Philly with kids
I second RTM and Jones and also would say that one thing that works with my kids is for them to share an entree or just let them order soup, and/or salad and/or appetizer. They get awfully sick of chicken fingers and pizza on the kids menu all the time and the portion size is just right, without wasting $$.
Near the Franklin Institute we love darling cafe for breakfast/lunch (www.darlingscheesecake.com) and by the way the Cherry Street Tavern is now alot more family friendly since the smoking ban.
Also, how about a trip to Passyunk Ave. for pizza/pasta at Marra's (food is ok, but very family friendly)?
Reading Terminal Market is great because it has foods to appeal to adults (like roast pork sandwiches from DiNic's) and foods kids love like pizza, fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.) and you can all eat in center court. They also have lots of dessert options like Bassett's ice cream, fourth street cookies, and a chocolatier.
Pietro's has two locations, one on South St. and one near Rittenhouse that have excellent pizza, but in my opinion little else. The pizza's one of my favorites in town though.
I'd skip the chains too...why come from out of town to eat wonderful food in our great city that you can have at home? There are too many things to eat here that should not be missed!
While the food at Dave and Busters is not as bad as one would expect, it's not all that great and not worth all of the chaos. And it's not in a conveniently located area. And avoid the food court at the Bourse!
Jones is pretty good and unique to Philly. They have very good monkey bread and is very-kid friendly, as are most of the Steven Starr places. The food at the other Starr locales probably would not be all that appealing to the kids, though.
If your kids like gelato, make sure to go to one of the Capogiro locations. Kids also seem to like the frozen chocolate drinks at the Naked Chocolate Cafe.
I would recommend for lunch:
Reading Terminal Market (RTM): Location- Convention Center/ Chinatown
RTM has a variety of "American "and ethnic food stands from Diner foods, Chinese, Deli, Soul Food, Italian, PA Dutch, Crepes, Sushi, icecream, burgers, cheesesteaks,Middle Eastern, vegetarian....
Chinatown - from traditional to standard "westernized" Chinese.
Dave and Buster's on Columbus Blvd (video games entertaiment center and restaurant - Burgers...).
If they prefer franchised family type restaurants:
Olive Garden in Center City Philadelphia
Bucca de Beppo in Center City
Ruby Tuesday - Center City
Maggiano's Italian Bistro - Convention Center/ Chinatown
How long and where will you be staying?
So, you will be at 17th and JFK Blvd... OK, you are only 6-7 blocks from Chinatown and the Convention Center, so you should check out the Reading Terminal Market.
Most of the historical sites are from 6th and Market to Front and Market Sts and (Old City Neighborhood). Lots of small restaurants and bistros, out door seating. This site may be helpful. http://www.gophila.com/C/Things_to_Do...
I am sure you will be able to find some nice restaurants that you all will enjoy. Good Luck and I hope you all have a wonderful time in Philadelphia!