Family Dining: Noodles Company

I must admit, when I first entered Noodles & Company at the Arboretum, I had a hard time getting used to the menu. With a little explanation from the helpful staff, I soon learned they offer a variety of vegetarian pasta dishes that can be customized with choices of beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu. You also can choose from a selection of soups and salads, such as the Chinese chop, Mediterranean and Caesar.

With my hungry kids grabbing chocolate milk from the stocked beverage case, I searched for the kids’ menu. I discovered that instead of a traditional children’s menu, Noodles & Company offers all their dishes in two sizes — small and regular — with the small being perfectly sized and priced, for little ones.

Seizing on this idea, my family decided to order several dishes in the small size, so we could get a taste of all they have to offer. The boys wanted the Wisconsin Mac and Cheese and buttered noodles. My husband and I decided to taste the mushroom and beef stroganoff, the Penne Rosa with Parmesan crusted chicken and the Pad Thai noodles.

We started the meal with the pot stickers, a good suggestion from a friendly employee. Crispy and spicy, the pot stickers worked perfectly with the dipping sauce. While we waited, the children were given a sheet of vegetable stickers and paper, which they loved, creating their own little menus. They were equally impressed with their meals, gobbling them up in a hurry.

The stroganoff we ordered was rich and velvety, with tender braised beef. While we weren’t overwhelmed with the Penne Rosa, the chicken that came on top was incredible — moist and tender, with a crust you would expect in a fine dining restaurant. And, the Pad Thai with shrimp was spicy and delicious.

Noodles & Company is bright, modern and cheerful. There is outdoor and indoor dining with counter seating, booths or tables. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and it is a very family friendly restaurant.

I smiled as one dad after another stopped by to pick up orders on his way home from work. It must be that folks have found their take out to be delicious and convenient. Call your order in to avoid waiting in line, or take a cue from one dad who took the opportunity to enjoy a beer while he waited.

Be sure to leave room for one of their gigantic cookies or rice krispy treats that simply call to you from the counter. They have a creation called a Snoodledoodle — a snickerdoodle with caramel inside that will knock your socks off. If you are lucky, you can find one still a little warm from the oven.

The Chow Down:
Dollar Deal: Items can run between $4-$8 for any entree
Kid Friendly: Yes
Noise level: Perfect for families
Décor/Atmosphere: Modern and bright
Kiddie Fare: Carb-loving kids will swoon for the mac and cheese or buttered noodles
Anything Healthy: Variety of salads and fresh veggies in the pasta
Bathrooms: Very clean, and they offer a changing table for babies
High Chairs/ Booster seats: Many available
Got Milk/Juice: Both, even chocolate milk
Anything Healthy for Kids: This is not the place for healthy kid foods, but rather warm, easy comfort food they are sure to enjoy
Address: 8016 Providence Road (in the Arboretum shopping center near Blockbuster)
Phone Number: 704-752-7803
4 out of 5

Kelly Yale is a freelance writer, mother and blogger for Charlotte Parent online.