School is out for the summer and parents are looking for places to let the kids run wild while they catch up on adult conversation. Since wild children are frowned upon in most restaurants, here is a list of a few places in Houston's bay area where kids laughing and playing is welcomed and encouraged.
Red River BBQ - League City
Come on in and enjoy everything from moist brisket and seafood po’boys to an appetizer of Texas Hushpuppies: chopped brisket, BBQ sauce and pepper jack cheese rolled into a ball and fried. This counter service restaurant mimics a country cabin and has a warm family feel. Sit inside in the A/C or outside under the breezy covered patio while the kids run free.
There is an oversized shaded grassy area completely fenced in with games to keep the little ones busy and another covered area with a small play structure for the littler children. Ice cold beer and a variety of wine is available along with daily specials like hand-battered chicken fried steak with two sides, a dinner roll and a trip to the salad bar for $11.99 or lunch specials like a chopped brisket stuffed spud for $8.99. This wide-open spot is perfect for a relaxed play date.
Beyond Burger - Texas City
A little further south is a burger joint with the same feel and concept as Fuddruckers, but without the corporate attachment. NASA memorabilia, old telephone booths and quirky classic car hangings decorate the walls and entryway of Beyond Burger in Texas City. For the kids, there is a section with arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man and other fun distractions to keep the little guys and gals occupied. For Mom and Dad, beer and wine is served along with a variety of burgers. Platters, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads and alternative burgers are also available, like burgers made with bison, turkey, salmon and even a vegan patty. Don’t forget dessert. Shakes, malts, cookies and brownies are some of the options at Beyond Burger. Don’t forget to bring quarters for the kiddos, although the staff will happily break change or add cash to your order for a $1 fee, if needed. Been there, done that.
Jimmy Changas - League City
This spot is the ultimate kid-heaven of restaurants. Jimmy Changas provides free soft serve ice cream and houses a large outdoor jungle gym on the property. There is plenty of covered seating outside, perfect for sipping a cocktail while watching the kids play. In addition to a large menu with items like Tex-Mex eggrolls, dirty tostadas made with pulled pork or a heaping slice of nine-layer Mexican lasagna, this place has a nice selection of margaritas and frozen drinks. Be careful though. Once the littles have experienced Jimmy Changas, it will be a challenge to get them to want to dine anywhere else.
TJ Reed’s - Dickinson
Yes, another burger joint. Well, kids love burgers and their parents usually do, too. But TJ Reed’s isn’t your average burger spot. This family-owned establishment not only serves custards made daily and handcrafted cocktails like a bacon bloody mary, TJ Reeds also serves adult milkshakes. Yeah buddy. A creamy cold concoction with a heavy splash of liquor is just what a parent needs on a hot summer day. So order a Yo’Daddy’s milkshake made with Fighting Cock bourbon, salted caramel, vanilla custard, milk, and garnished with a pecan smoked bacon strip and salted caramel drizzle, all while the minions hog the long row of iPads mounted on the iPad bar a few feet away. There is also a nice patio area off to the side.
So grab a burger made with a 100 percent certified Angus beef blend of chuck and brisket, an order of giant onion rings and a beverage of your choice and relax. In addition to the meaty, beefy burger combinations, a salmon filet burger, white fish sandwich and a Portobello mushroom burger are also available.
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Tookie’s - Kemah
This spot is pretty well known around these parts, but they’ve moved to a new location recently. So in case it’s been forgotten, it’s on the list. Tookie’s doesn’t sport a playground or any oversized games, but it does have its nostalgic toy train that runs across the train track above the dining area. Kids love chomping on a burger and fries, sipping a milkshake and watching the train go’round, tooting its horn and all. Tookie’s will always be a fun, family place to dine.