Reno’s top 5 kid-friendly restaurants

Where to whine and dine without getting dirty looks

Kaylee and Patrick Borden's children Evan, 4, and Brandie, 2, are brought a basket of toys to play with at Squeeze In.

Kaylee and Patrick Borden's children Evan, 4, and Brandie, 2, are brought a basket of toys to play with at Squeeze In.

Photo By amy beck

The Simpsons had Krusty Burger—fully equipped with a grinning clown, greasy burgers, and a pimply-faced teen dishing out the fries. Luckily for families of Reno, there are far better options when it comes to taking the kids out to eat.

While in comparison to Springfield, our little city could be considered spoiled with its fairly large selection of not only kid-friendly, but also locally owned spots to dine. Here, we’ve narrowed the choices down to our top five picks.

Squeeze In (5020 Las Brisas Blvd., 787-2700, has been in Reno since 2008, after establishing its original roots in 1974 in Truckee. A third location opened at 25 Foothill Blvd. in South Reno last week. The family-owned establishment is best known for its enormous omelets (although the pitchers of mimosas are a close second). It’s also about the only place in town where it’s OK to let your kid scribble away on the walls, and the giant green alien cut-out at the front door makes a pretty cool greeting for a 10-year-old. As for the toddler at the table, the servers are happy to hand out some entertainment from the buckets of toys kept on hand. When it comes to food, the children’s menu includes such goodies as the Teddy Bear Pancake, a bear-shaped pancake with a fruit-made smile, and PB&J Olivia Style, a self-explanatory sandwich served with fries, chips, cottage cheese or fruit. Did we mention the highchairs are fully functional?

The original game plan at popular sports bar Bully’s (Various locations, 825-4333, may have been to focus on its big screen TVs and assortment of beer on tap, but according to owner Jo Sonner, as her own family changed, so did the business plan.

“When we started Bully’s 17-years ago, we had a young child,” she says. “As she grew, we realized that adults like to go out and have some place for their kids to be entertained. We wanted to make this a place where parents and kids can both come and have a good time.”

They’ve since accomplished this goal by featuring a full arcade, which kids get five free tokens for upon seating, along with a kid’s menu that doubles as a coloring sheet and word search. The sports bar factor even ended up working to the family-friendly diner’s advantage. Bully’s receives many post-little league parties, which they’re happy to accommodate.

“We’re located in neighborhoods, so we’ve always tried to support the schools and teams in the area,” Sonner says.

Pizza joints by nature are kid friendly. But combining pirates and pizza—two things kid love—is genius. That is exactly what Pirates Pizza (180 W. Peckham Lane, 828-0900, did. While the red and white-checkered tablecloths make you feel right at home, the nautical décor and life-size pirate figurine take you out to sea. Coloring paper is available, but the most exciting entertainment a kid can get is a visit from Captain Jack Sparrow himself—a la Pirates of the Caribbean. “He comes in occasionally and does tricks for the kids,” server Rose Israel says. “[The actor] dresses in full costume and goes table to table entertaining the kids.” And if a kid is really good and eats his whole slice of pizza, he may just find himself with a free scoop of ice cream.

Isabella Hartman, 2, plays with a 49ers bear at Squeeze In.

Photo By amy beck

One of the first places that comes to many local minds when hearing the words “kid-friendly,” is Pinocchio’s (4820 Vista Blvd., Sparks, 626-0101, Family-owned and operated for 14 years, the primarily Italian bar and grill—whose Reno location on Moana Lane is moving to a larger space on 5995 S. Virginia St. in about a week—is famous for its eclectic assortment of paraphernalia covering pretty much everything in the restaurant.

“Kids love it because they play ‘I Spy’ with all the décor,” says Mallory Pinocchio, the owners’ daughter. The bowl of tootsie rolls available for young sweet tooths doesn’t hurt, either.

Murrieta’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina (Various locations, rings in as the fifth and final kid-friendly hot spot. It’s “Niños Menu” features not only traditional items such as cheese quesadillas and enchiladas, but also mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets for pickier eaters. One of the popular aspects of the kid’s menu, the fruit smoothies, is appealing to both the kids and adults at the table.

“I like that they have smoothies so our boys don’t ask [my wife and me] for a taste of ours!” customer Arnold Lemore says, referring to his salted margarita at the table.

When it comes to local, kid-friendly establishments, what Reno lacks in greasy spoon Krusty Burgers, it makes up for in authentic, quality restaurants. And after all, Jack Sparrow could take out Krusty the Clown any day.