14 September 2011

Rare Find: The Family-Friendly Beer Restaurant

As a beer geek and toddler father, I am constantly on the lookout for the holy grail: the family friendly beer restaurant.  I'm sure I'm not alone in the progression from swill-drinking college student to born-again craft beer drinker to parent.  It's an unfortunate fact that many of the best beer bars and restaurants in Indianapolis are, at best, not-exactly-kid-friendly, or worse (and more common), strictly 21+. Where are a father and daughter to enjoy a dinner out where Daddy gets to have a great beer?!

Love it or hate it, Barley Island's Broad Ripple location fit the bill pretty well: good food, kid's menu (mini corn dogs!) and a choice selection of beer that included a monthly set of taps for a guest brewery.  They were even friendly enough to let my kid run around the family seating area when she got tired of sitting in a high chair.  Too bad nobody else seemed to agree with me about Barley Island and they went under several months back!  Their absence opened up a new search for me and what follows is a couple of new options I've found in the near-north area of town.

Thr3e Wise Men (1021 Broad Ripple Ave) is an obvious alternative, but I happen to be the father of a daughter with the rarest of food afflictions: no pizzitis. I shit you not, a kid that won't touch pizza! Unfortunately, that knocks Thr3e Wise Men off our family's list, though I'm sure they're usually a great kids dining option with the addition of their house-brewed beer selections and fully stocked guest beer coolers. Scotty's Brewhouse locations are also excellent options though the northside location (3905 East 96th St) is bit far for our eating out events -- parents know you get a limited window of good child behavior when going out and it's a bad idea to waste it on the car ride -- and the downtown location (1 Virginia Ave) is a little tricky with parking and corralling the youngster on the sidewalks (not that that stops us!).

Binkley's (5902 North College Ave) is a restaurant that I've probably driven past a hundred times over the years on my way to further-flung restaurants in Broad Ripple proper. I'm not sure why I never stopped there before -- they have a wide food menu, fast and friendly service and one of the best exotic beer lists in the city. A recent trip featured a tap list that contained Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree, Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout, and Stone 15th Anniversary, all of which are pretty uncommon to see on tap. Highly recommended.

Lastly I'll mention Twenty Tap. When it was in development, I worried that they were going to open as a 21+ establishment. The space seemed to fit the mold of a small neighborhood bar where people could meet to imbibe and relax without the youngsters screaming and running around. Luckily, my fears were allayed when a tweet came from their account a week before their opening that announced "TwentyTap will be no smoking, kid-friendly and wi-fi friendly. Plus pie!" My email reaction to my brother my was short and sweet: "FUCK YEAH!" As we are all aware by now, Twenty Tap is a great addition to the College Ave dining scene. They've got a short but sweet menu, that wonderful assortment of twenty on-tap beers for the adults and they're gloriously kid-friendly.

If you're a family man or woman, what's the toddler-tantrum-friendly beer restaurant of choice in your area of town?


  1. Taking my kids out (almost 2 and 5 yrs) is such a ridiculous experience, that most of the time I feel like I am literally paying money for a painful reminder that I should leave them home and hire a baby sitter.

    I wish I could think of a place that is super toddler and kid friendly, but I think so much is sucked from my being during the experience that I can barely remember my name, let alone whether or not "the place" was worthy of a return visit. Honestly, most of the time when we go out, it's been a couple months, and we forget that it's not worth the bother! :)

  2. Good to hear 20 Tap is family friendly - I assumed it was adults only. Could have turned that Saturday trip to Rock Bottom into a trip to 20 tap. My personal standby is Patrick's in Zionsville - Only 5 taps but all are craft,with 3 generally devoted to Indiana beer.

  3. Shallo's on the southside is kid friendly and we had a good time at Red Lion Grog House in Fountain Square with our 2 & 5-year old girls in tow.

  4. Aristocrat Pub (which is closed because of a fire, but will be re-opening) is very kid friendly. We had 32 beers on tap and may go up to 50 with the re-open. We are debating how many is too many. Sprecher Rootbeer on tap makes the best Rootbeer floats :)

  5. I've been to the Ram in Fishers -and the Broad Ripple Brewpub - when we've met friends with kids. Both work out quite nicely. I think Three Wise Men could be tricky because of the seating arrangment (benches / communal tables, not many obvious spots for high chairs)

  6. Patricks Kitchen & Drinks in zionsville. great food. kid friendly. nice beer selection and usually has at least 2 DIPA on tap. stron gupport for the local brewers

  7. Great article. Its a cool movement that is happening in Broad Ripple to really open up the area to the incoming families and young families who are still looking to enjoy a nice night out!

    Sahm's Place offers 3 Bells Lines, 2 Upland Lines, Sun King, Flat12, a seasonal craft bottle selection, and soon to be adding on Three Floyds draft and Triton draft in November. All to pair up with food made in house and priced for all to afford.