This Dallas City Guide was composed by Meredith Steele, the talented blogger behind the beautiful and family-friendly In Sock Monkey Slippers.
I’m a born and bred Dallas girl. In Dallas, the skyline beams with sparkling buildings that give the city its polished shine while leaving plenty of green space to revel in. There are so many options for art and culture, and there’s always an event to go to. Here, your neighbors are kind and strangers wave. Being a professional food fanatic, I also love that Dallas has great choices when it comes to family-friendly restaurants. When we’re not cooking in the kitchen, you can find us eating at any one of the following fantastic stops.
Stay and Play Spots
Klyde Warren Park: Nestled downtown right above Woodall Rogers Freeway and next to the Dallas Museum of Art is the ultimate city park—a mecca for families if you will. Klyde Warren Park is a Dallas treasure and definitely the most family friendly spot in the city. Not only does this park have plenty of room to run, it boasts a playground complete with a tree house and water features, live music, chess tables, ping pong, a putting green, a dog park, reading and game areas, croquet, daily events, and many food options. Food trucks are the main attractions, but there’s even a delicious gastropub, Savor, located in the park.
Chicken Scratch: Laid-back with room to play, Chicken Scratch is just a short drive across the gorgeous Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in south Dallas. It might not seem like a family friendly restaurant, but don’t let the fact that it shares its property with a bar, The Foundry, deter you. Creative knife and fork fried chicken biscuits, chicken tenders, fresh fruit popsicles, tasty tacos, and pecan wood rotisserie chickens are combined with a large patio and a fun playground that’s just as unique as the menu—you’ll never want to leave. Bonus: Live music on the weekends.
The Lot: Located near scenic White Rock Lake and the Dallas Arboretum, The Lot is the perfect place for adults to enjoy a cocktail or two while the children go explore on the enormous sand playground. This place is one gigantic patio that’s family and dog friendly. With delicious yucca fries, blistered shishito peppers, and burgers, the food here is unique with plenty of options for children and adults. Word of caution: This place gets busy, and on a gorgeous day you could be there for hours—but since your kids won’t be squirming in their seats with boredom, it just might be worth it to you.
Penne Pomodoro: Neighborhood dining at its best, Penne Pomodoro has three locations: Lakewood, Snider Plaza, and North Dallas (Preston Rd). The atmosphere is as refreshing and comforting as the food. From homemade pastas, perfect pizzas, delectable entrees and from-scratch gelato, there’s a meal for everyone. Children are greeted at the door with crayons and a menu suited just to them; and, if they’re lucky, a ball of pizza dough to keep them busy. Be prepared for friendly service, quality food and an atmosphere akin to walking into a big Italian family’s home.
Bubba’s: Cradled in between the neighborhoods of the Park Cities, this gleaming old-school diner boasts some of Dallas’ best fried chicken, but don’t miss out on the glorious southern sides or amazing biscuits and rolls. Bubba’s is also famous for their enormous pancakes and thick-cut bacon that make children wide-eyed.
Highland Park Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain: Known to locals as HP Pharmacy, this nostalgic soda fountain located just outside of Highland Park in north central Dallas, is celebrating 100 years of serving the community. This is the ultimate place where kids can be kids and adults can eat like kids. Wash down an irresistible grilled cheese with one of their famous handmade shakes served in a classic frosty glass—there’s no better way to beat the Dallas summer heat.
El Fenix: Dallas born and bred, El Fenix is a staple for Tex-Mex lovers. With as many locations as there are tacos on their menu, you can’t miss it. You’ll be treated like family here, so sit back, relax, and have a little fun while enjoying a delicious meal. Oh, and word of warning: temporary tattoos have been known to sneak into the kid’s menu, so don’t be alarmed if all of a sudden there’s a snake holding maracas on your child’s arm. Bonus for you: The margaritas are legendary (and affordable).
Keller’s Drive-In: Located outside of Lake Highlands in northeast Dallas, Keller’s is a Dallas institution. Find a spot under the old metal awnings between the gorgeous hot rods, roll down the windows, and get ready for a classic drive-in experience. Enjoy burgers, fries, onion rings, and shakes while the kids get to do the one thing they love to do most in your car—eat in it.
Start: A fast food restaurant with a conscience, Start offers up fresh real-food recipes for young and old. Dine inside (there’s even a wine list!) or, if you’re in a rush, stop by the drive-thru. Amazing organic breakfast options, mouthwatering grass fed burgers, a fabulous kids menu with healthy options, and other creative choices abound.
Taco Joint: Music is always playing in this taco joint located on the north end of Lakewood in east Dallas and families couldn’t be happier. This Tex-Mex grub comes out fast and hot with tacos being served morning, noon, and night. You know a place has got to be good and fun when they state they “believe in thrashing your taste buds with a roundhouse kick of flavor that Chuck Norris would be proud of.”
Best Breakfasts and Brunch
Crossroads Dinner: Homestyle greatness meets traditional diner at this north Dallas family spot. Breakfast is served all day here and everything is made in-house just like grandma used to do. Their sticky buns blanketed with thick pecan caramel are so famous there’s a club dedicated to them!
Bread Winners: With locations all over Dallas (Uptown, Northpark, and the Park Cities), Bread Winners is nearly impossible to beat for brunch. The menu is impressively massive serving favorites for everyone including kids. Don’t leave without grabbing one of their famous homemade pastries from the bakery.
Heading to Cajun Country next? Check out our Guide to New Orleans.