Best Bites for Little Appetites

The best kid-friendly restaurants in Dallas right now please with grown-up tastes

The best kid-friendly restaurants in Dallas right now

When it comes to dining out with families, don’t box yourselves into fast food chains with the obligatory “kids menu.” The Dallas dining scene offers a smorgasbord of cuisines for little denizens and their parents. These Dallas restaurants entice even the pickiest of eaters so everyone in the family can enjoy the meal.

Ramen Hakata
Located along the Belt Line corridor of chain restaurants in Addison, this local ramen house is a standout for families and office workers looking for slurp-worthy noodles. There are several booths to wedge in wiggly little people; a long counter looks onto the open kitchen so they can see all the action.

Hot, steaming bowls of springy ramen noodles cooked in a pork bone broth are the priority here, but Ramen Hakata also offers Japanese appetizers like gyoza and agedashi tofu, rice bowls, and udon noodles. Go early to beat the business crowd, and you won’t have to wait long.

Children’s eyes will light up as bright as the neon-lit spaceship flying high on top of Spork, a new “chef-driven roadside eatery.” If you think that North Dallas is too far a trek just for burgers, shakes, juices and sodas, think again: Spork is not your average burger joint.

“We’re making all of our own high-flavored sauces for the burgers and dressings from scratch,” says chef Eric Justice. “We use our own house blend for our beef patty, which we grind in-house daily and top with high quality, boutique, American-made cheese. As for our drinks, high butterfat ice cream is the base for our shakes, and we flavor real Wisconsin custard base for our soft serve. We cut, brine and cook our fries from whole Idaho potatoes every day.”

The cherry on top is a spacious patio complete with foosball, ping pong tables, bocce and putting green for all your sporklets to run free range while you enjoy craft beers.

Dive Coastal Cuisine
Owner Francesca Nor figured out early on that families were starved for non-chain restaurants that offered healthy, great-tasting options. Now in its fifth year, the beach-themed hipster concept still dishes out fresh seafood in wraps, sandwiches and salads to health-conscious Park Cities families.

“If I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t sell it,” Nor says. “The chicken is hormone-free, and we buy organic where possible. There’s nothing processed, and there are no fillers in our food.” There’s a small kiddie corner with Legos and a chalkboard wall where kids can entertain themselves while still within eyesight of parents.

Si Tapas
Housed in a small cottage in Uptown’s State Thomas area, Si Tapas is a hidden gem for families. The small plates are a great way to introduce children to Spanish cuisine, with an opportunity to tie in a geography lesson on Spain during dinnertime. It’s not just about the food; it’s a whole cultural experience.

Go during happy hour (Monday-Thursday, 4-7  pm) and enjoy $3 tapas plates for the whole family. You can’t go wrong: If little Lucy didn’t care for the tortilla Española (Spanish potato omelet), you can just order another small plate. On cool evenings, sit outside on the back patio, which connects to a large empty field where the kids can run around — but only after they’ve tried the poppyseed fried calamari, shrimp in garlic olive oil or Spanish ham croquettes, of course.

Luscher’s Red Hots
Let’s just put it out there: Hot dogs are considered junk food, but if you’re going to eat one, get yourself an honest-to-goodness one from Luscher’s Red Hots. For a while, hot dog junkies could only get these loaded, Chicago-style dogs once a month at White Rock Local Market, but now chef-owner Brian C. Luscher has a brick-and-mortar establishment in Deep Ellum.

“It’s less a matter of being gourmet than the fact that all of our sausages and meats are pasture-raised and steroid-, hormone- and antibiotic free. No additives, no solution, no MSG,” Luscher says. The hot dogs are made with natural casings, ground meat, spices and salt, and they are wrapped in a pain au lait poppyseed bun. Luscher’s also has sandwiches, like slow-roasted shaved Wagyu beef from Local Yocal; daily specials; and handcrafted ice cream desserts from LH Creamery and Popstar Popsicles.

Ten50 BBQ
Great Texas BBQ in the ’burbs is difficult to find, which makes Ten50 BBQ one very popular spot in Richardson. Owner Larry Lavine (founder of Chili’s) wanted to “bring the traditional Hill Country BBQ experience to the city.”

The smokehouse shed that seats 275 looms large on 75 near Campbell Road. Piles of hickory, oak and mesquite wood sit outside with smokers, while pit masters slowly nurse prime cuts of brisket and ribs for hours to create that deep, dark bark Texans crave. Lines start forming before the opening bell, snaking around the front of the shed. It is not uncommon to see kids using the rails as monkey bars while waiting in line.

Brisket, ribs, turkey and sausages are cut and weighed to order outside before patrons enter the dining hall to pick their scratch-made sides such as fried okra and potato salad, slices of artisanal Village Bakery bread, and banana pudding or coconut cream pie that tastes better than Grandma’s. Although the bar is open all day, take note that there are specific dining hours when you can order food. 

Spork Dallas signage
Spork is an out-of-this-world, family-friendly eatery. Photo courtesy of Ben Salibury
Ramen Hakata
Slurp-worthy ramen noodles at Ramen Hakata. Photo courtesy of Itty Bitty Foodies
Fried calamari at Dive Coastal Cuisine in Dallas
Dive Coastal Cuisine does fresh seafood even kids will love. Photo courtesy of Dive Coastal Cuisine
Luscher's Red Hots Itty Bitty Foodies
Luscher's Red Hots serves hot dogs made with quality ingredients. Courtesy of Itty Bitty Foodies
Ten50 BBQ in Richardson
Get Texas Hill Country-style BBQ in Richardson at Ten50 BBQ. Photo courtesy of Itty Bitty Foodies
Spork Dallas signage
Ramen Hakata
Fried calamari at Dive Coastal Cuisine in Dallas
Luscher's Red Hots Itty Bitty Foodies
Ten50 BBQ in Richardson