5 Steps to a Better Dinner Out with your Toddler

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Eating dinner out with your toddler can be an experience that is hard to recover from. Follow these steps and you might actually go on a regular basis!

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#1 – Pick the Right Restaurant

The first thing you want to do is pick a restaurant that is as kid-friendly as possible. Many restaurants in suburbia Austin have playgrounds which are an extra plus.

Each city is different but in the Round Rock, Cedar Park area of Austin, there are so many restaurants that have playgrounds. The presence of a playground makes dinner with our toddlers possible. Some of my families favorites include:

Salt Lick
3350 E Palm Valley Blvd
Round Rock, TX 78665

Who doesn’t love BBQ and this classic BBQ is truly to die for! The original location in Driftwood this location in Round Rock is a hop, skip jump from the Round Rock Express Stadium and Old Settlers Park. They have an amazing playground and live music on the weekends.

Playground at Mandolas

12100 W Parmer Lane #200
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 879-1450

This Italian sister restaurant to Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood has fabulous Italian food. Their kid’s menu items include a drink and a scoop of gelato (that if #techkidalex isn’t careful mom totally steals). They also have a great playground and a beautiful patio. The wait can be a little rough since it is a pay and order at the counter. Watch out for popular hours and double up with a second adult so they can watch the kiddos on the playground while the other one orders if kiddos are young.

Playground at Hat Creek
Hat Creek Round Rock Photo Credit: Hat Creek Facebook Page

Hat Creek
3700 E Palm Valley Blvd
Round Rock, Texas 78665

Hat Creek has locations all over Austin and they all have playgrounds! The Domain, Lakeway, Bee Caves, Georgetown and growing all over Texas. They have amazing burgers, local beer and gotta love their milkshakes!

Kerbey Lane
2120 N Mays St
Round Rock, TX 78664

This Austin original that original location is located on Kerbey Lane features a location in Round Rock that has a playground! They have an incredible brunch, are open 24/7 and a unique Austin vibe even in the suburbs.

Playground at Reds Porch
Red’s Porch Playground Photo credit: Red’s Porch Facebook Page

Red’s Porch
4401 N Interstate Hwy 35 #2005
Round Rock, TX 78665
(512) 939-8859

This was one of our favorites when we lived down south and now they have one just down the street from us in Round Rock! They have yes an awesome playground and a lake view (that entertained my toddler for so long). If you are looking for Tex-Mex or Cajun or Southern food this is the spot.

These links include more playground and kid-friendly restaurants all over the Austin area.

#2 – Save Money with Free Kids Meals

Did you know that kids can eat free pretty much every day of the week? It is awesome!

Restaurant chain and pancake Mecca IHOP offers free kids meals every day from 4-9 pm. Another popular chain that I’m not familiar with (closest location is in Louisiana) O’Charley’s offers kids eat free with adult entree every day all day.

The Austin burrito eatery that has spread all over the southwest offers free kids meals on Sundays with an adult meal. On Mondays grab a burger at Fuddruckers and kiddos eat for $.99 cents (almost free). On Tuesday go to Denny’s, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday’s and local favorite Kerbey Lane. Wednesday head over to Luby’s or fun local places like Mt. Playmore or GattiTown.

Other local favorites like Salt Lick offers kids 3 and under eating free. Opal Divine’s offers free eats for the kiddos on Saturday from 10 am – 3 pm.

Check out more deals around the Austin area and all over the US.

#3 – Use Tech to Find the Right Time to Go

One of the worst things to do with a toddler in tow is to have a long wait to get a table. It is the worst with a wiggly, squirmy, bored toddler. You can remedy that by using Yelp and Google apps before heading out.

Kerbey Lane Google Maps Entry

The Google Maps app will show you popular times for a particular place. For example, Kerbey Lane the app shows that at noon on Saturday it’s as busy as it gets.

The Yelp app will show you current wait times for restaurants and if the restaurant participates you can get on the waitlist from the app and the app will show you how many parties are in front of you. It tells you exactly what time to get there. This has worked amazingly and we have never had to wait longer than 10 min for the most popular brunch places.

Check wait times and add yourself to the wait list.

#4 – Bring Your Toddler’s Sippy Cup

I’m not sure about you but every time my toddler uses a regular cup or even a straw cup I have a panic attack. He is just not quite there understanding that he can’t tip it like he does his own sippy cup. The smoothest meals have gone smoother when I remembered to bring his 360 cups so he could be independent and drink without getting drenched. My little guy has been drinking from a 360 cup since he was about 11 months. They are amazing!!

#5 – Have a Busy Bag Ready

Busy bags are a great way to keep toddlers entertained while sitting waiting for food. I have various busy bags with small vehicles, puzzles, coloring, color sorting. Anything that can fit in a small bag. These baggies only come out when we are waiting for something so there is an excitement factor of things he doesn’t see every day.

What are your experiences eating out with a toddler? Do you have some tips to share?

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5 Steps to a better dinner out with your toddler