When I was a kid the only restaurant that had a playscape was McDonald’s and it wasn’t really a “playscape” as we know them today. It was just a rickety merry-go-round that made children dizzy and a tall metal slide that burned the back of kids’ legs on hot summer days.
Thankfully we’ve come a long way since the 80s and it’s not just fast food restaurants that have playscapes anymore. In addition, restaurants have upgraded from the scalding hot slides and dizzying merry-go-rounds to larger and safer playscapes.
Since we have no shortage of good Mexican food in Austin (most people would argue that it’s really Tex-Mex but whatever), I compiled a list of family-friendly Mexican restaurants. Most of them have playscapes or at least great outdoor seating that make for an all-around relaxing experience. Add in some sunny weather, some queso (always queso!), and a margarita, and you can call it a perfect day!
Here are our top picks for Austin Mexican Restaurants with kids:
Flores has 4 locations around Austin and they are all family-friendly with playscapes. Each one is unique in their set-up, but they are all great for families. The kids menu is good and the grown up menu is even better.
Maudie’s is an Austin staple that has multiple locations around town. If you’re specifically looking for a playscape, head to the location at the Triangle on Guadalupe. The other locations have outdoor seating, although each location varies in size.
All of El Mercado’s locations are family-friendly but the location on S. 1st has a playscape as well as a patio. For those of us with wiggly kids, this may be worth the drive to that specific location! The kids menu is reasonably priced and has all of the usual favorites included.
While Baby A’s may be famous (or infamous?) for their Purple Ritas and Fruity Ritas, all of the Baby A’s locations are actually family friendly. The location at Barton Creek has a playscape for the littles. All locations offer a Kids Eat Free promotion from 5pm-close on Tuesdays.
I can’t mention Tex-Mex in Austin without bringing up Matt’s El Rancho. Aside from the fact that it’s been serving Austin since 1952 which is awesome on its own, the food and atmosphere are amazing. While there isn’t a playscape, there is great outdoor seating along with a koi pond with a fountain that can keep your kids somewhat occupied. Try the Bob Armstrong dip.
If your kids love tortillas then you must go to Lupe Tortilla. While there aren’t playscapes at Lupe Tortilla, I think the food and the atmosphere are great for the littles. Who needs a playscape when your kids will spend the whole time devouring the big-as-their-face tortillas? And for the adults, their food is quite delicious as well.
Hula Hut calls its menu a mixture of Mexican and Polynesian, so while there are some Tex-Mex favorites on the menu, you’ll also see some Polynesian items as well. It is an Austin staple with a great view of Lake Austin. It doesn’t have a playscape, but if you sit outside on the patio/deck, your littles will have plenty of things to watch and see.
With 6 locations across town, you’re sure to be close to one of them. While there aren’t playscapes, most of them offer outdoor seating. In addition, each location is a fun and happy place with a lot of things to look at. The kids menu has a variety of usual kid favorites, and if you need a reason to bribe the kiddos, the kids meals come with a free dessert (not that I would ever suggest bribing children…ahem).
If you find yourself on the outskirts of town (perhaps after a trip to Hamilton Pool or Reimer’s Ranch), Verde’s is a must. Not only is their food fantastic and the atmosphere fabulous, but there is a large area outside for the kids to roam free as well as a brand new playscape for the kids to get their wiggles out. Sure makes for a relaxing and enjoyable meal for everyone.
With multiple locations in the area to choose from, Serrano’s is an easy choice. But if you’re looking for a place to let your young ones run free before or after you eat, you probably want to choose their Southpark Meadows location. It also wouldn’t hurt to eat there on a Wednesday, as kids eat free with purchase of an adult meal.