Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Family-Friendly Restaurants

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There are still a few weeks left before school starts for most of Houston on August 25, and in that interum, parents will be getting in as much time as possible with their little bundles of joy--assuming they aren't already itching to hand them off to teachers the first moment they can.

While soaking up the last several weeks of summer vacation, why not head out and have a fun family meal with the whole gang in tow? Though Houston made national news last year for La Fisheria's announcement that children would be banned after 7 p.m., local restaurants are mostly very family friendly.

And if you want to eat out without fear of a screaming child ruining your lovely evening? Well, consider this a guide to where NOT to go.

10. Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana Because it's a family-run place, Pizaro's is welcoming to folks of all ages. You'll often find owner Bill Hutchinson or one of his sons manning the wood-burning oven at the front of the restaurant, and kids will love to watch the pizza dough being rolled, tossed and then fired. If they're lucky, one of the pizza-makers might even through a ball of dough their way. And what kid doesn't like a fresh, crisp pizza?

9. Cottonwood Though it's first and foremost a bar, Cottonwood before dark is a veritable playground for children and canines alike. With giant Jenga and bocce ball, kids can stay entertained on the large outdoor patio, while mom and dad drink a bucket of beer enjoy some of Houston's best burgers and fries. Wee ones will enjoy chowing down on the "plain Jane burger" and chicken fried steak bites, while adults come for the craft beer selection and laid-back, relaxed vibe.

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8. Downtown Aquarium It might be hard to convince kids to eat at the aquarium's restaurant, because they'll be too busy staring at the tanks to focus on their food. The restaurant is situated around a 150,000 gallon aquarium filled with stingrays, nurse sharks and various forms of bright, colorful sea life, and it's easy to get distracted from the food by the aquatic ballet happening around you. The menu is tailored to families, and though it might be awkward to chow down on gulf snapper with live gulf snapper watching, the kids will enjoy options like popcorn shrimp and chicken tenders.

7. Prego In terms of family dining, Prego has three major things going for it: It's not a chain, so the managers and servers are able to accommodate most needs without a hassle. The menu consists of upscale Italian classics that parents will love and basic pizzas and pasta (plain pasta available upon request) that kids will eat. And finally, crayons. When kids dine at Prego, they get coloring utensils to keep them occupied while parents get to enjoy a lovely meal complete with homemade pasta in an elegant atmosphere.

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6. Mission Burritos One word: Playground. Yes, like McDonalds, Mission Burritos on Alabama has a play place, but unlike McDonald's, the play place isn't sketchy and the food is actually quite fresh and good. Children like going through the line and building their own burritos or ordering off the Munchkin Menu, while parents are happy to allow their kids to play within the shaded, fenced-in playground and sip on a happy hour-priced margarita.

5. Niko Niko's Located in the center of Market Square Park, Niko Niko's has a diverse but easily navigable menu and plenty of green space for romping about before, during or after a meal. Kids might not be super excited about a souvlaki plate, but the kid's menu offers a gyro, kabob or pita pizza for smaller and pickier appetites.

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4. Jenni's Noodle House Trying to get the little ones to eat their veggies? At Jenni's Noodle House, extra veggies come free of charge with any of the $5 kid's meals to encourage healthy eating habits. The kid's menu is named after Jenni's son, Logan, and includes everything from grilled chicken with noodles to the more adventuresome tofu with pickled carrots.

3. Bernie's Burger Bus The brand new Bernie's Burger Bus was built with both children and parents in mind. Children will enjoy the sliders, milkshakes and actual school bus plopped down in the restaurant to serve as a kitchen, while adults will enjoy the monster gourmet burgers, boozy milkshakes and...yeah, that bus is pretty cool no matter how old you are.

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2. Amazón Grill Though it's never too early to get the kiddos interested in a good chimichurri-covered steak, Amazón Grill also offers a "niños" menu with chicken quesadillas, corn dog bites and macaroni and cheese. Most kids would probably be intrigued by the regular menu of burgers, tacos and desserts like tabletop s'mores and cotton candy. They'll also enjoy the lively atmosphere that's somewhat reminiscent of a not cheesy Rainforest Cafe.

1. Natachee's Supper 'n Punch Comfort food, great drinks, a large patio, sandboxes and kid's meals served in vintage tin lunch boxes. What more could a family want? There's no longer a pony outside like there used to be, but there's still plenty of space for kids to run around outside while Ma and Pa chow down on fried pickles and hearty sandwiches. Kids will love the PB&J sliders and funky interior décor and adults will love...you guessed it...the boozy punch. The chicken fried steak and burgers ain't bad either.

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