The best restaurants for kids aren’t always the biggest in Texas
Dallas is known for its fabulous selection of restaurants with many of them catering specifically to families. So be sure to make “eating out” an important part of your visit. You won’t be disappointed. And while it wasn’t easy narrowing it down to just ten, these top contenders are definitely worth every mouthful.
1/Grimaldi's Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria
3636 McKinney Ave., West Village
Located in the pulsating West Village, the experience at Grimaldi’s is just as fabulous as the food. The pizzas and calzones are baked in coal-fired brick ovens right in the center of the restaurant for a close-up view. To keep little ones occupied, they provide crayons with a coloring page and balls of pizza dough to kneed at the table. This is a bustling, high energy establishment, so I would suggest reservations for larger groups on the weekends. Make sure you order a cannoli for dessert; it’s some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and I was born in Jersey! $$
Cane Rosso (7328 Gaston Ave.) is another great choice, if you are craving pizza in the White Rock Lake area. $$
3531 Oak Lawn Ave., Oak Lawn
If you’re looking for an authentic 1950s diner experience, look no further than Lucky’s Cafe. The décor is straight out of Grease, and the menu offers everything from traditional burgers, fries, and shakes to chicken fried steak. In fact, if you’ve never had chicken fried steak but feel a hankering to give it a go, this is the place to do it, because they do it right. $$
For a diner alternative further north, Crossroads Diner (17194 Preston Rd.) is a great alternative. $$
3/HG Sply Co.
2008 Greenville Ave., Lower Greenville
Lower Greenville is big on the “cool factor” with its rustic chic montage of bars and restaurants, and HG Sply Co. (yes, that's really the name) fits right in as one of the hippest restaurants around featuring Paleo-inspired American meals made with (mostly) locally-grown, organic ingredients. The fact that it also boasts a rooftop deck overlooking the Dallas skyline and complimentary curbside valet is just icing on the cake. $$
4/Steel City Pops
2012 Greenville Ave., Lower Greenville
After enjoying a delicious meal at HG Sply Co., make sure you leave room for dessert. Two doors down, you and your family will enjoy icy popsicles made with organic, locally-sourced ingredients in a variety of deliciously-inspired flavors at Steel City Pops. From toasted marshmallow to pineapple jalapeño, the hard part is choosing just one! $
Right around the corner on Sears Street, swing by the Truck Yard, a retro food truck park with a treehouse and airstream trailer. It can get a little wild at night, but it’s fun to grab a bite with the family during daylight hours.
1926 Market Center Blvd, Turtle Creek
This outfit may appear a little barren from the front, but once inside, you’ll be charmed by the checkered tablecloths, inviting atmosphere, and undeniable aroma of quite possibly the best burger you’ll ever eat. Homemade brisket chili, gooey-delicious cheese fries, mouth-watering milkshakes, and a lengthy craft beer lineup, make Rodeo Goat a win-win for the entire family. There’s also a location in Ft. Worth. $$
Another great burger joint is Off-site Kitchen (331 Singleton Blvd., West Dallas). It’s open seven days a week and offers some enticing alternatives like crispy sloppy tacos. $
2912 N Henderson Ave., Knox-Henderson
Nestled in a little strip of quirky boutiques and restaurants, this lively, homey restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. You’ll find the grilled cheese, tomato soup, brisket sliders, and smoked ham-mac-and-cheese casserole irresistible. The Porch is a popular stop, so call ahead if you have a large party. And since parking on the street can be problematic, head to the back parking lot, where valet parking is free. $$
7A Highland Park Village
Highland Park Village is not only the most exclusive designer boutique destination in Dallas, it’s home to lots of terrific eateries including my favorite, the Bird Bakery. This is the perfect spot to take your tots for breakfast, lunch or dessert. Offering indoor and outdoor seating, don't be discouraged by the line (as there usually is one), because they run this place like a well-oiled machine offering quick service, complimentary cookie samples, and enticing selections made from scratch. We’re not even showing you the photos of the cupcakes; we don’t want you to drool on your computer or phone! Plus, all leftover sweets are donated daily to local non-profits, so nothing goes to waste. $-$$
8687 North Central Expressway, inside Northpark Center’s Nordstrom
You can’t go to Dallas without planning a day at Northpark Center, which is considered to be the mall for shopping. Not only does it have Dillards, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, it boasts pretty much every designer and fashion boutique known to man. In addition, it’s a great way to get some exercise on a hot or rainy day, and there are some terrific eateries. Our favorite is located on the second floor of Nordstrom; Bazille boasts a great bar, casual chic atmosphere, and excellent food. $$
9/Mariano's La Hacienda Ranch
4110 Preston Road, Frisco
If you’re staying in north Dallas or Grapevine, make sure you go to Mariano’s La Hacienda Ranch for dinner. It is by far the best Tex-Mex food we’ve ever had. From mechanical ponies to festive Texas décor to excellent food with a separate kids’ menu, eating at this 500-seat venue is an event. By the way, the owner invented the first frozen margarita machine, so be sure to order one. Also, try the homemade guacamole prepared to perfection tableside, and the pecan pie and cinnamon ice cream…. sensational! Get there by 6:15 p.m. on the weekends to avoid the line; no reservations. $$
KidTripster Tip: If you can’t make it as far as Frisco (about 30 minutes from Dallas central), they have a more convenient location on Preston Road in Dallas, as well. It’s not nearly as impressive, but the food’s just as good.
7530 E Grand Ave., White Rock Lake
The Lot is very much a t-shirt and shorts kind of place, but if you’re looking for an opportunity to let the kids run around while relaxing over an ice cold beer, then this restaurant’s got you covered. This rustic eatery, serving farm-to-table fare with a separate kids’ menu, features an open beer garden with picnic benches and tables, a sand lot for older kids to play ball, a tot lot where little ones can dig and explore, a dog lot for Fido, an arcade room, and an indoor restaurant and bar. Service can be a tad slow, but the cayenne fried cauliflower, jalapeño bacon ranch burger, decent beer menu, and eclectic casual ambiance make for a winning combination. $
Another hassle-free restaurant to take your kids to with an outdoor patio and play area is the Dream Café (2800 Routh St., Uptown). Live music plays every Wednesday through Friday evening from 7-9 p.m.; there are two other locations, Addison and Lakewood.
Marcia Carroll Burzair lives outside of Dallas with her husband and daughter. While this Northeast transplant desperately misses the beach, she has come to love the weather, the big sky, and the wildlife. Hey, it's not everywhere you get to see a coyote, armadillo, and road runner all in one day!
This writer received some complimentary meals for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.