You know that look, the one you get sometimes from the waitstaff when you haul the whole gang in for a meal. Maybe it's just a flicker of fear that your 4-year-old might knock a carafe of tap water all over the faux-fur bison knickknacks, or perhaps they just hate it that it's kids' menus all around.
No matter. Here's a roster of restaurants from around the state's ski areas that are known for their welcoming ways when it comes to diners of all ages. In each town, we serve up an old favorite and another you may not have checked out yet.
The tried-and-true: Boogie's Diner (534 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-6610) has been one of Aspen's top go-to spots for families since 1987, not only for its retro atmosphere but also for its hearty milkshakes and kids' menu under $7. Parents get to build their own burgers and take down fried chicken 'n' gravy.
Try something new: The tater tots, sweet potato fries and truffle fries at CP Burger (433 E. Durant Ave., 970-925-3056, cpburger.com) elevate the top-notch burgers at this fast, casual eatery that makes monkey sticks — bananas dipped in chocolate — for the kids and alcohol-spiked milkshakes for adults.
The tried-and-true: Pancakes, waffles and other breakfast favorites are served through lunchtime daily at the Columbine Café (109 S. Main St., 970-547-4474), which is so beloved that there's often a line out the door. It's worth the wait, though, for the big portions and fast service once you're seated. Good coffee, too.
Try something new: There's not much to Cuppa Joe (118 S. Ridge St., 970-453-3938), but if you're trying to get out on the slopes, sometimes you just need a killer cup of coffee and half of an enormous burrito (maybe black bean and sweet potato or green chile and cheese). In which case, pull up one of the yellow chairs in this small but friendly spot or sit outside in the sun. Try the creamy oatmeal latte (yes, you read that right).
The tried-and-true: Endo's Adrenaline Café (209 10 Mile Circle, 970-968-3070) has been a locals' joint for years, a sports bar that serves huge portions of expected but well-prepared pub grub like pulled-pork and cheese steak sandwiches, burgers, oversize salads, soups served in bread bowls and wings. The games are always on, and it's noisy and messy, so all ages are welcome.
Try something new: The glorified hot dog stand Copper Red Hots (American Flyer Lift in Copper Village) has gotten its act together since it first opened a few years ago, improving the offerings to include mac-and-cheese (you can add toppings like feta and sun-dried tomatoes or bacon and Angus beef) and alcohol-spiked coffee drinks, and if the kids don't need to warm up, you can't beat being able to slop all over the patio. Don't expect the real Red Hots (the candy or the sausage, depending on where you grew up), but do expect to get full for about $6-$9, right there at the base.
The tried-and-true: Slogar (517 2nd St., 970-349-5765) serves family-style fried chicken or steak, with sides of mashed potatoes and biscuits with honey butter or gravy, and dessert is housemade ice cream, so what's not to like? The historic building feels welcoming and homey, too.
Try something new: Butte 66 Roadhouse and Grill (218 Elk Ave., 970-349-2999) sits right near the slopes, on the second floor of the Treasury Building, and is a raucous, friendly stop for a quick beer or a burger with tater tots and a milkshake. The deck is hard to leave once you settle in.
The tried-and-true: Sam's Smokehouse (106 Daly Lane, 970-923-8686) sits mid-mountain and belies the usual chaotic, cramped and mediocre eateries found at ski areas. Instead, this is a comfortable and charming eatery that cooks up great barbecued meats (mmm, pork belly) as well as unique vegetarian items such as tofu satay and fried green tomatoes. It's not cheap, but the portions are big and the views spectacular.
Try something new: Coming down off the mountain into the mayhem, it can be hard to focus on finding food, but Base Camp Bar & Grill (73 Wood Road, 970-923-6000, basecampbarandgrill.com) makes it easy to just park the gear and let the kids blow off steam on the patio while you wait for something from the eclectic but well-prepared menu of gyros, noodle bowls and tacos.
The tried-and-true: Johnny B. Good's (738 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-8400, johnnybgoodsdiner.com) is an honest-to-goodness diner, with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and milkshakes, breakfast served until after lunchtime and Campbell's tomato soup as an option with a variety of "dawgs."
Try something new: Mambo Italiano (521 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-0500, mambos.com) does the usual pastas as well as more frou frou dishes such as rigatoni ala vodka. Brick-oven pizzas and a variety of elaborate salads compete with interesting snacks like Mambo "tootsie rolls" of ricotta and basil pesto in egg roll wrappers. For the kids: pasta, ice cream and a beverage for $7, all served in a warm, inviting setting.
The tried-and-true: Locals' hangout Baked in Telluride (127 South Fir St., 970-728-4775) offers excellent value and a variety of baked items, including bagels and doughnuts, pastries and desserts. The small, unassuming shop also bakes the breads for its hefty sandwiches and rolls for the house-made soups, along with the dough for its thick-crust pizzas. Nearly all of their goods can be done gluten-free, too.
Try something new: Breakfast sandwiches and granola in the morning, sandwiches and fresh soups and a variety of house-baked desserts make The Butcher and Baker (217 E. Colorado, 970-728-2899, butcherandbaker.com) an easy stop for a daytime meal. The deli-style space is bright and sports kid-friendly metal chairs and blond wood tables.
The tried-and-true: While kids are waiting for the thin-crust, New York-style pizzas at Blue Moose (675 W. Lionshead Circle, 970-476-8666, bluemoosepizza.com), they can create works of art with crayons on the butcher paper put on the tables.
Try something new: Yellowbelly (2161 N. Frontage Road, 970-343-4340, yellowbellychicken.com) fries up chicken or roasts it, white or dark meat, and plenty of it, for a reasonable price, along with down-home sides like smashed fries and macaroni pie. There are a few tables in this mall space, but it makes more sense to pick up a family pack and take it back to the condo.
The tried-and-true: Since 1967, Hernando's Pizza and Pasta Pub (78199 U.S. 40, 970-726-5409, hernandospizzapub.com) has been the place for spaghetti and pizza, ideal for big groups and kids who like to color their placemats with the crayons they get from the waitstaff. Save room for an ice cream sundae at the end.
Try something new: Smokin' Moe's Ribhouse (65 Cooper Creek Way, 970-726-4600, smokinmoes.com) has its delectable ribs on its kids' menu, which also offers bacon mac and cheese and other appealing dishes for $6-$7, sides and drink included. The spacious eatery hosts live blues (cover charge applies), as well.
Kyle Wagner: 303-954-1599, email@example.com or twitter.com/ kylewagnerworld