Cracker Barrel was one of the restaurants I singled out early on as “kid-friendly.” I’ve been lucky enough to work from home, so I often have the opportunity to go out to lunch with my parents – and Cracker Barrel is one of our most frequent visits.
Cracker Barrel has their own wooden high chairs and booster seats. Unlike the high chairs found in most other restaurants, these have backs. The belts appear to be leather. My biggest concern with the high chairs is that, though they’re really sturdy, they tend to get really dirty. I always wipe down restaurant high chairs and belts with baby wipes, but the leather belts are not easily cleaned in this manner. The sanitary high chair cover I bought from Target does not fit on this type of high chair, because it is open in front. If your child likes to put the belt in his mouth, this could be a problem. But once he’s out of that belt-eating stage, the high chairs are some of the better ones around.
The kids menu at Cracker Barrel is among the healthiest you’ll find in any national chain restaurant. Grilled chicken tenderloins are a very healthy option, especially if they’re paired with a country vegetable (Cracker Barrel’s term for side order) that isn’t french fries. Kids can also choose from chicken and dumplings, country fried shrimp, macaroni and cheese, a hamburger, grilled cheese, two pancakes, or one egg with toast. Another option is the kids country vegetable plate, which comes with any two of the following sides: whole kernel corn, country green beans, sweet whole baby carrots, fried apples, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, pinto beans, dumplings, turnip greens, cole slaw, french fries, mashed potatoes, breaded fried okra, hashbrown casserole, or the vegetable of the day. The french fries are actually thick cut steak fries, containing far more actual potato than most restaurant fries. Milk or juice is available to drink in a kid-friendly plastic cup with straw and lid. It’s not completely spill-proof, but it’s far less messy than an uncovered cup.
The grilled chicken tenderloins aren’t boring grown up food here; they are marinated before being grilled, and have a tasty sweet flavor to them. I like to order the grown up grilled chicken tenderloin platter for myself, with mashed potatoes and corn, so I can personally attest to the tastiness.
Most of the servers we’ve encountered have been very friendly and helpful. Kids get crayons to draw with on their own paper kids menu. When you order your meal, if the server doesn’t ask you first, you can request biscuits and cornbread to be served before the rest of your meal. They come with butter and different types of jelly. My son likes to take a whole cornbread muffin and stick his finger in the middle of it before eating it. It generally keeps him occupied for most of the wait to get our meals. When biscuits and cornbread aren’t cutting it with the little ones, most servers are more than happy to bring out a package or crackers or two. Some even bring them without being asked. It makes my son feel special.
And Everything Else
If all else fails, Cracker Barrel has a Country Store. If you aren’t seated immediately, or if the kids are getting squirmy, you can take a look around at the toys and other items for sale in the Country Store. But be careful – many of their decorations are fragile, and within easy reach of curious fingers.
My kid-friendly restaurant reviews are accurate as far as the restaurants in my local area are concerned. I would hope that the restaurant chains would be more or less consistent in their policies and service, but please be aware that your local restaurant manager may run things differently.