Restaurants With Playscapes

One of the challenges we faced as new parents was what to do on those nights when you just need to go out and grab a quick bite – no time to plan for a sitter or make reservations. Nothing in the fridge, too tired to slice and dice, or an all too common scenario in our household: "Wait, I thought YOU were doing dinner tonight!?" When our child was a baby, this was fairly easy – pop him in the car seat, pop him into a high chair, and keep the zwieback coming. As he got older, it got harder. We of course insist on good manners, but what three and half year old (or four, five or six, for that matter) can sit perfectly still and quiet, even with crayons and a funny menu?

Lots of them you say? Good on ya! Not ours! To preserve the family dining night out tradition, we learned quickly that a place with a playscape could accommodate our need for dinner out with a three year old’s need to get his ya-ya’s out. Austinites are particularly lucky in this regard, because so much of the year is outdoor weather for us, and so many great places for family dining are out there. Here are our current favorite places to eat that have playscapes.

Southpark Meadows: I had, shall we say, "issues" with finding good food and play in a shopping center, but this place rocks. The playscapes are HUGE and inventive – woven through enormous shade trees, with slides galores. There is a fantastic little area where water shoots up from the ground – so perfect for letting the little guys cool off. They even have live music outside, periodically. The best part, though, is that the playground is in the center of a bunch of GREAT restaurants, most of which have patio dining so you can watch them play while you linger over your food. Mama Fu’s does great pan-asian good, Austin Java is perfect for lunch or brunch, Waterloo Ice House will fill your burger needs, and at Jason’s deli you can even get a box lunch and sit on a bench under the trees. I35 and Slaughter, across from Supertarget

Freddie’s Place: Freddie’s makes one of the greatest burgers in town, and its outdoor area is right next to a babbling brook, under big oak trees. Their playscape isn’t huge, but they have around 5 picnic tables right next to it, all with great sightlines to the stage, so you can integrate your meal, play and music. The atmosphere is South Austin cool, and the food is terrific, and although parking can be an issue, it is worth it to get their early and let the kids play while you and your friends (or spouse, unless , as in my case, he’s on the stage) catch up on adult talk. 1703 S 1st St Austin, TX 78704 (512) 445-9197

Patsy’s Cowgirl Café: Patsy’s playscape is outside of the dining area, but it is still a great help in burning off steam. Sometimes we get a drink and hang out while he plays and slides and runs around with the other kids that are bound to be there. The décor inside is really fun, and since we are usually there to see a band, we can usually work it to where he starts winding down and wanting dinner as the music starts. 5001 E. Ben White Boulevard, Austin TX 78741.

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About The Author, Dane Smith
Ki runs a site focused on Austin real estate which has a search of the Austin MLS along with a Austin related updates on his Austin real estate blog.