Families visiting New York City have so many options for eating, it can be overwhelming. There's no reason to dine at a chain restaurant you can find at home when you're in New York City with so many great places that can easily accommodate children. Dim Sum and Pizza are great choices for families, but you can also try out any of these restaurants for a meal that will please parents and kids alike.
A few tips for dining out with kids in New York City:
- Eat Early - if you dine between 5 and 7 p.m. you are far less likely to find your children disturbing kid-free diners. Quite to the contrary, you'll often find many other families enjoying the early seating alongside you.
- Don't Expect Crayons - sure, some restaurants offer crayons or other activities, but many do not so come prepared to keep your kids occupied while you wait for your food. I often travel with a small notepad and some crayons in my purse so that I can play tic-tac-toe, hangman or boxes with my kids while we wait for our meal.
- Be Conscious of Noise - NYC restaurants are often small and you might be dining fairly close to your neighbors, so be courteous and aware of how loud your kids might be (and if they're playing on your phone or other electronic devices, have them wear headphones or turn the volume off/way down).
This Alice in Wonderland themed tea shop is a fun choice for lunch or afternoon tea with your kids -- and the scones and sandwiches are quite good too. The menu includes homemade baby food, and the afternoon teas offer generous portions of food can be shared for a small additional charge.
They have three locations -- the original (Chapter 1) on the Upper West Side, a second on the Upper East Side, and an Alice's To Go location in Brooklyn.
This simple pizza joint pleases just about everyone who enters. Kids can enjoy simple pizzas and pasta, while parents can enjoy more adventurous flavors and an outstanding wine list. The atmosphere is upbeat and friendly and if you dine early you'll find yourself surrounded by local NYC families having dinner together. It's close proximity to Washington Square Park is great for visitors who might want to take a post-dinner stroll with the kids.
This West Village restaurant first opened in 1989 and has been serving up a taste of Texas home cooking and hospitality ever since. Sure, it's kitschy, but in a fun, unique way that makes it worth visiting. Naturally, they have a kids menu and they often have live country-western music in the evenings.
Just one of many Indian restaurants in a small section of the East Village near 6th Street, Panna II is a place unlike any other. The interior of the restaurant is lit entirely with Christmas lights, creating a fun, festive atmosphere (and plenty of things to look at and talk about while you wait for your food). It's BYOB and while it might not be the best Indian food in town, it's reliably good and a very fun place to bring the kids for dinner that they won't soon forget.
There's a reason that this restaurant nearly always has a line out the door -- it's famous with kids and parents alike, especially for its frozen hot chocolate. Portions are large, whether it's the foot-long hotdog or the ice cream sundaes. To avoid long waits (it can be 2 hours at peak times), have dinner and dessert and reserve well in advance (you can only make a reservation if you're eating a meal, not just dessert).
If you're in New York City on a beautiful day and want to enjoy some time outdoors, Shake Shack offers surprisingly delicious food at reasonable prices. The Madison Park location is my favorite: here you can have a seat at one of the many tables, or take up some space on the park's grassy lawns with your family and enjoy Chicago style hot dogs, burgers and concretes (a type of dense frozen custard with a mix-in blended in) at this Madison Square Park burger stand operated by Danny Meyer. They have now expanded and have several locations, so you can experience Shake Shack year-round indoors on the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, the Theater District, Battery Park City, and Downtown Brooklyn.
Yeah Shanghai Deluxe
This Chinatown restaurant is a great choice for families -- children can enjoy their traditional favorites and parents can choose to have the more adventurous, delicious Shanghai dishes the restaurant is well-known for. Quick service and a bustling atmosphere ensure that the kids will be fed before they get bored.
Inspired by the many regions of the South, from the Carolina coast to the hills of central Texas, Blue Smoke celebrates the evolving American South and honors its culinary traditions. There's a great kids menu, too.
A legendary Italian restaurant in New York City, Carmine's is known for its huge family-style portions and kid-friendly atmosphere. The menu features favorites such as meatballs over pasta, ravioli, and chicken parmigiana. Due to the large portions, you can easily feed a family of four for under $50.
This Syracuse-based BBQ phenomenon has a family-friendly outpost in Harlem, where signature pork ribs and Texas brisket feature on the menu. The kid's menu is fab, too.
Known as a chocolate lover's haven, Max Brenner is a fun place to grab a sandwich or burger with waffle fries. Be sure to save room for a luscious dessert, where chocolate is always at the forefront. (841 B'way at 14th St.)
Ninja New York
Kids will love the theatrically spooky medieval decor and roaming magicians. You'll love the sushi, nigiri, and teriyaki. The less adventurous are made welcome with ribs, lamb, steak, and chicken. May not be suitable for very young kids.
Rock Center Cafe
Come to this cafe in Rockefeller Center for a light meal. Depending on when you visit, the dining room overlooks the ice rink or the summer garden. There's a kids menu for ages 9 and under.
This popular spot in Tribeca is always buzzing. The menu is inventive, with plenty of choices to keep everyone in the family happy. Book a table for an early mealtime when it's less busy.
Sugar Factory American Brasserie
Once you pass the candy store up front, this kid-pleasing place offers pancakes, waffles, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, steaks, and desserts including ice cream sandwiches and fondues.
Tony's Di Napoli
Authentic Southern Neapolitan cuisine with huge portions that are designed to serve two to three people. Arrive before 6 p.m. to avoid a long wait.
Virgil's Real BBQ
A southern barbecue joint with a relaxed atmosphere, Virgil's is an easy-going eatery for families with children. The menu will appeal to the pickiest of eaters with choices such as mac and cheese, flat dogs and cheeseburgers. Wings, nachos, hush puppies, cornbread, and grits share the menu with BBQ ribs, chicken, and brisket. Good desserts, too. Virgil’s also offers crayons and coloring books to help keep children busy while they wait for their food.
Fogo de Chao
Midtown West: Right across from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Fogo de Chao is a massive Brazilian steakhouse where families get a show along with their meal. Brazilian trained gaucho chefs cook meat over an open flame, then parade around the dining room with meats that they carve table-side. There's also an unlimited salad bar, and kids ages 6 and under eat free, while children ages 7-12 eat for half-price. Awesome desserts, too.
Times Square: If your family loves a good ol' no-frills diner, head to the Westway, whose all-day breakfast menu and a vast array of burgers, sandwiches, and milkshakes mean kids can always find something they like. Bonus points: there's rarely a wait and the get-it-done staff gets you in and out in a flash, plus they'll even deliver--an affordable alternative to room service.
Plan to bring the kids to the Metropolitan Museum of Art? The iconic Papaya King can be a welcome antidote to a morning of museum-going. This beloved spot has been dishing up hot dogs and papaya juice since 1932, and kids can get their dogs anyway they want 'em: with toppings like sauerkraut, onions, and chili or just plain. Kids will also love the smoothies and curly fries. This place is small, so be prepared to get your dogs to go.
A beloved neighborhood favorite, Bubby's used to be a pie company and is still a great place for desserts. But the menu also features lots of yummy comfort food, from fried chicken to meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The kids' menu includes spaghetti, burgers, and hot dogs with a choice of sides. This is a noisy, fun place that's perfect for kids who can't always manage to use their inside voices.
Eight Turn Crepe
Tiny Eight Turn Crepe specializes in Japanese-style rice-flour crepes, which come wrapped, cone-style around your choice of savory or sweet fillings. Get your fruit for the day with the Harajuku Fruit Cocktail Crepe or opt for the decadent Fuji Apple Pie Crepe after dinner. There are very few seats, so plan on getting it to go.