Lately, good ol’ Texas weather has once again taken us for a loop. It’s raining one minute, and sunny the next. I don’t know about you, but when we have a beautiful day in Austin, that means taking full advantage of all the great things this city has to offer. For my family that includes soaking up the rays, meeting up with friends, and bravely venturing out to a local eatery.
Maybe I’m picky or just realistic, but I have a set criteria that restaurants need to meet to make it a worthwhile trip. That usually means finding a place where my daughter’s attempts of practicing her soprano solo or Hulk-like throwing abilities are not frowned upon.
Eating out with your kids shouldn’t make you cringe. Instead, it should be an excuse to try a new place in our great city that not only caters to your own checklist, but also satisfies your entire family’s interest. Here’s a list that will make that entire process that much easier. Enjoy!
Central/North Central/South Central:
- Central Market (S. Lamar/38th): Friday nights are busy with live music and various family activities, great for playdates with their options of yummy foods, playscape, and outdoor trail for your little explorers
- Phil’s Icehouse/Amy’s Ice Cream-BURNET (5620 Burnet): What a great place to eat great burgers, and have a sweet dessert after! Sitting area is arms reach from the play area, and it’s always a busy/go-to place for families
- Phil’s Icehouse/Amy’s Ice Cream-S.LAMAR: (2901 S. Lamar): This Phil’s is just as great as the other one up in North Central, offers the same amenities, along with their amazing food and awesome playscape for the kids. It’s at the corner of Manchaca and Lamar.
- Baby Acapulco’s (Barton Springs): Also known as Baby A’s, this Barton Springs hot spot has a fantastic outdoor area, kids eat free on Sundays and it’s a still a fun spot for the adults!
- Whole Foods (Downtown/6th & Lamar): You can’t beat grocery shopping, grabbing a bite to eat, and heading upstairs for a quick picnic with the kiddos at their designated playscape. Weekends are full of live music, and other family filled activities.
- The Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs Rd.) Head over to an Austin staple after a fun filled day at Barton Springs pool or Zilker part adventures. Shady grove has a great selection of foods, live entertainment, and a family friendly patio. Their spicy chicken wings are to.die.for.
- Hat Creek Burger Co. (5400 Burnet Dr.): Head to grab a great burger and have the kiddos try their pretty unique slide/play area.
- El Mercado (1302 S. 1st): Wanting Mexican food and a place the kids can enjoy? This place has it all, great Mexican food, a patio furnished with picnic tables, and a playscape area within arms reach.
- P Terrys (North Lamar): P Terry’s is not only budget friendly, but they have excellent food and a sand box for the kiddos!
- Maudie’s (Triangle, 4600 W. Guadalupe Ste B5): Stop on by after a fun trip to the Triangle’s Wednesday farmers market to snack on an appetizer, try one of their jalapeno margaritas, or just take some time to enjoy some Tex-Mex food. The kids can also enjoy the friendly environment and head over to the playscape that’s right next to the restaurant.
- County Line On The Lake (5204 Ranch Road 2222) This place really is fantastic for the little explorer. While you sit and order some Texas style BBQ, you can head out to the huge deck they have, and check out the wildlife living in the river. From observing turtles to sitting down and eating a big plate of brisket, this place will make your kids leave with a full heart and belly!
- The Picnic (1720 Barton Springs Rd.): This place has a great selection of food trucks, and is easily a place you can enjoy with the family before/after spending a day at Zilker or Barton Springs Pool. From fish tacos at Surf-n-Turf to a smoothy at Skinny Limits, they offer a variety of foods and desserts. Plus the picnic sitting area and clean restrooms make it a great spot to comfortably hang out with the kids.
- Abel’s On The Lake (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.): A mix of your classic American foods, including burgers to fresh salads. It sits on the row of restaurants on Lake Austin, making it a great place to visit on a sunny day while filling up your belly with great food and drinks. The kids will have a blast exploring the area.
- Hula Hut (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.): Classic Austin go-to on sunny days, Hula Hut offers a variety of Tex-Mex foods, and continues to be a popular spot to park your boat or just venture onto the dock to check out all the happenings along Lake Austin.
- Matt’s El Rancho (2613 S. Lamar): Good Tex-Mex Food, including its famous Bob Armstrong dip. It’s an inviting environment for all families, including their quaint patio set with a fountain and great service. The staff is incredibly friendly, and really makes the dining experience enjoyable for the entire family.
- Phil’s Icehouse (13265 US HWY 183) : Specialty/gourmet burgers, onion rings, build your own mimosas, and a place for the kids to play…everybody wins!
- WholeFoods (Domain/Mopac): Can’t beat a great location, various locations to sit outside, a small area for kids to play, outdoor live entertainment, and just a few seconds away from some quality shopping
- Salt Lick (3350 Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock): An Austin favorite located steps away from Dell Diamond, so before you head to a game, sit outside in their patio area, grab a bite to eat, and let the kids release some energy at the playscape area
- Dahlia Café (2450 RR 1869, Liberty Hill, TX 78642): Besides their food being finger licking good, they also have a great patio set up in the back with a stage for live music, and an amazing playground for the kids. You can’t go wrong!
- Flores Mexican Restaurant (8300 N FM 620): Whether you’re there for their wide selection of Mexican food/beverages, to catch a game on one of their multiple TVs, or sit out back and enjoy the weather, it’s a great place to enjoy with the entire family. They have a pretty amazing area for the kids, including swings, a park worthy playscape, and a huge area to run around.
- Lone Star Grille (New Hope Dr.): Lone Star Grille has an enormous play area with a playscape, stage for live music, and plenty of space for the kids to run wild. This is definitely a favorite of the kids and the parents!
- Hat Creek Burger Co. (201 San Gabriel Village Blvd, Georgetown): Great milkshakes, burgers, and a big shady area for the kids to play. You can even take a walk after to check out the river below.
- Zach’s American Bistro (5145 N. FM 620 Bldg C): From pizza to garlic fries, their selection of food and beverages can be enjoyed comfortably while the kids run through their gated playscape and take turns enjoying the tire swing
- Austin’s Pizza (3638 Bee Cave Rd./Westlake): Great local pizza (with gluten free options), and an open shaded area to sit and enjoy the nice Spring days. Not only is it a great space to enjoy a family night out, but would act as a perfect birthday party location. It’s gated and has a big lot that includes a playscape.
- Angel’s Icehouse (21815 State Highway 71 West, Spicewood Springs, TX): Want to have another great backyard restaurant experience? This is the place! From dancing to local music to enjoying a juicy burger under the Texas sun, it has a little something for everyone. It has a great selection of food, local beers, and entertainment for the whole family. That includes a big playground with a playscape for the kids to venture out and release some of their energy.
- Mangieri’s Pizza Café (2133 Lohman’s Crossing Rd, Lakeway, TX 78734): Pizza, pasta, and playscape! Food is delicious, and what kid will say no to either of those three. It’s a win win for everyone.
- The Midway Food Park (1905 S Capital of Texas Hwy): I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this spot. I think its popularity is evident with how packed this place is regularly. You can’t beat the wide selection of food trailers (including the most amazing ice cream truck ever…Coolhaus). What makes this a prime location is it’s gated (protecting the little runners) and has a wide selection of activities/playscapes for the kiddos.
- Hill Country Golf & Guitar (Highway 71 in Bee Cave): This is a great spot to go if you have teenagers! The environment is fun and there’s tons of stuff for the kids to do while the adults enjoy their time.
- Hat Creek Burger Co. (5902 Bee Caves Rd): Another location that offers the easy dining of hamburgers, fries, and offers other options (salads, Chicken Flashers-gluten free). The kids play area is bird’s eye view from the outdoor dining area, and also offers an area with turf flooring for the little crawlers/walkers.
- Boat House Grill (6812 Ranch Rd. 620 N) Offers a selection of foods ranging from fish tacos to chicken fried steak. They offer a large play area for the kids close to the patio area, and also occasionally provide additional entertainment with a balloon artist
- Craig O’s Pizza (2501 Ranch Rd 620): In the mood for Italian food, a big delicious slice of pizza (gluten free options), or the kids are wanting spaghetti and meatballs? This is the place to fill that craving. They not only have a variety of foods and drinks, but the outside dining area is enclosed and perfect for the kids to play safely on the playscape.
- Ski Shores Cafe (2905 Pearce Rd.): Great view of the water, large play area for the kids, and good food makes for a great combination at this eatery. It’s also accepts fur babies.
- Jack Allen’s Kitchen (Westlake location:3600 North Capital of Texas Hwy & Oakhill Location: 7720 TX- 71): Honestly, I feel every one of their locations is family friendly. I’ve always been a big fan of Jack Allen’s food, and their restaurants have always been very comfortable to go with my kids.
- P Terrys (Lakeway): P Terry’s is not only budget friendly, but they have excellent food and a sand box for the kiddos!
- Flores Mexican Restaurant (Lakeway): Flores has great margaritas, but an even better playscape for the littles. The playscape isn’t as close as we’d prefer, but it’s huge and it’s a kid/adult favorite!
- Verdes Mexican Parrilla (Hamilton Pool Rd.): Verde’s is definitely WAY West and off the beaten path, but the food is on the higher end and the atmosphere is 100% kid friendly. With a back yard where kids explore high and low together, parents are able to cool off on the patio and watch the kids play.
- Mandola’s (Hill Country Galleria): A place that offers every kid a gelato after their meal? Um, sign us up. The environment is filled with families, the patio area is very large, and the entire family can eat outside while the kiddos play, eat, play, and EAT!
- Lucy’s Fried Chicken (620 near Lakeway): Beautiful view of Lake Travis with a play area for the littles. Newly opened and fantastic food! A great spot for the kids to play and for everyone to enjoy the beauty that Austin has to offer.
- Contigo (2027 Anchor Ln): Amazing ranch to table food selections that the whole family will enjoy. Great space with an amazing patio that not only invites beautiful weather, but great company. Definitely kid-friendly with a large space and laid back environment.
- in.gredients(2610 Manor Rd): Oh this place makes me happy. Small grocery store meets deli market place. It’s a quaint spot with a healthy selection of snacks and other items you can purchase to dine-in or make later. It includes a small a play area with swings, a mini garden, and outdoor picnic tables.
- Café Mueller (1801 E. 51st): From BBQ to samosas, this place has a variety of foods to meet everyone’s needs (even your very picky eater). You can opt to eat at their very laid back patio or just pick up your food and head to the Mueller Lake park for a picnic.
- Hot Mama’s Cafe (2401 E. 6th): Another one of my ultimate favorite spots. At any given moment you can walk in and be greeted with a smile. It satisfies my every need from great music streaming through the speakers to a healthy selection of salads and sandwiches. Their patio is perfect for taking the kids, and they may even have a chance to try out their hula-hoop skills.
- Joe’s Place (1814 E MLK Jr. Blvd): One of the best home cookin’ backyard locations I’ve experienced. It really captures what I love most about Austin. It’s local, laid back, and offers something for everyone. The food is spot on and the patio is inviting. The kids love it!
- Doc’s Backyard (5207 Brodie Ln): This place has it all. I’m pretty sure you can watch all genres of sports simultaneously with their indoor TV buffet. They offer a wide variety of American cuisine options, have a full bar, and offer a large patio that includes a fire pit, a double playscape area, and local live music. I am pretty sure you won’t hear any complaints here.
- Waterloo Ice House- Southpark Meadows (9600 S. IH-35 Ste. D-100): Watch the kids chase one another down the slide or play tag around the big playground while you grab an appetizer and a cold beverage at Waterloo. The playground is gigantic and offers a variety of things to keep the kids entertained while you can actually enjoy/finish your meal.
- Waterloo Ice House-Circle C(9600 Escarpment Blvd): Head out to watch a game, grab a bite to eat, and have the kids expel some of their energy at the on-site playscape. It’s definitely a neighborhood hangout, and constantly a go-to spot for the surrounding area.
- Mandola’s (4301 William Cannon Bldg E-1 Ste 100): A place that offers every kid a gelato after their meal? Um, sign us up. The environment is filled with families, and even though the patio area is not that large, it is welcoming and once the kids are finished eating, they can head to the playscape that is around the corner from the restaurant.
- Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza & Jester’s Brewery (13187 Fitzhugh Rd, 78736): This is one of my family’s absolute favorite hang outs, can’t go wrong with local beer on tap, wine selections, and amazing pizza. They have a sand pit, a huge field for kids to play, and a trail that leads up to see horses and miniature ponies.
- P Terry’s (South Lamar): P Terry’s is not only budget friendly, but they have excellent food and a sand box for the kiddos!
- Rolling in Thyme & Dough (333 Hwy 290, Dripping Springs 78620):The food is amazing, which includes great gluten-free options. The owner and the rest of the staff always greet you with kindness and a smile. It offers a comfortable outdoor sitting environment and the kids can explore the amazing little garden and plants around the area. It’s a quaint environment with a welcoming vibe for all families.
- Nutty Brown Café (12225 Hwy 290 W): A great place to let the kids explore, play, and jam out to local music. Munch on a variety of foods (Tex-Mex to Texas Pork Chops) and enjoy the surrounding hill country.
- Salt Lick (18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX 78619)A mandatory for all visitors and Austinites when it comes to hill country eateries. Nothing like some good ol’ Texas BBQ and local music. The kids can explore the grounds and enjoy dancing while waiting on your food.. Fur babies are welcomed. It’s BYOB or stop by their vineyard to taste test or purchase some of their own wine.
- Smoke’n Hops (3799 E Hwy 290 Dripping Springs, TX 78620): Texas BBQ, wide selection of beers, and a nice patio right next to a pretty large playscape for the kiddos.
- Pieous (12005 Hwy 290 W): Pizza. Pies. Pizza pies? You will be thinking about their pizza for days! They really have a great selection of food and beers. The outdoor set up is family style seating with picnic tables, and is gated so the kids won’t go too far. The kids will enjoy leaving their artistic mark by scribbling on their chalkboard walls.
- Rusty Mule (Dripping Springs): Great spot for families and located on 290 headed towards Dripping Springs. Rusty Mule also offers live music…fun for the entire family!
What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant in the area? Let us know if it’s not on the list and we’ll add it!