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Help for Foodie Couple coming to NYC w/ an 8 mo old baby

My husband and I will be in NYC in late May for a wedding, and we'll be bringing our then-8-month-old son with us. Honestly, I wish we could leave him with family while we come to New York, but that can't happen. So while I have dreamed for years of an amazing trip to NYC, with dinners at Le Bernadin, Per Se, EMP, etc., a trip like that obviously won't be in the cards this time around.

I DO plan on eating either lunch or dinner at EMP while my Mom keeps our son at the hotel for us.

Aside from that, does anyone have some good suggestions for places that wouldn't look askance at us bringing our baby with us? He stays up really late (after midnight) so we aren't that interested in having to eat dinner at 5:00 someplace and then rush out because it'd be improper for our baby to be with us any later than that... but we'll do it if we have to.

Where do you go when you love fine dining and still want to experience great food, but you've got a baby with you? We'll be staying at the Kitano hotel in midtown (66 Park Ave), if that helps any. Restaurants close by would obviously be better than ones requiring us to schlep the baby up and down stairs, through several subway transfers, etc.

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  1. My suggestion would be to go out of Midtown to neighborhoods where the restaurants are louder and people are less apt to notice a fussing baby -- or where you're not the only ones with kids at the table.

    Certain neighborhoods like Tribeca and the Upper West Side especially are kid friendly because many families live there. As you mention, dining at off hours will certainly help.

    I'm not sure you'll be able to do any true, multiple starred restaurant fine dining, but you can certainly have some great meals with the baby boy. All is not lost if you must dine more casually -- many of the hot new openings are on the casual side in the last few years anyway!

    Just so you know -- many restaurants do not have high chairs (not sure if your little one likes them or not) so I'd call and ask if you need it. Stroller parking can be iffy as well, as space is at a minimum and some restaurants ask that you leave it outside (my friends who are parents prefer to have the kid in their lap or the Baby Bjorn anyway). The Shake Shack on the UWS has a stroller valet now, I believe.

    Don't forget that many restaurants in NYC deliver, so that should be an option if you're tired, the baby is fussing, and all you want to do is go back to the hotel room.

    Baby friendly in NYC:

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thank you for the advice! We don't mind casual places; in fact that's pretty much what we're looking for - casual places that happen to serve really good food :) I've heard Otto is a good option for families - anyone have any input on that? We won't need a stroller at night - we'll use one during the day but then switch to a baby carrier at night, which is easy to drape over the back of a chair. And if we did by chance bring our stroller it is a tiny umbrella type model so it folds up really compactly. Hoping not to have to bring it to dinners though.

      The baby would rather be on our lap than in a high chair at this point, so if he stays happy like that in the next couple of months, I don't envision needing one of those either. He's usually happy if one of us is holding him, and whenever he gets fussy, a surefire way to break him out of it is to pick him up. If need be, one of us would be willing to walk around outside for a few minutes to calm him down.

      I'm kind of dreading this trip. Well, really dreading it honesly. I've travelled by car with the little guy, but this will be the first plane trip. I wouldn't choose to take an 8 month old on such a trip, but my only brother is getting married in Central Park, so we have to go.

      1. re: tara3056

        I've seen tons of strollers & babes in arms at Otto. It's typically pretty loud so the fussing kids don't really add additional noise. I'd ask for a table more towards the front -- another poster here thought the back room was way too loud. I'm partial to the bar, myself, but it'll be tough with a baby as it's all stool seating.

    2. I've seen babies at Ma Peche. The music is fairly loud so no one would probably notice a fussy baby (if your baby were to become fussy). The food is French-Vietnamese and delicious. Casual atmosphere. The restaurant is in the Chambers Hotel and has an elevator to the restaurant which is on the lower level (in case you have a stroller).

      EDIT: I think you'd be better at dinner since lunch can get very crowded. I prefer the dinner menu.

      Ma Peche
      15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

      1. Just made it to torrisi italian specialties in soho/little italy and there were several small children about and it was totally fine - they do counter service style lunch with a large take out contingent so there are people coming and going and it wouldn't hardly be noticable at all. the food was fantastic, you have to get the turkey sandwich and eggplant parm, we really loved the antipasti (i woke up dreaming about the roasted cauliflower) and its a pretty good value too (not cheap but its hardly expensive and really excellent). for dinner i guess they do a 50/pp set menu that changes daily with a convaluded no-reservation policy that would involve waiting in line before they open for service and putting your name down, i think for this trip you'd wanna stick to lunch but its so so worth it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tex.s.toast

          I went to Torrisi at 6:30 last night and did not have to wait for a table. I think that bringing a baby would be fine for an early dinner, but the small room gets very loud as it fills up.

          The food is very good Itatlian-American "home cooking" and the pastries are superb. Portions were much smaller than I expected, so I had an extra dessert somewhere else. (Payard)

          1. re: tex.s.toast

            Did you go for weekday lunch or weekend lunch? Were the lines really long?

            I found the dinner seating to be really cramped, though. The tables are basically on top of each other.

          2. There was an article in the NYT awhile back on fine dining with a baby and Gramercy Tavern was top of the list. I went to the front bar room for lunch with a friend and her baby and they were so nice and patient with the baby. I would highly recommend going for an early dinner (to avoid waiting). I definitely feel your pain as I have an 8 mo old myself and have been severely limited in my dining options. Our baby is in bed by 7 pm so we hire sitters for dinner, so it's difficult for me to recommend dinner options. Shake Shack on the UWS has stroller parking and high chairs. Landmarc at Columbus Circle is baby central at brunch time. I can't be certain, but I would think that restaurants that are attached to more touristy locales (maybe like Modern Bar Room for lunch or anything at Columbus Circle) would cater more to families than let's say, the trendy hipster places in lower east side. I also recommend bringing your moby wrap, ergo, or other carrier of choice to give yourself a larger radius and more mobility.

            Gramercy Tavern
            42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

            1 Reply
            1. re: kim e

              Are you sure about Gramercy Tavern, tavern side, being infant friendly?
              I could see maybe a 2-3 p.m. lunch but outside of that? I would have to respectfully disagree with you (a first) and the New York Times (frequently).

              Gramercy Tavern
              42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

            2. Here are a few places close to your hotel that would be fine with a baby:
              Oyster Bar @ Grand Central you can sit at the bar with your stroller & keep it simple, oysters and soup/chowder/gazpacho.
              Mapo Tofu for unique Chinese
              Hane Sushi 3 Av and 38 St
              Penelope's on Lex and 20th (a short walk) for breakfast or brunch
              Blue Smoke on 27th bet Lex and Park for good BBQ
              Ali Baba on E 34th St for good Turkish
              El Rio Grande 38th and 3Rd for decent TEX-Mex
              Ess-A-Bagel on 3rd @ 50th for an excellent bagel breakfast

              Hane Sushi
              581 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

              Blue Smoke
              116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

              El Rio Grande
              160 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016

              Ali Baba
              126 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

              Mapo Tofu
              338 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

              1. If you a set on hitting a fine dining establishment or 2 do it at lunch time. The places are less crowded and you wont get any looks. I just had lunch at Bouley and there was a baby in a stroller next to us who didnt make a peep. It also depends on the behavior of the baby. Why not also go out a little later to ensure he/she sleeps through the meal

                3 Replies
                1. re: princeofpork

                  Completely agree with the suggestion for fine dining at lunch - we've taken our 1 year old to Perry St, Cafe Boulud, etc many times. I'm actually surprised to see the rec for Bouley - we attempted to eat there for lunch last month and we were informed by the maitre d that the chef does not want children under 5 in the dining room. This is the only restaurant that we have had a problem at, and we eat out fairly frequently.

                  Another option is to eat dinner early. We've actually found most places in the city to be very accomodating of our daughter, especially if you are willing to eat at/before 6pm. We've done this at Lupa, Otto, Babbo, Spotted Pig, and a number of other places.

                  170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                  Cafe Boulud
                  20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                  Spotted Pig
                  314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: Osler

                    Just curious, but were you informed of that when you walked in or did you call and ask? It just seems so strange for a maitre'd to turn someone away at the door for that.

                    1. re: loratliff

                      We were informed when we called day of to request a table near the door so one of us could exit easily with our daughter if need be.