Sure, eating out is a treat, but it’s also easy to spend way too much money. That’s where Austin’s wide range of generous “kids-eat-free” restaurants can help out. We focused on three Austin/Texas-based spots where you can keep your cool and find free or reduced kid meals when dining with your child. Like Austin itself, these three restaurants are unique and original.
Central Market Café, located inside HEB’s Central Market grocery stores, features handmade and artisan foods. At its two Austin locations, the café gives one free kids’ meal with every adult entrée on Wednesdays after 5 p.m. (Westgate) and Tuesdays after 5 p.m. (North Lamar). “Kids” are supposed to be under 12, but the manager told us the age limit is flexible. With menu items like apple berry turkey wraps, Asian salmon salad and fish tacos, along with delicious sides like jasmine rice, red quinoa and sweet potato fries, you can have a colorful and nutritious family meal in no time. We ate the chicken tortilla soup and enjoyed every drop. You can also kill two birds with one stone and pick up groceries, and that means less time running-around-in-the-heat. Definitely a plus!
The Salt Lick BBQ is an Austin original and a great Texas tradition for young or old, plus it’s a good place to take out-of-town guests. The original Howard family barbecue method and recipes date to the 1800s, and the family has been using them to produce food commercially since 1967. The meat is cooked fresh, not stored, and involves a laborious multi-step process to create its sugary, smoky taste. The Driftwood location’s setting is iconic, with towering live oaks and picnic tables giving a casual, family reunion picnic feel. The Round Rock location next to the Dell Diamond has a similar feel, with a stone patio and shady live oaks. Diners are not expected to be still and silent, and there is plenty of room for strollers and kids to run around. The aroma is divine, and anticipation helps families endure the wait, which can be long. Come early to get the quickest seating. Adults eat family style barbecue, sides, bread and drinks for $26.95. Kids under three eat for free. Kids 10 and under eat for $9.95 when accompanying adults. Save some cash and plan to hit a kids-eat-free restaurant with your family. And did I mention the cleanup? Zero. Zip. Nada. That means more time for you to snuggle that cute guy with the cheese on his chin. Enjoy!
Jill Sayre is an Austin-based freelance writer and mother of four.
Texadelphia is a Philly cheesesteak joint started by a Philadelphia native turned Texan in 1981. The original location on Guadalupe became popular with UT students, and the restaurant now has several sites around Austin and beyond. Texadelphia aspires to be a place where “everyone is treated like family.” We found it to be casual and friendly and welcoming. One mom we met was there with her three toddlers, and she said she never misses the kids-eat-free nights. The food is great, and the scratch-made queso and chips that come with each order are to die for. Kids can choose from cheesesteak, mac and cheese, burger, chicken tenders or mini corn dogs. My guy loved the cheesesteak. He said, “the cheese is nice and melted,” as he tipped his individual queso cup up for a heavenly slurp. He also loved to the ice cream, which is complimentary with all meals, every day. Kids 12-and-under eat free Mon-Wed from 4 p.m. to close at 9 p.m.