5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston

by Culinary Spelunker /
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Aug 22, 2016 / 0 comments

Texas may be known for its barbecue but you’re missing a lot of its others eats if that’s all you have while visiting. On a recent trip to Houston, which skirts the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, I was surprised by the variety of cuisines offered within the city and its surrounding areas.

That’s right, Houston is a foodie town.

Sure, I expected plenty of Tex-Mex joints and barbecue dives, but what I didn’t plan on is a world of flavors tucked around nearly every corner.

5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston
Here are five of our favorite foodie discoveries that are also perfect for families.

Rudy’s – Barbecue

Multiple locations
Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q has around 40 locations, most in Texas but a few trickling out in nearby states like Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. At Rudy’s they keep things simple – it’s all about the meat. Smoked meat. Choose from brisket, sausage, turkey, ribs, chicken, and pork loin. The sides, like coleslaw and potato salad are mostly an afterthought. Meat is served by the pound and I’d highly recommend you get plenty of brisket. You’ll have your choice between “moist”, “lean”, and “cutter’s choice.” Moist includes a little marbling of fat as opposed to the lean; the cutter’s choice is what’s available at the moment. They’re happy to let you try both to see what you like better.

Rudy’s – Barbecue. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston
The meat comes on a brown butcher paper in a plastic basket that you’ll take to your table, where you’ll find your choice of sauces. I fully admit I liked the “Sissy” sauce. If you’re looking for that quintessential Texas barbecue flavor, with slow-smoked meats and bold sauces, complete with a slice of Wonder Bread to the side, this is your place!

Pasha – Turkish

Downtown Houston
With seasonings and techniques hearkening to what you’d find in Lebanese, Greek, and Indian cuisine, Turkish food has its own, unique flavor profile. Vegetables are grilled and blistered. The pita bread is pillowy, versus flat, and every meal tends to end with a piping hot cup of apple tea.

My kids gobbled up the pita bread, dipping the wedges into olive oil spiked with Za’atar spices, the sumac giving it hints of earthiness. I opted for the stuffed eggplant (Karniyarik). But we all envied my youngest daughter who ordered the Iskender Kebab – the dish included grilled pieces of lamb and beef in a rich tomato sauce with cubes of butter-laden toasted pita tucked underneath and big dollop of creamy yogurt to the side.

Please save room for dessert. We skipped the tea and ordered the baklava and Turkish flan (Kazandibi). Usually, I’m not fond of the custardy texture, but this feathery flan topped with cinnamon and finely chopped pistachios was an instant favorite.  

Pasha – Turkish. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston


Banh Mi Houston -- Vietnamese

Spring area
Hello, bao! The fresh-made bao here is a must. The bright-white, dumpling buns with savory fillings like barbecued pork are surprisingly light and airy as you bite into them. They’re available from the case near the register and heated once you order (warning: they do run out if you go later in the day or someone with a serious bao hankering comes in before you).

  Banh Mi Houston -- Vietnamese. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston

  Banh Mi Houston -- Vietnamese. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston

We downed bao as our appetizers and then ordered banh mi sandwiches all around. I’d suggest the grilled lemongrass pork, although if you’ve got a meatball fan in the family try the Banh Mi Xiu Mai (meatball).  

Taco Crave – Mexican

Spring area
Taco shops dot Houston. With so many to choose from, and at incredibly affordable prices, I’d stop in a few.

What I liked about Taco Crave is that all of the various taco fillings are laid out buffet style and the server can explain to you what’s in each one. She even gave us a little spoonful sample of each akin to what you’d find at an ice cream parlor. I sampled spicy carnitas and green chicaharrones made from family recipes before deciding on three tacos – one filled with chicken chipotle, another picadillo con papas, and the last one “the flavor of the month” (this time it included a cream-based, spicy sauce with chicken and spinach). Choose from charro beans or refried (or have your kids get one and you get the other and then split them!).

Taco Crave – Mexican. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston
We finished off our meal with the dessert of the week – Tres Leches cake. The big slice of sweetened, milk-soaked vanilla cake was plenty for all four of us to share.  

Taco Crave – Mexican. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston


Cajun Greek – As the name implies, Cajun … and Greek

The line was just out the door when we arrived at the Cajun Greek (while we were there it trailed around the side of the building). From the outside, the restaurant looks small and unassuming, but inside, it’s packed with tables and happy customers downing fresh seafood with a Cajun spin.

Cajun Greek – As the name implies, Cajun … and Greek. From 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in and around Houston
My youngest daughter raved about her shrimp po’ boy sandwich, but the clear favorite order of our table was my 15 year-old’s Seafood Crabbers Choice Soup. Yes, even though the heat index was stretching into the 100s, my daughter wanted chowder. Chock full of fish, oysters, potatoes, and corn, she kept discovering new flavors the farther she got into the over-sized bowl. But the real treat for her was eating the whole, blue crab that came perched on the edge. Our server patiently explained to us Midwesterners how to crack open the shell to get the meat. We all gave it a try, my kids marveling at the naturally buttery flavor of the crab.


More Kid-friendly meals:
Kid-Friendly Foods to Try in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula


Kristen J. Gough is the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor for Wandering Educators. She shares her family's adventurous food experiences--and recipes--at MyKidsEatSquid.com.


All photos courtesy and copyright Kristen J. Gough