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East Village kid friendly places - visiting from Toronto

I'm coming with my wife and 2 kids (ages 2 and 5) to stay in East Village (just east of Tomkins park on 9th). Looking for places for both lunch and dinner that I can bring the kids to. We're quite adventurous and will try anything. Prefer to stay away from Chinese and other asian cuisines as we get an abundance of it here in Toronto.

On my short list thus far are Pommes Frites, DBGB, Paprika, Otto, Mayahuel, Barbone, Mermaid Inn, Frank.

What about the higher end places, like Degustation, Heart.. Death & Co, Yerba Buena, Black Forty... does anyone bring small kids there?

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  1. I've never seen kids of any age at Mayahuel. It's more of a cocktail bar that serves food than a restaurant, and doesn't open until evening (5 or 6 pm). Same for Death & Co -- it's dark, can get very loud, the banquette is rather cramped. Never seen any kids there either.

    For Degustation, it's very small, an open kitchen format, and a little on the cramped/cozy side (scoot your chair all the way in or you might get bumped). You sit along a counter and it's hard to get groups of four adults there let along the kids (there's a L shaped corner with 3 seats on one side, otherwise everybody has to sit in a row). I imagine it might be tough since there's only 20 seats in total.

    For Yerba Buena, it's brunch service on weekends and dinner only. Each time I've gone, it's been a bit of a party atmosphere. Loud, crowded, lots of drinking going on. I think they have brunch drink specials as well, which contributes.

    Of your list I think Hearth and Back Forty might be best. Maybe Back Forty for brunch.

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    Back Forty
    190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

    Yerba Buena
    23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

    Mayahuel
    304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      The cocktail places, like Mayahuel and Death & Company do not allow anyone under (drinking) age inside.

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      Mayahuel
      304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

      1. re: Nancy S.

        I wasn't sure because I'd never seen any one actually try! (There's no regulations against minors in bars officially, although those under 16 must be with an adult.)

        1. re: kathryn

          Actually, I called, because we were having drinks with my 21 year old son, and we wanted to bring our 13 year old daughter as well, and all of the Mayahuel-type places told me that she could not come inside. We ended up at Yerba Buena, but, again, because she was underage, not at the bar stools.

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          Yerba Buena
          23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

          1. re: Nancy S.

            In theory, if they serve food they should allow the minors in, but the places named are under the same ownership, and same strict watch from the neighborhood that's given them trouble in the past.

            There are high end cocktail lounges where bringing minor and buying them a shirley temple would work nicely, but I wouldn't have suggested these places.

    2. Second all of Kathryn's comments. Hearth is also better on the early side. I used to love Barbone, but not as much since they expanded. It has been a couple of years at least since I went, however. Otto is great with kids but gets loud at night.

      I'll add:

      The Smith - kids love the mac and cheese and fried green beans, decent adult food and drinks as well.
      Pulino's - upscale pizza and more
      Katz's - pastrami, hot dogs, etc.
      Motorino (or any of the good pizza shops)
      Kambi (or any of the good ramen shops - Minca is a bit small, perhaps)
      Any of the Momofuku shops (except Ko), for lunch or early dinner
      La Palapa for Mexican

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      Barbone
      186 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

      Minca
      536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

      La Palapa
      77 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

      Kambi
      351 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

      Motorino
      349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

      Pulino's
      282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

      1. DBGB will be fine for kids. You could also do La Esquina (the cafe or the taqueria), Balthazar, Momofuku Noodle Bar (even though it's Asian), etc. Cafe Habana is another good option, if you like Cuban.

        Like others have said, Death & Co. and anywhere remotely cocktail-ish are out–Death does ID at the door. And geez, I would probably never return if I had to deal with another patron's kiddos while I was there. Please, please, please, for the sake of other diners, don't attempt to take your kids to any of the higher-end places.

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        Cafe Habana
        229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

        La Esquina
        106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

        Momofuku Noodle Bar
        171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        DBGB
        299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

        3 Replies
        1. re: loratliff

          while i agree that kids are out of place at a cocktail place like Death an co, i see no reason not to have kids in high end restaurants. as long as they behave. but i feel that way about adults too.

          1. re: loratliff

            loratliff, I 100% disagree with you saying not to take a child in to high end places. I have a 6 almost 7 year old son and I have been taking him to higher end places since he was an infant, if he got fussy I simply went outside as not to disturb others. What this has created is an extremely well behaved child who can accompany me absolutely anywhere because he has always been exposed to that environment.

            1. re: loratliff

              I disagree. It depends on the kid. I have taken a 7 year old to Eleven Madison Park and it was delightful. However taking a kid to a cocktail lounge or bar, like Death & Co., does seem inappropriate to me. But high end restaurants, if a child is prepared and well behaved, is fine.

              How on earth do they learn if you don't take them?

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              Eleven Madison Park
              11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

            2. Forgot to add Hecho En Dumbo–another good (relatively) kid-friendly option.

              1. Degustation is a modern tapas place, so very wine-oriented, in addition to the other comments people have made about it. I would not bring a young child to it, though it could possibly work for a very sophisticated older kid, such as perhaps a teenager with quite a long attention span (the 10-course tasting menu, which I'd recommend, takes a long time).

                I don't know your kids, but I would hesitate to bring young kids anyplace where the meal is going to take a really long time (I'd be concerned that would be boring for kids, but maybe your kids have a way longer attention span than I did at their ages), and high-end meals, even when they are not tasting menus with lots of little plates, usually take a long time, at least in my experience. Mid-priced upscale-style meals, not necessarily so much, which is why people are mentioning Hearth. Another place in more or less the same category that might be fine to bring kids to (though again, I have no experience of this) is Apiary, which again has a relatively high volume level. There are any number of Italian restaurants in the East Village with fairly high volume levels. I've never been to Cacio e Vino with kids, but I believe they would be well received by the Italian staff. I have been to Supper with a kid who enjoyed the experience (he was 10, though). Frank also tends to have a high volume level, but I very often see many people waiting on the sidewalk for tables, and I wouldn't want kids to be spending a long time waiting like that. (I could be wrong, and in that case someone will correct me, but I don't believe Frank takes reservations, though Cacio e Vino and some other similarly-priced Italian restaurants in the neighborhood do.)

                I imagine many of the things you'll be considering are similar to what you do in Toronto. For example, you could ask whether a restaurant has high chairs, and draw conclusions accordingly.

                But mostly, I just hope you all have a great time, and I think it's great that you're introducing your children to a variety of good food. Just know that you're spoiling them for institutional food for all time. (Spoken from experience.) :-)

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                Cacio e Vino
                80 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                1 Reply
                1. re: Pan

                  Degustation will not allow small children under a certain age. Jewel Bako next door had a set of rules at the window at one point and the restaurants under the same ownership fall under those same rules.

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                  Jewel Bako
                  239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003