Ask The Salty Waitress: Is It Okay For Adults To Order From The Kids' Menu?

Dear Salty,

In one of your recent columns, someone mentioned in a comment that ordering off the kids' menu is a crappy thing to do. Is it really that bad? Sometimes I don't want a big portion, and sometimes I just prefer those options.


I've ordered from the kids' menu in the past, but generally stick to the rule that if there an age limit posted on the menu, I'll avoid it. But if no age is specified, the kids' menu is fair game, especially if the restaurant in question doesn't allow for half-orders.

Is this a huge breach of etiquette or what?


No Doggie Bags, Please

Dear No Doggie Bags,

It's a free country, and you can do whatever you want as long as the restaurant doesn't have some kind of age policy against adults ordering from the kids' menu, as you mentioned.

But the question is whether the few pros of ordering from the kids' menu outweigh the more glaring cons.

Here's the list I made to save you the trouble.


  • The portions are more in line with what you want.
  • You don't have to take home a doggie bag (though I'm never mad about leftovers, so it pains me to put this in the "pros" column.)
  • You can order a hot dog with ketchup, I guess? I wish you'd mentioned what types of restaurants these are or why you find the kids' options more appealing. If you're just looking for a good grilled cheese or chicken fingers basket, I'm sure you could find a restaurant that makes a real, adult-sized version of it, right?


  • You look a little tacky, doll. I hate to break it to you, but like I told the splitting entrées people, there are other ways to get smaller portions. Tell the server to skip one of the sides, or order an appetizer as your entrée, or just take home the leftovers.
  • You're eating like a 10-year-old. Most restaurants' kids menus still are just one step above cafeteria food: buttered noodles, grilled cheese, boring hot dogs. Wouldn't you rather have, I don't know, flavors in your life? If you're particular about food, maybe ask your server for recommendations or whether you could slightly modify one of the adult dishes.
  • I'm losing out on tip. This one's self-centered, but if a kid's meal costs a fraction of what an adult meal would cost, that's a few dollars less in your server's pocket if you tip by percentage.
  • If I was you, I'd frequent restaurants that serve portions more in line with what I want. Or, if you know you're going out to dinner, maybe eat a smaller lunch so you can enjoy a full portion at dinner? Or how about going to a small-plates restaurant and sharing with your friends so that you only have to eat what you want from each dish?


    It's none of my business to tell you how much to eat, but the kids' menu really should be reserved for kids under 12. Going out to eat should feel special, so go ahead, order from the real menu and live a little. I can still bring crayons to your table if you want.

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