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West Village with in-laws and 2 kids....need dinner help!

Hi! My in-laws are coming in from Chicago in mid-April (Sunday and Monday nights). We will be staying at the Four Points Sheraton Soho with them and our 2 kids (9 and 6 1/2). After eating my way through lower Manhattan in January, I would like to do something similar with the in-laws, but maybe at some different places. They have never been to NYC and even though we are not locals, we want to really show them a good time. My ideas for dinners: nothing too fancy (no EMP or a tasting menu), but something with really great food and a comfortable vibe. We have no food restrictions, except for Mexican (better in Chicago). My in-laws are not the most adventurous, but they do appreciate good, not too fancy, food (In CHicago, they prefer Frontera over Topolobampo, for example).
For a possible Italian dinner, I am looking at Otto, Locanda verde, Perla. Other interesting places: Vin et Fleurs, Le Pescadeux, Minetta Tavern.
What can you help me with? Thank you so much.

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  1. Otto is a bit on the casual, everyday side, though it's great for families with kids because it's a bit loud anyway. It often becomes stroller city on weekend afternoons. I'd do Otto for lunch if you want to go.

    Locanda Verde is in Tribeca, not the WV, BTW. It might be fine for your family, as it is a hotel restaurant, but I can't recall seeing kids there for dinner before.

    Your children may be a bit too young for Minetta Tavern's "Rat Pack"-esque vibe.

    This report will probably help -- the poster took their family to Craft, the NoMad, Lupa, and Maialino. They had two kids, ages 6, and 8, very close to yours. And these are all a la carte, which helps with kids (smaller appetites, etc). None of these restaurants are as fancy as EMP.

    10 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      We've been to Otto with the kids before and you are right, it was a good setting for them. They are both really well behaved and will eat anything....they love dining out. So I'm not too concerned about the food for them, but the smaller plates at Otto worked well.

      If we were at Minetta on a Monday, say at 6:30 or so, do you think people would mind 2 kids there? It just looks so "New York" to me and I know the in-laws would like it.

      Also, would children be allowed to split an entree at one of these places? Or is that frowned upon?

      1. re: saintp

        I've always had excellent service there; not sure why they'd prevent the kids from sharing a dish. If you can get a nice big booth, it should be OK. The area closer to the bar and host stand is quite hectic.

        1. re: kathryn

          I've sent a few links to the in-laws for some dining input....if they have none, then I'll just proceed on my own! We are aiming for Craft on Monday night, about 6:30 or 7. After reading the review that you linked to above, it sounded really lovely...excellent food, relaxed atmosphere, good service. That would be great if we could get a table. I also sent them a link to Minetta Tavern, which I think they would love.
          For a more low key dinner on Sunday, I showed them Vin et Fleurs and Perla, both of which I would love to try. Not enough time!

        2. re: saintp

          Since you are staying in SoHo, and considering Locanda Verde ( which I don't recommend with kids), another Tribeca Italian restaurant that is fine for kids, and has better food , IMO, than LV is Pepolino on W. Bway. Da Andrea in WV, is also a good choice. Both have food far better than Otto. You may have to ask for special dishes for the kids, like plain pasta or something, i know kids can be picky.
          Tribeca Grill might be good , although it is not "amazing" by any means, it has many choices of food, and I've never had a bad meal there, the atmosphere is quite comfortable.
          Morandi in the WV might also be a good choice.

        3. re: kathryn

          Back here again....still researching. We are arriving on a Sunday, will have had pizza at Pepe's in New Haven on the drive down. I am trying to find something casual and preferably within walking distance from the hotel (Four Points Sheraton Soho) and on the earlier side (6 or 6:30) since it will have been a long day for my 70-something in-laws. Vin et Fleurs and Spotted Pig are really interesting to me, but I see that neither takes reservations. How difficult would it be on a Sunday night for a party of 6 to get a table? If that is too hard, can anyone recommend something similar in the neighborhood?
          We scored a Monday night rotisserie duck reservation at Ssam Bar, so that is all set.
          Thanks for your help!

          1. re: saintp

            Spotted Pig will probably be crazy for a party of 6, even on the earlier side.

            Looking back at your original post, what about Balthazar? Takes reservations, in Soho, and relatively kid friendly (they even give out crayons).

            1. re: kathryn

              Balthazar looks lovely, but it seems a bit too much for a casual dinner after a long day (not for me, for the in-laws). Have been reading about Louro and I like the idea of the various small plates. After an afternoon of walking around and eating (a la your West Village food tour!), it might be perfect. Would this work for a party with 2 kids? (Our kids will eat almost anything, btw, so I have no worries about anything on the menu....last time in Brooklyn they ate 2 orders of squid ink pasta at Marlowe and Sons!).

              1. re: saintp

                I've only been to Louro once and I didn't see any kids there. It didn't really seem like a kid friendly menu, so that is probably why... Also the table that I sat at was pretty close to the others, where I could hear everything the couple sitting next to me was saying.

                Since you're staying in Soho anyway, consider Balthazar for brunch one day -- definitely make a reservation in advance.

                1. re: saintp

                  I think Louro's a good choice, especially if your kids have broad palates, as you say. My 8-year-old has been a couple of times and claims to like it. I certainly like it a lot. Go early and you'll be fine. The food is really good, the staff is friendly, and the small plates will work well for small fry.

              2. re: saintp

                I would not ever do the Spotted Pig with a party larger than four, much less with kids. Wait will likely be pushing 2 hours, even on a Sunday night, and it's not kid-friendly.

                I haven't yet been to Louro, but it doesn't strike me a kid-friendly place, eve if your kids aren't picky. I think something like Otto or Balthazar is really a better choice. Even La Sirene (recommended above, cozy French, cash-only and BYOb) is infinitely more kid-friendly.

            2. I'd say don't miss out on La Sirene. It's very casual, but the rustic Mediterranean French and the always great service have always been a hit with our out-of-town guests.

              Btw, fyi, it's byob.


              1. Avoid Spotted Pig given your group.

                Within a couple of blocks of your hotel are some neighbourhood places that are quite good - Giorgione (Italian) and Pao (Portugese).

                A couple of blocks further east are Aquagrill (seafood, always delicious), The Dutch (Carmellini of Locanda Verde - which btw if you want to try may be a good brunch option, as is Bubby's also in Tribeca... The Dutch menu may not work for your kids though).

                A couple of blocks north you have Ditch Plains (only worth a mention for the Sunday night $30 lobster bake but since you're coming from new england that may not be a big draw) and a load of other options - EN (japanese, delicious, roomy for a group), Hudson Clearwater ("hidden" so fun NY experience, good food, but again check menu vs. kids), Blue RIbbon (still a delicious standby).

                Congratulations on the Momofuku duck rez - it's delicious, enjoy! Lots of threads here about that... my 2c is not to skip the pork buns to start, that you shouldn't need much more food than the ducks and the sides it comes with.

                1 Reply
                1. re: saregama

                  Too many options!! The bounty of NYC dining amazes me!
                  We have a 6:30 res for Louro on Sunday night. It seems like a great choice for everyone (esp. the in-laws, who will not have had anything like it).

                  As for your other suggestions, they are going on my "NYC in the future" list. Hudson Clearwater is especially intriguing...would be great for me and the husband.

                  And the Momofuku duck! I honestly thought it would be impossible, so am thrilled that we managed it.

                2. Vin et Fleurs is a really nice spot for a late lunch. Food is good, but not too fillings. And they have handled us with kids before with grace and aplomb. I've seen them do the same with elderly folks, dogs (and even cats, on one occasion).

                  A nice spot to watch people on a nice day, too. Staff is very low key and friendly. Can't beat it with a stick, unless you are expecting three star cuisine. It's nice bistro type fare, done well, at reasonable prices, in a lovely location.

                  I think Gramercy Tavern might be a good match, too. A great mixture of the basics with great ingredients. Also handles kids very, very well. Union Square Cafe is a good backup. Neither is too far. Both pretty predictable, but with kids and in-laws, that's not necessarily a bad thing. And the food is very good at both.

                  1. Well, we tried for a 6:30 Sunday res at La Sirene. They can't do anything within 2 1/2 hours of that! Vin et Fleurs looks great, but the walk-in only aspect scares me, with 6 people in the party....

                    1. We're back from 48 hours in NYC with my in-laws. It was a great trip....we repeated several places that we hit on my last visit with my husband, mainly because we didn't want to break lots of new ground with visiting guests.
                      The highlight of the trip was the rotisserie duck dinner at Momofuku Ssam. We started with several steamed pork buns and the apple kimchi. For sides with the duck we had the market greens (chard) and broccoli in a bluefish vinaigrette...both were out of this world good. My boring chard that I make at home pales in comparison! The duck itself and all of the toppings were sublime. All 6 of us loved it. And at the end of the meal when they came around with the broth they had made from the remaining bones and off cuts, well that was just the cherry on top. I think my father in law was the only one who didn't finish his little bowl of broth...even my girls gulped it down. Fantastic meal all around.

                      Now for the weird experience. About 3-4 weeks ago I made reservations on Open Table for Quinto Quarto. Liked the menu, it was less than 4 blocks from the hotel and seemed casual enough for a meal after the 3 hour drive to NYC. So, we arrived at the restaurant (7pm Sunday, for 6 people) to find that Quinto Quarto no longer exists and is now a place called "Abbotegga" (i think that's spelled correctly). Anyhow, we had passed many full restaurants on our quick walk over and no one was up for seeking out another dining option. So we gave it a try. The service was very nice, but they had only opened 2 days prior!! So there was no wine list, only peach juice for the girls...
                      The menu was much more limited than QUinto Quarto. The food was pretty good (2 of us got the Bucatini alla Amatriciana, which was really good), my mother in law had the Cacio e Pepe (she loved it) and I had something with guanciale, caramelized onions and pecorino....it was so salty I could barely eat it. The menu had 1 chicken, 1 beef and 1 pork option. No seafood, very few apps.
                      The restaurant was basically empty, save for 2 other tables, so it was not the experience we were expecting!!
                      Had it been earlier in the evening, we definitely would have walked around and sought out another option. I wonder why Open Table sent us no notification that our restaurant went out of business!!

                      Other than that, the trip was great. We spent some more time at the Blind Tiger (love that bar) and also managed to grab a pre-dinner drink at McSorley's Ale House, which was wonderful.

                      Also, my husband poked his head into Minetta Tavern and that is on our list for the next time it's just the 2 of us in the city.
                      Thanks for all the advice!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: saintp

                        Thanks for reporting back, definitely check out Minetta Tavern next time you're here without the kids!

                      2. Know you asked for WV, but since Locanda Verde is in Tribeca I would say that most restaurants in Tribeca are kid-friendly (so many in the neighborhood). The ROC and the Odeon especially come to mind. Both lively and nice food.

                        1. Otto is a good choice. Comfortable and something for everyone.
                          Pulino's is another suggestion.