St. Valentine’s Day has traditionally been the preserve of star-crossed lovers, and many restaurants fall into the routine of offering a set menu aimed at young couples rather than at families with children. In more recent times, the day is a celebration of love in all its forms, and many families like to go for dinner together. But where to go? Here at the Awesome Mitten, we have compiled a list of the best family-oriented restaurants where you can celebrate this special day together.
Six locations across Southwest Michigan
With six locations in Rockford, East Alaska, Norton Shores, Plainwell, Gun Lake, and Coopersville, Sam’s Joint offers the best barbecue ribs (as voted by readers of Grand Rapids Magazine), as well as all of the favorite dinners that you and your kids will enjoy in a warm and inviting setting. They can cater for parties of any size, “from 2 to 200,” for lunch or dinner. If you love their ribs and famous sauce (and I am sure you will!), you can pick some up at your favorite local grocer to take home.
Lafayette Coney Island
118 W Lafayette Blvd
Is there a kid in Michigan that doesn’t like chili dogs? If there is, I have yet to meet them. Coney Island restaurants are in the best Michigan tradition of casual, eclectic and delicious eating. The Lafayette Coney Island in the Greektown neighborhood of Detroit is the best example of the type – 272 positive reviews on Yelp, including comments like “Best chili dogs on the planet!!!” are a testament to this. Anyone with a family of any size knows how a dinner bill can quickly mount up – if you are on a budget, you simply can’t beat Coney Island pricing, with no compromise on the quality of the food.
18935 15 1/2 Mile Rd
It’s hard to live in Michigan’s Calhoun County without knowing about knowing about Cornwell’s Turkeyville. This is a one-of-a-kind experience involving a restaurant, gift shop, dinner theater, ice cream parlor and campground. The Cornwell’s started a turkey farm in 1943 when an attempt at cattle farming failed. The success of a foray into sandwich-making in the 1960s at a local fair led to what is now the restaurant, and the rest, as they say, is history. The ice cream parlor soon followed, and the popular dinner theater opened in 1987. The selection of turkey sandwiches and dinners caters for palettes young and old, and there is plenty of ice cream and home-style baking to reward the young ones for eating their vegetables.
Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant
54 Huron St
For our Upper Peninsula readers, may we recommend Suomi? But don’t take our word for it – 292 people have given it a 93% positive rating on UrbanSpoon, especially for its pasties and kid-friendly environment. It is primarily a breakfast and lunch place, but this will certainly suit those families with younger kids. Just remember to bring cash – in common with many small, family-run businesses, they don’t take credit cards, allowing them to keep their prices within the reach of families on a budget.
181 East Columbia
Readers of the Battle Creek Enquirer voted Captain Luey’s calabash seafood restaurant as the top eatery in town, and for good reason. The Captain takes his seafood seriously, offering shrimp, scallops, oysters, catfish, flounder, walleye, and lake perch in addition to the standard cod. All are coated in calabash-style salt and pepper breading for a seafood experience out of the ordinary, but with a finger-food delivery suited to kids young and old. For non-seafood fans, there are chicken dishes and plenty of sides and appies on their extensive menu. Everything is available for eat-in or take-out, at prices that won’t break the bank.
If you want to take your family out for a St. Valentine’s Day dinner without running into crowded restaurants with set menus and rose-sellers, these are the pick of the bunch. Know of any more? Add them to the comments below – and Happy St. Valentine’s Day!
Anthony Rodgers – Feature Writer