You don't have to miss out on the flavors of Austin if you're visiting here with kids—even if said kids are too energetic to sit still in restaurants very long, or are too picky to appreciate local favorites like barbecue brisket, Tex-Mex, and all the new farm-to-table dining destinations. One good option for families visiting Austin is to try one of the city's food-truck parks. Everyone can pick the meal that he or she wants, and kids can blow off some steam outside. But you can also find plenty of sit-down restaurants with fun vibes and food that will keep kids happy —and, where parents won't have to eat chicken tenders (unless you want to, of course). Here are five that are right in the heart of all the fun in Austin, and there's not a national chain among them. Don’t worry. We won't tell if you sneak a few fries off the kids' plates.
On funky South First Street, Freddie's has a playground and ample seating both outdoors and indoors. Outside is where it's at, though, with a small playground for kids and live bands for music-loving adults. Besides the kids' menu, there are signature burgers as well as “green and soup stuff” and “special sandwiches” for grown-up palates.
EZ's Brick Oven & Grill
Fans of the Austin-shot television series Friday Night Lights might recognize this retro-themed restaurant with a big menu of burgers, pizza and lots more. On Wednesday evenings, you get one free kids' meal for each adult entrée purchased. Parents will also appreciate that the restaurant lists nutritional info online.
P. Terry's Burger Stand
Since the first P. Terry's opened in 2005, eight more have sprung up around town, which tells you just how much Austinities love the burgers (beef, chicken and veggie), fries and shakes, all made with the highest-quality ingredients. The local chain’s 1950s-reminiscent, so-dubbed “Googie” architecture is a kick, too.
This is another local chain with serious Austin cred: It's from the folks behind the beloved Amy's Ice Creams, and Phil's burgers are named after the city's neighborhoods. Kick it with the kids in the play area, and then head to the Amy's at the same location for a little dessert.
Central Market Café
The café at the mega-gourmet grocery has outdoor seating with plenty of running-around room for the youngsters, as well as a kids' menu. Besides the café's own fare, you can also choose from the grocery's many takeaway options, giving you lots of variety for both kids and grownups.