Houston's Best Patios: The 10 Best to Take Your Kids

Goode Co Breakfast 007.jpg
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
Maybe only have one of these at Goode Co. Taqueria if you've got the kids in tow.
​​With patio weather season in full swing, Houstonians are absolutely spoiled for places to enjoy the day outside. And sometimes all you know is that you're in the mood for a patio, but can't figure out where to go. So how do you choose?

Over the next five weeks, we'll be guiding you around Houston's best patios in several different categories:

This week's category: The best places to bring the kids.

Goode Co. Taqueria

Get your little ones a mesquite burger or a cheese quesadilla from the five-item kids' menu here, then give them a handful of pennies and take a seat next to the giant fountain on the patio. They'll spend the entire time trying to get the pennies into the mouths of the little concrete crocodiles that sit in the water and you'll get plenty of time to eat your food and drink a Corona.

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Ruggles Green has lots of space for children to run around, plus a great kids' menu.
Ruggles Green at CityCentre

My entire complaint about Ruggles Green at CityCentre was the noise from the wild throngs of children that roam the place like Lost Boys. My annoyance is your gain if you've got little ones, too, as they'll fit right in here. The patio at Ruggles and the lush lawn at CityCentre are basically one in the same, and your kids will have plenty of beautiful open space to play in while you eat. Plus, Ruggles has a truly fabulous kids' menu with items such as Quinoa Mac & Cheese and Wood-Fired Organic Cheese Pizza.

Lupe Tortilla

See? We don't hate Lupe Tortilla. Especially the location in far West Houston, tucked into a little village of old houses that have all been transformed into cutey-cute restaurants. The playground here is vast and will appropriately tucker your kids out while you're waiting to be seated. Because there's always a wait. But you knew that.

Beck's Prime

The spacious patio and beautiful trees at the Augusta location of Beck's Prime make it ideal for stretching out and relaxing over a burger, even as it starts to get hot outside. The kids' menu is short and sweet, with options like grilled cheese sandwiches and butterflied hot dogs, and the atmosphere is one blanket shy of a picnic, so spread out and let someone else cook the burgers this weekend.

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The Lake House also has an air-conditioned area when it gets too hot...
The Lake House

It's as if this restaurant was purpose-built as a mini vacation destination for families with kids in town. The kids' menu is nicely straightforward here -- burger, hot dog or chicken nuggets -- and your little ones can spend the afternoon sailing tiny motorized boats in the Discovery Green pond, looking at turtles, getting soaked in the fountains or playing on the large playground while you have a glass of Chardonnay and relax.

Mission Burrito

It's the West Alabama incarnation of this burrito chain that's best for babies (or toddlers or kids), and that's because of the giant playground out front. Let your kids build their own burrito -- you can't be fussy about the food when you're choosing the ingredients, right? -- and then let them run it off in the mulch and on the jungle gym outside.

Cypress Circle at the Houston Zoo

Every schoolkid in Houston has probably visited the Cypress Circle on Duck Lake without realizing it, so take your own kids back there and enjoy what is admittedly very basic food (chicken tenders, burgers, etc.) but with one of the prettiest views in the city. And don't forget to feed the ducks afterward; it's half the fun of eating there, after all.

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Jimmy Changas

It's impossible to dislike Jimmy Changas if you have kids, especially if you have kids and you're on the southeast side of town. The palatial Tex-Mex restaurant has an enormous play area for the smaller kids -- Jimmy's Jungle -- and some beautiful outdoor lounging areas with fire-ringed fountains for teens who want to be cool and dine apart from their parents. The "Little Jimmys" menu also has a nice assortment of Tex-Mex and standards like macaroni and cheese.

Red Balloon Cafe

Syd Kearney at 29-95 hipped me to this fabulous little restaurant on a very not-little piece of land out in Northwest Houston. The counter service-only Red Balloon faces Carolyn Wolff Park, and its generous allotment of old oaks, perfect for playing tag or whatever kids do these days when given green space and no portable gaming systems. I also hear the chef performs magic tricks for the kids on occasion...

La Hacienda

Another northwest favorite, the La Ha on Telge in Cypress is just as popular for its massive playground as it is for its patio -- it's a surefire bet all around. Six options in the "Kiddie Corner" for food and great margaritas for the adults ensure a fabulous evening for the entire family.



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Location Info

Red Balloon Cafe - CLOSED

4410 Westway Park Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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44 comments
lupe tortilla
lupe tortilla

 Times have changed and breads of all kind are now readily available on the grocery shelf. This is a wonderful thing, but there are breads that just don't hold a candle to what you can put together at home. Tortillas top this list!

  lupe tortilla menu
lupe tortilla menu

The series ran 12 years altogether, filming its last episode in 1996. During that time, 264 episodes were broadcast to millions of viewers each week, each segment serving up a good helping of scenery in and around Mendocino. Interestingly there were just nine episodes actually filmed in the town -

  lupe tortilla menu
lupe tortilla menu

The series ran 12 years altogether, filming its last episode in 1996. During that time, 264 episodes were broadcast to millions of viewers each week, each segment serving up a good helping of scenery in and around Mendocino. Interestingly there were just nine episodes actually filmed in the town -

O.G.Daddio
O.G.Daddio

I suggest Clays off Highway 6 on Clay road. Absolutely awesome patio and a huge open area for kids to run and play

Also, how about an article highlighting the best places for hipsters to hang out so I can avoid the crybaby jerks that commented on this article.

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

Pfft. Why on earth would anyone ever need to feed their kids at a restaurent? Isn't that what school lunches and little cans of Vienna Sausages are for?

brandius
brandius

Quit encouraging the breeders to bring their offspring to the places I get day drunk at. You are ruining my cocktails and alcoholism.

(This a joke, people. Never has a child ruined my alcoholism.)

Guest
Guest

Gilhooley's has the best patio in the MSA by far.Can anyone guess why?

TQro
TQro

Ha! My kids have not ordered off the kids' menu since they were about 2 yo.

Mary
Mary

All the Willie's Grills in the 'burbs have playgrounds and faux ice house patios with cold beer and margaritas for the parents. They are favs with fams. Katy, Sugar Land, Tomball, Woodlands, 290, etc.

Mary
Mary

All the Willie's Grills in the burbs have big playgrounds and faux ice house patios and are favs with the fams. Sugar Land, Katy, Woodlands, 290, Tomball, etc.

guest
guest

Please DON"T feed the birds at Duck Lake. Signs all around the lake inform you that the birds are actually on appropriate diets.

The Heights Life
The Heights Life

I am also surprised that Natachee's didn't make the list. Perhaps the person who wrote the article doesn't actually have kids so is going by word of mouth from a few people she knows? Natachee's not only has an amazing patio for kids, it also caters to them with a great menu and their meals come served in vintage metal lunch boxes- probably more coveted by their children-of-the-70s-&-80s parents.

Another prime location for the kids is Berryhill in the Heights. It's fully enclosed patio means kids can zoom their cars in the corner with no danger of them running in to the street. While the sheer volume of feral children (mine are well behaved because we eat out a lot, but I let them go a little crazy at BH because that's just how it's done at this location) makes it less than ideal for non-breeders, management doesn't mine because with out the families, this location would be a ghost town.

Jenny's Noodle House (Heights location) has a small but fenced in back yard/patio area, complete with a giant concrete tube and sidewalk chalk. It's another place that coulda/shoulda made this list!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Yes, and you can kindly keep all these hellions running around while Mommy & Daddy get drunk....I will NOT be hanging out on any of these patios anytime soon....bleck.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Surprised Natachee's isn't on here. Even *I* want to play in their backyard.

momof3
momof3

Aladdin on Westheimer/Montrose has a nice little patio, our kids enjoy it - and the food is good, too. They can try a little bit of everything there, and you can see onto the street, so it's a nice distraction for them, if they get antsy.

LW
LW

Las Ventanas apparently...an entire jungle gym out in the back...not particularly fun for a couple's dinner out, even with live music and a babbling brook. I would think that if a restaurant had valet parking, they wouldn't have screaming kids running all over the place, but what do I know.

kylejack
kylejack

I hear Applebee's has some excellent kiddie drinks lately.

ostiones
ostiones

Nicholas, your kids should always be well, and not just reasonably well behaved. This should be a top ten list of places to stay away from for adults wanting a nice, quiet meal. Oh, and please keep you kids from running me over at the zoo, livestock show, and MY HEB.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Petrol Station is fast becoming a favorite of mine. Your kids have to be reasonably well behaved, but the place(and its patrons) are pretty accomodating.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Jasper's in the Woodlands is another nice option - it opens onto Market Street's central park.

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

My nephew loves the Black Lab with its mega-huge chess board =)

Bruce R
Bruce R

Nope. I don't even know what an MSA is.

Daffy Was A Black Man
Daffy Was A Black Man

... and whatever you do - don't put a quarter in any of the convenient BIRD FOOD DISPENSERS to buy food to feed the ducks at Duck Lake.

Jessica
Jessica

Berryhill in the Heights patio is a nightmare for non-breeders. Kids run rampant while parents get drunk. It was so bad one Friday some kids were playing tag around our table and one girl demanded that my husband move his chair so she could run away from her friends chasing her. I've been twice recently and not sure I'll be back.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

No, you're right, I don't have kids. But allow me to apologize for trying to write a post about cool places to take your kids despite not having any myself. I'm sorry.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Ostiones, you are a dick.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Have you had children? To assume that they will always be well behaved is to deny their nature. Most of the restaurants are on this list for exactly that reason. I specified the necessity of decent behavior when mentioning Petrol because, while tolerant of children who get up and move around a bit, it's not the kind of place to go if your aim is to ignore them while they run screaming through the restaurant throwing french fries at one-another. Personally, when my kids are acting like that, I won't take them to any restaurant. When they're being good, I'd take my kids to any restaurant in Houston, and have taken them to many, where they stay at the table and order off the regular menu. When they're only being reasonably good (they stay largely at and always near the table, don't bother other diners, and keep their voices down), places like Petrol are a good bet. The trick is to start them early, so that they're MORE LIKELY to behave well enough to take them places you'd actually like to eat.

Preston
Preston

Whine all you like, but I doubt you're ever going to be safe from children at the three places you last listed.

Crusoe
Crusoe

Generally agree with you, but there's zero chance of me taking my 2.5 year old to Jasper's. It's just not workable with kiddos. I'd let him run on the grass at Market Street, and go to Jasper's, but not on the same trip.

Guest
Guest

Jasper's is no place for children.

Cheflambo
Cheflambo

Seldom do I disagree here, but I MUST do so now. Jasper's in the Woodlands does NOT fall into this category. Just because it is adjacent to a public green space (not really a park - few if any trees) doesn't make it an appropriate place to take children under the age of 10.

Guest
Guest

Kid apologist.

guest
guest

Daffy--there aren't any BIRD FOOD DISPENSERS around Duck Lake, only signs that read "Please don't feed the birds." Go check for yourself.

Guest
Guest

I'm not so sure that the point was you can't or shouldn't be posting about "cool places to take your kids" without actually having a child. Rather, I think it was considering your sources of information. None of these freaking "Best of" lists is going to make everyone happy. I give you credit, however, for including places outside the Loop (some of which I've never been to and now might visit with the brood) as a preemptive strike against additional negative comments.

ostiones
ostiones

Thank you, that's all you can come up with in a response, smart guy. Please see momof three's response. Control your kids, that's all most responsible adults ask.

Renee Gremillion Smith
Renee Gremillion Smith

Thank you, Nick.  I couldn't agree more with you on this issue.  With a two-year-old and an infant, we go to restaurants all over town.  Our expectation is that they remain in their seats and as quiet as the restaurant dictates.  We stay home and eat cereal for dinner when we can tell they won't behave in a restaurant.  If I were ever at a restaurant with the kids and one of them started acting up, one of us would take the children out while the other put our food in boxes and paid.  I'd rather die than go to a restaurant with children running wild, and I specifically steer clear of restaurants with unsupervised playgrounds.  I don't even want my children to be exposed to that type of behavior at a restaurant!  We watched a kid (about 9 years old) fall into a fountain at a restaurant just last night - this is inexcusable - my toddler asked "What he doing?" with a wrinkled nose.  Starting early with expectations - however basic - is key.  If you never have a family meal at home around a table, why would you ever think your child would know how to have a meal around a table at a restaurant?!  Non-parents become so objectionable about children at restaurants because the well-behaved children go entirely unnoticed while the fry-throwing-tag-players destroy the experience for everyone... including those well-behaved children!

momofthree
momofthree

I couldn't agree more...our kids have been eating out all over town since they were young; we also travel quite a bit with them, so they enjoy it - for the most part. There are times when you just know, as a parent, when take-out is a better idea - and that's when you stay home!

ostiones
ostiones

Ok, the last three were tongue in cheek, which doesn't work on these posts, with the exception of HEB, where without my restraint and skill of driving a shopping cart, two seperate groups of running, balloon toting children could have been hurt while the nearby parents ignored their behaviour.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Especially when you can convince them to pop a fried egg on top(they don't like to do it on the minis).

Bruce R
Bruce R

Guilty. I'm somewhat biased though. I used to be a kid.

Bruce R
Bruce R

I'll clarify. You are a dick because you think you own HEB (forgive me if your last name is Butt), and that you should not be interfered with by kids at the zoo. Kids at the zoo? Who ever heard of kids at the zoo? That's where they keep animals, not kids.

Nicholas H got it right when he said "reasonably well behaved." There are times--say at the zoo--when kids might be extremely excited. Maybe they'll be distracted at bump into you. They might even say "sorry."

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