When you’re visiting a new place one of the best ways to experience a destination is by trying local restaurants. But that can be harder when you’ve got your kids in tow and need family-friendly places to eat. Luckily, in Fort Wayne you won’t have to choose between experiencing local cuisine and keeping your kids fed. Just like their wide variety of family-friendly attractions, Fort Wayne offers lots of dining choices for your whole crew, giving you a chance to sample some local flavor and feed your family. On our recent weekend getaway to Fort Wayne, we checked out a few of the options and both kids and grown-ups give these recommendations a big thumbs up!
While we were hosted by Visit Fort Wayne for parts of this trip, all meals where at our own expense and the reviews below reflect my honest choice and opinion about our dining options. For see my disclosure policy for more information.
Where to Eat with Kids in Fort Wayne
The Fort Wayne craft brewing scene seems to be alive and well, thanks in part to this establishment right in the heart of downtown. The Hoppy Gnome offers indoor and outdoor seating in their restaurant plus a tasting room that hosts special events. The menu is a step above your typical brewpub and features a knockout mix-and-match taco menu and great kid options. The restaurant filled up quickly on Friday night before we headed to the baseball game so make sure you arrive early if you don’t want a wait. This was probably our favorite meal of the trip and well worth a stop, especially since it’s located near so many other attractions downtown.
When I first heard about Yummi Bunni’s signature treat of ice cream on a glazed hot bun, I might have judged it a bit harshly. I mean, come on, a donut plus ice cream just seemed over the top. However, I will gladly admit the error of my ways after sampling this local specialty. The cool and creamy filling with a crunchy topping of your choice sandwiched between two warm, thin and airy yeast buns…it’s a winner. Save this stop for a warm afternoon or after dinner treat and plan to split a few among your group to avoid a total sugar coma. They have regular cups and cones if you don’t want to indulge too much, but you’ll win parent of the year if you let your kids go a little crazy at this fun and unique stop.
Just a little south of downtown (5 min by car) is this local gourmet hamburger joint. You’ll be seated at picnic tables in an unassuming storefront and can choose from locally sourced beef burgers or hotdogs with creative toppings and sides. This is farm-to-table in the best way, casual and full of flavor. There’s parking behind the building, and on Saturday afternoon Bravas’ taco truck was set up to offer even more options. Heads up, they offer a PB&J (currently my younger son’s only form of nourishment) but the peanut butter is homemade and not super kid-friendly so you might want to choose a burger or hotdog for the kids. Sides are not included but the Bravas patatas are worth it!
We did not get a chance to eat here but several people recommended it and I’m already adding it to our list for a return visit. This tiny diner is everything you want it to be. Vintage feel, classic menu, and a 15 seat counter that makes waiting for a spot that much more special. The prices can’t be beat and your kids will love watching the food come out. Cindy’s is a downtown institution and would make a great breakfast or lunch stop. If you want to avoid a wait, check it out during off peak meal times or grab a midday milkshake. Heads up, they’re only open until 2pm.
This local chocolatier has several locations throughout Fort Wayne but my favorite it at Jefferson Pointe, southwest of downtown. A great place to pick up gifts for friends or family back home, you’ll have a hard time choosing from so many delicious options. You can also schedule a tour of their factory for a look behind the scenes. No matter where you visit in the city, make sure to find a location near you to stop and sample. I highly recommend the hot chocolate if it’s a cool day!
We didn’t visit this time but we’ve eaten here before and if you want to experience a great family meal for an even better price then you have to stop in to Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island. The foggy windows are your first clue that the steamed buns and rows of chili-topped hot dogs are going to be delicious. Don’t expect anything fancy here. They do one thing and they do it well! It can be little disorganized as you sometimes order at the counter, whereas other times there are servers, but don’t be afraid to ask. You won’t leave hungry and you’ll get to see a nice cross-section of Fort Wayne since this is the place to eat downtown.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but hopefully it gets you started on exploring some of the flavors of Fort Wayne with your family. Part of the adventure is trying new foods as you travel and I love that Fort Wayne has so many family-friendly options. My only regret is that we didn’t stay longer to be able to sample more of them.
Here’s a quick video of our weekend.
Make sure and leave a comment if you have other favorite places to eat in Fort Wayne! I’d love to hear your suggestions and I know readers always appreciate any expertise you have to share!