The six-person family I grew up with has grown into an 18-person caravan. Not just the size of my family has changed, but the way we eat out.
You would think that we don’t, at least not together. The truth is that when we were only six we rarely ate out, and now most of the 18 eat out together at least once a week.
While few people brave the restaurant crowd with so many, it has given me insight into what makes a place ideal for large families. And the four nieces and four nephews that I often share elbow room with give me an idea of what works when dining with kids.
I find the best places for family dining have plenty of space and an environment that won’t turn heads if the kids are a little loud.
Two of my favorite places are Jax Grill, 1613 Shepherd Dr., and La Hacienda, 1431 W. 26th St.
Jax Grill is homey and serves American fare. The tables inside can be easily pushed together as can the tables on the patio. The chicken strips are an easy favorite with the kids in my family.
La Hacienda is spacious and seems to always have families big and small at its tables. It’s usually a little noisy, so if kids get a little loud it’s not an issue.
But not all families need a large table. Some families just need a place to take the family that will be comfortable for the kids and easy on the parents.
So I asked locals in neighborhood Facebook pages to chime in about their favorite family-friendly restaurants.
“Tia Maria’s is always great when with the kids. They are always sweet to them,” Andrea Catalano said. “Also, Ploughman’s is great, too. There’s a little outside patio area and they are always super friendly and with my kids. And their food is legit.”
Tia Maria’s is located at 4618 Dacoma St., and Ploughman’s Deli is at 965 Pinemont Dr.
Nicole Aboudaher recommends El Tiempo, 12440 Northwest Fwy., because of the chips and salsa, loudness of the restaurant and tile floors that her five kids can spill on.
“Live Oak Grill has a great playground, so it’s perfect for parents who have young kids,” Andrew Roberts said.
Live Oak Grill is located at 10444 Hempstead Rd.
Courtney Siegmund loves taking her family to Hughie’s, 1802 W. 18th St. The whole family loves the spring rolls, and she said for adults the beer prices on Tuesday are great.
Aladdin Mediterranean Grill, 1737 W. 34th St., was recommend by Carissa Barcus.
“The kids like to see all their options and we only order them exactly what they want,” Barcus said. “Plus, the options are usually healthier than the regular kid’s menu fare.”
According to Julie Godfrey, Cane Rosso, 1835 N. Shepherd Dr., has great food, great happy hour deals and a great kid’s menu. She also said Tacos A Go Go, 3401 W. T.C. Jester Blvd., is easy, family-friendly and has great palomas. She said The Barking Pig, 2307 Ella Blvd., has an outdoor play area, kid-friendly foods and a fun wine list.
“Union Kitchen on Ella has great service, amazing foods (Brussels sprouts are a must try), solid wine list, yummy classic and unique food options for breakfast, lunch (and) dinner, and varying seating options for small and larger groups, which is great for families,” Stephanie Hood said.
Union Kitchen is located at 3452 Ella Blvd.
“Cavatore Italian Restaurant is fantastic for (a) family with kids,” Lorena Rodela said. “The kid’s menu is great and they can build their own pizza on Wednesdays. We also love the live music.”
Cavatore is located at 2120 Ella Blvd.
Tish Ochoa said kids eat free Monday–Friday at Melange Creperie, 711 Heights Blvd. With Donovan Park right next door, it could be an easy go-to after playtime with the kids.
Spaghetti Western, 1951 W. T.C. Jester Blvd, has the best bread in Houston, according to Deborah Seghers, and her children love to have drawing competitions on the tablecloths while they wait for their food.
Other recommendations from local residents included Teotihuacan Mexican Café, 1511 Airline Dr.; Petrol Station, 985 Wakefield Dr.; King’s BierHaus, 2044 E. T.C. Jester Blvd.; Tony’s Mexican Restaurant, 2222 Ella Blvd.; Kojak’s Fine Foods, 1912 W. 18th St.; Brother’s Pizzeria, 3820 N. Shepherd Dr.; and Gatlin’s BBQ, 3510 Ella Blvd.