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12 Austin Restaurants for Affordable Family Meals

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Although social distancing may make “normal” activities somewhat challenging, Austin is a very lucky city when it comes to restaurants with quality food. Many of the city’s favorites are currently cooking up family-style meals that make dinner at home both fun and affordable.

And, a number of spots offer scenic outdoor dining and kids’ menus to keep little ones happy. Use this guide to plan your next family meal, whether you want pizza, burgers, barbecue, sushi, Tex-Mex, or something else entirely. At these 12 budget-friendly spots, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Be sure to check each of these spots before you go, as the state continues to adapt to new guidelines and regulations. A number of Austin’s restaurants have resumed (or pared down) dine-in service, and this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit austintexas.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Little Deli & Pizzeria

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The whole family can get behind this pizza and sandwich spot, known for its thin-crust New Jersey-style pies on homemade dough and Italian subs on freshly baked bread. Make a meal of it with potato salad or coleslaw, a few Cokes, and some classic black and white cookies for dessert.

Mangieri's Pizza Café

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For takeout or outdoor dining, Mangieri’s is a family favorite. This pizza place offers thin-crust pies that range from traditional to over-the-top, like The Wild Boar, topped with pepperoni, jalapeños, mushrooms, mozzarella, and parm. A kids’ menu includes pizza, pasta, and chicken strips with fries. 

Ski Shores Cafe

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Since 1954, Ski Shores has been a destination for families. Situated along the water, this casual eatery has a game room, playground, and plenty of al fresco seating. Diners also can order takeout to bring home bar snacks like onion rings and peel-and-eat shrimp, plus larger dishes including fried catfish and burgers. 

A variety of foods in red-checkered baskets from Ski Shores Cafe. Dishes include quesadillas, fries, tacos, and more.
Courtesy of Ski Shores Cafe

The Peached Tortilla

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The Peached Tortilla started out selling its Asian-influenced Southern comfort food from a food truck and grew into a sunny Burnet Road restaurant. The casual eatery is known for its tacos as well as creative takes on classic dishes, like chow fun with braised brisket. Noteworthy on the takeout menu are family meals with two or three shareable dishes and a kids’ menu that offers a tofu rice bowl, brisket tacos, and more. 

Sushi Japon & Hibachi Grill

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Choose your own adventure at Sushi Japon, picking either sushi made with fish straight from Japan, or meat and seafood cooked on the Hibachi grill. (Or, maybe get some of each to bring home.) Kids will enjoy having their own menu with chicken, beef, or shrimp that comes with soup, vegetables, and white rice. 

Hat Creek Burger Company

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In addition to a menu full of backyard-style burgers, this regional Texas chain has a lot to offer local families. Think: a kids’ menu, create-your-own milkshakes, a soda fountain featuring Coke products, and gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes. The Westlake location has a drive-thru, as well as a shaded patio for outdoor dining. Plus, Tuesday nights mean discounts for families. 

A cheeseburger and fries from the Austin restaurant Hat Creek Burger Company.
Courtesy of Hat Creek Burger Company

Mandola's Italian

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For the past four decades, Mandola’s has served Italian favorites, including fried mozzarella, spaghetti and meatballs, and a kids’ menu with cheese ravioli and buttered noodles. These days, family-style takeout meals are a great deal. There’s a bake-at-home pizza kit for $20, plus two-course packages that serve four to six people and come with salad, warm focaccia, and a crowd-pleasing entrée like chicken parmesan or lasagna. Outdoor dining is available, too.

Spaghetti and meatballs from Mandola’s Italian in Austin.
Courtesy of Mandola’s Italian

Olive & June

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Order early in the day to snag chicken or eggplant parmesan for two or four people from this popular Italian spot. Each family-style meal comes with bread, ricotta dip, salad, a side dish, chocolate cookies, and one more dessert. Plenty of other Italian classics are available a la carte, including meatballs, ravioli, and chicken saltimbocca. For little ones who prefer their pasta on the simple side, Olive & June satisfies with a kids’ pasta with butter or tomato sauce. 

Contigo

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This charming East Austin restaurant wins points for its open-air concept, modeled after a spacious ranch and perfect for these social-distancing days. The (almost completely outdoor) restaurant features lawn games, a $6 burger for kids, and modern takes on classic dishes — like chicken fried steak with grilled kale and black garlic vinaigrette. Dessert includes homemade ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.

Courtesy of Contigo

Kebabalicious

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A couple of friends from Texas fell in love with doner kebabs while on vacation to Europe and brought the concept back home. Their restaurant, Kebabalicious, serves the succulent shaved beef, lamb, and chicken wrapped in pita bread, on a salad, or in a rice bowl. Pro tip: get fries inside a pita sandwich for $1.25. A kids’ menu features options like falafel, sweet potato fries, and hummus. 

Tamale House East

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This family-run Tex-Mex spot has been going strong in a few Austin locations since 1958, and the same recipes are still on the menu. Go for affordable and delicious pork, chicken, or bean tamales, plus tacos and enchiladas. Round out the meal with a pint of homemade queso with chips, and that’s enough to serve a group.

Enchiladas from Tamale House East in Austin.
Courtesy of Tamale House East

Metcalf Barbecue

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Metcalf Barbecue boasts a huge, entirely outdoor dining area and live music, and it also has not one, not two, but three different playscapes for kids. Don’t miss the brisket at this destination, which is smoked for 14 hours. Kiddos who don’t love smoked meat can choose from a kids’ menu that includes chicken tenders, grilled cheese, or a quesadilla. Everyone else can gather around pulled pork, jalapeño sausage, spare ribs, and more. 

Brisket, bread, and pickles from Metcalf Barbecue in Austin. Abigail Schaefer
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Little Deli & Pizzeria

The whole family can get behind this pizza and sandwich spot, known for its thin-crust New Jersey-style pies on homemade dough and Italian subs on freshly baked bread. Make a meal of it with potato salad or coleslaw, a few Cokes, and some classic black and white cookies for dessert.

Mangieri's Pizza Café

For takeout or outdoor dining, Mangieri’s is a family favorite. This pizza place offers thin-crust pies that range from traditional to over-the-top, like The Wild Boar, topped with pepperoni, jalapeños, mushrooms, mozzarella, and parm. A kids’ menu includes pizza, pasta, and chicken strips with fries. 

Ski Shores Cafe

A variety of foods in red-checkered baskets from Ski Shores Cafe. Dishes include quesadillas, fries, tacos, and more.
Courtesy of Ski Shores Cafe

Since 1954, Ski Shores has been a destination for families. Situated along the water, this casual eatery has a game room, playground, and plenty of al fresco seating. Diners also can order takeout to bring home bar snacks like onion rings and peel-and-eat shrimp, plus larger dishes including fried catfish and burgers. 

A variety of foods in red-checkered baskets from Ski Shores Cafe. Dishes include quesadillas, fries, tacos, and more.
Courtesy of Ski Shores Cafe

The Peached Tortilla

The Peached Tortilla started out selling its Asian-influenced Southern comfort food from a food truck and grew into a sunny Burnet Road restaurant. The casual eatery is known for its tacos as well as creative takes on classic dishes, like chow fun with braised brisket. Noteworthy on the takeout menu are family meals with two or three shareable dishes and a kids’ menu that offers a tofu rice bowl, brisket tacos, and more. 

Sushi Japon & Hibachi Grill

Choose your own adventure at Sushi Japon, picking either sushi made with fish straight from Japan, or meat and seafood cooked on the Hibachi grill. (Or, maybe get some of each to bring home.) Kids will enjoy having their own menu with chicken, beef, or shrimp that comes with soup, vegetables, and white rice. 

Hat Creek Burger Company

A cheeseburger and fries from the Austin restaurant Hat Creek Burger Company.
Courtesy of Hat Creek Burger Company

In addition to a menu full of backyard-style burgers, this regional Texas chain has a lot to offer local families. Think: a kids’ menu, create-your-own milkshakes, a soda fountain featuring Coke products, and gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes. The Westlake location has a drive-thru, as well as a shaded patio for outdoor dining. Plus, Tuesday nights mean discounts for families. 

A cheeseburger and fries from the Austin restaurant Hat Creek Burger Company.
Courtesy of Hat Creek Burger Company

Mandola's Italian

Spaghetti and meatballs from Mandola’s Italian in Austin.
Courtesy of Mandola’s Italian

For the past four decades, Mandola’s has served Italian favorites, including fried mozzarella, spaghetti and meatballs, and a kids’ menu with cheese ravioli and buttered noodles. These days, family-style takeout meals are a great deal. There’s a bake-at-home pizza kit for $20, plus two-course packages that serve four to six people and come with salad, warm focaccia, and a crowd-pleasing entrée like chicken parmesan or lasagna. Outdoor dining is available, too.

Spaghetti and meatballs from Mandola’s Italian in Austin.
Courtesy of Mandola’s Italian

Olive & June

Order early in the day to snag chicken or eggplant parmesan for two or four people from this popular Italian spot. Each family-style meal comes with bread, ricotta dip, salad, a side dish, chocolate cookies, and one more dessert. Plenty of other Italian classics are available a la carte, including meatballs, ravioli, and chicken saltimbocca. For little ones who prefer their pasta on the simple side, Olive & June satisfies with a kids’ pasta with butter or tomato sauce. 

Contigo

Courtesy of Contigo

This charming East Austin restaurant wins points for its open-air concept, modeled after a spacious ranch and perfect for these social-distancing days. The (almost completely outdoor) restaurant features lawn games, a $6 burger for kids, and modern takes on classic dishes — like chicken fried steak with grilled kale and black garlic vinaigrette. Dessert includes homemade ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.

Courtesy of Contigo

Kebabalicious

A couple of friends from Texas fell in love with doner kebabs while on vacation to Europe and brought the concept back home. Their restaurant, Kebabalicious, serves the succulent shaved beef, lamb, and chicken wrapped in pita bread, on a salad, or in a rice bowl. Pro tip: get fries inside a pita sandwich for $1.25. A kids’ menu features options like falafel, sweet potato fries, and hummus. 

Tamale House East

Enchiladas from Tamale House East in Austin.
Courtesy of Tamale House East

This family-run Tex-Mex spot has been going strong in a few Austin locations since 1958, and the same recipes are still on the menu. Go for affordable and delicious pork, chicken, or bean tamales, plus tacos and enchiladas. Round out the meal with a pint of homemade queso with chips, and that’s enough to serve a group.

Enchiladas from Tamale House East in Austin.
Courtesy of Tamale House East

Metcalf Barbecue

Brisket, bread, and pickles from Metcalf Barbecue in Austin. Abigail Schaefer

Metcalf Barbecue boasts a huge, entirely outdoor dining area and live music, and it also has not one, not two, but three different playscapes for kids. Don’t miss the brisket at this destination, which is smoked for 14 hours. Kiddos who don’t love smoked meat can choose from a kids’ menu that includes chicken tenders, grilled cheese, or a quesadilla. Everyone else can gather around pulled pork, jalapeño sausage, spare ribs, and more. 

Brisket, bread, and pickles from Metcalf Barbecue in Austin. Abigail Schaefer

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