Now, I'm not saying we bring them to Ruth Cris Steakhouse or some high-end restaurant (although we do occasionally)..but just going to the neighborhood joint or a chain restaurant like Chilis or Olive Garden or something is enough.
And you can't expect little kids to just sit there, wait for their food, and make polite conversation. You have to be prepared. We carry crayons and coloring books, as well as aqua-doodle sheets and pens. It is not always easy. Especially with Big Man - keeping him in his seat is not an easy task.
Some times it is a nightmare, and we end up getting our food in boxes and leaving. But I think that has only happened once. More often we don't have a leisurely dinner, but more sort of rush through a bit so that the kids can handle it. But most of the time it works out just fine. The kids understand how to behave, amuse themselves with crayons or the like, and we have a nice family dinner.
But we think it is important that our kids learn how to behave in public. And the only way that will happen is if we do it. (And it means we go out for dinner without paying $15/hour for a babysitter.)