Having children is one of life's great blessings until it comes to eating out at restaurants, where they turn into small maniacs set on ruining the dinner of everyone in earshot. For the most part, society seems happy to relegate parents and children to a fast food playground until the kids come back with some manners. For those for whom a value menu won't suffice, there's the Dream Cafe located in Uptown. The patio comes with a moderate playground with a jungle gym and playhouse. It's big enough to keep the kids occupied for an hour or so while you enjoy chicken and waffles in sweet peace.

Best Place To Take the Kids to Brunch

Oddfellows

Oddfellows
Kathy Tran

There are two different brunch crowds in the world: the people who roll out of bed at quarter past 11 and don't actually wake up until the first mimosa, and there are the people with small children who show up at the restaurant when the doors open for breakfast. For the early risers and their parents, Oddfellows in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District is more than accommodating. They'll be waiting at the door with crayons and coloring sheets, and by the time the kids throw all the colors on the floor, the pancakes are ready. You can enjoy the duck hash or huevos rancheros in peace, long before your childless friends see the light of day.

Hoppy, crisp, smooth, caramelly and yet dry, this one's about as refreshing as a beer can get. It's a complex imperial red ale and does a great job of hiding the clout of its 9 percent ABV. In other words, it is about the most appropriately named beer we've come across. And local or not, it's been our go-to beer whenever we see it available.

The Common Table

More and more restaurants are offering beer dinners these days, showing how beer can pair with highbrow cooking just as well as, if not better than, wine. Most of those dinners cost $50 or $60 per person, and can run even higher. That's why it's so refreshing to see a bar with a more than capable kitchen and a great beer selection offer one at $29 per person. That would be meaningless if it paired cheap suds with bad food, but these dinners don't skimp on the quality or quantity of the food or the beer.

It's beefy. It's cheesy. And most of all, it's huge. In other words, it's Texas. The chili-cheese dog, topped with grilled onions and jalapeños and served in a reinforced cardboard briefcase, is nearly two feet long, weighs a pound in beef alone and costs $26. And while sharing is recommended, some opt to finish the whole thing on their own — a dubious accomplishment, for sure, but that's just how some Texans support their Rangers.

Dairy-Ette

Opened in 1956 and apparently mostly unchanged since then, Dairy-ette is reminiscent of a bygone era. Or so we suppose. We're not that old. The burgers are cheap yet tasty, as are the fries. But the best part might just be the root beer brewed on site. Served in a frosty mug, it's sweet but not too much so, and tastes fresh without having that funky licorice taste that some of the far more expensive boutique brands have. Normally we prefer a beer sans root with our hamburger, but here we're glad to make an exception.

Excellent, locally baked bread; fresh locally grown organic produce; delicious meats made from regionally raised livestock; and cheese supplied by local cheesemakers make for an outstanding sandwich of any kind, whether you're making the Reuben of your dreams with the house-smoked pastrami or a simple roast beef. The cost of all those ingredients together may not be much less than buying from a sandwich shop, but the quality of the meal from some chain shop isn't even in the same ballpark. Plus, a side order of locavore smugness makes anything taste better.

Holy Grail Pub

Nestled in a shopping center in Plano shared by Five Guys and a kick-ass butcher is the Holy Grail Pub. Aside from having a damn good burger and one of the better curated craft-beer menus in North Texas, it features a bar snack that's worth the trip: baked bread twists (they call 'em pretzels) with a spicy mustard and house bechamel sauce. Come on; there are few things better than butter-washed, kosher-salt sprinkled warm bread in house-made cheese sauce. Right? The tall booths will let you devour it in peace.

Off-Site Kitchen
Kathy Tran

How dare you, Off-Site Kitchen. How dare you serve food that evokes the memory of clacking down a plastic tray in the lunch room in sixth grade. What are you, insane? Maybe you are. You serve a thing called a "Sloppy Taco," which is less filthy than it sounds. No, it's actually a Manwich-esque saucy meat inside a massive crispy shell, with lettuce, tomato and cheese. Hold on, it's good. It's a fairly perfect and crispy envelope of food, and the smell immediately sends you back to lunchtime at school. They found just the right balance of meaty, Sloppy Joe flavor and taco crunch to send you reeling. Go get it.

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Sara+Kerens
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It looks like a restaurant on a movie set. There are bare, mango-colored walls, a single flat-screen television playing Bollywood, and a sheet of printer paper taped up asks the customer in big font: "Please Don't Waste Food." That's about all you get for decor. The rest is the food. It's divided into meat and vegetables, each filled with spicy, brick-to-sunset-colored sauces. Indulge in the paneer butter masala or the goat korma, but the don't-leave-withouts are samosas. Stuffed with chicken, cilantro and masala and brittle-crispy on the outside (soft on the inside, you guys), these fried dudes are worth the drive to Irving on their own. Order a few for the table and catch some stunning Bollywood numbers on the tiny flat screen.

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