(In the interest of helping Dublin, Ohio visitors find great deals on kids meals and family friendly eateries, the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau is featuring a series of guest posts by Dawn Scheurle, creator of the popular site: www.kidseatout.com: “restaurant reviews from a mom’s point of view.” This is part 1 in a 4 part series.)

There are a lot of things to consider when you are thinking of going out to eat with the kids.  And the things that are important to some, may not even be a consideration for others.  Cost, nutrition, convenience, value, alcohol (for you, not the kids!)--these are just a few.  If you have an infant or toddler, your needs are different than someone with a 10 or 12 year old.  So that being said.......

I have compiled a list 12 of the best places to take your kids out to eat in the Dublin area. (I was going to do a top 10, but cutting the list down to 12 was hard enough!)  After looking at a lot of factors, I decided to focus on those restaurants that welcome families, have at least a couple of healthy things on the menu and make our lives the easiest when we go out to eat. 

Have I been to every restaurant in the Dublin area?  No.  Do I think everyone will agree with the list?  No.  Am I making the list anyway?  Yes.  (Note: all of the restaurants on the list have high-chairs, booster seats and changing tables in the restrooms.)  Here are the first three, in no particular order....

Panera Bread.   I like places I can take the kids and not have to sacrifice my taste-buds.  Panera offers sophisticated salads, soups and sandwiches so adults can enjoy a ‘happy meal’ too!  Panera offers good, healthy food for the kids.  Okay, the mac n’ cheese isn’t all that healthy but--YUM!   All the kids' sandwiches (grilled cheese, PB&J, deli meat) are served on light-colored whole grain bread.  Organic squeezable yogurt comes on the side.  Prefer an apple? Just ask!  Seriously consider getting a fruit smoothie.  They taste wonderful and you can just grab a couple of the courtesy water cups by the soda station and split it between you and the kids!

Jason’s Deli.  Jason's Deli is a great place to take the kids.  Not only do they have great healthy options on the kids menu, but the price is the same--if not less than--fast food (including a drink)!   Their food is trans fat free and high fructose corn syrup free and their hot dogs are nitrate free.  They have many organic things on the menu too. Jason's sides for kids include things like apples, celery and peanut butter, broccoli, carrots and ranch dressing.  No fries here.  The kids get a choice of organic white or chocolate milk or apple juice.  And the soft serve, self-serve, ice cream is free for kids and adults!  Jason's offers a huge variety of food, from soups to salads, pasta to paninis, and tons of things in between--including a huge salad bar.  It's a bit overwhelming so you may want to go on-line and look at their menu before you go, so you can figure out what to order!

CosiWith its high ceilings and cement floors it is fine to bring the kids to Cosi, as it is already on the loud side. Sandwiches and flatbreads are the dominant offerings, all cooked in an open-flame stone oven. Also offered are pizzas, soups and bagels.. The kids menu has a choice of 5 sandwiches or a flatbread pizza. The sides and drinks have a lot going for them, too. Baby carrots, fresh fruit or potato chips come with the kids' meal; even the chips are a decent pick because they're cooked in unsaturated oil. Kids have a choice of soda, a small apple-juice box, or a cup of plain whole or skim milk. The milk even comes with a straw that makes it taste like cookies and cream.

So ... those are the first three restaurants on my list.  Remember, I have nine more to go--so don't panic yet if your family's favorite wasn't mentioned!  Give these great places a try if you haven't already.  I would love to know what you think!   Happy dining out until next time............ :)

-Guest post by Dawn Scheurle, creator of www.kidseatout.com