Editor's Picks

Dining with the Tots: Houston's 9 Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Both you and your little ones will love these spots.

By Joanna O'Leary December 29, 2017 Published in the January 2018 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Parents will appreciate the salads at Barnaby's.

Image: Marla Murphy

Yes, dining out with the kids can be challenging if Johnny and Susie haven’t yet perfected their table manners. But don’t despair and settle for delivery. These restaurants will cater to both you and your tikes. 

Barnaby’s Café

Swift service and menus that offer something for everyone—and we do mean everyone—make this a one-stop shop for feeding the family all day long. Parentals counting calories will appreciate the creative salads, while their offspring will find comfort in the waffle fries, lasagna, and, if they’re good, rainbow cake for dessert. There’s plenty of patio seating, too, for those rare non-humid days.

The Bistro at the American Girl Store

Offering seating for dolls and their pint-size owners, plus kid-friendly comestibles like pretzel bites, pasta and sundaes, the cute bistro attached to the Memorial City Mall doll shop is perhaps the most child-centric eating space in all of Houston. Have your kid’s birthday here, and you won’t have to clean the house.

Hobbit Café

Even children unfamiliar with The Lord of the Rings will marvel at the café’s elaborate Tolkien-inspired décor. The laidback atmosphere and expansive menu of healthful, vegetable-heavy options make it a guilt-free, relaxing dining destination, especially for vegan and vegetarian families.

JCI Grill

This venerable chain’s many Houston outposts see large crowds of youths clamoring for dawgs layered with cheese, onions and chili, along with Frito pies, tater tots, ice cream treats, and other classic items that won’t break the bank. A menu of gourmet hot dogs appeals to parents looking for a fancier spin on the standard frankfurter.

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The chicken and waffles mac 'n' cheese at Jus' Mac.

Jus’ Mac

Sometimes, you just have to give the rugrats what they want, which, despite your best efforts to make them Try New Things, is—of course—macaroni and cheese. Fortunately, the many iterations of the beloved dish on offer at this popular carb purveyor, which has locations in the Heights and Montrose, are so sophisticated, they’ll please parents, too. Some even sneak in vegetables, so it’s a win-win. 

Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co. 

Hit this gem nestled in Sugar Land Town Square for highly shareable stone-baked pizzas like the Plutonic Jam (mozzarella, goat cheese, bacon, blueberry preserve), plus more standard pies for little ones who prefer the basics. Elsewhere on the menu, Belgian waffles are served all day and accented with accompaniments sweet (ice cream, marshmallows, caramel sauce) and savory (pulled pork, bacon, fried chicken), perfect for “brinner.”

Mia’s Table

Named for owner Johnny Carrabba’s youngest daughter, this restaurant is extremely popular with families thanks to its gregarious, patient waitstaff and its kids’ combos: Grilled cheese, corn dogs or cheeseburgers come with a drink and French fries or fresh fruit, along with free soft-serve, a sweet bonus.   

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Image: Alice Levitt

The Rice Box

A visit to either of the brick-and-mortar locations (Greenway Plaza, the Heights) of the popular food truck—or the truck itself!—provides a delicious introduction to General Tso’s chicken and other American Chinese dishes, which are easy on the spice, and therefore perfect for young palates. Children will be thrilled by the opportunity to eat out of an actual box.

Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill

With ample space between tables, butcher-paper tablecloths, and plenty of crayons on hand, this classic family destination makes it easy for large groups to spread out and provides the kiddos with plenty of incentive to stay put during dinner. The straightforward bill of fare—burgers, Tex-Mex staples like quesadillas and tacos—will please picky eaters, and parents will find it hard to turn down the cheap house margaritas.

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