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great outdoor dining with a baby?

I mistakenly posted this on the texas board...apologies for the repost:

Yes I know this is a very specific post...at any rate, my wife and i will frequently rack our brains on a Friday trying to find a great outdoor place with good food that's also kid friendly. (and ideally north of the river...yes, tough call).

Don't get me wrong, there are some great outdoor spots and there are some great restaurants and there are some places that are great to bring kids, but I'll be damned if I can think of any that have all three.

Can anyone help me out?

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  1. Blue Star Cafeteria (Burnet and 49th) accomodates kids nicely, and they have an outdoor eating area and are a little upscale.

    Up the road is Phil's Ice House (Burnet and Northland), with a playscape and everything, but gets real busy, especially on Fridays. They have decent burgers, and it's part of Amy's Ice Cream, so there's that as well.

    Central Market Cafe at Lamar and 41st has the huge playscape, a park with a pond and the "family pit". It's a good bonus when there's live music; keep in mind the musicians really appreciate it when parents keep the kids away from the stage. One advantage of CM Cafe is the grocery store; much easier to cater to the small kid tastes if the menu doesn't work out. When my kids were little, we'd get fruit from the store to round out the kids' meals.

    Good luck. If it's any consolation, Austin is much easier to take kids out than it used to be. Even 15 years ago we'd get nasty looks no matter where we took our kids; even Threadgill's didn't seem to appreciate it (at the time, they didn't even have a kids menu; "They can just eat off your plate" was the response.)

    1. Ski Shores is cool. County Line on the lake. Nutty Brown Cafe (not on the lake, but still outside and kid-friendly). The Blu Parrot Lakeside Bar & Grill (inside Volente Beach Water Park).

      1. Waterloo 360 has a fantastic play area for the kids and the food is fine, not great but fine. Also, Mesa Rosa on 360 is pretty good and they have a nice outdoor area and are very family friendly.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Rene

          Thanks for this post. We're looking for more ideas as well (7 week old). We've been, a few times, to Sampaio for 1/2 price apps and discount drinks (until 6:30 M-F). It seems like there are 1 or 2 other couples there w/infants outside.

          I thought I'd just follow amysue around and harass her with the baby, but she was hit by a deer and I don't want to stress her out right now.

          1. re: rudeboy

            We happened by the Texican at Lakeline last night with our friend's ten year old in tow. The patio was incredibly pleasant and children of all ages were present and well behaved.

            My past reaction to the Texican was "bleh" but I did try a New Mexico style enchilada (ordered for me by my friend) and really liked it. I have no idea if it was anywhere close to authentic...

            1. re: Rene

              I actually have some for you. I know, don't faint. Wateroo Ice House on 360 actaully targets parents with kids as their main audiance. Skishores as well. There's also Hangtown over in Westlake as well as Maudie's.

            2. re: rudeboy

              You made me snort coffee through my nose!

            3. re: Rene

              OOPS... Mesa Rosa is on 620.

            4. I only know South Austin, but I'll share anyway. With a 7 week old, you have more options than you would if you have 2 toddlers, I think (less chasing, etc.) We typically go to restaurants at slow times so we don't disturb too many people and can clean up a little before others start wanting the table. A lot of Tex-Mex restaurants have outside seating...Maudie's, Matt's, Nuevo Leon, etc. Enoteca has a small outdoor seating space and great food. Freddie's has okay food and can be a little smokey but fun. A few other favorites are Flip Happy Crepes, P.Terry's & Shady Grove. We also use a babysitter frequently and just go out by ourselves. Hope this helps a little. Happy Eating!

              1. Thanks all for your suggestions (some old stand-bys and some new ones too!).

                This Friday we ended up going to the Domain which has lots of outdoor options many of which have very good appetizer deals (along with decent drink selections). I'm not a huge fan of chains, but it's close and we can be in and out before bed time.

                So, to sum up great outdoor baby friendly dining in Austin:

                North Central
                Blue Star Cafeteria
                Phil's Ice House
                Central Market
                Central Market

                Nutty Brown Cafe
                Blu Parrot
                Ski Shores
                Mesa Rosa

                The Domain

                Pretty much everywhere :)

                1. Don't forget Eastside Cafe

                  Also, for those of you with older kids who might be willing to take a drive on a pretty afternoon/evening, my kids enjoy both of the restaurants in Walburg, north of Georgetown.

                  The Walburg Merchantile--German food, beer, large outdoor tent with live German music and a dance floor receptive to kids.

                  Dale's Essenhaus--delicious burgers, beer, often live music, playscape and a basketball court for the kids.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: danoc

                    I disagree on Eastside. More adult place. Kids only if they are quiet and well-behaved.

                  2. I'm assuming anywhere you are in public your children will be well-behaved. We have had lovely meals at Eastside Cafe with our four mostly polite children. If they were not on their best behaviour, they would be promptly removed from that or any situation. It doesn't matter if we're outdoors or not.

                    Here's the thing...they love fresh vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes, artichoke manicotti, and the raspberry vinagrette on their salads. They deserve to eat this food too instead of the nasty fried, processed food and fries that most restaurants offer as "Kid Food."

                    Try Eastside Cafe with your well-behaved child. I assure you that you will be treated with kindness by the staff and that other patrons will be delighted to see children eating real food. We've only had good experiences.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: danoc

                      You are a rare gem, danoc. I would very much welcome a well-behaved child who enjoys the good things in life sitting beside me. However, in this day and age I fear you are the exception, not the rule. Eastside IS a good recommendation for children/families such as yours. They have a wonderful selection of veggies, I agree.