Houston Family Friendly Restaurants – Healthy Kids Menu
Scroll down for the Parents’ Picks list of Houston eateries
by Bernadette Verzosa
Parents: Rejoice! More Houston area restaurants are adding healthy kids’ options on menus!
It’s a top trend with neighborhood restaurants in 2014, according to Melissa Stewart, a Houston mom and executive director of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association. “Parents are demanding better choices for their children whether it’s drive-through, quick service or full service. More and more restaurants are offering grilled chicken instead of fried tenders. There’s a proliferation of fruits instead of fries. Health awareness is through the roof. Parents want to prevent obesity, heart disease, and other conditions younger children are now being diagnosed with, like diabetes.”
Stewart says restaurants are wooing families to come regularly and often, not just on special occasions. “Restaurants are very mindful of what consumers want and are making menus that are accessible and with healthy, vegetarian and gluten-free options,” she says. “This trend goes hand in hand with the economy. The economy has gotten better. We are back to pre-recession eating out habits.”
ZAGAT SURVEY RANKS HOUSTON #1
Families can choose between more than 4,000 places to eat in the Houston area. According to a recent Zagat dining trends survey, Houstonians dine out more than residents of other major cities. Zagat says the average number of dine-out meals in Houston is 5.5 per week. That’s compared to 4.9 dine-out meals per week in Dallas, New York City and Miami – the three restaurant markets that share second place.
“I think Houstonians eat out more frequently because of our city’s wide geographic spread. Families need quick meals between events,” says Stewart.
Many restaurants are also serving more dishes in children’s portions. “Restaurants are offering more sophisticated kids menus. It seems children have great palates,” she adds.
HOUSTON’S BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS
When families dine out, parents often pick places where their kids are sure to eat, the atmosphere is casual, and the restaurant staff is welcoming.
The following restaurants are Parents’ Picks because they meet families’ needs by offering a great kids’ menu with nutritious options as well as delicious dishes for grown-ups. They represent the diverse cuisine in Houston’s restaurants: Greek, Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese and American.
NIKO NIKO’S GREEK & AMERICAN CAFE
Locations: 2520 Montrose & 3012 Milam
Owner and Houston dad Dimitri Fetokakis recently revised the menu to note which items are gluten-free or vegetarian, and which are fried in trans fat-free oil. Niko Niko’s offers scrumptious and healthy Mediterranean dishes. The variety of foods on the menu can satisfy everyone in the whole family. Parents can choose between the classic kebobs, salads, moussaka, spanakopita and an array of dips including hummus and tarama. From the kids’ menu, children can pick between gyros, chicken kebob, grilled cheese and even shrimp and fish. Niko-Niko’s is a partner of the Children’s Museum of Houston. Families can find the Niko Niko’s play diner in Kidtropolis.
CLICK HERE for the NIKO NIKO’S MENU & LOCATIONS
Twelve locations in the Houston area including Memorial Park. CLICK HERE for BECKS PRIME LOCATIONS
Owner and Houston mom Molly Voorhees proudly points out that Becks Prime has been posting nutritional information for many years – way before it was fashionable! Beyond its legendary Certified Angus Beef burgers, healthy favorites include the veggie burger, salads, Ahi tuna, chicken and vegetables. The Kids Prime Meals include grilled chicken strips and an option for sweet potato fries. The Becks Prime in Memorial Park is a popular spot for families. Parents can reserve outdoor tables for birthday parties.
CLICK HERE for BECKS PRIME NUTRITIONAL MENU
Two locations: 3115 Kirby and 1399 South Voss
Owner and Houston dad Johnny Carrabba stays true to his roots serving his own family’s recipes of homemade pastas and sauces, handmade mozzarella and pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven. Carrabba’s kids menu offers hearty Italian dishes such as fettucine alfredo and spaghetti and meatballs, in addition to a healthy grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes. Carrabba’s offers gluten-free versions of many dishes, advising guests to substitute gluten-free pastas and request no breading with certain meats and vegetables.
CLICK HERE for CARRABBA’S MENU & GLUTEN-FREE MENU
3131 Argonne Street
Carrabba’s owner Johnny Carrabba named this restaurant after his daughter Mia. The restaurant offers barbecue favorites including pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches, baked beans and ribs. Burgers and other dishes can be turned gluten-free by ordering without bread, sauces or gravies. Fried items can also be served grilled.
CLICK HERE for MIA’S MENU
Five Houston area locations: Highland Village, Memorial, Meyerland Plaza, Town & Country, Sugar Land
Escalante’s uses fresh ingredients for its classic Tex-Mex offerings of fajitas, rellenos, enchiladas and empanadas. Kids are thrilled to watch the guacamole whipped up tableside using avocados, tomatoes and cilantro. The gluten free menu spotlights the seafood, salad, beans and corn tortillas.
CLICK HERE for ESCALANTE’S LOCATIONS
Four locations: River Oaks, Heights, City Centre and Sugar Land
The Ruggles Green menu is clearly marked with gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and Kids Live Well options. Popular items include lettuce wraps, burgers, seafood tacos and gluten-free pastas. The kids’ menu offers quinoa mac & cheese, organic pizza, quinoa linguini with turkey meatballs. Ruggles Green is Houston’s first Certified Green Restaurant.
CLICK HERE for the RUGGLES GREEN MENU & LOCATIONS
Three locations: Jefferson, Bellaire and Sugar Land
The Kim Son menu of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes is extensive. Families can feast on dozens of choices – from healthy spring rolls and dumplings to tasty noodles, from savory soups and grilled seafood to vegetable platters, from flame broiled chicken breast to flame broiled Tofu.
CLICK HERE for the KIM SON MENU
Twenty locations in the Houston area.
Jason’s Deli is a great place to stop for sandwiches and salads. Many offer gluten-free bread to substitute if needed. Call ahead your order for pick-up, and bring it to the park for a picnic. Favorite sandwiches include the tuna melt, grilled salmon, hot corned beef and pastrami. The kids’ menu offers organic apples, organic carrots, peanut butter and jelly, turkey, pastas and baked potato.
CLICK HERE for JASON’S DELI HOUSTON LOCATIONS