Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Galaxy Cafe: Healthy Kid-Friendly Dining


The Galaxy Cafe location at the Triangle
The Galaxy Cafe location at the Triangle
I try my best each week to make a meal plan, shop for all the ingredients and cook healthy meals that all my family loves. In reality, and especially during the summertime, I fall short. For the pre-school years, it was easier to just make my son a separate meal. Nothing fancy, but just setting aside ingredients in the dish I was making, like chickpeas, cubed chicken, green beans and the like and giving my husband and I the assembled version. Of course, over time, we gravitated toward the “you eat what we eat” philosophy, and while some nights that means he eats chicken soup and we might have a more restricted rotation of dishes, adopting a one-meal-fits-all policy was a good move for us.

When my son was getting his “separate” meals, he preferred to eat in. Why not, right? Once we shifted to my making one meal, however, he suddenly warmed to the idea of going out to eat. Given all the great food options here in Austin and the fact that mama needs a night off sometimes, we began to eat out more. Over time, we tried lots of different places and came up with a rotation of our favorites.

One of my kid's first visits to the Galaxy in Clarksville (back in 2007!)
One of my kid's first visits to Galaxy Clarksville (back in 2007)
One of the restaurants which made it into the rotation is Galaxy Cafe. We began to frequent the Clarksville location, since my parents live closeby and we can walk from their house. I remember one of the first times I went solo while my son was still an infant and how the staff went out of their way to get me all I needed, from bringing a high chair to our table to coming to offer me drink refill so I didn’t have to get up. A little extra attention can go a long way for tired mamas who can often find eating out with little ones more trouble than it’s worth.

Fast forward to now. I no longer have a baby, but we still enjoy going out to eat. Although we do go to the Galaxy in Clarksville, the location at the Triangle is closer to us, and there is also the bonus of having the new playground nearby, as well as the splash pad and the froyo place. Here are just a few other reasons we like Galaxy Cafe:
  • There is a wide variety of things to choose from. Some of our favorites are the Veggie Wrap (my mom’s go-to for a while), Turkey Burger (my husband’s fave), the House Spinach Salad (for moi), the gluten-free Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger (for my dad, who has a gluten sensitivity) and the Mac & Cheese (for lunch and dinner) and Yogurt with Berries and Granola (for breakfast) for my miniature gourmand. I should also mention that the herbal iced tea is my favorite in town and that we have special ordered an entire flourless cake on several occasions for birthday celebrations. You can order off the breakfast menu until 4pm on weekends, you can order off the lunch menu during the dinnertime hours and there are also seasonal specials. When we eat out with my parents, we have one person who doesn’t eat any meat but chicken, one who avoids gluten (Galaxy has an entire gluten-free menu!) and one child who is slightly picky, so it’s nice to know all our dietary needs and preferences are covered.

  • You can eat out without the guilt. I hate to stereotype, but sometimes parents feel they have to sacrifice food quality and variety to eat a a kid-friendly place (Chuck E. Cheese’s, anyone?) That’s not the case at Galaxy. You’ll only find free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free beef, chicken and eggs in the restaurant’s dishes. You can choose to order grilled chicken tenders for the kids instead of fried. Fresh-cut fruit is a side, and my kid routinely gobbles it up over the fries that come out at other places. Fresh bread and produce is delivered daily from locally-owned businesses and Galaxy also offers locally-made coffee and beer. To go packaging is even compostable.

  • It is truly kid-friendly. I have written several posts about kid-friendly dining options, and there is a tendency to think that there needs to be a playground or outdoor play area for a restaurant to be considered kid-friendly, and I have to say that I disagree. When you enter the restaurants, you pick up a menu at the front and stand in line for a short time to place your order (of course, you can choose to divide and conquer and send one adult to order if that’s easiest). As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of high chairs available, as well as booths and standalone tables. Your food is brought to your table and it’s less of a wait time than a restaurant with waitstaff. It’s loud enough inside that you don’t have to worry about a crying baby, but not so loud that you can’t have a normal dinner conversation without shouting. Both the Clarksville and Triangle locations have outdoor seating, if that works best for your crew. There are even lollipops stashed by the drinks, in case you need an emergency energy boost or if the kids want a little something sweet and you don’t feel like ordering dessert. You can be easily in and out in an hour, which is a definite plus for antsy kids.
We made it out to Galaxy at the Triangle the other night for dinner, and here’s what we had:

My husband had chicken tortilla soup, a side order of sweet potato fries as an appetizer and grilled chicken arriabiata. I chose the Asian seared tuna salad and my son chose mac and cheese and fries (so much for the fruit! It’s summer, right?) Although we all enjoyed our main dishes, we also splurged and had a seasonal (and only offered at the Triangle location) strawberry shortcake, which was quickly devoured.
My yummy Asian seared tuna salad, sampling the seasonal strawberry lemonade, the mac and cheese and french fries and the grand finale: strawberry shortcake!
My yummy Asian seared tuna salad, sampling the seasonal strawberry lemonade, the mac and cheese and french fries and the grand finale: strawberry shortcake!

Galaxy Cafe is a sponsor of the Austin Summer Fun Checklist and will be selling food at the Back to School Music Bash. If your child checks at least five items off the list of August activities, you can bring in your completed checklist to receive a free kids meal until August 25th.

Aha! A Summer Fun Checklist sighting!
Aha! A Summer Fun Checklist sighting!

Disclosure: Galaxy provided my family with a free meal. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

About the author: A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 8-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.

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