Waco’s Top 7 Places to Dine with Kids
Last semester, a group of my Baylor students inquired before class one day about my favorite Waco restaurant. I jokingly responded that any place in town I can take my children without being thrown out is my favorite restaurant. (My students will get it one day…) But the truth of it is, that’s really not a joke. On the rare occasions my husband and I are brave enough to dine in public with our kids, who are ages 4 and 6, one of my first criteria is whether or not the restaurant is suitable for kids.
My husband and I have lived in Waco for about a decade. We have a pretty good idea of the restaurant landscape. But a number of family friendly places have cropped up just in the last couple of years. I spent this summer exploring many of our area’s kid friendly eateries, and I made a list.
Because a top 5 list seems too few and a top 10 list feels a tad cliché, I comprised a top 7 list—in no particular order. I also took in to consideration factors such as menu prices, ambiance, and quality of food and service.
For the longest time, I thought Homestead Heritage ones one of Waco’s best kept secrets.But it seems the secret is out. Just last year, I met a woman from Russia who came to Dallas on business but also made room in her travel plans to visit Magnolia and Homestead Heritage. If you’ve spent any time in this community, you know what all the hullabaloo is about. I enjoy taking my family there on Saturdays to peruse the grounds, the woodwork, the ironwork and so forth, but I especially love dining at the café. The food is wholesome enough for parents to feel good about it and delicious enough for kids to devour it. And if they eat their entire lunch, we always reward them with Homestead’s homemade ice cream.
When my students asked me about my favorite restaurant in Waco, I actually responded “Memorial Dining Hall,” which is a cafeteria connected to a residence hall on Baylor campus. Pretty much all Baylor dining halls are my favorite. They offer a variety of buffet items, faculty and executive staff can eat there for under $5.00 a person, and kids are free. I’ve also discovered college cafeterias are loud, which is a fun bonus when you have loud children in tow. If you are not a Baylor faculty or staff member, not all is lost. I encourage you to befriend one, as I have swiped my ID card many times when dining with friends not employed by Baylor. But even the general public can pay full price, which runs $8-10 a person depending on the dining hall and meal time.
If you’re looking for a buffet experience outside of the four walls of a restaurant, I can think of no place better to go than the Silo’s food trucks. A few months ago, when my in laws were in town, we braved the Saturday afternoon crowds and headed over to Magnolia. I’m thankful their expansive lawn area and garden provides a place for kids to play while moms and grandmas shop. And when it was time to eat, my sons got pizza from Wood Fired Pizza; my in laws ordered sandwiches from Cheddar Box; my husband ate a chicken biscuit from Milo’s; I ordered a salad and juice from Luna Juice. And then we all enjoyed cupcakes, of course, from the airstream located near the food trucks. It’s hard to beat that kind of variety in one kid-friendly location.
Even if I were a care free, kid free college student and not a mom, I would still place Torchy’s high on my favorites list. The eatery isn’t specific to Waco, TX; although, the chain is located primarily in Texas. Torchy’s has mastered the art of Tex-Mex with a hint of BBQ, which is always a tried and true favorite in Texas. Much of the menu is spicy, which may not go over well with kids. But the kids’ menu has some long established Mexican food favorites like chicken tacos, quesadillas, and chips and queso. What I especially like about Torchy’s here in Waco is the backyard area, which provides space for kids to run around. My kids typically finish eating before we do, and we love any restaurant that allows us to finish our meal while our kids can run free in an appropriate, designated space.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or maybe simply in the throes of newborns and toddlers), you’ve probably heard by now Chip and Jo have opened a breakfast and lunch joint. You’ve probably also heard the wait can be long, like, up to two hours long. I’ve been a patron of the restaurant 4 or 5 times with friends and once with my boys. Our family went on a Wednesday morning around 10am, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn the wait was only 30 minutes. We spent that time in the coffee and juice bar nook where we found a few lawn game toys similar to the ones at the Silos. The lawn games kept my boys entertained while my husband and I sipped our coffee. Once inside, the noise level was loud enough that our family was not a distraction but also ambient enough to allow us to have a table conversation. The menu prices are reasonable and the food selection is vast enough to please even the pickiest of eaters. My boys enjoyed pancakes and eggs.
Similar to Torchy’s, Slow Rise Pizza in Woodway has a small outdoor area that’s just large enough for kids and adults to enjoy lawn games. The pizza is outstanding and their adult beverage menu is impressive. That Slow Rise is attached to Common Grounds Woodway is also a huge plus. I have gone to Slow Rise with my kids. I have also met girlfriends there for a post “my kids are finally in bed” drink. Woodway has long needed a place where adults can enjoy coffee, wine, and food while kids can also enjoy an outdoor space.
There are a myriad of reasons I’m impressed with Poppa Rollo’s. Family friendly environment, arcade games, a cold beverage for the adults, and the list goes on. This is a reader favorite as well!