurants feature a California gold rush theme. The newer locations, however, have not included the numerous artifacts of the period; something that is found throughout the original stores.


Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes are the two names given to the same buffet-style chain of restaurants. The first of the Souplantations opened on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego in 1978 and now the restaurants include an extensive salad bar, several soups, pastas, breads, pizza and muffins.

There are also various fountain drinks, a fruit and dessert counter and an ice cream machine. All restaurants operate on an all-you-can-eat basis. The restaurants were the brainchild of Dennis Jay, who was a bartender at the Bull & Bear in El Cajon.


Ruby's Diner restaurant chain reproduces the look and feel of the classic American Diner. Bright red vinyl booths, white Formica tables, soda fountains, milkshakes, burgers, antique Coca-Cola posters and commercial art echo the Swing Era of the 1940's. The Ruby's AeroDiner in Laguna Hills (located near the former El Toro Marine Air Base) features a collection of miniature World War II aircraft that actually fly through the restaurant on a track.

Ruby's Diner serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the menu includes classic American Diner fare like hamburgers, French fries, chili and shakes along with soups, salads and sandwiches. The diner now has 48 family-friendly locations in Southern California, Pennsylvania, Washington and Hawaii along with airport locations in Newark, Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Dave & Buster's

Dave & Buster's is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Each D&B has a full-service restaurant and a video arcade. The company, as of July 1, 2009, had 57 locations across the United States and two in Canada.

The selection of food includes pastas, burgers, steaks, seafood, chicken and desserts. The menu is updated to reflect current trends and guest favorites. Some locations serve Sunday brunch and buffets are available for special events and private parties.

Dave & Buster's locations offer traditional entertainment options including pocket billiards, shuffleboard tables, a Show Room or other special event rooms; which are designed for hosting social parties or business gatherings.


Cosi primarily offers gourmet sandwiches and salads. Founded in 1996, the company currently boasts over 144 locations in continental United States and the UAE. The original Così restaurant was based on a cafe in Paris, France. They are also well known for serving s'mores as dessert.

The name comes from the opera Così fan tutte, which was a favorite of the original owner.

Red Robin

Founded in 1969 in Seattle, Washington, and now headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado, the Red Robin is known for its famous Bottomless Steak Fries.

In 2000, the company celebrated the opening of its 150th restaurant. As of November 2008, there are at over 400 locations across the United States and 20 in Canada.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel is the combination of a retail store and a restaurant. As of May 2011, the company, founded in 1969 and based in Lebanon, Tennessee, was operating 588 full-service locations located in 42 states in the United States.

The Cracker Barrel chain is Southern-themed and serves traditional Southern comfort food. Their outlets have conventionally been located along interstate highways, though the company policy on this appears to be changing. In 2009, Cracker Barrel was ranked as the top family dining chain for the 19th consecutive year, in Restaurants & Institutions magazine Choice in Chains annual consumer survey.