Austin eating with kid in tow - recs needed!
Hey all -
Am traveling to Austin from Seattle for a little less than a week visit and want to do a lot of eating. Particularly stuff that Austin does really well and Seattle does not like bbq, mexican, southwest/tex mex, and anything else very Austin. Gotta have a couple cart experiences as well as Seattle zoning has crushed whatever small cart scene we had here.
But there is one issue - the three year old. I've browsed the board and it seems that alot of recs center around bars or are behind bars or have "bar" in the title. I am fine bringing the kid to a bar but am assuming that wouldn't fly.
I don't need dummed down food or chicken fingers or anything - the kid is awesome at trying new stuff and if not, i always cart around tons of suitable snacks. Just need great recs that are OK for a kid, are open daytime hours or early dinner, and no fine dining (other people don't need to pay $$$ to hear my kid make scatological jokes in a very outside voice).
We will have a car and so can go anyplace though recs near places we will probably go with the kid are also appreciated (like Zilker, the lake, the zoo etc).
Oh and are there any good popsicle type places around (like Loco Pops in NC)? Also great aqua fresca and horchata (not just powdered mix stuff)? Oh and great coffee.
Thanks for the recs!!
Actually not surprisingly in Texas, Bar and kids is not always forbidden. An example is the East Side Kings trailer that you have to go through the Liberty Bar to get to. As long as it is before 9pm, you should have no problem walking your child through. Most places in Austin are pretty child friendly (depending on the child behavior). Cart wise there are a ton of options, check out austinfoodcarts.com for the most comprehensive list. For BBQ you may want to get out of Austin and go to the mecca of Lockhart and do Black's, Smitty's and Kreutz. In Austin there are plenty of choices for SW, tex-mex etc. you can search the board for favorites since you are venturing into what i call "religious argument" territory on these. Search for places like Cisco's, El Patio, El Gallo, Matt's Famous El Rancho, El Azteca, Chuy's, Nuevo León, Serranos, Amaya's Taco Village, and Maudie's. Fonda San Miguel is the premier interior Mexican place in town, but be aware that it is a high-end restaurant and costs accordingly.
I wholeheartedly agree with mkfoodie's recommendation of Smitty's or Kreuz Market in Lockhart. I would choose Smitty's personally, and it is very kid friendly. Also a bit closer to Austin, (and a BIG step down in quality) is the Salt Lick BBQ. I mention it because the food is served family style, and it's a cool experience in a fun location, and it is very kid friendly. The BBQ is decent (many people love it, actually), but I'm not a huge fan.
In Austin, Chuy's and its sister restaurant, Shady Grove, are both kid-friendly and fun in a kitschy sort of way, although the food and drinks are definitely a mixed bag. You can search either name to find discussions about the merits of each place. Out of the other restaurants mentioned by mkfoodie, the only restaurant I would consider eating at again would be Cisco's, and then only for breakfast (I'm a fan of the biscuits & gravy). Central Market North (near 40th/Lamar) is a great place to visit, and the food in their cafe is pretty good for the most part, and they have a large deck with a playscape, so my sisters always enjoy taking their kids there when they are in town & the weather's nice. The various dining options at the flagship Whole Foods Market also usually offer some good food (including some surprisingly delicious barbeque!), and I'd say that's a pretty kid-friendly place. I'm not a huge fan of Magnolia Cafe or Kerbey Lane (both 24 hour diners), but they are both quintessentially "Austin", and very kid-friendly, so you might want to check them out. I really don't mean to rag on them...they serve mostly decent diner food, for cheap, but it's more about the experience than about eating great food. They would be akin to something like Beth's Cafe in Seattle. Except I think Beth's is better.
For carts, I wholeheartedly recommend Odd Duck Farm to Market and Gourdough's donuts, which share a seating area, and G'raj Mahal (the best saag paneer I've ever eaten). Plus East Side King, which I like a lot. To eat there, you do need to walk through a fun, kind of dive-y bar. They don't open until 7:00 pm. The best bets there are the fried beets and the chicken karaage, I think. I also liked Poor Qui's Buns. Hope you enjoy Austin!
depending on what part of town your in, and the weather, there are a few places that have play scapes that are ok food, mostly burgers. We like Phil's Ice House, on Burnet, and it has an ice cream shop, as well. There is also Freddie's Place, on South lamar( I think) and it has a nice "back yard" kind of feel.
There is also Waterloo, a few locations, but not the central one, have playscapes. I am not a huge fan of their food, but lots of my friends love it.