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Austin Restaurants: Family-friendly restaurants

P. Terry’s raises more than $17,000 for Season for Caring

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Family-friendly restaurants grouped by “north of the river” and “south of the river.” For those to which that distinction does not make much sense, I used arbitrary judgment.

(*This is not a comprehensive list. Don’t see one of your favorites below? Send me an email at modam@statesman.com and I will make sure to add it to our online listings.)

Take my 2013 Dining Guide — a list of my top 50 restaurants — with you by bookmarking Austin360.com/diningguide2013 on your smartphone or tablet or visit Austin360.com/odamtop50. 

For more restaurants listed by category, visit austin360.com/AustinRestaurants.

NORTH OF THE RIVER

24 Diner. 600 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-472-5400, 24Diner.com. Farm-to-table comfort food in a diner setting that leaves off all the chrome and fluorescent lighting.

Chuy’s. 11680 N. Research Blvd. 512-342-0011; 10520 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-836-3218; 2320 N. I-35; 512-255-2211; Chuys.com. Fajitas served on fluffy tortillas and specials such as the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo (beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese ranchero enchilada, chicken tomatillo enchilada, a seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco and homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso) have made this place a local and now nationwide sensation.**

Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614-2260, ContigoTexas.com/Austin. It makes sense that a restaurant inspired by a Texas ranch would serve one of the best burgers in town. All wood, leather and wrought iron, Contigo spills from its garage-sized interior bar to a massive outdoor seating area featuring long picnic tables. A copious layer of white cheddar drapes this burger ($13) that bristles with a peppery crust that reveals a pink interior that gushes its juices at the press of a palm or squeeze of a jaw. Homemade bread and butter pickles and a rich aioli make for a fine balance of accoutrements on the tall burger served on pumped-up housemade challah bread. Make sure you sample one of Contigo’s excellent cocktails to go with your burger. I recommend the old fashioned ($9).

County Line. 5204 RM 2222. 512-346-3664, countyline.com. This local barbecue titans has been cranking the ‘cue for 38 years at its original location, and has since expanded to a second Austin location and several more around Texas.**

Dan’s Hamburgers. 5602 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-459-3239; 844 Airport Blvd. 512-385-2262;  Dans-Hamburgers.com. Dan and Fran split (or something, they like to keep us guessing what happened) and now Austin gets multiple burger joints. Sounds like a win. Dan’s has three locations, and one under remodeling, that serve breakfast, burgers and chicken-fried steak.**

Fran’s Hamburgers. 6214 Cameron Rd. 512-458-6007, FransHamburgers.com. They may not be in their original location on South Congress, but you can still get Fran’s ground chuck burgers in Northeast Austin.

Galaxy Café. 4616 Triangle Ave. 512-323-9494; 1000 W. Lynn St. 512-478-3434; galaxycafeaustin.com. Refined café food and counter-service at this pleasant spot where you’ll find salads, sandwiches and burgers.

Hat Creek Burgers. 201 San Gabriel Village Blvd. 512-943-8258, HatCreekBurgers.com. This burger operation from former UT hooper Drew Gressett started in a trailer and now has locations spread around the Greater Austin Area.**

Hoover’s Cooking. 2002 Manor Road. 512-479-5006, HooversCooking.com. Get the chicken fried steak, mustard greens and Caribbean rice at this place that serves up comforting, rib-sticking classics with soul.

House Pizzeria. 5111 Airport Blvd. 512-600-4999, housepizzeria.com. A nice mix of crunch and chew in these puffy pizzas with great toppings like port reduction and bleu cheese.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4206 Duval St. 512-458-3168, HPBNG.com. There’s something of a “Cheers” vibe at this old neighborhood haunt known for their fries.**

In-In-Out. 4508 N. I-35. 4251 N. I-35. 1-800-786-1000;  In-N-Out.com. Long lines at the drive-thru and out the front door are a regular occurrence proving this is one California transplant was welcomed with open arms. Friendly staff moves things along quickly as they introduce Central Texans to the double-double.

Jack Allen’s Kitchen. 2500 Hoppe Trail, Round Rock, 512-215-0372, JackAllensKitchen.com. Farm-to-table comfort food such as bacon-wrapped quail and crispy salmon, as well as a massive weekend brunch, have made this place a hit down south and now up north, as well.

Kerbey Lane. 13435 Hwy. 183 N Ste. 415. 512-258-7757; 2606 Guadalupe St. 512-477-5717; 3704 Kerbey Ln. 512-451-1436; kerbeylanecafe.com. An Austin original that has been interested in conscientious sourcing since before it was popular.**

Little Deli. 7101 Woodrow Ave. 512-467-7402, littledeliandpizza.com. The Crestview shopping center is a perfect setting for this shoebox-sized throwback pizza place that specializes in New Jersey pies and pastrami sandwiches. There is ample seating on wooden picnic tables outside for an al fresco lunch or dinner. Little Deli serves some of the best pizza in town.

Madam Mam’s. 2700 W. Anderson Ln. 512-371-9930; 2514 Guadalupe St. 512-472-8306; MadamMam.com. Three locations now turn out spring rolls, noodle soup, stir-fries and curries. Some of these Thai dishes pack a pretty spicy punch.

Magnolia Cafe. 2304 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-478-8645, themagnoliacafe.com. Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes and omelets tastes good any time of the day or night. So do quesadillas.**

Mandola’s Italian Market. 4700 Guadalupe St. 512- 419-9700; 12815 Shops Pkwy. 512- 600-8500; MandolasMarket.com. Get classic Italian antipasti, daily specials and bubbling pizzas at one of three locations around town.**

Maudie’s. 2608 W. 7th St. 512-473-3740; 10205 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-832-0900; 3801 RM 620. 512-306-8080; 12506 Shops Pkwy. 512-263-1116; maudies.com. If you haven’t had Maudie’s Diablo Sol Food queso, you can’t really call yourself an Austinite. These Tex-Mex purveyors have recently moved to serving all-natural beef and pork and organic eggs.**

Mighty Fine Burgers. 201 University Oaks Blvd. 512-381-3310; 10515 N. Mopac Blvd. 512- 524-2400; 1335 E. Whitestone Blvd. 512-528-5421; MightyFineBurgers.com. Four Austin-area locations for this family-friendly place with the open-kitchen that calls mustard “yellow” and ketchup “red.”**

Nau’s Enfield Drug. 1115 W. Lynn St. 512-476-1221, NausDrug.com. Wax paper burgers from a grill that features a classic soda fountain with a full pharmacy up front. It doesn’t get much more classic than this Austin institution that opened more than 60 years ago.

Phil’s Icehouse. 5620 Burnet Rd. 512-524-1212; 13265 US 183 N. 512-257-8750; PhilsIcehouse.com. The Amy’s team brings the same family-friendly, always-smiling service and enthusiasm to the burger joint where kids (and adults) can be kids.**

Pinthouse Pizza. 4729 Burnet Rd. 512-436-9605, PinthousePizza.com. Pizza plus beer from a pedigreed Colorado brewer makes for a solid family-friendly outing.

P. Terry’s. 3303 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-371-9975; 12301 N. Mopac Blvd. 512-719-4810; 12018 Research Blvd. 512-257-0990; PTerrys.com. It’s the grass-fed kind of fast food that doesn’t make you feel so bad for wanting a burger and fries from a drive-through.**

Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, Qualityseafood.Wordpress.com. Great fried shrimp, grilled catch of the day and Gulf oysters are some of the keys to the staying power of this restaurant-market.

Salvation Pizza. 624 W. 34th St. 512-535-0076, salvationpizza.com. Thin, crunchy Connecticut-style pizzas at this restaurant that features a large deck out front for al fresco dining.

Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-474-0805, shoalcreeksaloon.com. Who dat gonna serve you some Gulf oysters and a roast beef po’ boy? You know who.

Takoba. 1411 E. Seventh St. 512-628-4466, TakobaRestaurant.com. Great happy hour deals and well-executed favorites such as torta de carnitas and pozole rojo make this restaurant with multiple outdoor seating areas a popular East Austin destination.

Tarka Indian Kitchen. 2525 W. Anderson Ln. 512-323-0955; 201 University Blvd. 512- 246-1922; TarkaIndianKitchen.com. Fast-casual Indian cuisine from the Clay Pit founders, with a nice balance of both traditional and non-traditional items.**

Threadgill’s. 6416 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-451-5440, Threadgills.com. It doesn’t get much more Austin than this house of home-cooking. Meat eaters run for the chicken fried steak, while vegetarians get more than lip-service with the heaping helping of side dishes.**

Top Notch Hamburgers. 7525 Burnet Rd. 512-452-2181, TopNotchAustin.com. New ownership was wise not to change the aesthetics at this classic car-hop spot that was featured in “Dazed and Confused.” The charcoal-grilled burgers have a unique flavor, and the fried chicken is always crispy.

Zocalo. 1110 W. Lynn St. 512-472-8226, zocalocafe.com. A fresh spin on Tex-Mex at this modernist café in Clarksville owned by the Galaxy Café folks. Try the spicy campechana or the chilaquiles.

(**Indicates that the restaurant also has locations south of the river.)

SOUTH OF THE RIVER

Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, BouldinCreek.com. One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare, even the most avid meat-eater will be impressed with dishes like portobello fajitas or the zucchini migas.

Chuy’s. 1728 Barton Springs Rd. 512-474-4452. 4301 William Cannon Rd. 512-899-2489, Chuys.com. Fajitas served on fluffy tortillas and specials such as the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo (beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese ranchero enchilada, chicken tomatillo enchilada, a seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco and homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso) have made this place a local, and now nationwide, sensation. **

County Line. 6500 Bee Cave Rd. 512-327-1742, countyline.com. This local barbecue titans has been cranking the ‘cue for 38 years at its original location, and has since expanded to a second Austin location and several more around Texas.**

Culver’s. 3424 W William Cannon Dr. 512-892-1114. Culvers.com. This Midwest transplant serves a savory “butter burger” and provides exceedingly friendly service.**

Curra’s Grill. 614 E. Oltorf St. 512-444-0012, CurrasGrill.com. One of the early movers in Austin’s interior-Mexican cuisine scene, Curra’s opened in March 1995. Cochinita pibil features pork dripping with flavors of salted orange and succulent fat, served with two tender hunks of golden plantain. Soft corn tortillas are made in house. Get those.

Dan’s Hamburgers. 4308 Manchaca Rd. 512- 443-6131, Dans-Hamburgers.com. Dan and Fran split (or something, they like to keep us guessing what happened) and now Austin gets multiple burger joints. Sounds like a win. Dan’s south location, which serves breakfast, burgers and chicken-fried steak, was recently remodeled and now features a drive-thru. ** 

Doc’s Backyard. 5207 Brodie Ln. #100. 512-892-5200, eatdrinkdocs.com. Two dozen Texas beers at a bar and grill that stays open until midnight plus a playscape for the kiddos … this suburban spot knows how to attract every member of the family.

El Meson. 2038 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-442-4441, ElMesonAustin.Wordpress.com. What started as a small taqueria near the airport expanded to this restaurant on South Lamar that carries on the original’s tradition of made-from-scratch interior-Mexican classics.

Evangeline Café. 8106 Brodie Lane. 512-282-2586, EvangelineCafe.com. Take a trip to the bayou at this Cajun restaurant for gumbo, po’ boys and music by the likes of Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4521 W. Gate Blvd. 512-899-2700, HPBNG.com. You can still find the French fries made famous at the original location.**

Jack Allen’s Kitchen. 7720 Texas 71. 512-852-8558, JackAllensKitchen.com. Farm-to-table comfort food such as bacon-wrapped quail and crispy salmon, as well as a massive weekend brunch, have made this place a hit down south and now up north, as well.**

Kerbey Lane. 3003 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-445-4451. 4301 William Cannon Dr. 512-899-1500, kerbeylanecafe.com. An Austin original that has been interested in conscientious sourcing since before it was popular.**

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Congress Ave. 512-445-0000, themagnoliacafe.com. Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes and omelets taste good any time of the day or night. So do quesadillas.**

Mandola’s Italian Market. 4301 W. William Cannon Dr. 512-524-2222. 12815 Shops Pkwy., Suite 400. 512-600-8500, MandolasMarket.com. Get classic Italian antipasti, daily specials and bubbling pizzas at this bustling family-friendly spot.

Maria’s Taco Xpress. 2529 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-444-0261, TacoXpress.com. This taco joint celebrates its 78704 pedigree by keeping it funky. Also, tacos! I like the chicken fajita taco the best.

Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, MattsElRancho.com. A 61-year-old Austin institution offering Mexican food in a sprawling but welcoming space.

Maudie’s. 1212 S. Lamar Blvd. 512- 440-8088. 3801 RM 620. 512- 306-8080, maudies.com. If you haven’t had Maudie’s Diablo Sol Food queso, you can’t really call yourself an Austinite. These Tex-Mex purveyors have recently moved to serving all-natural beef and pork and organic eggs.**

Mighty Fine Burgers. 5601 Brodie Ln. 512- 735-2800, MightyFineBurgers.com. Four Austin-area locations for this family-friendly place with the open-kitchen that calls mustard “yellow” and ketchup “red.”**

Phil’s Icehouse. 2901 S. Lamar Ave. 512-707-8704, PhilsIcehouse.com. The Amy’s team brings the same family-friendly, always-smiling service and enthusiasm to the burger joint where kids (and adults) can be kids.**

Pieous. 12005 U.S. 290 W. 512-394-7041, Facebook.com/Pieous. Family-owned and family-friendly pie place serves chewy Neapolitan pies and massive slices of pie, along with quality homemade pastrami.

Sandy’s. 603 Barton Springs Rd. 512-478-6322. Thin, classic burgers and small crunchy fries at this drive-thru and walk-up spot with the frozen custard sign. Great deals on combo meals Thursday and Saturday.

Shady Grove. 1624 Barton Springs Road. 512-474-9991, TheShadyGrove.com. The family-friendly restaurant located amid the grove of pecan trees keeps the crowds coming in with green chile hamburgers, chicken fried steak and queso catfish.

Tarka Indian Kitchen. 5207 Brodie Ln. #120. 512-892-2008, TarkaIndianKitchen.com. Fast-casual Indian cuisine from the Clay Pit founders, with a nice balance of both nontraditional and popular items.**

Thai Fresh. 909 Mary St. 512-494-6436, Thai-Fresh.com. Thai food restaurant, coffee shop, bakery and cooking school – what isn’t this family-owned enterprise in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood?

Torchy’s. 1311 S. First St. 512-366-0537. 3005 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-614-1832, torchystacos.com. From pastor to fried chicken, these guys wrap it all up in tortillas for some bold tacos. And their queso is not to be missed.

Threadgill’s. 301 W. Riverside Drive. 512-472-9304, Threadgills.com. It doesn’t get much more Austin than this house of home-cooking. Meat eaters run for the chicken fried steak, while vegetarians get more than lip-service with the heaping helping of side dishes.

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