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Nov 11, 2012 10:08 PM

Quick visit with kids

Hello, we are coming from Chicago to Dallas for the Thanksgiving Cowboys game, and we are looking for lunch and dinner recs for Friday. The kicker: we will have our 6 and 2 year old daughters with us. They are lovely and well behaved, but we are looking for places with good, authentic Texas fare which will be comfortable, maybe even fun, for our kids. Chicago is a big food town so we are looking for Texas specialties: tex-mex, barbeque, and steak houses come to mind. Any thoughts? I have searched the boards but have found nothing geared toward families, please direct me if I am missing a thread. We are willing to drive, especially if there are kid friendly activities nearby...we are trying to avoid amusement parks and zoos in favor of more Texas specific things to see and do. Thanks!

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  1. Love & War in Texas might be a good option. The focus is on meat, but they have a diverse menu. They have locations in Plano or Grapevine, but it is really good for kids and the decor won't let you forget you're in Texas. The location in Grapevine Mills Mall has a Legoland and lots of other family activities nearby.

    Even though it's a chain, Chuy's is a good option for Tex Mex that is extremely kid friendly.

    1. Pretty much any Tex-Mex place will be o.k. for kids -- it's not like those places are high-end, fancy joints. You can surf this site for Tex-Mex restaurants that are convenient to where you will be staying. Some favorites (in no particular order) are Mia's, Pepe & Mito's, Herrera's, Avila's, and Matt's Rancho Martinez. Barbeque places shouldn't be a problem with kids, either. In Dallas, the best are Pecan Lodge, which is in Shed #2 of the Dallas Farmer's Market (downtown), and Lockhart Smokehouse, which is in the Bishop Arts section of Oak Cliff, just west of downtown. Pecan Lodge typically has a long line, so have one parent entertain the kids while the other does the waiting and ordering. Also, PL is only open for lunch, 11 - 3. Some of the fancier steakhouses might be a bit of a problem, but my attitude is, if they're taking your money they can put up with your kids. Also, some of the best steak places are not super fancy -- like Bob's on Lemmon @ Wycliff. Or try excellent Neapolitan-style pizza at Il Cane Rosso on Commerce St. in Deep Ellum, just east of downtown. The antithesis of Chi-town deep-dish. Also, Dallas is in a taco craze these days. There are all sorts of places, besides Tex-Mex restaurants, serving tacos, and nothing but tacos, and non-Mexican takes on tacos. Places like Velvet Taco, The Taco Joint, Fuzzy's Tacos, Rusty Taco. Then there are the authentic, old-school, Mexican tacquerias, like Tacqueria El Si Hay and La Banqueta -- the real deals. The kids would probably dig tacos from Fuel City, a truck stop just west of downtown, where there are longhorn cattle and a swimming pool out back. I do not jest. Have fun.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Dallas Alice

        Just an FYI on many of the of the taco stands listed - most do not have high chairs or boosters or much of any seating. They also only generally only have tacos which limits your food options (my picky toddler won't eat them). Fuel city is not that much fun, has really greasy tacos and is right next to a jail.

        I would definitely NOT recommend Bob's or any other high-end steakhouse for a 2 year old. Texas Land and Cattle or Saltgrass would be better options.

        1. re: Webra1

          You took the words right out of my mouth. I concur with all you said!
          Texas Land & Cattle and, Saltgrass Steakhouse are very Texan, family friendly, and reasonably priced.
          Cane Rosso. again, a great pizza option.
          Fuel City Tacos would be a good taco option for kids and out-of-towners. Unlike the dives we all prefer.

      2. Since the Cowboys play in Arlington (between Dallas and Fort Worth), do you know yet where you are staying? The DFW area is extremely spread out, so it would help with thinking up recs. I'm thinking of the Fort Worth Stockyards with a rodeo on Friday night. See Attractions @

        Lunch or dinner at El Rancho Grade or El Asadero just south of the Stockyards on Main St. For higher end lunch or dinner, Longsome Dove Western Bistro in the Stockyards.

        4 Replies
        1. re: CocoaNut

          We are staying in Arlington Thursday night, and at the airport Friday night (our flight leaves at 5:45am on Saturday...I know, brutal). Fort Worth Stockyards is top of my list, I will look at both the restaurants you mentioned. Our kids will try most anything and generally like Mexican as long as it isn't too spicy. I also know food trucks are a big thing there, we don't have those due to ridiculous regulations (although that may be changing soon), any that park in a particular area or that we should try to find? Maybe any that tend to be near a park for a picnic type scenario?

          1. re: kstaigs

            OK - remembering my 6yo nephew's response to salsa at a completely different restaurant, scratch Tex-Mex.

            There is a food truck park in FW on the edge of an industrial area, behind a new, very trendy urban area. There are picnic tables. Here is a recent thread about it: and a link to their calendar of participants:

            In the Stockyards, take a look at H3 Ranch for lunch or dinner. Not sure why I neglected to note it earlier. Steaks and other options.

          2. re: CocoaNut

            I'm assuming that since the owner of Lonesome Dove has little kids, they should be set up for them. I've seen the kids eating at Love Shack, but not Lonesome Dove.

            My favorite steakhouse is Pappas Bros ... it's also conveniently located. I haven't seen many kids there, but they tend to be very accommodating, and most places you can get away with a lot if you dine on the early side.

            PS You mentioned not being very interested in zoos, but just thought I'd mention that FW's is ranked in the top 5 nationally and is quite worthwhile. The herpetarium was always a favorite of mine when I was little ... don't know if these are gone after a recent renovation, but there were buttons to guess whether a snake was venomous or not (and then the correct answer lit up). There's also a Wild Texas area.

            There's a cattle drive in the stockyards at lunch, and Lonesome Dove is open then with a more limited menu (but I think you can still get steak--all the menus should be online).

            1. re: foiegras

              I certainly would not recommend taking small children to Lonesome Dove, at least not at dinner.
              Dunno about lunch.

          3. If you're in Fort Worth, I'd venture that Lonesome Dove would be okay with well behaved kids at lunch. You could call them to ask about an early dinner. Compared to other cities, this area is pretty family friendly. They sometimes will seat you at a particular area of the restaurant if you have kiddos (at least this has been my experience a few times - a secret kid section).

            Babe's is a fun restaurant and very Texas (I'd pick it over Love & War). There is periodic dancing and chicken fried steak. There are a couple locations.

            Near the stockyards, I'd pick Joe T Garcia's, but lots of people hate it. Joe T's is Tex Mex / limited menu / family friendly. My almost-three-year old likes their bean and cheese nachos, which isn't on the dinner menu.

            I also like - still in Fort Worth - Reata for lunch. VERY Texas. Again, gets some mixed reviews, but I've also had good food and drinks there.

            Aside from the cattle drive, the Fort Worth Science Museum is really a kid's museum and a lot of fun for 2 and 6 year olds. I'd also pick either Dallas or Forth Worth even though Pecan Lodge is probably tops for BBQ.