Dining out and bringing along children shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, and in New York, this absolutely isn’t the case. For parents, a wide array of cuisines at varying price points and levels of casualness in a slew of neighborhoods can be had when bringing the full family along, from babies to hyperactive toddlers to picky tweens. Ahead, 17 great options for a meal out that’s both legitimately enjoyable and kid-friendly.Read More
17 Kid-Friendly Restaurants Adults Will Actually Enjoy, Too
From seafood alongside mini golf to an old-school ice cream parlor and pizza
1. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
This sprawling, welcoming barbecue restaurant serves up some of the city’s top smoked and charred meats, spanning a pan-regional selection of styles instead of just one city or state. Try the ribs, baked beans, and addictive Syracuse salt potatoes, swimming in a buttery sauce; the latter is a nod to Dinosaur’s upstate New York hometown. Also on offer: that perennial kid-pleaser, mac and cheese, served here with elbow noodles and a satisfyingly thick, mild sauce. There’s also an equally spacious Gowanus location.
This perennial brunch favorite is a solid choice for kids at any time of day. The restaurant takes reservations, so there’s no need to wait with squirming little ones in tow. The American menu has a satisfying if not groundbreaking range of choices, some with interesting twists, like the seafood Cobb salad or adult grilled cheese with manchego, gruyere, and cheddar. The downtown location is also very kid-friendly: It’s in the massive, 6,000-square-foot Tribeca space that previously housed beloved nut purveyor Bazzini, with plenty of room to navigate strollers and wandering toddlers. There are also locations on the Upper West Side, Central Park South, and Gramercy.
At this quirky, awesomely kitschy Hudson Street stalwart, affordable — at least for its West Village surroundings — Southern Texan fare is the focus. There’s a huge kids’ menu, with smaller but still satisfying portions of dishes on the main menu, all priced at $7 or less, like a quesadilla, corn dogs, chicken strips, and Frito pie. Other options for those older than 11 include hearty salads, fajitas, and a range of burgers. Cowgirl SeaHorse, a South Street Seaport offshoot with similar fare plus a few seafood additions like oyster po’boy sliders and a whitefish rueben, is also very kid-friendly.
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4. Hao Noodle
The NYC offshoot of Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, an eight-location chain in China, Hao Noodle deftly serves up a variety of Chinese cuisines. Founder Zhu Rong includes dishes from her native Sichuan as well as Beijiing and Shanghai on one menu, complete with enticing photos for pint-sized diners that delight in a point-and-order method. The excellent noodles, dumplings, and soups span from fiery and chile-laden to mild and soothing, meaning there’s plenty to satisfy parents and small kids. A second location, in Chelsea, opened in 2018.
5. Burger & Barrel
Burgers are often a hit with younger diners, and that’s precisely the focus at Soho’s Burger & Barrel. Chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar fame turns out some of the city’s most satisfying fancy patties, like its fairly child-friendly bash burger, topped with caramelized onion, bacon jam, pickles, American cheese, and a special sauce. For parents of little ones that aren’t fully toddling around on their own two feet yet, there’s easy stroller parking, too.
Pizza is always a crowd-pleaser, all the more so if kids are in the mix. The perpetually packed Nolita restaurant serving up crispy, thin-crust pies has some serious pizza cred: The family are third-generation pizzamakers. The space has a cozy, vintage-y vibe, complete with red booths perfect for a gaggle of children to pile into. Don’t miss the the vodka-sauced pie, a creamy, tangy alternative to the classic or fresh mozz-topped options. There are also cheesy, fried, kid-friendly apps like mozzarella sticks and mini arancini, as well as a slew of pastas for the pizza-averse. Make a reservation.
A Tribeca classic, for good reason: Bubby’s serves fancy comfort food, including decadent pancakes, a solid matzah ball soup, and a great burger, plus top-notch pies. Prices are definitely steeper than at a diner, but the sunny space and high-quality ingredients are a step above. There’s also a location in the Meatpacking area, but the Tribeca outpost is far more family-friendly. Note that while kids are warmly welcomed, space between tables gets really tight when it’s a full house, making it a better choice for kids that can sit somewhat still (or pass out cold) during a meal.
8. The Odeon
This Keith McNally (Balthazar, Minetta Tavern) institution endured throughout the ’90s as a Tribeca hotspot, back when there were very few dining options in the neighborhood. McNally is no longer involved, but it’s still a solid choice for a family meal, in a nice but not too fussy space that’s decked out with brasserie interiors and and sidewalk seating on picturesque West Broadway. Many of the classic bistro dishes are likely to satisfy youngsters, like steak frites and cheese-laden French onion soup. The Odeon also makes for a great group meal, like a multigenerational birthday dinner.
9. Nom Wah Tea Parlor
The full-fledged dim sum experience at sprawling, football field-sized spots like Sunset Park’s Bamboo Garden or Pacificana and Chinatown’s Golden Unicorn or Jing Fong is delightfully frenetic; its zooming carts doling out steaming-hot food means ample stimuli for kids. But for the same excellent cuisine in a relatively serene environment, there’s always Nom Wah Tea Parlor. At Chinatown’s oldest restaurant, dim sum is ordered from a menu in lieu of carts, and the 1920s decor is a delight. Don’t miss the sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, pork buns, rice rolls, and shrimp and chive dumplings.
Another solid pizza pick when eating out with single-digit aged diners, Juliana’s was opened in 2012 by Patsy Grimaldi, right next door to the iconic eponymous Dumbo pizzeria he opened, Grimaldi’s, after an extensive pizza war. Note that waits get long during peak times, like weekends, though usually not as long as Grimaldi’s next door. There’s also plenty to explore down the block, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, if there’s a considerable wait time and someone in the party sticks around on line.
11. Habana Outpost
The superb Cubano sandwich is a must-order at this Fort Greene favorite, which features an expansive outdoor area with picnic tables, many covered for shade on super-sunny days, as well as a smaller indoor seating area. Note that it’s cash-only and can turn into a bit of a rowdier bar scene at times.
12. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
There’s tons for little ones to ogle at Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, like ice cream floats, milkshakes, elaborate sundaes, and egg creams. In addition to plenty of sweets, the menu includes savory options that focus on sandwiches, from pastrami and sauerkraut to egg salad to PB&J. Parents will appreciate the quaint place’s emphasis on organic and local ingredients, as well as the attractive, old-school space, complete with antique wood shelving, tile flooring, and pressed tin ceilings. While Brooklyn Farmacy opened in 2010, its former apothecary digs date back around a century.
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13. Frankies 457 Spuntino
The quintessential neighborhood restaurant, Frankies 457 Spuntino is often peppered with small kids in addition to couples out on date night. The Italian joint may occupy a pretty snug space, but families still flock here, despite sometimes having to squeeze around smaller-than-desired tables as necessary. It’s all for the well-executed classics, including a standout meatball parm and excellent pastas, like this fan favorite for diners of all ages: cavatelli with hot sausage and brown sage butter.
This Crown Heights bar and pint-sized food hall, opened in 2014 by the team behind Smorgasburg, may have only a handful of rotating food options compared to other sprawling food halls in NYC. But what it lacks in breadth of dining offerings, Berg’n compensates for with plenty of space to roam around: the former garage space is decked out with concrete floors (so, yes, noise does bounce around quite a bit) and plentiful polished wood tables to camp out at indoors, as well as an outdoor area. Food vendors include kid-friendly Mighty Quinn’s barbecue and Landhaus’ sandwiches and salad-dominated menu.
15. Brooklyn Crab
The next best thing when a family beach getaway isn’t happening soon just might be a meal at Brooklyn Crab. The multilevel Red Hook seafood restaurant has ample outdoor seating, plus a large sandbox, mini-golf course, and games like a bean bag toss. Parents can kick back in Adirondack chairs and savor some oysters, peel n’ eat shrimp, or one of three different crab rolls on offer (Alaskan king crab, blue crab, or snow crab). Less seafood-inclined palates can choose from options like hot dogs or chicken fingers. While subway access is really limited, there’s plenty of street parking, or arrive via water on the NYC Ferry.
16. Bamboo Garden
Head to this extremely spacious Sunset Park spot, which got a full facelift in 2017, for a spacious Chinese daytime meal. Dim sum is a reliably fun-filled, gregarious dining experience, with lots of stimuli and action and where there’s no need to worry about noisiness or waiting eons for food to finally arrive. Expect freshly prepared versions of mild, kid-friendly dishes, like a plethora of dumplings, taro cakes, and delightfully slippery, shrimp-studded har gow. Bamboo Garden also turns out innovative dishes from time to time, like these massive soup dumplings. Just keep squirmy tots out of the way when steaming carts zoom by.
Chef-owners Rawia and Jumana Bishara (mother and daughter, respectively) turn out delicious Middle Eastern home cooking at this Bay Ridge restaurant, which is one of NYC’s 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmands. Order a bunch of mezze to share, like crispy fried halloumi, a host of spreads and dips, and fried kibbeh orbs. Some dishes offer creative twists on familiar ingredients that the pint-sized set should enjoy, like shawarma sliders, plus decidedly non-Middle Eastern dishes for picky eaters, like chicken fingers and fries. Don’t miss the excellent knafeh, a creamy, white cheese-filled pastry in a syrupy sauce, for dessert.