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Theme Restaurants

  • m

OK, I've got a gun in my back. My wife is insisting that we take the kid to a theme restaurant for his ninth birthday. Is there anything that is less horrible than the rest? Apologizing in advance. If the management wants to throw this posting off the site, I'll understand.

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  1. Hard Rock's food won't kill you. And the rock & roll artifacts are neat if your kid likes old people music.

    3 Replies
    1. re: small h

      How is Buddokan? I know it's not a theme restaurant, but a sort of "experience" restaurant, that maybe will satisfy my wife.

      1. re: small h

        The food is pretty awful there, but the artifacts really are fantastic. Probably some of the best ones in the Hard Rock collection. And they play good rock music while you eat. So if you have to go to a theme restaurant, it does have its plus points.

        1. re: BW212

          I would go to Buddakhan over ninja any day. I have never eaten there, but I think they would have to pay me to eat there after Bruni's review a couple years ago. The food at Buddkhan is not the best thing I have ever eaten, but it is definitely good.

      2. How about Ninja? I haven't been, but I have heard the food is good.


        1 Reply
        1. I vote for Ninja. It's silly, entertaining, and the food is surprisingly tolerable for a ninja castle, particularly their crispy pork dish. We actually had a ball when we went with a big group - a lot of alcohol consumption had taken place before of course - but our waiter hammed it up and there were ninjas swooping down from the ceiling to scare the bejeezus out of us and my inner fourth grader really appreciated all the dry ice effects with the food presentation.

          1. OK, so the food isn't the greatest at the theme places, but it's only one meal, and your son will love it, so isn't that the point? I would say it should depend upon him. If he is into sports, I would go to ESPN Zone or Mickey Mantle's. If he is into music, then Hard Rock. Is Jeckle and Hyde still open? That used to be a popular one. I am sure you could suffer through a burger and fries to make his day.

            1. Whatever you do, avoid Mars2112, the kid will love it because it has an arcade and rides and people in costume, but truthfully, you'll die inside.

              3 Replies
              1. re: hungry_fox

                Like I said, this is about the kid. Not that I think you should necessarily take your kid to a place with an arcarde though.

                1. re: robinsilver

                  I know this is about the kid, but you can still keep your sanity at most theme restaurants, for example Jekyll and Hyde, not terrible and the food is decent. I'm just saying that for your sake, there are plenty of theme restaurants to try, just avoid mars 2112 at all costs.

                  1. re: hungry_fox

                    I would second Jekyll and Hyde, but the one downtown, not the other one. It is less crazed with tourists downtown and the food isn't awful. you might actuall have fun, especially if you have to use the bathroom...

              2. Hi MarkC,

                How about Rosa Mexicana at Lincoln Center? The reason that I suggest this restaurant is because I recalled an article by Frank Bruni in NYT which specifically addressed why he thought it was a good restaurant for kids:


                1 Reply
                1. re: kobetobiko

                  I agree that it's good for kids, but I'm not sure how "themed" it is, once one gets passed the waterfall.

                2. Our daughters loved Mars 2112 when they were young. My guess is that a nine year old boy would like it even more. It starts with a "trip to Mars" (simulated spaceflight) then you go into the main room which is done up as a rocky Martian cavelike area. There are aliens walking around and weird TV with spacelike designs continuously playing. Obviously, the food is not the point. I vaguely recall the arcade - suspect you can work your way past that.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Frankenfood

                      (thumping myself on the noggin): Of course Mars!! How simply perfect for your needs.

                  1. Thanks for all the help, folks. We'll probably break down and take the little bugger to Mars2112, even though some of the reviews practically suggested I'd catch a communicable disease there. At least he'll feel like he had his own birthday, rather than me dragging him to a place I want to go, and trying to convince him what a good time he's having.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MarkC

                      And don't forget Serendipity after dinner. Every kid's dream.

                    2. Just a thought. While the theme is great. What about a Japanese steakhouse or a BBQ joint. Not sure if it's just a fmaily dinner or a party, but there's nothing more entertaining than watching your food cooked in front of you and having the chef flip food into your mouth. The BBQ idea is just good, because there is always something for the kids to eat, and table manners are usually optional at most establishments.

                      I had actually mentioned something to a friend in a similar situation (although the kid was little younger). I said, take him somewhere fancy. Get all dressed up. Make a huge deal about the fact that this isn't a place you would go to all the time, but because he or she is "old enough" you're taking them to this place. My parents always took me somewhere wonderful when I was younger and because of it, I quickly appreciated different foods. I was eating escargot at 7! They of course would drop the hint to the wait staff that it was my birthday, and of course they treated me like a king. Just a thought!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jhopp217

                        jhopp217, thanks for sharing the idea, but it won't fly. Kids today are jaded. They have so many distractions and stimulations that the prospect of a "grown up meal" won't excite him. I remember when I was a kid and got good grades my parents would take me to a fancy restaurant as a reward (I still remember the place - Au Petit Cafe in Los Angeles). It may have even had something to do with my developing a taste for good food. My son would just put his head on the table and fall asleep (as he's done at other fancy restaurants).

                        1. re: MarkC


                          Thanks so much for the chuckle. I think I've put my head down on the table and fell asleep recently, but that was after three Martini's at Smith & Wollensky's!

                          1. re: MarkC

                            Mark, I am glad that you came to terms with the idea that you should do this for your son. I am sure that he will enjoy his day, and you will enjoy being a part of it. These are the kind of things that kids remember. Of course you could always decide to take him to the circus, however you may be doing that already.