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New York with Kids

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We're going to be in NY with two children, ages eight and ten, who are NOT adventurous eaters. Will put a real cramp in the chowhound style. I'm wondering whether anyone can recommend good restaurants or places for kids. Not necessarily looking for theme restaurants, but places with character or tradition, good food, and child friendly. Sit down restaurants with great hamburgers, pizza, etc. Also bakeries, ice cream, etc.

Much appreciated.

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  1. La Bonne Soupe
    Le Pain Quotidien

    1. The previous poster hit the nail on the head. Serendipity has been a stand-by for families with children visiting New York for a generation, and for good reason. The entire experience, although often crowded--and with sometimes disappointing food--can be wonderful. There is still a childlike electricity and air of discovery in the place. It's now dated, but it can still be truly memorable. My kids loved it. When I was a kid, I loved it.

      1. Angelo's Pizza - thin crust - good salads for the grown-ups too. The one closest to where you're likely to be is on 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

        There's a chi-chi (for kids) dessert place in FAO Schwartz - on the 58th St. side bet 5th & Madison. I get a sugar high just looking in the window! And the Apple Store is right in front of FAO on 5th. Between the two places, you should be able to entertain the kids for hours.

        If you give us an idea of what neighborhoods you're going to be in, we can probably come up with places that aren't a long hike for the kids.

        1. I second (or third) Serendipity -- the food is decent and the kids will love it, even if they're picky. Get the frozen hot chocolate. If you want to indulge them, you can take them to Max Brener, which is a chocolate shop that has a restaurant (my kids call it the "chocolate restaurant") near Union Square. If they're willing to eat Asian Food, Saigon Grill on University is right around the corner, and so is Patsy's pizza.


          1. For great burgers (and lots of variety) try Stand - it's pretty kid friendly especially at lunch or early dinner. If the weather is on the milder side you can also go to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. The seating is all outside but given that we've been getting some nicer weather it might work out depending on when you're here.

            Landmarc is also a good new/modern American restaurant but not fussy and definitely kid friendly. There are two locations - one in TriBeCa and another at the Time Warner Center (at Columbus Circle). The food is well prepared so parents don't have to sacrifice for the kids' sake - and I say that from the experience of dining out with my 5 year old.

            Not sure where you're traveling from but if you think the kids might like BBQ, then I'd recommend RUB or Hill Country.

            John's in Time Square is a decent spot for pizza. Also Arturo's on Houston St - they have pizza and lots of other types of entrees and is a long-standing NYC institution.

            1. Hey, MarcC,

              Glad to hear that you're bringing the family for a visit to the Big Apple.

              Shake Shack, in Madison Square Park, serves terrific burgers, fries, soft ice cream, etc. Lots of tables and chairs (with heat lamps for the cold weather) in a lovely outdoor setting.


              Blue Smoke, on 27th St., b/t Lex & Park Av. S., is a very family-friendly place. BBQ, burgers, etc.


              Amy's Bread has three locations. In addition to superb bread, there is a menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and sweets.


              Il Laboratorio del Gelato, on the Lower East Side; and L'Arte del Gelato, in Chelsea Market, serve delicious gelato that even a child will love.


              If you are looking for places with "character" and "tradition," you might want to consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side food "tour." As you and your kids walk the streets of this interesting, historic neighborhood, you will be sampling foods that are emblematic of NYC, most of which should appeal to even the most unadventurous eaters. Note that a stop at Il Laboratorio, mentioned above, is included. Here's the tour:

              LES Food Excursion

              For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup – though not mandatory, it is a tradition -- and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front, where it’s cash only. To pay by credit card, go to the counter at the rear where the salamis are sold. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.

              When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.

              After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.

              Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.

              When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).

              Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.

              Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. ( http://www.tenement.org
              Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.

              If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.

              Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.

              Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

              1. Thanks for the great recs. As it happens, we're coming from Israel, so the kids are no strangers to Max Brenner - it's their favorite spot!

                1. Marc,

                  There are some restaurants with interesting food that also serve burgers or pizza, so your kids could opt for that and you could order more serious food. A few that come to mind are Village, Agave, and Punch, all of which have burgers on the dinner menu, and Otto, which has pizza. North Square and Aquagrill have burgers on the lunch menu. You can look these up on Menupages or google them to find their websites and check out the menus.

                  1. Landmarc is a great suggestion, and I like RUB, Arturo's and Blue Smoke too.

                    Fanelli's in Soho has good burgers, Old Town Bar does too, La Pizza Fresca has pizza and lots of other food...you can check out www.menupages.com

                    I have to say that I think that Serendipity is a waste of time -- an overpriced tourist trap. There is much better food to be had in NY.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: valerie

                      Lots of decent New York restaurants have kids' menus, or if they don't they will prepare a bowl of pasta with a simple tomato sauce for your picky eater. The last time I was at Florent in the meatpacking district I was very impressed with their kids' menu.

                    2. definitely check out big daddy's diner on 18th/park. it's FULL of memorabilia from the 50s-90s (in case your kids get bored, they'll have tons to look at), the food is very reasonably priced, and it's delicious! it's a little more than just your run-of-the-mill diner...and it has everything - burgers, pasta, sandwiches, breakfast food, soups, HUGE ice cream sundaes, milkshakes...

                      1. Don't know the age and sex of your children, but I can tell you my two daughters, when younger, loved the "Madeline" books, so one day, after the Met, we went to the Carlye Hotel to have drinks at Bemmelman's Bar at the Carlyle hotel on 76th St. (Martini for me, Shirley Temples for them), surrounded by Ludwig Bemmelmans mural. A nice interlude in the early evening...