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Going out to eat with little kids can be a challenge; from making sure you have enough snacks/entertainment/bribes to keep them sitting happily for at least an hour (the duration of the meal is a stretch, am I right?), to constantly moving forks/knives/water glasses out of their ever-expanding reach, to trying your best to keep their food and their mess contained and not spread all over the floor.

Oh and somewhere in all of that you actually have to try and eat and maybe, just maybe, engage in a little conversation with your spouse.

When we do go out to eat with kids it seems we’re limited with our restaurant choices.  The most “kid friendly” places (the places that serve you quickly, serve foods kids like to eat, and are noisy enough to hide the shrieks coming from your table) tend to be of the pizza or burgers and fries variety, which aren’t bad by any means – but hey, sometimes you want a nice meal in a nice place where the food takes a bit more than five or ten minutes to be served to you.

When you hear “kid friendly” dining I can almost guarantee that Southpark isn’t the first place to pop into your mind (or the second…or maybe even the fifth) but it’s full of restaurants that offer outdoor dining, usually adjacent to a fountain or garden, which is the best way to enjoy a Carolina summer night.  Aside from the Cheesecake Factory at the mall, there’s Chuy’s, a new place located next to the Cowfish that serves up delicious, fresh, authentic Mexican food.  Inside is bright and colorful with lots going on to keep the kiddos entertained, and the outdoor area is big, with plenty of room to let your little ones roam without bugging other dinner guests.  There’s a great kids menu, they’re not stingy with the crayons, and they even have tortilla dough for your kids to mold and play with.  After dinner, be sure to head over to Pinkberry at Phillip’s Place for a little dessert before making it home in time for bedtime.