Top 10 Family Friendly Restaurants in Austin

UPDATED APRIL 2014 — Dining with the little ones in tow can be tough sometimes. We spend a lot of time trying to shape our kids into calm little humans, but sometimes, you just want to relax and let them run around and play. Lucky for us, Austin has a lot to offer when it comes to dining out with children. Here are some of the best  family friendly restaurants in Austin, in no particular order.

Freddies-Place

Freddie’s Place is the jam! Complete with a playscape and live music on Thursday, Friday & Saturdays. The nice thing about the bands is they’re not insanely loud, and they are family friendly. Last time we were there they even sang a couple of nursery rhymes, with a bluesy twist of course! With plenty of outdoor seating and happy hour from 4-7, you and your family will have a great time and not spend a ridiculous amount of money. The parking isn’t ideal, but living in Austin, we’re all used to that, right? They have picnic tables right by the playscape which is great if your child(ren) aren’t at the age where you can keep your distance. Burgers, sandwiches, and even chicken ‘n waffles.

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Ski Shores Cafe is a gem on Lake Austin. Down the long and windy City Park Rd. lies a cute little place with mostly outdoor seating. They have a gated playscape and if you bring bread or save some fries, your kids can feed some turtles and fish! Plus, on Fridays they have Family Movie  Night where they show a kid friendly film, projector style, right by the picnic tables outside. They show at dusk, check their Facebook page for details as the info is not on their site, and on Thursdays they do a Family Movie Night giveaway on their Facebook as well. Pizza & burgers, fries & onion rings. Read our review we posted in June 2013 and see why it’s a hit for families!

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If you’re hankering for a patio with a killer view, craft brews and smoky BBQ, head to Smoke ‘N Hops in Dripping Springs to satisfy that craving. Smoke ‘N Hops was right off Hwy 290, about 20 minutes outside of town. The layout is open with a friendly bar in the back, stocked with TVs so you can watch your game. They have the NFL Ticket so you can catch just about any game of your choosing. Grab a table on their deck that faces the playground and has an AMAZING view of the Hill Country to the left. (The view is not pictured… you’ll just have to see it for yourself.) Read our review we wrote in October 2013 and see why it’s a fave!

boathouseplayscape

Boat House Grill has an amazing playscape with tables all around, as well as one patio with brightly covered umbrellas and another nestled under tall oak trees. It’s located one block south of 2222 near Lake Travis and Steiner Ranch. All summer long, EVERY Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 5:30 pm the Amazing Texas Twisters will be there doing balloon art and other kids activities. Catfish, shrimp, burgers, salads and chicken fried steak.

 docs

Doc’s Motorworks & Doc’s Backyard has become a staple for Austin families because of its delicious beer, games and chicken fried avocado (not in that order). Doc’s Motorworks is located on South Congress and Doc’s Backyard is on Brodie Ln. Both locations receive a lot of local love! There are specials everyday on beer and food. Tacos, wings and burgers.

The_Nutty_Brown_Sand_Pit

Nutty Brown Cafe has KIds Nite every month (check the calendar to find out when) with a bounce house, children’s entertainment and food and drink specials. SWEET. There’s a sandpit, chatty Macaws and a patio covered  by tall oak trees. A nice, chill Austin vibe combined with a delicious margarita, yes, please! Tex-Mex, chili, burgers, sandwiches, catfish and salmon. Read about our Kids Nite experience and visit soon!

 Central-Market-North-Lamar

Central Market North for something besides burgers is a great choice! With live music, a playscape and a duck pond, your kids should have a great time while you relax and enjoy some music. A diverse menu with items from Asian salmon salad to pork vindaloo, get something good and good for you too. Yum!

yelpcontigo

Contigo is amazing! It’s gorgeous for one, for two, the menu is so much more than your basic tex-mex and burger norm. They don’t have a playscape, but they have a cool sand play area type of thing that kids are drawn to. It’s completely outdoor with accommodations for if it rains or is cold, and it’s decor is super inviting. Large picnic tables with large Christmas lights, the vintage looking kind, hang casually over the whole dining area. This is a little bit nicer of a place, so I only recommend it for older kids. It’s not really a run around and be messy type of joint, but I’ve seen some kids have a good time there. Mussels, rabbit & dumplings, fancy grilled cheese and their lavender ice cream is like eating a garden. I mean that in a good way.

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Austin’s Pizza in Westlake – Pizza and a playscape equals children in restaurant heaven. The play area is surrounded by a little fence and is away from the street so your kids can play safely. They’re pizza is delicious and kind of a big deal here in Austin. Pesto-a-Go-Goat is a must try. Read our review to learn all about Austin’s Pizza’s dedication to quality ingredients and see why it’s a must-do with the family.

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Waterloo Ice House at 360 & N. Capital of TX Hwy is an amazing spot. Playscape, sandpit, outdoor and indoor seating with cute decor and plenty of tables. Waterloo Ice House has been in Austin since 1976 and now has four locations around town. Burgers and tex-mex, along with some fish options.

 

 

The North Austin Trailer Yard (NATY) has a pretty sweet setup. Here, you have multiple, affordable options  with trailers serving up gyros, sno cones, coffee, doughnuts, cuban cuisine, fancy ramen and more. There’s a sand play area with toys for the kids and a cool giraffe and T Rex statue atop a chalkboard where your kids can draw away (hard to explain, see photo). The NATY is home to a farmers’ & flea market on Saturdays, and a kid’s show every Sunday – read our review & get a coupon riiiight here.  (The NATY is now closed)

 

 

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19 Responses to Top 10 Family Friendly Restaurants in Austin

  1. Suzanne says:

    I love Contigo. But it is not a place for kids, unless your kids like foody (read “weird”) food and the company of adults. The sandy area is not a sandbox, and if you let your kids run around kicking up dirt just because they happen to be outside, you give the rest of us parents a bad rep. My husband and I go to Contigo on our date nights–when we aren’t worrying about our kids. It’s not a place to avoid with your children, but it is not in the same category as the other restaurants mentioned in the article.

    • Jamie says:

      Thanks for the input, I added a little disclaimer into the Contigo paragraph. I really just wanted to add something with a bit more choices for adults, the other joints are so burger & fries and not every family feeds their kids those items. I’ve seen some kids having a ball there, but it’s not for everyone.

      • Kelly says:

        We took kids here, and it was the PERFECT venue. Adults got great food &drinks, and the kids played in the sand. Not many food choices for kids, but they ate grilled cheese, fries, and we brought applesauce.

  2. Bill says:

    What about Hat Creek Burgers at Bee Caves Rd and 360? It has a great play area. It also has great food. Chicken nuggets and stuff for the kids. Great burgers and beer for the grown ups. And a great outdoor seating area with an awesome deck. And affordable!!

  3. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for this GREAT list. So far we’ve visited Freddie’s Place and Waterloo Icehouse. We hope to check out Nutty Brown Cafe and Austin Pizza. We are on vacation and checked out Freddie’s out first night since it is not far from our hotel. If I lived here I swear I’d never cook again. We have 3 children 5 and under and eating out is not something we do often, but we felt so welcome at Freddie’s Place. It got chilly when the sun went down, but the staff got out the table heaters and we were cozy. The kids roasted marshmallows and made smores after devouring their waffles. The hubby and I enjoyed watching the game on one of the many large outdoor tv’s. And the food was great too. I had the portobello sandwich with sweet potato fries – yum! Really folks, you can’t pass up an opportunity to eat here. We will be going again before we leave. As for Waterloo Icehouse, the staff was extremely friendly, the playscape was wonderful, but the food was only ok. Most of what we got was rather bland, but the kids menu was great! Our kids loved the mac&cheese. I’d go here again just to have drinks and conversation with my husband and to watch the kids play, but not for the food. Thanks again for this list!!!

  4. Natasha says:

    Thanks for this list! We’re always on the hunt for a family friendly spot. Two that didn’t make the list but that we love..even including the drive out are Craigo’s Pizza in Lakeway and our ALL time fave- Verde’s Mexican Parilla out off Hamilton Pool Road.

    We visited Germany/Austria recently. I was amazed how EVERY restaurant we visited had a kid friendly space included. I’m certain this was because we were seeking these types of places out, but they seemed so much more common. Looking forward to getting something cool in Northwest Austin, we’ll be watching for the next list!

  5. Celeste says:

    I love heading to Phil’s Icehouse off Burnet and S. Lamar and I heard they are now building one 183 and Anderson area!

    We need some playscapes North! There used to be a nice one at Mighty Fine in Round Rock but it closed and they haven’t reopened it :(

    • Celeste says:

      I should specify that the Phil’s Icehouse’s are 2 separate locations not an intersection

      • Cris says:

        Reunion Grill in Cedar Park has a nice playscape as well. I haven’t been there yet but looks family friendly and has a great menu. They also have live music.

        • Christine says:

          Reunion Grille was great for families, but it closed down. They are planning on reopening soon, it will have a new name and some new features. I think the playscapes will be staying for sure.

  6. Meg says:

    The new Maudie’s at the Triangle has a playscape right off the patio that’s fenced off from the street. My kids enjoyed the playground and I appreciated the turf grass for the falls they took.

  7. wilceaux says:

    Midway Food Court on 360 deserves mention. Great food trailers, playground, and lots of tables.

  8. Christine says:

    Dahlia Cafe in Liberty Hill-

    I know a bit out of the way. However, if you need some home-cooked food and great country atmosphere. Great Place. The food is great, has a playscape for the kids, washer pits, and live music. They do have beer and wine only.

    • Tammy says:

      We love Dahila Cafe in Liberty Hill. Check out the weekend band line up.. My son loves the dance floor and the tables outside by the band is ideal for a smaller child or toddler.

  9. jeremy says:

    Where is Mandola’s Italian in Bee Cave and Arbor Trails? Both locations have excellent kids menus and wonderful free gelato. They also have great playscape areas that you can sit and eat so you can watch your tots at the same time.

  10. Veronica says:

    If your welling to drive to the country, the Good Luck grill in Manor,TX off east 290 is very kid friendly! They have a great area outdoors for children, with a very home-y feeling lots of space and table to easily supervise your kids. We have two toddler boys who love the food as well the fun kids area

  11. kat says:

    The Whole Foods Market on Lamar has a great play area up stairs with restrooms close by. Bonus points: you can get all kinds of delicious foods!!

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