So here's a challenge...
Heading with my husband & 2 kids to Minneapolis to meet up with my husband's mom, brother & his family. They have 6 kids. There will be 5 adults and 8 kids. We dislike chains, but realize the dining limitations with 8 kids (ages 2 - 15). Any suggestions on places (not area specific as we'll be all over the place... not sure where we are staying yet) that are casual and affordable with good food? Delis, diners, pizza, ethnic, brunch, lunch, dinner?? I'd really appreciate some help!
Davanni's is a local chain (10 or so locales across the metro area) for pizza and hoagies. Very family friendly. Its the one "sit down" place I will solo with my 2 year old. Order at the counter, and the call you up when your order is ready. Longest wait is 15 minutes for a pizza. They also deliver and do take out. Prices are fair, and everyone at work always does the little "I wish I had your lunch sigh" when you bring in the second half of your hoagie for lunch the next day. (A half hoagie is plenty for me, but I always get the whole for later)
Sounds like a mission for Buca Di Beppo. There is a downtown location which is the original of the chain. There are locations all over the metro.
Eli's Food and Cocktails is right around the corner from Buca downtown and I've often seen families dining there too. Another potential choice.
You could hit the Midtown Global Market. On Fridays around 5:30 or 6pm they usually have a kids band playing. The beauty of MGM is that there are about 20 different restaurants in there so you can get just about anything, including classics such as burgers, hotdogs, pizza, and fries.
My only caution is that it could be a little hectic with 8 kids but it all depends on how much hand-holding they need.
I would suggest Rye Deli in uptown (Franklin and Hennepin). I like going there with my two year old because, as a deli, you get your food very quickly and (this is the important part) they have a chalk board wall that my toddler could spend an hour coloring upon. I would venture that your group could "take over" that part of the restaurant, and the adults could have great conversation with the kids three feet away doing their own thing.