by Naomi Wood and Will Milne

A kid dancing at the Mardi Gras Festival on Walnut St. last Friday. Photo by  Paige Gibson . 

A kid dancing at the Mardi Gras Festival on Walnut St. last Friday. Photo by Paige Gibson

Denton is currently in something of a bar renaissance. Some of our all-time favorite Denton bars have opened just within the past five years. This, plus the fact that seemingly everyone in Denton is now toting a wee-one (read: child), puts us at a moral quandary. When is it appropriate, if ever, to take your kid with you to some place with booze?

If you’ve walked into an early-evening show or bar with a kiddo in tote, and felt the peering eyes of strangers, we feel for ya. A few weeks ago, there was a Denton Creatives Mixer at Rubber Gloves, an often “all ages” venue. We went and lo and behold a few kiddos were there. Was it maybe a little strange to see a couple of kids at a space in which Peelander Z has played over a dozen times? Maybe. But also kind of awesome. There was absolutely nothing overly “adult” happening and the kids seemed to be having a good time. Last weekend at the Mardi Gras festival on Walnut St., there were plenty of adults drinking lots of beer and wearing lots of beads, but in addition to that, there were tons of children of all ages running around, dancing to music, and getting their faces painted. This was even deemed family-friendly. And why not? Sports games serve alcohol, and is it even possible to make it through the state fair without some sort of depressant or stimulant?

We have a few tips that may make any social family more at ease. We like to think that bars aren’t just places of drink and relaxation, but are a key way to connect to the community around us. While none of them approach the level of kid-friendliness that you’ll find at places such as The LOT or The Truck Yard in Dallas, we’re getting there. Here are a few places that we think are hot-spots for families to unwind - and by god - happen to serve alcohol.


Oak Street Draft House and East Side Social Club - OSDH is the big daddy of bringing your kid to The open-air beer garden attracts all kinds of folk, from the 2-legged to the 4-legged. For some reason it seems more kid friendly to us than ESSC, but we're not gonna write that out - especially with their forthcoming food truck park neighbor (which we hope has some kid-friendly components, too. It’s no secret that this is one of our favorite craft beer spots, and what kid doesn’t like a game of ping pong with Dad after a long day in the office? At this point, you may be wondering, "But what does management think of this habit? Surely, people don't want little kids running around their bars."

We reached out to the owner of Oak St. Draft House and East Side Social Club for comment. Williams said, "Oak St. Drafthouse and East Side Social Club are very kid-friendly environments. We have Saint Arnold's Root Beer on tap and sodas available for the kiddos. As long as you keep an eye on them and they are out by 8pm or sundown, feel free to enjoy our non smoking inside and wide-open patio." We think he's a pretty swell dude. 

Dan’s Silverleaf - There are  plenty of family-friendly shows where anyone from infancy to white hairs are welcomed. Most of the time, they start at 5pm and oftentimes the bands are of good quality - such as Mrs. Polly. The outdoor patio allows for a little more wiggle room for that squirmy toddler, but be careful - while the inside of Dan’s is smoke-free, the patio can get smoky pretty quickly. Plus, sometimes there's popcorn. 

Denton Festivals - For a town that really knows how to throw a festival, we're surprised this trend hasn't really cropped up before. Denton has tons of festivals in which adults can lean back and enjoy a cold one while their kid dances around or plays. Jazz Fest seems like the obvious choice, but festivals such as the Blues Festival, or even the weekly Twilight Tunes jams on the courthouse lawn during the summers are great for both the young at heart and the young at everything. 

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Mulberry St. Cantina - Is doing a great job of creating a family-friendly environment. Once again, we have a non-smoking atmosphere complete with games nearby. You may have to wait your turn for cornhole, but there's plenty of cards and games such as Connect Four at the complimentary chip station. When the garage window goes up, the fresh air hits you while you're sipping a delicious margarita -  all that's missing is some sort of kid-play area (maybe a splash park. Right, Mrs. Briggle?) nearby. Oh, and Lean Machine or The Waffle Wagon are normally outside, too, so you can grab some kid-friendly food, too (ours like Lean Machine's smoothies). 

Misc.  - There are plenty of other places you can catch some live music and a glass of wine without looking like a bad parent. The Whitehouse often has shows outside, Banter has a pretty consistent live music lineup and Last Drop Tavern has pizza so you can't really beat that. 

Howsabout you? Have you ever felt weird taking your kid somewhere in town, or do you have a suggestion on a place you think is unassumingly kid-friendly? Let us know in the comments!