Ah, dining out with toddlers. –What. an. experience. An undertaking not for the faint of heart. Half the time, I prefer to just avoid it altogether. They’re loud, they drop silverware, accidentally spill drinks, there’s nothing on the menu they like, they try to crawl on or under the table…the stress of it all far outweighs the benefit of not having to cook at home. However, in Austin we are blessed with quite a few kid friendly / toddler friendly restaurants! Tons of eateries around town have playgrounds, outdoor patios, and a laid-back atmosphere that families {and toddlers} love.

Here’s a rundown of our top go-tos… the best restaurants in Austin for toddlers! Where does your family love to eat?

  1. Hat Creek Burger Company (multiple locations throughout the Austin area): Always the number one choice in our book! The Hat Creek atmosphere is so chill & family friendly — moms at their wit’s end can catch a break while the kids play. Every location has both indoor & outdoor dining with a playground where the littles are bound to make friends. Granted, it is a fast food burger joint but there’s some surprising variety to the menu: salads, turkey/veggie burgers, Paleo bowl, wine & beer. Basically, Hat Creek is a godsend to parents and a true Austin gem. And, it’s there for ya almost any time ya need it…breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Hat Creek
    Lunch at Hat Creek is a go-to for our family…kid-size shakes, playground & food everyone is happy to eat.
  2. Flores Mexican Kitchen / Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar (8300 N FM 620, in the Trails at 620): These spots make the list because both have back patios that lookout onto an epic shared playground that’s suitable for all ages. We usually find a table outside, order food (both places have great kid’s menus), and then let the kids run over to the playground while we sit back and actually have an adult conversation. The dining patios are covered and the playground is shaded by trees. The Trails at 620 is a mixed-use shopping center that doesn’t feel like one: mature oaks, beautiful landscaping, backs up to green space, etc. The peaceful setting & playground/patio set-up makes for a lovely dinner option with sunset views.
  3. Salt Traders Coastal Cooking (two locations, Round Rock & Zilker): Here in Central Texas, there aren’t too many choices for excellent seafood…but Salt Traders is one of them and it’s super kid-friendly, too! Diners are served an amuse-bouche right when they’re seated, which is nice for toddlers who gotta eat something NOW. The children’s menu is a nice selection of quality seafood — the same choice cuts of fresh fish & shrimp that the adults are served. It’s listed on a fun coloring sheet, and the best delight: littles are guaranteed to stay happy with an appetizer of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish that’s served before their meal. It really feels like such a treat when we all get to dine together at Salt Traders.
  4. Sour Duck Market (1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd): This Eastside bakery/coffee shop/deli offers a relaxed fast-casual vibe. Feel good about supporting our very own food community at this farmer & rancher-friendly restaurant — pantry items, veggies, eggs, and animal products are sourced locally. What makes Sour Duck so appealing for families is their backyard, called “The Yard”: spacious, communal, and it has the absolute cutest food truck converted into a children’s play area. Plus, the food is some of Austin’s best (sister restaurants are Barley Swine and Odd Duck) and it was recently named one of the Top 100 Bakeries in America by Food & Wine.
  5. Mandola’s Italian Kitchen (Four area locations: The Triangle, Bee Cave, Cedar Park & Arbor Trails): This Texas-born Italian grocer & eatery is as family-friendly as they come. Kids meals are authentically Italian and include a drink & gelato. The gelato is the key part, here…my kids absolutely love choosing their flavor of this frozen sweet treat at the end of their meal. Our family opts for Mandola’s time & again because it has both indoor & outdoor dining options, child-size tables & chairs for our minis to eat together, the tastiest bread & dipping oil that arrives promptly when you’re seated, and the playground. Toddlers love it!


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