Breakfast spots with colorful kids meals (and not just menu coloring)

Brynn and Timothy Buhmeyer at Sidekick Coffee and Books — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Is it just us or is it harder to get out of bed at the end of the week? Our parents have tried a bunch of ways to try to get us up. By Friday morning, nothing but a guarantee of unlimited screen time could get us moving. That is until they started holding a special breakfast over our heads: a genius parenting move. It forces us to try to behave all week in order to cash in on this coupon. It’s interesting that during meals at home our parents refuse to cook us separate meals, forcing us to “try new things” that are usually green or red. Ugh. But when they take us out to eat they want us to order from the “Everything for Kids is the Color Beige” box? Um, no thanks! They trained us better than that. Why do adults get an entire page but us kids get a tiny box in the corner with all the usual suspects — chicken fingers, mac and cheese, quesadillas? It’s kind of insulting. Maybe that’s why we don’t always love going out for dinner. And school lunch? Don’t even get us started.

But breakfast! Now that’s a meal that makes us feel like equals. We get to order from the full menu, not just from a few boring things down below. So, the first time they whispered to us, “Let’s go out for breakfast before school today,” we were up and dressed, backpacks loaded, helping each other out the door and in the car with seatbelts on before our parents had on their coats. Now, we look forward to this special morning event all week. For other parents looking for tips on how to get your kids out of bed or if you just want to take your family out for a meal with a truly kid-friendly menu: Go out for breakfast.

If we had cars and could drive ourselves around, here’s a list of our top picks:

Iowa City

Cortado Mediterranean Cafe

26 S Clinton St, Iowa City
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Try their chocolate croissant. See if you can find the U.S. flag on the wall while you wait for your parents to finish their coffees. It was also really satisfying to watch homemade pitas being made into perfectly puffed piles. Educational, as our parents would say.

Pullman Bar & Diner

17 S Dubuque St, Iowa City
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Grab a seat in one of the booths and order the coffee cake. It’s as close as kids can get to caffeine without anyone noticing. It was fun to pretend we were on a real train car. It was also pretty hard not to shout “All Aboard!” whenever the waiter came to our table. Pro-tip: Use the big mirrors to spy on your neighbors and watch while the kitchen works its magic.

Deluxe Cakes & Pastries

812 S Summit St, Iowa City
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Get the quiche. Hands down. It’s awesome to eyeball the fancy desserts in their pretty display case, but the quiche crust alone is worth the trip. How do they get so many layers in one crust? Tastebuds blown! Also, it’s really clean in there. Like, it made us want to clean up our own crumbs kind of clean.


203 N Linn St, Iowa City
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Skip straight to the pop-tarts. It doesn’t matter which; they are all good. But good things take time, we’ve heard our parents say. So trust us, you’re going to want to bring a game of some kind. The parents are going to order a lot of things before the pop-tarts come.

The Encounter Cafe

376 S Clinton St, Iowa City, 3
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Go for the blueberry streusel muffin. The breakfast sandwiches are also worth it. Pretend you own the place and sit in the secret cove near the fireplace. Be sure to serve yourself some lemon spa water like a boss while you wait for the order number to light up.

Sidekick Coffee and Books

1310 1/2 Melrose Ave, Iowa City
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Get the cruffin. You heard that right: croissant meets muffin with a surprise in the middle. Yum! We tell our parents we want to go for the books. Yeah, sure…the books.

Brynn Buhmeyer, age 8 and Timothy Buhmeyer, age 11, siblings, Kids Menu Advocates and co-contributors to The Buhmeyer Times

Cedar Rapids

Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery

560 Boyson Rd NE, Ste A, Cedar Rapids
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It is a treat to have breakfast at Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery. The room is full of natural light and decorated in a simple, elegant style. It’s a nice place to sit, and as it wasn’t too busy, we hung out for a while after breakfast, drawing and talking. There was another family there, as well as folks having business meetings and morning coffee.

Orders are placed at the counter and the food is brought out to the tables. The menu offers standards with a twist as well as healthy choices and salads. We opted for a pastry board so we could sample more than one of the enticing selection of pastries and cakes. I love a good breakfast sandwich and their Standard does not disappoint: egg and cheese on a perfect cheddar-chive biscuit. I added bacon. My daughter Ruth and I shared the sandwich and a breakfast quinoa bowl served with almond milk, raisins and roasted berries. She chose the quinoa bowl because she “wanted to try something new.” We also shared a special drink — a vanilla steamed milk colored pink with beetroot powder.

When asked for her review, Ruth, 6 ½ years old, said: “I like the breakfast sandwich; I like the biscuit and the bacon. I like the drink and I’m so-so on the quinoa.”

We will definitely return for more special breakfasts and highly recommend Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery.

Zoe and Ruth Mossman


Bluebird Cafe

112 E Main St, Solon
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Breakfast at the new Bluebird Cafe in Solon was something special for my hungry 3-year-old son George. One side of the restaurant has cozy wooden booths — a holdover from the previous occupant, Salt Fork Kitchen (RIP!) — but the other side of the restaurant has undergone a bit of a transformation. The space has been outfitted with a smattering of blond wood tables, lengthy bright blue vinyl banquettes (perfect for racing Hot Wheels, in case you were wondering) and minimal, yet thematic decor. It’s a cheery and bright, open space with huge street-facing windows flooding the space with natural light even on a cloudy morning. These windows were the highlight of breakfast for my aforementioned 3-year-old. They allowed for long uninterrupted views of big trucks passing — an activity that could entertain him for hours it seems.

The menu at the cafe offers all the classics: breakfast sandwiches, eggs Benedict and omelets as well as some sweet treats: pancakes, waffles and Cinnamon Roll French toast. George is a sucker for pancakes, but at home they’re prepared sans sugar and bulked up with fiber, so the pancakes here were something of a treat. We ordered ours with whipped cream and strawberries, and though the giant pillows of cream and the generous knob of butter were the first bits to be consumed, George ate most of the pancake which was honestly as big as the plate itself. I tried the Steel Cut Oatmeal, which is admittedly not a particularly exciting choice on paper, but I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived with all the accouterments to dress it up and it was much tastier and quicker than what I make at home.

When asked for his review, George had very little to say about the food. Instead, his appreciation was focused on the ambiance and scenery the cafe provided: “I like the trucks. I saw a cement mixer and a tanker truck and a grain truck.” He may not have had much to say about the food, but a mostly clean plate at the end of a meal tells me all I need to know. It’s a comfortable and easy spot for breakfast. We’ll be back again.

— Frankie Schneckloth and George Davies

This article was originally published in the 2022 Bread & Butter dining guide.