While slowly introducing new tastes and foods to your baby, expand your own palate with a trip to these locally owned restaurants that welcome families. With healthy eats, play areas and spacious patios with misting fans and room to wiggle, Dallas’ thriving culinary scene is more child-friendly than you might think.
Of course, we know this is one of the best grocery stores, but did you know they have three locations with outdoor seating and a play area? After stocking up on groceries, grab some food at the cafe, and take the kiddos outside to eat and play. The Plano, Fort Worth and Southlake locations all have playgrounds. All of them have picnic tables nearby as well as covered seating.
Fort Worth, 817/989-4700
After one visit to Chicken Scratch, you’ll be itching for a return trip to try another specialty chicken biscuit sandwich and the real fruit paletas that come with each kid’s meal. With cactus gardens and a music stage fashioned from wooden pallets, the view itself is something to behold. The rustic courtyard of picnic tables and comfy couches it shares with The Foundry bar leaves plenty of room for your little chicks to stretch their legs. Take them over to the enclosed playground with monkey bars and a wooden cutout for photo ops.
After listing the full selection of menu items based on a farm-to-table practice, the Company Café has a kid’s menu packed with easy options, such as chicken tenders, grilled cheese, granola and pancakes, sweet potato fries. There is an outdoor patio space as well as colorable menus and highchairs available; it’s a great spot for families, too. On the weekends, the café serves dinner from 5–9pm, and with a gluten-free bakery (that is also an online bakery), how could you say no to the jalapeño corn bread?
A menu of vegetarian and organic ingredients, an Austin-like atmosphere and other family-friendly perks give Dream Café the edge young moms are looking for. Come for a pleasant breakfast or brunch under the shade trees, and get a table close by the playgrounds: a jungle gym and playhouse at Uptown. Running low on supplies in your diaper bag? There’s also a changing table with flushable wipes.
Uptown Dallas, 214/954-0486
Hat Creek Burger Company
With outdoor seating, a playground and an allergen information menu, Hat Creek Burger Company is the ultimate host for families. For families who want to grab an American bite outside (with a covered seating area) that also allows kids to run around, this is the site. As a burger speciality restaurants, there are turkey, chicken and vegetarian options for even the pickiest of eaters. Just like when we were kids, the restaurant has “Dirt Worm” dessert, which is a mixture of Oreos, gummy worms and chocolate. Every Tuesday is family night from 5pm until close where double (Big Hat) and single (Little Hat) burgers are half off.
Katy Trail Ice House
The Katy Trail Ice House, located just across the street from Uptown’s Company Cafe, draws the sports-loving crowd to its barstools and beer garden. The massive outdoor area with picnic tables under shade trees, however, makes it a great destination for young and hungry families looking for a casual lunch out. Get free valet parking and then take a seat near the Astroturf patio to play a game of beanbag toss before ordering ballpark favorites with fries and juice from the kids’ menu. A separate restroom sits at the edge of the outdoor patio for easy access, and the indoor bathroom has a changing table. But there’s no need to venture to the heart of Dallas; check out Plano’s Katy Trail Outpost, which is off Park and Preston.
Uptown Dallas, 214/468-0600
After all that hearty food, what better way to satisfy your sweet tooth than with a healthy snack? Monster Yogurt boasts more than 80 nonfat frozen yogurt flavors including Greek yogurt and even more crumbly toppings, which extrapolates to a zillion combinations. There’s always something wacky and tasty to try, such as honey cinnamon lavender, and enjoy the complimentary coffee (at the Richardson and East Dallas locations) while the kids get some playtime inside the Monster Cove. You’ll find the indoor play place for ages 3 and up at the East Dallas location, and there’s an outdoor patio in Richardson. The Colony location is inside a food court, so grab a burger to complement something sweet.
East Dallas, 214/321-6363
The Colony, 972/972-8737
Nico’s Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar
Whether the family is craving Mexican or Tex-Mex, Nico’s Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar has the best of both worlds. On top of that, the outdoor seating (that is covered, of course) overlooks a playground. The fenced area has two playgrounds for younger kids (ages 3+) as well as a mini playground for the littlest ones. If your child is a NASA fan, they will love riding on the U.S. spaceship stuck in-between the two playgrounds. The play area is covered with mulch, so it might be a good idea to bring some wipes to brush off any dirt.
Claimed to have “The Last True Chicken Sandwich,” Super Chix follows a simplistic style for chicken and prides itself on hand-cut fries and fresh vegetables that are delivered daily. The restaurant also serves frozen custard, but be sure to check the flavor of the week. Besides the obvious health-conscious approach to food, Super Chix has an outdoor play area with a small play house, chalkboards and games painted on the concrete (such as hopscotch and Twister)—but only at the Richardson, Frisco and Fort Worth locations.
Here’s fair warning: Your humble backyard sandbox is small potatoes compared to the expansive sand lot at the appropriately named The Lot. The children’s garden and play area have a beach-meets-farm-meets-playground feel, with stools made from tractor seats and inanimate cows crafted from repurposed buckets and barrels. The chalkboard and beanbag toss are welcome distractions, too, but you came to eat, right? Have a seat at the sizable tables under pergolas and choose from a menu stuffed with locally sourced ingredients and a kids’ menu with items such as a chicken fingers, quesadillas, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese and pasta. Note: Bring extra wipes to swipe away excess sand before digging into your meal.
White Rock Lake, 214/321-1990
Originally published September 2013. Photo courtesy of ©iSTOCK