Austin Kids Dance – Restaurants

This page includes my favorite kid-friendly restaurants with early, weekly live music shows. The weekly shows are pretty regular, but not always, so I included phone numbers to call ahead and confirm. If you attend a show, leave a comment on this page! I would love to hear about it!

Restaurant Calendar

Click on the venue name to see a description and links. These weekly schedules can vary, call ahead if you want to be sure of the time. Only shows that start at 8:00 or earlier are included.

THR 6:00 Freddie’s
6:30 Central Market – North Lamar, Guero’s
7:00 Maria’s Taco Express
FRI 6:00 Freddie’s
6:30 Central Market – North Lamar and Westgate, Guero’s, Zed’s
7:00 Maria’s Taco Express, Green Mesquite, Waterloo Ice House – 38th
7:30 Nutty Brown Cafe

SAT

6:00 Freddie’s
6:30 Central Market – North Lamar and Westgate, Guero’s, Zed’s
7:00 Green Mesquite, Maria’s Taco Express
7:30 Nutty Brown Cafe

SUN

10:00 Nutty Brown Cafe
11:00 Threadgill’s – North Lamar, Threadgill’s – Riverside
3:00 Guero’s
6:00 Freddie’s
7:00 Green Mesquite
8:00 Threadgill’s – Riverside

MON

8:00 Threadgill’s – Riverside

TUE

6:30 Nutty Brown Cafe
8:00 Threadgill’s – Riverside

WED

5:30 Waterloo Ice House – 38th
6:30 Central Market – Westgate, Guero’s, Nutty Brown Cafe, Threadgill’s – North Lamar
7:00 Maria’s Taco Express

Restaurant Map

Click on the map push pin for the same information about each venue.

 

Restaurant Descriptions

All of the venues listed have a few things in common. They are not a bar, even though they some sell drinks. They have at least one regular, weekly live music show that starts at 8:00pm or earlier. Most don’t have a cover charge and meals cost about $7-$10 per adult, unless it says otherwise. Outdoor venues tend to have more room for dancing while most indoor venues are better for listening to the music from your table (but they are much better for a rainy day). Some restaurants have both indoor and outdoor tables and music, depending on the season and the weather, so call ahead for them, if you want to be sure.
 
There is some dancing etiquette when it comes to little kids in restaurants. Be aware of the overall scene and keep the kids out from under the waiter’s feet. Be sure to buy food, so the restaurant is encouraged to keep the music coming and tip the band, because they make it all possible.


 
Central Market – North Lamar
4001 North Lamar Blvd.          206-1000
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Central Market’s Lamar location has a shady outdoor deck for the music with lots of room for kids to dance. I like eating indoors here, where there are fewer distractions, then heading outside for the music. There is a large playground outdoors, behind the band. They have all different kinds of food at the cafe, from the more healthy, like Salmon Niciose Salad, to comfort food like Mac and Cheese. I love the variety of music styles of the bands, including jazz, Americana, swing, latin, bluegrass, singer-songwriter and blues. They also have Wednesday and Sunday shows semi-regularly, check out the web site for more info.


 
Central Market – Westgate
4477 South Lamar          899-4300
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Central Market’s Westgate location has a small indoor stage in their cafe. There isn’t a lot of room to dance here and there isn’t a playground or outdoor space. The cafe food is about the same as Central Market – North Lamar, so is the fun variety of music genres. If you’ve already eaten, it is fun to get a little something from the grocery for the kids to share, like a single serving of cake or a candy treat from the bulk section.


 
Freddie’s
1703 South First          445-9197
restaurant           music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
You can tell Freddie’s is fun just by walking by, with its colorful lights and backyard-style patio. The have an outdoor stage with a playground just to the side, so parents can listen to the music and keep an eye on their kids at the same time. There is a good amount of room for dancing. They serve traditional burgers, sandwiches and salads and some more interesting choices like Chicken and Waffles, Deep Fried Portebella Mushrooms and Fried PB&J for dessert. (There are more unhealthy options here than healthy, in general.) Parking is limited, it helps to get there early to find a spot.


 
Green Mesquite
1400 Barton Springs          479-0485
restaurant      music               menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun

Green Mesquite has traditional Texas bar-b-que at two locations, but the Barton Springs location is the only one with live music. The bands are traditional blues and bluegrass, they are very talented and the music is accessible to kids. There is some parking for the restaurant, but not very much, and street parking is a challenge, since the restaurant is on the same block as Chuy’s and Shady Grove. You can plan on a bit of a walk or have a back up plan if it is too nuts.


 
Guero’s
02/2011 post
1412 South Congress          447-7688
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Guero’s is amazing. If my budget and metabolism could manage it and if we lived closer, I might eat there every night. The shrimp fajitas are super yummy and the margaritas are my favorite in all of Austin. The restaurant is inside, so you can focus on eating, while enjoying the AC, before you head to the music on the outdoor patio. Some food and drinks are available outside too. The setup is informal, with picnic benches and a few tables. The area has a stone fence around it, which helps with super little kids. Guero’s is very busy on weekends, so early dinners are best for avoiding a wait. Guero’s is also popular with the tourists, so you might go at an off-peak time or pick another place during big festivals like Austin City Limits and South By Southwest. There is free parking in a garage behind the restaurant, the entrance is on Elizabeth Street, just get your ticket validated when you eat.


 
Maria’s Taco Express
2529 South Lamar          444-0261
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Maria’s is an interesting place, just looking at it, before you eat or listen to music. The wide open arms of the more-than-life-size statue out front sets the tone. Then, there is the freshly made Mexican food with interesting spices. They are known for their tacos, but have enchiladas, fajitas, fish and salads too. Their outdoor stage is in an interesting space and it’s fully covered, out of the sun and rain. When it isn’t too crowded, you can move some tables and make room for dancing.


 
Nutty Brown Cafe
12225 West Highway 290          301-4648
restaurant          music           menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Nutty Brown Cafe is built for families, you can feel that when you first walk in the door. The food is a combination of home cooking and Tex-Mex, with chili, chicken fried steak, enchiladas, fajitas and burgers.  There is an outdoor amphitheater with mostly Texas Country music and 10 acres for the kids to run around, and a second outdoor stage for smaller acts. Many of their shows have more established artists, so they have cover charges, others are free. Tuesdays are Kids Nights in the summer at 6pm, with 99 cent kids meals, made-for-kids music, bouncy castles, face painting and balloon animals. In the winter, there is a smaller indoor stage with Cajun music and Cajun food on Friday nights. It is pretty far south and hard to get to during the week, especially if you are north of Lady Bird Lake, but Saturdays aren’t a problem and it’s worth a longer drive.


 
Threadgill’s – North Lamar
6416 North Lamar          451-5440
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Janis Joplin, Joe Ely and other famous musicians played Threadgill’s early in their careers, maybe you will see another star getting their start! Threadgill’s has home cooking types of food, with burgers, chicken fried steak and a famous vegetable plate (your choice of red beans and rice, black eyed peas, broccoli rice casserole, collard greens, fried okra and more). The environment is definitely indoors and sit-down, without room to dance. The music is bluegrass, singer-song writer, blues and Americana. There is usually a opener at 6:30 and a headliner at 8:30. There are more shows each week than listed, I listed only those that start at 8:00pm or earlier.


 
Threadgill’s – Riverside
301 West Riverside          472-9304
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Threadgill’s Riverside has music styles and food similar to the North Lamar location. The Riverside location has indoor and outdoor stages and the outdoor stage is especially good for kids who like to run around and dance. The musicians on the outdoor stage are usually more well-known, which means they sometimes come with a cover charge, so check their web site for info. They have later shows on the weekends and now and then they have an afternoon show on Sunday (only the regular shows that start at 8:00 or earlier are included in this calendar).


 
Waterloo Ice House 38th
1106 West 38th St.          451-5245
restaurant          music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
There are a lot of Waterloo Ice House locations in town, but the one on 38th and Medical Parkway is the only one with live music. It has a long tradition of live music; it was a venue in the early careers of Lyle Lovett and Toni Price. This is one of the indoor locations, better for listening than for dancing. There is a lot of unhealthy food to be tempted by, but the salads are pretty good and they have a few healthy options for kids too. They have more shows than the ones listed here and some are at 5:30, a great time for families, but they haven’t been regular lately, so they aren’t included. The start times also vary, so check their web site for more information.


 
Zed’s
501 Canyon Ridge          339-9337
restaurant           music          menu          back to calendar          back to map
eat – outdoor/indoor     music – outdoor/indoor     Mon Tue Wed Thr Fri Sat Sun
Zed’s is a modern, casual restaurant serving salads, homestyle food and steaks. This is probably the most grown-up-looking place in the list, it might even feel like a date night. Their food is more expensive than most of the other places, but the quality is pretty good. Since it is away from downtown, the parking is easy. There is a grassy area and a creek behind the stage which can be fun for some kids, but a pain for the parents if you have little ones that like to wander and need supervision.