7 Family and LGBTQ Friendly Restaurants

Everyone loves dining out and spending time with family. Whether it’s in your favorite restaurant chain, an independently owned eatery or in your classic fast-food joint, it’s always great to support places that back the gay, bi and trans communities. You’ll also want to know which of these are fit for the kids too.

Even though we’re all currently feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a good time to get to know the best examples of family-friendly restaurants that are also safe spaces for dads who are gay, bi or trans. Let’s eat!

Restaurant Chains

Some restaurant chains go to great lengths to make sure their customers feel safe and comfortable within their dining experience. Some even donate to LGBTQ+ charities. 

For example, in 2018, the British chain Wagamama (who serve up delicious Asian cuisine) teamed up with Olympic Skier Gus Kenworthy to create a drink called ‘Proud’. All the proceeds went towards The Trevor Project, a charity dedicated to saving young LGBTQ lives. Wagamama themselves have locations scattered around New York and Boston.

But where else is good for families looking to share a delicious meal?

1. Olive Garden

Olive Garden, the classic Italian-inspired family restaurant. You’ve probably heard of the chain. In fact, they’re so popular, you no doubt have been there several times before. From Chicken Alfredo to Five Cheese Ziti - the Italian delights Olive Garden serve up are always worth coming back to. 

One thing you may not know about Olive Garden is that Darden Restaurants own them. What makes them great for the gay, bi or trans community is Darden Restaurants consistently rank high on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) from the Human Rights Campaign. This means they’re one of the most progressive restaurant chains in the country when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights.

They’ve also got an extensive kids menu, serving up classic Italian dishes - just in smaller portions for when you bring the kids along. Oh, and the breadsticks are fantastic.

2. Red Lobster

Red Lobster, a place for catfish, shrimp, snow crab and the eponymous lobster. It’s a well-known favorite for seafood lovers and the perfect place for families. They have a kids menu (try the popcorn shrimp!) and family meal deals which are perfect if you want to share the flavors (and save a little money). 

The reason they’re great for families with gay, bi or trans dads? You guessed it, they’re also owned by Darden Restaurants. So why not come along, order yourself a Lobster Lover’s Dream and watch your children chow down on fish and chips or macaroni and cheese. With a side of biscuits and snow crab legs. Your choice. 

Fast Food Businesses

Fast-food chains and restaurants are found all over the place. McDonald’s alone has 36,000 franchises around the globe. Now, because fast-food chains are franchised, it may mean not all restaurants or employees are the most progressive places - it can depend on each unique location.

That being said, each franchise will be required to work within the corporate rules set out by the people at the top. And these chains have ranked as some of the best when it comes to being friendly to the gay, bi or trans communities. So when it comes to Whoppers or Big Macs, you’re covered!

3. Burger King

Sadly, not all fast food restaurants are as good as Burger King when it comes to being friendly to non-traditional families. For example, it was only recently that Chick-Fil-A was exposed for donating to anti-gay legislation.

Burger King, on the other hand, is welcoming of all. In fact, in 2014, they created a limited edition “Pride Whopper” to celebrate Pride and show support for the gay, bi and trans community. 

Fernando Machado, a Senior Vice President of Global Branding, explained this celebration: “We felt that [the Proud Whopper] could bring to life a message of equality, self-expression, authenticity and just being who you are.”

Last year in Germany, they took it up a notch. To celebrate the wedding of Dima and Alvar, they did something unique. Rather amusingly, to create their wedding ring, a burger was grilled down into carbon and transformed into a diamond.

While that may not be to your taste when it comes to weddings, the ring was definitely well done.

4. McDonald’s

Everybody loves McDonald’s. Especially families. Whether you’re road-tripping, on a day out or simply don’t want to cook, McDonald’s is always a good choice. It’s one of the world’s oldest quick service restaurants (QSR) chains and alongside Darden Restaurants, ranks high on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index with a rating of 100 - the highest you can achieve.

Equality within its workforce is what the company stands for. This means for families with gay, bi or trans dads, it’s the perfect fast food place to pick up a quick bite. 

Whether you’re a Big Mac fan or an egg McMuffin type of guy, there’s something for all the family. I’m a Quarter Pounder with Cheese lover myself.

5. Hamburger Mary’s

Hamburger Mary’s isn’t a well-known name, but that doesn’t make it any less unique. It originated in San Francisco and has gained cult status and fame within the gay community in both San Fran and West Hollywood.

Mary’s is the place for simple diner-style food. They do amazing burgers and shakes and the restaurants also double up as venues as they’re also bars. With happy hours and their amazing drag brunches, they’re the best place to take your partner after dropping the kids off with relatives.

Even though they’re a small chain, they have locations all across the country. Find them in Florida, Colorado, Illinois, Chicago, California, Texas and of course, San Francisco. Hamburger Mary’s describe themselves as an “open-air bar and grille for open-minded people”.

We couldn’t agree more. 

Independent Restaurants

The best thing you can do to support local economies is by eating at independently-owned and run restaurants and eateries. They also usually end up being the most delicious places, taking inspiration from their localities and cooking up some beautifully traditional meals. 

There’s always a place for you to enjoy delicious food in a welcoming setting. Here are some of our favorites:

6. Big Gay Ice Cream - New York City

Big Gay Ice Cream have a number of locations throughout NYC. While not technically a restaurant, they’re the perfect places to take your kids for an amazing array of unique desserts.

Take the Dorothy, for example. It's a vanilla ice cream cone injected with dulce de leche. This is then covered in crumbled Nilla wafer cookies. It’s a staple for Big Gay Ice Cream fans.

The first Big Gay Ice Cream was opened in NYC’s East Village by partners Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff. They’ve since taken over New York and have also opened a shop in Philadelphia. If you’re looking for a sugar rush after a savory meal and want something a little more fun, take a stroll with your family to Big Gay Ice Cream.

7. Rosie’s Bar and Grill - Fort Lauderdale

Fun times for all and an incredibly exciting menu - Rosie’s Bar and Grill in Fort Lauderdale is part of the heart of the gay community in Florida. It boasts an extensive menu of starters, sides and mains, from the Ka’Monawannalaya Dip - a Hawaiian mahi-mahi fish dip with veggie chips and jalapenos, to the Rachel Rye - a beef burger served with shaved pastrami and swiss cheese on a rye bun.

You can also enjoy wraps and ‘Big Girl Plates’ - huge servings of meat or fish, like the Below Sea Level - a half pound of fresh shrimp grilled in garlic butter. Mouthwatering!

We’re big fans of developing helpful content for you so you can go and enjoy family time together at amazing restaurants. So if you’ve been to any specific places that you and your family enjoyed, tell us! We’d love to hear from you and be able to tell more people about the best family-friendly restaurants for families with gay, bi or trans dads. 

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