Dont_Play_with_Your_FoodEverywhere you google there are lists of family-friendly restaurants. Unfortunately, “family-friendly” usually means “serves chicken fingers”. As a parent sometimes you want more! I know that my qualifications for a good family place are good food, reasonable prices, and the ability to share portions with my kids. 
San Antonio is home to some of the most craveable restaurants ever, the kind you think about long after you get home. So grab the kids and dine out!

#5-Magnolia Pancake Haus (606 Embassy Oak, Suite 100 210.496.0828) Located slightly out of the way, this spot serves breakfast and lunch. They are dedicated to using the best ingredients available and it shines through in the taste of the food. It is hard to even choose a favorite here. The Smoked Turkey Hash is full of mesquite flavor and has some of the best shredded potatoes I’ve ever had. My father-in-law (of German descent) was head over heels for Pfannekuchen, which is a tasty apple pancake and tastes like the homeland. If you’re in the mood for a “dessert-breakfast” to start your day off go for the Bananas Foster Pancakes.  Portions are easily shared with kids here. Friendly waitresses mother you and bond with your kids. And speaking of Mom- these guys are old school. No substitutions and it is requested that you keep your kids seated (kids underfoot around waitresses running hot food- never a good idea!).  At lunch you can’t go wrong with the quiche of the day or anything with kraut on it. Want to hear more? Check them out at  or on Twitter at @MrPancake and oogle the mouthwatering food pictures. After you are done eating the green area near the restaurant is beautiful for a quick calorie-burning stroll.
#4- Zuni Grill (223 Losoya St. 210.227.0864) Every visitor to Texas will swing by the Riverwalk. An amazing place to stroll and take in the scenery, it can also be a daunting place to choose dining. Not only are there literally hundreds of choices but many of the restaurants place hostess stands on the path and send their most charming staff out to attract customers. If you are there in the late afternoon the world is your oyster. Specials abound and you can comparison shop and return to the best deal. With a lot of chains located on the Riverwalk, Zuni has always been one of my unique favorites. On my first visit there I had some amazing orange mashed potatos that I still recreate at home. Their Southwest-style menu is inventive and exciting for the adults in the party. Adventurous young eaters can share with mom and dad. If your kids are a little pickier Zuni does offer a reasonable kids menu. The other nice thing about this restaraunt is that you can access it from the street or the Riverwalk- which is a great option if you’re traveling with a stroller. Visit them at . 

#3- Chester’s Hamburgers (9980 W Interstate 10 210.699.1222; 16609 San Pedro Ave. 210.494.3333; 1006 Northeast Loop 410 210.805.8600) With three locations in San Antonio, Chester’s takes burgers to another level. Simple, perfectly cooked and delicious- the hamburgers are the star here, although they also make a slammin’ chicken sandwich.  A truly humble restaurant (nice way of saying not fancy- at all) you’ll sit at picnic tables and eat some of the greatest burgers ever. Top it off with a milkshake and make the tough decision between hand-cut fries and onion rings. Heck- get both. Very low key. A nice relaxing family meal. 

#2- El Mirasol (13489 Blanco Rd. 210.479.8765) El Mirasol is on the outskirts of San Antonio but is worth every mile. When I lived there it was my favorite restaurant. Now when I visit it is at the top of my list to eat at. I dream about their chicken flautas monthly. This is Mexican food at it’s most authentic. Portions are easily split with children and most entrees are under $15. If it’s nice out ask to sit outside. The kids will love watching the birds bathe in the fountain. If you’re not driving indulge in one of their giant margaritas. Available in a plethora of flavors it will be one of the best you’ve ever had. Truly a must try restaurant! Go drool over their food at . 

#1-  Rudy’s “Country Store” BBQ  (24152 W. IH 10 210-698-2141) Ok. So technically, it’s in Leon Springs but a list is not complete without Rudy’s. When you arrive, the first thing you’ll say is why did she send me to a gas station? This is not any gas station. This gas station serves the best bbq ever. Rudy’s has expanded since it’s inception in 1989 with locations in all different areas but there is nothing like the original. Enter the line and order your meat by the pound. If I were you I’d get 1/2 a chicken, 1/2 a pound of brisket, some turkey and if you like spice jalapeno sausage by the link. Don’t forget to stock up on the sides- favorites are cream corn, pinto beans, and coleslaw. All of your items will be stacked on butcher paper inside of a plastic soda tray and you’ll be asked if you want bread. Some slices of white bread will be tossed on top and you’ll be sent out to the picnic tables. Don’t forget to try the Sause and make yourself a sandwich. Rudy’s is like a religion in Texas and one bite into that oak-smoked goodness and you will be a convert. Let the kids put a pin in the map to show where you traveled from and if they’re good you can always reward them with an ice cream treat from inside the station. Rudy’s isn’t fancy, but it isn’t a trip to San Antonio without it. Military discounts available. Follow them on Twitter @rudysbbq 

Traveling Mom is giving away a trip for 4 to San Antonio – the winner will stay in the celebrated Westin La Cantera Resort and enjoy 5 days of sightseeing and attractions provided courtesy of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau (please note – airfare is not included). The San Antonio Vacation Winner will be chosen at 5 pm ET on June 30, 2011, from entries left in the comment section on the post for our 6/20 8-9pm ET Twitter Party, combined with comments left on our story about the San Antonio giveaway.

Nasreen Stump is a freelance writer who lives in Vermont, when she isn’t on the road for work. Check her out on Twitter @ramblingstump!

hoto- Nasreen Stump, 2007, No reprint without permission.