Kids, trains and pasta: a winning combo By Edan Goode

Old Spaghetti Factory

1215 W. 18th St., Denver


Boy, I feel old. I just took my children to a restaurant I went to as a kid. I remember loving the Old Spaghetti Factory even as a teenager. The decor was posh and elegant (very parlour-like) and there was an actual train right there in the restaurant! Awesome! Well, my kids had the same reaction.

We sat in a booth at the tail end of a lovely red trolley car that sits on its original tracks. On a less busy day we could have sat in the trolley car. The beautiful, historic building was the end of the line for many of Denver’s trolleys which my parents used to ride which makes THEM feel very old.

When I was a kid, all I cared about was that there was pasta and a train, a perfect kid combination. That’s all my kids cared about, too. As a parent, what I cared about most was that the food is a really great value with bread, soup or salad, drinks and dessert included in the reasonable prices ranging from $8 – $13. To try out a variety of things at once, I ordered the Pot Pourri. A large serving of pasta came topped with a ladle each of their browned butter with mizithra cheese, meat sauce, clam sauce and marinara sauce. Our server told us most people mix them all together which sounded disgusting to me. After trying individual bites from each sauce, they all ended up mixing together anyway. Guess what? The whole mess was delicious!  My older daughter had the Fettucine with Alfredo sauce. She fancies herself something of an Alfredo sauce connoisseur and pronounced it the best she’s ever tasted. Next time, I’m going for the Chicken Marsala or the Baked Lasagna.

Look! This is what comes with every meal – it’s a lot.

The big news here for parents is the amazing kids’ menu. In all my years of kids menus, I have never seen one so extensive. There were NINE menu items to choose from ranging from simple spaghetti and meatballs to a grilled cheese sandwich. My son chose the Linguine with White Clam Sauce (he’s a bit of a gourmet) and loved it.  Besides the many options to choose from, I was thrilled that the kids meals cost $5.59and come with the choice of a salad or applesauce, a drink and dessert. I mean, c’mon! You don’t see that kind of thing much even in the most family-friendly restaurants. Sign the kids up for the Kids Club and they get a free meal on their birthday. Also, most evenings, there’s a guy who goes around making balloon animals. Really, does it get any better for a kid? Call ahead to make sure he’s going to be there the night you plan to go.

The food is good (not fancy gourmet restaurant good) but tasty. It’s made from scratch on the premises, and goes the extra mile (i.e. the ranch dressing with a hint of basil which takes it up a notch). They also offer whole wheat and gluten free pasta and entree-size salads for a lighter meal. Note: We went for lunch and didn’t eat again until breakfast the next day.

I can’t believe I stayed away from this Denver fixture for so long. I’ll be back soon with some out of town guests to show off some of Denver’s history and give them a good meal in a quaint setting. Celebrating it’s 39th year in business in Denver, the Old Spaghetti Factory is an event  as well as a restaurant without being over-the-top campy. That’s what makes for a memorable meal, even years (and years and years) later.

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