Food & dining

Kids eat free (and parents rejoice)

The Kirkland Tap & Trotter serves free kids meals Sunday-Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
The Kirkland Tap & Trotter
The Kirkland Tap & Trotter serves free kids meals Sunday-Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

The term “Kids eat free” can conjure thoughts of mediocre national-chain dining. But Cambridge chef Tony Maws — known for his signature fare of local meats and hearty seasonal veg — aims to change that, by serving free kids meals Sunday-Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter.

This isn’t your typical kids menu of frozen chicken fingers and buttered noodles. The Kirkland offers options like a housemade hot dog, spaghetti with meat sauce, fried all-natural chicken, or fish and chips. Our toddler devoured the local beef burger, which arrives on a toasted sesame bun, with a side of golden fries and buttery carrot coins. The server even asked how he likes his burger cooked, and met the mark on rosy medium-well.

With a house full of families, many coloring with provided crayons, walking antsy children past the open kitchen’s mesmerizing wood-fired grill and craning their necks to watch the game in the bar, it can take a while for all the plates to hit the table, but it’s well worth the wait. Plus, they offer to bring the kids’ food first, so you can enjoy a craft cocktail like the Henry Morgan’s Downfall, a tiki-ish blend of gin, Velvet Falernum, Orgeat, lemon, Mirto, and bitters ($13).


A crisp and juicy fried half chicken special ($20, available Sundays) arrives with housemade pickles and a vinegary celery seed slaw, plus three homemade hot sauces for dipping: pineapple habanero, green chili, and red chili. Tender sirloin skewers from the Maine Family Farms Meat Co. are topped with a zippy salsa verde and the server happily switches out the mashed Macomber turnips for schmatlz roasted Brussels to accommodate a dairy allergy. Catering to dietary restrictions and rambunctious children gets them extra points.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Other enticing options include housemade rye macaroni with lamb ragout, arugula, and pecorino ($22, $14 for appetizer portion), grilled house-cured pork belly with sauerkraut, carrots, and potatoes ($22), and a grilled chermoula-spiced half chicken with sweet potato mash ($22).

In the end, our kid didn’t exactly eat free, but that’s only because we bought more time to linger for the price of a kids sundae ($7). With vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and real whipped cream — in a portion generous enough for parents to sneak bites and still keep kids happy through a second adult beverage — we’ll call it a bargain.

The Kirkland Tap & Trotter 425 Washington St., Somerville, 857-259-6585,

Catherine Smart

Catherine Smart can be reached at