Littles in the Rock: Dining Out with Kids

Still newbies to the parent game, we spontaneously decided to go out to eat on a Thursday evening with our two-year old Coen. We settled on Cantina Laredo- they had this amazing jicama salad that I was craving, it was around 7:30 and there was no wait for a table. We were seated at one of the sleek booths that lined the front wall, slightly elevated above the sea of tables filled with date-night couples. The mood was set with low-key lighting, illuminating the row of booths creating the perfect scene for a romantic dinner or perhaps a sense of isolation, vulnerability & fear for a new mom without a well curated bag of tricks… armed with nothing but a cup of cheerios.

Before the chips and salsa arrived, I could already tell the Coen was done with the confinements of our booth. He wanted O-U-T. While we placed our order with the waitress, he began to tunnel out under our legs. He was temporarily apprehended and repositioned between us and the window. Like a prisoner rattling his cage, he began clanking the wooden blinds against the glass, creating a deafening noise not easily ignored by ANY of the diners in the restaurant. I felt the many eyes on us as we scrambled to keep him from launching the silverware across the room. Finally our food came and I should have asked for a doggy bag right then and there! By the time the check arrived we were wading in the peace offerings of avocado bits and cheerios. We told the waitress to please keep the change so we could get on with our walk of shame and not look back at the aftermath. We have yet to go back to that restaurant!

I have learned since then to always keep a small arsenal of attention keepers in the car that I can easily grab before walking into a restaurant, or anywhere that may require my kids to be slightly confined. But I have also learned, more importantly, that there are many places that are just more welcoming of children. Here are some of our favorites in our home town…

Favorite Places to Eat:

All Aboard – (Cantrell Rd.) A train circles the themed restaurant on a high-up track and delivers baskets of food! Each time an order goes out, little eyes follow the train around the track until it drops the tray on an “elevator” that lowers the chicken tenders or hamburgers down to the table. There are paper conductor hats for all diners to wear. Bonus!

Breakfast at The Root Cafe

The Root Café – (SoMa District) My personal favorite. All locally sourced, organic. Fun mural in parking lot- great photo op! There is a fenced in outdoor seating area with toddler slide and room for kids to roam a bit. Within walking distance is Loblolly Ice Cream, and several cool shops… Green Corner Store (with loads of AR made goods), Moxy Mercantile (a quirky, fun store with unique finds), Argenta Bead Co, antique shops, Bernice Garden (several good photo ops here! Look for LOVE bus bench!), and the intriguing Esse Purse Museum.

Hanging on the patio at Meteor

Meteor Café – (Hillcrest – Kavanaugh & Markham) Coffee shop/ cookies. Meteor is part coffee shop, part bike shop & pop up plant store, all in one! Along with quality coffee choices, they make awesome avocado toast and breakfast tacos. There is a neat patio nook for pretty days. Its tucked between the coffee shop and the fitness club. Recently they added a rooftop dining area that overlooks Markham. My boys love it! Mylo’s is also an excellent coffee/pastry choice on Kavanaugh.

Sunday-funday at Loblolly

Loblolly Ice Cream – (SoMa district) So good!!! Small batch ice cream. No artificial preservatives or coloring. Cute decor, amazing flavor choices.

Kemuri – (Hillcrest) Great sushi place with a huge fish tank that kids love! There is a charming little patio right on Kavanaugh. Just across the street is Box Turtle- a neat gift store with a basement toy shop!

The Rail Yard – (East Village) Food truck-based restaurant/ beer garden with a large outdoor area, family friendly. We haven’t been here yet, but hope to go soon! It just opened this year.

Games at Fassler Hall

Fassler Hall – (Downtown) German-inspired beer garden with a large outdoor area, gravel covered, with yard games like baggo and horseshoes. Cool place to take kids during lunch/afternoon hours- probably not so much at night. It is right next door to the Dust Bowl- a small retro bowling alley.

The Fold – (Riverdale) Old gas station turned into a tex-mex restaurant. Fun décor! My boys love the motorcycle on the ceiling!

Damgoode Pies – (3 LR locations) Damn Good Pizza!! Downtown– Patio over-looking the Amphitheater & river for pretty days. This is also right by the Museum of Discovery. Kavanaugh in Hillcrest– All dining is upstairs, overlooking Kavanaugh.  Cantrell Rd – There is a cool blue-sky mural on a curved part of the restaurant which is awesome on a rainy day!

Big Orange – (Midtown is our favorite location, although there is own in WLR) Amazing burgers and sweet potato fries. Excellent salads and milkshakes too! The midtown location has upstairs seating, which my boys think is pretty neat.

The Purple Cow – (Cantrell & WLR & NLR) Fun kid friendly restaurant. My boys love it, and usually split a purple milkshake! (One is definitely enough to share!!)

LePops – (Heights) Gourmet Popsicles! There are a few cute shops around here too- Wordsworth Books is a last-of-its-kind, the Toggery has toys & boutique kids’ clothing, Eggshells is an awesome kitchen shop, and our family fav is Domestic Domestic with lots of AR tees, outdoorsy goods and lots of cool guy gifts (like aftershave and pocket knives) Heights Taco & Tamale is also a fun place in the Heights- it is usually loud… but that makes it an especially good place to go with restless kids!

Do you have kid friendly favorites in your town? Message me!

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