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Fun dinners in London with teens

We will be in London for 5 nights at the end of December/ early January. We are looking for places with delicious food that we can go to with 13 and 9 year old daughters. A variety of casual and nice, but hopefully dinner for two 50-100 pounds. We are thinking of a gastropub or two, an italian place, wagamumu and whatever else. Hotel is near Harrods, but we will be at the theater one night and touring about. What can you recommend?

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  1. Will be watching your responses closely as we are in the exact same situation. We were recommended to try Toptable.com for reservations but I feel like I'm just searching through names.

    With the drastically poor $$ and our visit during the holiday season, I'm telling our 3 kids that we are going to try lots of ethnic cuisine lest our evening meals send us into the poor house.

    I was specifically looking for an outstanding, homey Italian spot for Xmas eve or Xmas day dinner. We are staying in Chelsea/Belgravia but willing to travel the underground.

    1. Belgo is a chain of Belgian restaurants, and teenagers seem to enjoy the atmosphere and food. The food is very basic - moules, frites, roast chicken etc. I'm pretty sure they have a special price if you eat before 6:30. It's not gourmet or 'delicious,' but the atmosphere is always buzzing. One location is near Covent Garden. Wagamama is a bit on the same order, and I like the communal tables which encourage conversation with strangers, but that's just me.

      The museums here have fairly good food and make for a nice lunch if you're touring those. Don't be afraid of the Pret A Manger chain - the sandwiches are a good deal and the shops are everywhere.

      A note to visitors... most things are closed here on Christmas Day and the one following - Boxing Day. Even public transportation is affected.

      As an American, my best advice is to train your kids not to drink Coke or the like during your visit. That alone can set you back a lot of ££ over a day's time. :-)

      1. People here might jump on me for saying this--but i think Yo! Sushi would be really fun with young people. It's conveyor belt sushi/noodles/etc. You watch the sushi go round, grab what you want. You can order from the menu too, but the sushi can be really fun. I take American guests to Yo! every so often and they love it.

        You should try to time lunch at Borough Market on a Friday (saturday might be too manic). great photo opps, lots of stuff to look at.

        Pizza Express is a dependable chain for pizzas and salads. (They remain one of the few dependable places in London to get a salad as an entree, in my book.)

        Royal China on Baker Street or Queensway for Dim Sum! Now that would be fun if I were 13 again and with my family. Delicious, delicious--getting hungry just thinking about it.

        Carluccios is another chain where you can get away with a decently priced meal (for London) and is relatively kid friendly.

        Any of the Maroush's on Edgware Road (there are like 12 of them) would be inexpensive and interesting--Lebanese/middle Eastern cuisine.

        Lastly--for the fish & chips experience, get a table at the Golden Hind in Marylebone. BYOB. (And there's a Nicolas--French wine shop--right around the corner). The fish is GREAT. the chips are average--tell them you want them to be nicely fried. I think sometimes they try to turn things around too quickly so they take the fries out of the fryer before they're fully cooked. You may need to book ahead at the Golden Hind.

        So...my top two choices for you would be Golden Hind and Royal China. And then Yo!

        8 Replies
        1. re: kristainlondon

          These all sound great! We will have already spent a week in Paris, so I appreciate these more fun and interesting places. We will have had enough rich food--may go for the sushi. Do you think they take reservations?

          1. re: holleygolitely

            You definitely don't need a booking for Yo! There are multiple locations throughout London. The only place I think you'll need a booking is Golden Hind. I forget if Belgo's takes bookings--I have waited there for ages for a table during the holiday party season. Belgo can be a really good deal as zuriga mentions...the beat the clock deal where you pay the time you order (up until a certain point each evening--maybe 7?) is great.

            1. re: holleygolitely

              holley...we are doing our week in London first and then to Paris...

              How 'bout I promise to post what works for us while we are in London and you do the same for Paris?

              While in Paris you must go to the Jewish quarter for the Fallafels!!!

              I'm still looking for a "homey style" Italian spot for Xmas day somewhat close to Chelsea/Belgravia.

              1. re: MSK

                Brit on a Trip once mentioned an Italian place called Passione. It might be worth a call to see if they're open on Xmas Day - many places are not.

              2. re: kristainlondon

                Itsu is better quality than Yo Sushi, but less "funky" so perhaps less fun.

                I'm wondering if they might like Wahaca.

                1. re: kristainlondon

                  Yo Sushi would be ideal if you want to go for the experience and not so much for the food. To me, Yo Sushi is the McDonalds of sushi in the UK.

                  I'm not sure if the OP and family are from the States but a meal at Benihana's (American chain) might be better. At least the food's better than Yo Sushi. When I lived in the UK, there were branches near Swiss Cottage station and off Piccadilly.

                  1. re: Chow Penguin

                    don't send them to Beni Hana, last time I ate at the one in Swiss Cottage (about 4 years ago) it was shockingly overpriced and awful.

                    Indians and Chinese in all the high streets are cheap and plentiful. Turkish is all over London these days and is reasonably inexpensive and always good. Pay a visit to Chinatown off Shaftesbury Ave in theatreland, the food is usually ok, menus are posted on windows so you can see prices and they are busy places with atmosphere.

                2. I had a great after-theatre meal at Palais du Jardins in Covent Garden. I'm sure it would have been great before the theatre, too. http://www.lpdj.co.uk/index.htm

                  1. i'm in agreement with a lot of the posters above.
                    not necessarily culinary pinnacles but these places have decent food and will be pretty easy with the kids.

                    wagamamas and yo sushi
                    belgos
                    basabaeathai in soho (for a more thai inspired meal)
                    pizza express

                    if you're planning to take the girls (window) shopping then one of the eateries inside selfridges might be nice - they are different on the different floors.

                    and for a sandwich go to pret a manger - they are prepackaged but the best prepackaged sandwiches i have had. they aren't cheap, but in my opinion you get what you pay for...

                    another idea is just to get some bits and pieces from marks&sparks and have a picnic in kensington gardens / hyde park (weather permitting).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kmh

                      Whoooooaaa... not busabaeathai with kids unless you're in for a tantrumtastic evening! I work right next door in Soho, and every night I exit my building (even at around 5- 5:30) there is a tremendously loooooooooooong queue waiting to get in. I myself have stood in that queue once. Once. No meal is worth standing outside in the rain for a long time, especially when there are better Thai restaurants (admittedly not as stylish) aplenty in Soho.

                      Another fun place for kids might be Masala Zone for Indian. There are (I think) three or four branches throughout the city (my "regular" one is on Marshall Street, off Carnaby Street in Soho). It's owned by the people who own Wagamama and they do a pretty authentic version of Indian street food, and really, really fantastic thalis. It's got a fun, buzzy atmosphere, isn't too expensive, there's lots going on kid-wise, and is near the delights of both Hamley's (the mega toy shop) and Liberty (shopping heaven as far as I'm concerned). Colorful, spicy, and very filling. I highly recommend it.

                      1. re: sloepoke

                        haven't been for a while, so obviously its popularity hasn't waned any then!!!

                        masala zone sounds great - will have to try when next in UK.

                    2. Here is another vote for Belgo Central. We took our (then) 11 year old there two years ago, togther with another family with somewhat younger kids, and the place was a hit with its large, open elevator, waiters dressed as monks, and communal seeting. The beer selection is fabulous, and the menu was varied and well priced.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pilaf

                        thanks to all! will let you know how it goes. What does anyone think of Gilgamesh?