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There is so much to do in Houston with and without kids but have you ever really looked at how BIG Houston is? The Houston metro area is bigger than the entire island of Oahu! We break down the best family friendly restaurants in Houston’s different neighborhoods. Where will you eat first?
Houston Texas is divided up into just shy of 20 distinct areas. While public transportation exists in Houston, the geographic area is so large that a car is almost always necessary unless you’re staying in one area only. It can be hard to plan for meals when you’re unclear on what’s really accessible and what will result in 45 minutes sitting in traffic. We’re sharing some of the best family-friendly restaurants in Houston’s commonly visited areas. There are a mix of small chains and independent restaurants on this mix that our own kids love.
Downtown Houston Kid-Friendly Restaurants
Niko Niko’s Market Square
301 Milam St Houston, TX
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View Menu: nikonikos.com
Located in Houston’s First Ward, Niko Niko’s is a great choice for families who are also visiting the downtown aquarium. This open air kiosk restaurant offers outdoor seating only and is located in Market Square Park. It is about an 8-minute walk from the aquarium. Their Greek and Mediterranean dishes are a great way to introduce kids to different cuisines. Our family enjoys their gyros, Philly cheese steaks, hummus platters and falafels. They also offer a twist on traditional quesadillas using pita bread that even my toddler loves. The outdoor dining aspect here is great for kids who need to get out a bit of energy in the park.
Niko Niko’s has a two larger full-service locations. One is in the Montrose neighborhood and the other is off of Sam Houston Parkway near CityCentre.
Phoenicia Specialty Foods
1001 Austin St Houston, TX
View prepared foods: phoeniciafoods.com/
Phoenicia Foods is a family favorite. I first discovered the Phoenicia out on Westheimer Road while looking for Persian grocery stores with the ingredients I needed to cook family recipes. The downtown location is located across from Discovery Green Park in close proximity to the George R. Brown Convention Center, Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park.
It’s far more than a grocery store. My family loves to grab traditional Middle Eastern prepared foods from here and picnic in Discovery Green Park. My kids love baba ghanoush (smoky eggplant dip), hummus and fresh pita bread. Chicken kibbe (kind of a chicken and grain fried ball) is a great branch out from the traditional chicken finger (which they also have). Do not miss their fresh breads. As a small child, Persian noon shirmal was my very favorite. It’s a sweet breakfast bread that is fantastic with tea. They carry it, but it is called Gata by Rubic’s bakery. Perfect to bring back to the hotel as a treat.
(located in Phoenicia Specialty Foods)
View MKT BAR menu: mktbar.com/
If indoor dining is more your speed, they have MKT BAR which they describe as a global gastropub. They serve American food with a global twist. My tweens and teenager love this spot – mostly for the Za’atar fries and the artisan pizzas. The artisan pizzas are also offered in a takeout bundle with wine or craft beer! MKT BAR is a popular happy hour spot and evening spot with locals, so, if you’re traveling with smaller kiddos, the mid-afternoon hours are more manageable here. Brunch is popular with long waits. In my opinion the brunch wait/food isn’t worth it, so I’d skip weekend brunch.
Limited free parking is available in the Houston One Place Garage for Phoenicia Foods and MKT BAR customers.
Midtown Houston Restaurants
Lankford Grocery & Market
88 Dennis St Houston, TX
View Menu and Hours: lankfordgrocery.weebly.com
Spoiler alert: It’s not a grocery store. This Houston family run restaurant on the edges of the Fourth Ward and Midtown started out as a grocery store back in the 1930s. Now it’s a place to get one of the best burgers in town. Though they serve breakfast ,we tend to go at lunch. There is indoor and patio seating. Kid meals include fries and a drink. Their burgers are the sloppy, greasy spoon style ones that satisfy cravings you didn’t even know you had. This spot has been on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and numerous other shows and there’s a reason for that recognition. There is street parking nearby.
Check your neatness at the door. you’re going to get messy. My favorite burgers here are the Chili Cheese Burger and the Pimiento Cheese Burger. If you love spicy food, the Firehouse Burger is great. My youngest loves their french fries because what 4 year old wouldn’t and my teen son said their burgers were slappin’, which I’m told is a good thing.
Museum District Family-Friendly Restaurants in Houston
1801 Binz St. Houston, TX
View Locations and Menus: barnabyscafe.com
Of all the restaurants in this article, this is the one that we’ve been to the most times. We’ve done date nights here, full on brunches with grandparents, brought guests and visited with kids of all ages. Barnaby’s has multiple locations in the Houston area, but this is the first one I ever went to and has a special place in my heart. Barnaby’s Cafe prides themselves on being open and welcoming to all. No matter what your family looks like, you will feel welcome and that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. They are also very kid- and dog-friendly. Patios are available and have lawn type games on them for families to play.
I’ve said all these nice things and I haven’t even touched on the food. It is incredible. My very favorite item is the Lebanese Chicken Fattoush Salad. First of all it is ENORMOUS. At least two meals for me. Second, I don’t know what they do to their chicken, but it is the best grilled chicken I’ve ever had. Other menu items are excellent but this is the one I always return to. Sweet potato fries are a great option to share as a table here. The kids’ menu has more options than most. My kiddos love the mini corn dogs and the Southern Fried Chicken sliders. Parking is in an attached garage and the cost depends on day and time. There are limited spots. This restaurant is within walking distance of the Children’s Museum, so, if you’ve parked there, I recommend leaving the car and strolling over.
Rice Village and West University Family Friendly Restaurants
2525 Rice Blvd Houston, TX
View the menu: velvettaco.com/
First let me tell you what Velvet Taco isn’t. It’s not a Mexican food restaurant. These tacos are creative interpretations of the traditional taco. Basically, they’re tortillas filled with deliciousness. Their creativity is across the board with everything from a chicken and waffles taco to a Nashville hot tofu taco to a barbacoa brisket taco. Everything I’ve put in my mouth from there is delicious though. The kids’ menu has some tamer options but adventurous eaters can experiment with sauces and toppings if they want to. Picky eaters can go for tater tots, which I’m pretty sure every kid likes. They have multiple other locations in Houston including the Heights and the Galleria.
This location has a great patio, delicious margaritas (heads up they’re potent) and free parking. Heads up – if your kids can read and are easily shocked, be aware that the drink menu has “Kick Ass” margaritas. My 9 year old found this horrifying and then hilarious, “Mommy! It says A-S-S!”.
6203 Edloe St Houston, TX
View the menu: littlemattscafe.com/menu
Full disclosure: I haven’t personally been here. Friends have recommended it and we just haven’t made it, but it is on my priority list. It’s not just about the food at Little Matt’s, it’s about the mission. A share of proceeds from Little Matt’s is donated to the Texas Children’s Hospital in honor of their son’s memory. When you eat here you truly are making the world a better place.
The kids’ menu choices range from standard chicken nuggets to personal pizzas, corn dogs, hot dogs, penne pasta, grilled cheese and cheeseburgers. All kid meals come with fries and fruit so you don’t have to choose between them – love that! For adults there are an array of yummy salads and creative burgers.
Family Friendly Restaurants in Houston: River Oaks and Upper Kirby
The Hot Bagel Shop
2015 S. Shepherd Dr Houston, TX
Yes, I know it’s technically not a full-fledged restaurant, but the discovery of The Hot Bagel Shop was life changing for me. As a transplanted Texan who is originally from the Northeast, I really, really missed bagels. I found a great bagel shop while living in San Antonio (Chicago Bagel Deli on Wurzbach), but it took me a few years to find this spot in Houston. It’s in the River Oaks area right close to Montrose. Open from 6am-2pm, it’s the perfect spot to grab a quick breakfast or lunch on a budget. My kids love this spot and it’s on our way to the Houston Zoo (about 12 minutes away) and Hermann Park. With parking available, it’s an easy stop in to grab something yummy to eat in the park.
3131 Argonne St Houston, TX
View the menu: miastable.com/
While you may be familiar with Carraba’s, you’ve probably never heard of Mia’s Table. It was founded by the creators of Carraba’s and there are five locations: two in Houston (Upper Kirby and Memorial City), one in Shenandoah near the Woodlands, one in Katy and one in Webster.
This restaurant prides itself on being family friendly, it’s even on their logo. Adults will love their classics like chicken fried chicken, brisket burgers and fried pickles. Kids will love their simple children’s menu. Everyone will love their banana pudding. Seriously, save room. The Upper Kirby location has plenty of patio seating and is pet-friendly. So if you’re traveling with your dog, be sure to check it out!
Neartown/Montrose Family-Friendly Restaurants in Houston
616 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX
View the menu: katzsneverkloses.com/
If you ever see a Houston restaurant list that doesn’t include Katz’s Deli, don’t trust it. Not only are they famous for being open 24 hours a day, but their menu and their portions are HUGE. Your whole family will be able to find the perfect meal on their extensive menu. From simple comfort food like Matzo Ball soup to mind-blowing sandwiches like Reubens and a pastrami corned beef combo, everything is freshly made and delicious.
Prices are super reasonable for the portion size with most large sandwiches including fries running close to $15. If you happen to be in the area for breakfast, you can’t go wrong with eggs Benedict or breakfast tacos. There is an expansive kids’ menu with more than just chicken fingers. Options include breakfast items as well. All kid meals come with a drink and side and are for kids 10 and under. Katz’s is a fairly lively restaurant, so the minor noise of excited kiddos will not stand out.
Other than great food, Katz’s has one other parental favorite of mine – large booths that you can corral kids in. Be sure to ask for one. While the Westheimer location is the original, there are now two additional locations. One is in the Houston Heights area on Shepherd Drive and the other is in the Woodlands in Shenandoah TX.
2710 Montrose Blvd Houston, TX
View the menu: bbstexorleans.com/
With 10 locations in the Greater Houston area, BB’s Tex-Orleans is a fusion of Louisiana Creole recipes with unique Texas touches. Recipes are family favorites passed down from founder Brooks Bassler’s Maw-Maw. Traditional favorites like gumbo, shrimp & grits, red beans & rice, and fried catfish are on the menu. If your kids are adventurous eaters you may consider diving into a popular Houston local favorite- crawfish, which you order by the pound.
Definitely check out the daily specials. My personal favorite is Tuesday’s Pecan Crusted Chicken with Creole Cream Sauce. BB’s also offers an extensive takeout menu so it’s perfect for nights you just want to retreat to the hotel to eat. You might feel like you’re in New Orleans when you find out you can order a 24 oz to-go daiquiri! One of my and my husband’s signature moves on vacation is to feed the kids lunchables or the fast food they’re asking for, put them to bed and eat a nice takeout meal by ourselves.
Of their 10 locations, these are located within Houston’s city area: 6154 Westheimer Rd (Briargrove), 3139 Richmond Ave (Upper Kirby), 2710 Montrose Blvd, 2701 White Oak Dr (Heights), and 1737 W 34th St (Oak Forest). There is also one located in the Energy Corridor at 1275 Eldridge Pkwy. While it’s not a common tourist destination, it is a popular business travel area.
Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Houston Heights
Commonly referred to as the Heights, this is one of my very favorite Houston neighborhoods. One of the main reasons is due to all of the family friendly restaurants here. This area has an eclectic mix of food ranging from classic American to Tex-Mex to BBQ to Chinese. There are also numerous family-friendly, open air biergartens. Gluten free and organic food is extremely easy to find in this area of town.
1102 Yale St Houston, TX
View the Menu: eatlola.com
This diner-style spot is on my list for out of town guests. The portions are hearty and the classic diner hustle and bustle provides a noisy backdrop to any volume your kids may add to it. There are multiple gluten-free and vegetarian options. Kids love this spot because they serve breakfast all day. I know even my pickiest kids are always up for eggs or pancakes!
Personally, The Greek omelet is my favorite. The most challenging thing you’ll encounter at Lola will be choosing between their amazing sides. I agonize between parmesan grits and corned beef hash on every visit. Prices are extremely reasonable in relation to portion size.
One of the reasons I love Lola is that you order at the counter and your food comes out to your table. This is far more efficient with kids than table service. They have indoor seating and a dog-friendly patio. Be aware that the parking lot is small and can be very busy. I recommend finding street parking and walking there.
242 W 19th St Houston, TX
View the Menu: boomtowncoffee.com/heights
People-watching is top notch at this family friendly restaurant in Houston. Not only is the coffee amazing, but they’ve got an expansive food menu with breakfast and lunch options as well. The menu is geared towards adults here, but I was always able to find a pastry for my kiddos and they loved the hot chocolate. Street parking is abundant nearby. If it’s a nice day, sit at an outside table and chill for a little while.
Kid-Friendly Restaurants that aren’t really IN Houston
Here at TravelingMom we want to give you that we’ve been there advice. I’ve been to restaurants all over Houston; with and without my kids, both on vacation/staycation and during everyday life. We’ve grabbed salads while waiting for my FIL to get chemo, waited out traffic with ice cream, squeezed poke bowls into airport runs and more. There is a trend however on some sites to recommend popular restaurants. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing except a large number of these restaurants aren’t actually IN Houston. I’m going to list a few of my favorite outer Houston-area restaurants here, but be aware, these will not be accessible without a car unless you want to pay Uber the big bucks.
Square Root Poke
23119 Colonial Pkwy Suite #C9 Katy, TX
When I say this one is worth the drive, it’s worth the drive. I searched my phone for pics and only found some unattractive half-eaten poke bowls because the second it’s in my hands, I want to shovel it into my mouth. We drive an hour to eat here from our house. It’s about 35 minutes from downtown Houston, depending on traffic.
;My older three kids love it. Even my slightly picky 9 year old will fight for the last bite. I recommend getting a large bowl with three proteins (you can double up on them if there is a favorite). This location is in the H Mart shopping area. H Mart is a huge Asian market with every single ingredient you could think of and dining inside as well. There is a bakery near the front entrance of H Mart that can be a fun stop for dessert.
4 locations: Katy, Pearland, Pasadena, League City, TX
View the menu: jimmychangas.com/
Jimmy Changas hits pretty much every Houston kid-friendly restaurant list and there is a good reason for that. They’ve got a playground, giant margaritas for the grown ups and a chill vibe. The menu is Mexican food that veers towards Tex-Mex. Kids have 4 choices on the kids’ menu: chicken fingers, cheese enchilada, cheese quesadilla or crispy taco. Their meals will come with a drink and soft serve ice cream. The menu is a coloring sheet and they feature the resulting artwork in the restaurants which we love.
Jimmy Changas is a great add on if you’re driving into Houston or staying outside of the city. You can’t go wrong with a ‘Changa Rita and their blanco queso. But if your trip centers around the city center, it won’t be worth the drive out. The locations are roughly a 35 minute drive each from downtown. The exception is Pearland which is only 20 minutes out.
Food is so subjective. My favorites may not be your favorites. If you’ve found a family friendly spot that you love, please drop it below so that I can check it out!