Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
It doesn’t take much time dining out with kids to realize that while most restaurants have kids’ menus, that does not mean that they are kid-friendly. To me, there is nothing more stressful than deciding to go out as a family, only to pick a location where the vibe is “children are not allowed to be children.” Of course, we always do our best to teach our kids about proper restaurant etiquette, but we also want to enjoy our meal without feeling like we would have been better off at home.
Luckily, Houston is full of great restaurants that not only have wonderful menus but also embrace families (and actually want them in their establishments!). Here are the 10 most kid-friendly restaurants in Houston.
1. Little Matt’s, West University
When someone is looking for a family-friendly restaurant, Little Matt’s is always at the top of the list. From the moment you walk in the door of this West University locale, you know that this place was designed to make families feel welcome. That’s no accident—the restaurant was established in 2009 while the owner’s son was battling cancer for a second time, and he wanted a place where the community could come together. He opened Little Matt’s with the intention of giving money back to Texas Children’s Cancer Center. If that alone is not enough to make you want to visit, there is also a wall of iPads, a small arcade and a candy shop that makes kids light up. The menu is full of delicious staples done well, like burgers, Tex-Mex and a variety of hearty salads. Wine and beer are “free” to adults (though they suggest tipping the amount a drink would have cost you) and the picnic table seating makes it easy to meet up with other families for a meal.
2. The ‘401, Bellaire
The ‘401 gets its name from the last three digits of the Bellaire zip code and has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. The menu features a mix of American classics with a twist—they serve up greens and bowls along with side burgers, wraps, and wood stone pizza (that can even be ordered with gluten-free cauliflower crusts!). Kids love the ‘401, not only for their menus but also for the entertainment room with movies and iPads (read: they can socialize with their friends without being scolded for being too loud in a restaurant!). While the children play, you can also peruse the happy hour menu and catch up with a friend.
3. Punk’s Simple Southern Food, Rice Village
Punk’s Simple Southern Food5212 Morningside Dr
Houston, TXNothing captures living in the South like good fried chicken—and that is what Punk’s Simple Southern Food, located in Rice Village, is all about. Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken (that’s been brined for 36 hours!) is their specialty, but you will also find other comfort food favorites like Ma’s Meatloaf, shrimp and grits, and mac and cheese. If an entire restaurant devoted to making wonderful chicken strips isn’t enough for your kids, their outdoor patio is also a crowd-pleaser. Children of all ages are encouraged to play in the outdoor space while their parents enjoy lunch, brunch or dinner. Indoors, they have twelve televisions, which also makes Punk’s a hot spot on game days.
4. Goode Company Taqueria, Upper Kirby
Our family is pretty much here for anything that the Goode Company group does, and believe the Goode Company Taqueria is an underrated casual Tex-Mex spot in Upper Kirby. This is an order-at-the-counter and grab-a-seat kind of location, with the likes of mesquite-grilled fajitas with generous sides of rice and beans. We send the kids inside with a dollar to get a roll of pennies, and then sit out on the patio with a margarita while the kids throw all their wishes into their large fountain. Their breakfast tacos are also not something to be missed.
5. Mia’s Table, Upper Kirby (and soon-to-be Katy!)
“Family Friendly” is front and center on Mia’s Table’s website—and they mean it. While they may not have a playground or open space for the kids to run around, you will find a solid menu, friendly staff and tons of families enjoying a meal out. When you arrive at this Upper Kirby spot, order at the counter and let the kids pick from a menu filled with chicken bites, corn dogs, grilled cheese and more. All of the kids’ menu items come with drinks and a choice of fries or fruit…but they also feature treats like bluebell shakes and homemade cookies. Their lemonades are also kid-favorites. Don’t forget to grab free soft serve at the end of your meal! Bonus: this fall, another location is opening in Katy!
6. Dish Society, Galleria, Katy, Memorial, the Heights and Downtown
The Dish Society, with locations in Galleria, Katy, Memorial, Heights and Downtown, is a counter service, farm-to-table restaurant. While their whole menu is worth taking a look, they are especially known for their breakfasts and brunches. The Nutella French Toast Bites are only $5 and will make you want to steal from your child’s plate. They also feature a number of local beers on tap and offer flight tastings. Most of the locations have games that you can play at your table and patios, and some feature kids-eat-free Tuesdays!
7. Flying Fish, the Heights
At the Flying Fish in the Heights, you’ll find catfish, gumbo, oysters, crab, po’boys, shrimp and other Southern fixings. Catfish is by far one of their best dishes, and the kids’ meals are served in little paper boats and come with a pack of animal crackers and a fortune-telling fish. The restaurant also has a whole wall of “adopted” Billy Bass singing fish, but don’t worry…the batteries have all been removed. Pro tip: it’s located right next to Fat Cat Creamery if you want to pop on over for dessert after—assuming you still have room.
8. The Blue Fish, Downtown and Memorial
If I let them, my kids would eat sushi every day of the week. Sorry, y’all, the budget doesn’t allow for that. Though the bento boxes at Blue Fish (with locations Downtown and in Memorial) help us out with their awesome selection at a great price. Each box includes miso soup, house salad, 4-piece California roll, dumpling, tempura and a choice of rice (white, brown or fried) or noodles. Add in some mochi for dessert and our kids are in heaven. Plus, you can’t beat a sushi place that is welcoming to kids—that’s enough to make us loyal customers.
9. Local Foods, various locations
Local Foods is one of those restaurants where we ignore the kids’ menu and head straight for ordering off of the main menu. This is clean eating in Rice Village, Upper Kirby, Tanglewood, Downtown and Heights that your kids will totally love. They specialize in selections of sandwiches, salads and meals—all made with local ingredients. They also have a wide selection of vegan and gluten-free options that are so tasty, you’ll forget they are healthy. The locations themselves are casual, which makes it easy to eat together as a family. Plus, the sandwiches can easily be split between two kids. Just order at the counter and find a cozy spot to chow down!
10. Jimmy Changas, various locations
If you’re looking for a true place where kids can play and eat, look no further than Jimmy Changas. There are locations in Pasadena, Katy Pearland and League City, and they boast a “Jimmy’s Jungle” with a shaded play structure and patio eating! The menu is all Tex-Mex, with plenty of fan favorites with crispy tacos, cheese enchiladas and, of course, quesadillas! There is nothing better than leaving a restaurant with full, worn out kids that make for a quiet drive home.
Originally published on Mommy Nearest
Main image: Adobe Stock/Arkady Chubykin