Living in New York City certainly gives a person access to some of the best food in the world, and quite often it can be challenging as the mom of a kid with a picky palette. But NYC also has kids pegged, with everything from bagels to pizza to knishes and hot dogs to more exotic culinary specialties from all over the world. With a population as varied and vast as ours, the options are endless and it can be overwhelming to narrow them down.
On that note, we’ve put together a tried-and-tested list of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants in New York, with everything from barbecue to Chinese to Korean to Ukrainian to … chocolate!
Best Places to Eat in New York City with Kids
• Root & Bone, a Lower East Side restaurant that serves gourmet Southern food, is owned by Top Chef alums Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth. The decor is farmhouse-centric with flowers, antique china, plates on the wall, a birdcage and a counter that offers food to go, from salads and sandwiches to fried chicken and pie. Kids will love Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits, fried chicken and waffles and mac and cheese with a biscuit herb crust. There is also ample food for vegetarians, including a lovely tomato and cucumber salad and a waffle Benedict with soft poached eggs and lemon hollandaise. Sunday brunch at Root & Bone is special, but get there early to avoid lines out the door — word has spread. 200 E. 3rd St. at Ave. B, 646-682-7080.
• Pearl’s Bake & Shark in Brooklyn specializes in jerk and other Caribbean dishes. Its cuisine, inspired by owner Fallon Seymour’s Trinidadian heritage, includes special dishes such as curried conch with dumplings, jerk chicken and classic bake & shark (flatbread filled with fried shark meat). Kids will love the pumpkin corn soup and short ribs. Eclectic sides include fry bodi (a bean dish), roasted corn, vegetable salads stuffed in fried flatbread, and rice and peas. 178 N 8th St Williamsburg, 929-276-3528.
• Kids will feel comfortable in Rubirosa Ristorante, a cozy pizza eatery on Mulberry Street in Nolita. They serve heaping servings of delicious Italian specialties such as vodka pizza, arancini, meatballs, Italian wedding soup, mozzarella sticks and chicken parmigiana. Rubirosa also offers a gluten-free menu and family-style group dining. 235 Mulberry Street between Spring & Prince in Nolita; 212-965-0500.
• Bubby’s is popular with parents all over the city, who come from near and far for homemade comfort food like meatloaf, mac & cheese, flaky biscuits, ribs, brisket and pulled pork. The name means “grandma” in Yiddish, so kids are very well taken care of; there are even toys for them to play with. 120 Hudson Street; 212-219-0666.
• Cowgirl NYC is another local favorite. It has a good children’s menu and a pleasant wait staff, plus a toy chest in the back room with sofas and coffee tables. “Kidtown” menu options are available all day and include everything from Frito Pie to Get Along Little Corndoggie. Every meal comes with carrot sticks to ensure that kids get their vegetables in. 519 Hudson Street in the West Village; 212-633-1133.
• Xi’an Famous Foods provides a dose of authentic Northern Chinese food. Kids will love the big portions of stewed oxtail hand-ripped noodles or hand-pulled noodles in soup; parents will love the inexpensive prices. 24 W 45th Street in Midtown; 212-786-2068.
• Another good choice for a child with an adventurous palette, Do Hwa offers Korean barbecue in the form of dumplings, spicy pork belly, boneless ribeye, kimchi bibimbap and kimchi suun dubu. Kids over age 6 will love cooking their own food and getting a real taste of Korea. The restaurant does have a bit of a bar scene, so plan on going early. 55 Carmine Street; 212-414-1224.
• Don’t assume that your child won’t like Indian food just because she turns up her nose before even trying it. Hampton Chutney is the perfect place to get kids interested, with a children’s menu that includes South Indian dosas (crispy rice crepes) made of cheese, avocado, eggs, chicken and turkey. 464 Amsterdam Avenue; 212-362-5050.
• Hummus Place offers mouthwatering plates full of the namesake Israeli delicacy, as well as traditional cuisine such as shakshuka, couscous, feta salad, tabouli and grape leaves. Kids will love dipping warm pita in the hummus, and adults won’t think it’s so bad either. 305 Amsterdam Avenue and 71 7th Avenue South; 212-799-3335 and 212-924-2022.
• If you’re in Carroll Gardens or close by, don’t miss Pazzi Pasta, owned by the Italian Campanile family. The restaurant is set up to offer families a sense that they are truly involved in the preparation of their meal. The pasta is made in-house, and my kids were able to sneak a peek at the noodles being prepared and choose which shape, sauce and toppings they wanted. Even if your kids are picky eaters, they’ll be easily satisfied. 227 Smith Street between Butler & Douglass, Brooklyn; 347-916-1076.
• For old-fashioned Jewish cuisine served over the counter, head to the famous Katz’s Deli. Matzo ball soup, corned beef or pastrami sandwiches and potato knishes are just a few of the classics on offer. Kids will get a rush from the excitement that runs through the deli, and adults will relish in the memory of the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally. 205 East Houston Street in the Lower East Side; 212-254-2246.
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• For ramen noodles with a Yiddish twist, try Ivan Ramen. Kids will love specialties such as double-soup shio, silky dashi-chicken stock swimming with thin rye-flour noodles and tender pork belly. 25 Clinton Street; 646-678-3859
• The gastropub Jones Wood Foundry serves traditional British cuisine with a modern flair. You can introduce your kids to fish and chips, bubble and squeak, mushy peas, mackerel, bangers and mash, pot pie, cottage pie and lamb stew. At night, particularly on Saturdays, this spot turns extremely lively with hipsters and foodies, so take the kids early — and leave time to try some truly British desserts such as banoffee pie and apple-pear grumble. 401 East 76th Street; 212-249-2700.
• Yama serves up yummy miso soup and fresh sushi in Union Square. 122 East 17th St; 212-475-0969.
• If you’re in Korea Town, head to Mandoo Bar, where they make the dumplings in the window and then serve them sizzling hot (divine). Salad and Korean pickles are brought over as soon as you sit down. Kids will enjoy munching on bibimbap — steamy, delicious meat, egg and veggies served in a hot stone bowl. The waiter adds sauce and rice and stirs it up tableside. 2 West 32nd Street; 212-279-3075
• Like chocolate? Max Brenner will delight any child’s sweet tooth (and parent’s). Most everything on the menu has a touch of chocolate, including chocolate pancakes, Belgian waffles, intense black and white chocolate blintzes, and bagels filled with a melted chocolate bar and your choice of peanut butter or hazelnut cream. 841 Broadway; 646-467-8803.
• Otto Enoteca Pizzeria offers up authentic Italian cuisine from one of the country’s top chefs and restaurateurs, Mario Batali, in the heart of Greenwich Village. Pizzas, pasta and traditional Italian dishes are a can’t-miss hit with kids. 1 Fifth Avenue;
• Republic’s tag line is “Think Noodles,” and that’s the mantra of this Union Square restaurant. Using a variety of cooking methods from Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and China, they offer noodle dishes of all shapes and sizes, from glass noodles to peanut noodle salad, as well as rice dishes with grilled chicken, salmon and more. If your child has an exotic palate, they’ll love Republic. 37 Union Square West; 212-627-7172.
• Sweethaus, an adorable cafe in Williamsburg, serves baked goods galore and delicious lattes. The owners have created a comfortable, vintage-style environment. Kids will love sitting at the retro-style counter, as well checking out the various types of candy in the cafe’s candy bar. Don’t miss the mini cupcakes. 135 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249; 718-710-6627.
• Itching to introduce the kids to Ukrainian food? Veselka is the place to go. They have traditional dishes like borscht and pierogi as well as matzo ball soup, blintzes and French toast made of challah. Since the restaurant is located right in the heart of NYU and is relatively inexpensive, it does get crowded, but seating moves quickly. 144 Second Avenue; 212-228-9682.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Holly Rosen Fink.