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Beyond Chicken Fingers
Kid-Friendly Restaurants (Photo: iStockphoto)

14 Fabulous Kid-Friendly Restaurants in New York

Dining with children doesn't have to mean lowering your foodie standards, especially in NYC; these top-tier restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn will have your taste buds—and your kids—singing their praises

Dining with kids in any city is a tough prospect, and it’s certainly not easier in New York where the emphasis is on adults, restaurants put tables mere centimeters from one another and fried sardines and steak tartar are popular menu items. What you (the foodie parent) want is a nice meal where the waiter will pour a taste of your wine before filling your glass but also won’t balk at a request for buttered pasta or a high chair. The good news is that New York City has such places, you just have to know where to go. Behold the definitive list for dining with children in Manhattan and Brooklyn, whether you want the white-tablecloth experience, a perfect pie (no, we’re not talking slices) or allergen-friendly spots where the food measures up to the atmosphere.

White Tablecloth

Burger at DBGB (Photo: Courtesy DBGB)

Burger at DBGB (Photo: Courtesy DBGB)

DBGB Kitchen & Bar
New York City is superstar Daniel Boulud’s main stomping ground, so a trip to the city is not complete without a bite at one of the chef’s seven NYC restaurants. For family dining, DBGB Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan’s East Village is your best choice. Step-free, you can roll your kiddo right up to one of the large, set-back booths that ring the dining room. It’s dark enough there that other diners won’t notice the round of head-shoulders-knees-and-toes. Or, weather permitting, grab a seat out front. The small plate sausages — one or two links and an accoutrement — are perfect for babes that want a taste of what the adults are eating. An extensive beer list, extravagantly dressed burgers and French bistro fare will please parents, as will the Baked Alaska dessert. 299 Bowery, 212-933-5300, dbgb.com/nyc

Prime Meats
There are plenty of excellent steak houses in both boroughs, but it’s Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens where you should take the fam to feast. Though restaurant policy dictates that you’ll have to leave the stroller out front, inside you’ll find extremely friendly employees (and equally important) Germanic-influenced dishes that will please parents and mini-carnivores alike. Splurge on the Dry-Aged Côte De Boeuf for two (only available on Friday and Saturday) or grab an order of the excellent steak frites. Older kids who can appreciate an $18 half-pound burger will be as please by the taste as the giant mound of fries that comes with it. For the younger set, look no further than the German egg noodles or cheesy spätzle, which is essentially the Teutonic version of mac and cheese. 465 Court St., Brooklyn, 718-254-0327, frankspm.com

 

Italian

Max Tribeca (Photo: Courtesy Max Tribeca)

A homey past dish from Max Tribeca (Photo: Courtesy Max Tribeca)

Max Tribeca
Looking for affordable Italian fare in the middle of Tribeca? Head to Max Tribeca, with its roster of red-sauce dishes like gnocchi and lasagna for tykes while homemade black ink spaghetti tossed in spicy sauce and littered with shrimp satisfy more adventurous palates. Not your conventional loaf of beef, Mom’s meatloaf — a gigantic portion that could feed two 10-year olds — is more of a gigantic meatball than a loaf, although it’s sided with a pancetta-spiked potato gratin that you wish was part of your own repertoire. The kid’s menu is comprised of smaller portions of some dishes (spinach and ricotta ravioli, Pollo Capriccioso and the aforementioned gnocchi and meatloaf dishes) for $9. Half of the dining room is elevated, so if you’re dining with a stroller, request one of the tables closest to the window. 181 Duane St., 212-966-5939, max-ny.com

Franny’s
When restaurant owners have small children, it’s likely that their businesses will cater to the demographic. This is the case at Prospect Heights Italian joint Franny’s where small plates are king, and kids aren’t just welcome, they’re embraced (the owners Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg have two). Order a platter of assorted salumi, and there’s sure to be at least one cured meat your little ones will enjoy. Then let them pick at fried eggplant with tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano or pole beans with pistachios. Ribbons of mafalde pasta with ragu napoletano (meat sauce) and a dozen pizza options are primed for sharing. 348 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, 718-230-0221, frannysbrooklyn.com

 

Noodles

Ganso (Photo: Courtesy Ganso)

A bowl of ramen from Ganso (Photo: Courtesy Ganso)

Minca
With a roomier dining room than most Manhattan ramenya, Minca in the East Village is the noodle house you pick when you’re looking for a kid-friendly option. It goes beyond the space, though. There are 17 ramen options (one more than its sister restaurant Kambi on 14th Street) and choices include chicken and vegetable broths for the pork-adverse. Each can be customized with your noodle preference — thick, thin, wavy, whole wheat and, for the health-conscious, bean noodles. The customization and plethora of options makes it ideal for kids who like to design their own food and the big flavors will please everyone else. Minca doesn’t accept credit cards. 536 E. Fifth  St., 212-505-8001, newyorkramen.com

Ganso
With high chairs at the ready and changing tables in the bathroom, self-proclaimed “Ramen Factory” Ganso in Downtown Brooklyn is ready for any family’s visit. The restaurant also has smaller servings of its ramens and off-the menu kid dishes. But you’re there for the food, and this is some fancy and tasty ramen. For starters, try the lacy-edged gyoza and pork belly-kimchi stuffed bao buns, and for the main, there are seven regular ramen offerings, among them spicy miso, an eponymous version featuring soy sauce broth, and an inventive sesame-miso cold ramen for summer, in addition to a rotating roster of inventive specials. Note: the chicken wings are killer and what kid doesn’t love gnawing on a bone? 25 Bond St., 718-403-0900, gansonyc.com


Pizza

Olio Pizza e Piu (Photo: Courtesy Olio Pizza e Piu)

Margarita pizza from Olio Pizza e Piu (Photo: Courtesy Olio Pizza e Piu)

Olio Pizza e Piu
With pizza developed by the same pizzaiolos responsible for the pies at nearby award winning thimble-sized pizzeria Keste, the West Village‘s Olio Pizza e Piu is a great stop for nabbing a Neapolitan-style pie. The bubbly wood-burned crust is yeasty and just a touch chewy. The entree-plate sized rounds are perfect for smaller hands, while the white truffle, sopressata and fior di latte topped-pies will please older adventurers and their parents. Bonus for the gluten-averse family: Both pizza and pasta can be made gluten free. 3 Greenwich Ave., 212-243-6546, olionyc.com

Fornino
There are over two dozen pie options at Fornino, a chill pizza spot on a bustling strip of Williamsburg, a neighborhood that’s popping up kids playspaces and boutiques like daisies. Toppings are key here as many of the pizzas feature a laundry-list worth of ingredients. At some places that approach breeds a mess, but at Fornino it works as the sturdy dough can miraculously hold asparagus, prosciutto, caramelized onions and extra fontina cheese, as comes on the asparagi e prosciutto. Or, witness a crust hold an entire CSA-worth of veggies by opting for the ortolano, topped with eggplant, zucchini, broccoli rabe and peppers. Don’t forget a glass of wine for yourself as the list holds a number of interesting Italian varietals like Cannonau from Sardinia and Dolcetto from the Piedmont region.  187 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, 718-384-6004, forninopizza.com


Barbecue

Mables Smokehouse (Photo: Courtesy Mables Smokehouse)

A family-sized platter from Mables Smokehouse (Photo: Courtesy Mables Smokehouse)

Hill Country
Manhattan and barbecue haven’t always been friends, but some pretty serious barbecue has sprouted in NYC of late, and at Hill Country in the Flatiron, Texas-style cooking is the focus. The boisterous restaurant utilizes cafeteria-style service, which means the volume level is high enough that no one will mind when a child gets vocal about just how good those beef ribs are. Bring your order card to the counter and choose your meat (the moist brisket is a worthy choice; treat the Kreuz Market jalapeno-cheese sausage as an adults-only side dish and get a link … or two, it’s a must). Kid-friendly sides include mac ‘n’ cheese and corn pudding, and there’s collard greens for tykes raise south of the Mason-Dixon. The spread out seating allows for comfortable stroller parking, too. 30 W. 26th St., 212-255-4544, hillcountryny.com

Mable’s Smokehouse
Though there’s no children’s menu at this Williamsburg restaurant, Mable’s menu options are priced for families on a budget (a sandwich with one side is $9.95 and single meat with two sides runs from $14.95 to $16.95). Choose from meats such as tender pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs, and make sure to slather all with the housemade barbecue sauce, which can also be brought home by the bottle. Bring baby wipes and let the kids house a side order of Frito Pie — a mess of chips, chili and cheese that beats nachos any day, while you enjoy a Kentucky Mint Julep or Pickletini. 44 Berry St., Brooklyn, 719-218-6655, mablessmokehouse.com


Comfort Food

Buttermilk Channel (Photo: Courtesy Buttermilk Channel)

Chicken and Waffles at Buttermilk Channel (Photo: Courtesy Buttermilk Channel)

Sugar and Plumm
Candy store up front, upscale diner in the back, Sugar and Plumm on the Upper West Side is tailor-made toward tiny eaters. For the 12 and under set, you’ll find mini-waffles and eggs-in-a-basket at breakfast; mini corn dogs and a mac and cheese that rivals some of the city’s best served the rest of the day. “Big kids” are offered a Maine lobster roll and a waffle piled with pulled pork and a fried egg. Let them browse the bins of kaleidoscope gummy candies while you tuck into a cobb salad, mojo-sauced flat iron steak or impossibly tender root beer-braised short rib; then pick a sweet for yourself from the extensive menu of sundaes, floats and very grown up alcohol-spiked milkshakes. 377 Amsterdam Ave., 212-787-8778, sugarandplumm.com

Buttermilk Channel
Go for the fried chicken, stay for everything else. This popular Carroll Gardens eatery is known for its crunchy buttermilk-soaked fried chicken with cheddar waffles, but it’s not the only go-to on the menu. You’ll get just as much satisfaction from starters like a summer-friendly watermelon-radish-black olive salad and a bowl of steamed mussels with green chili, aioli and bread to mop up the sauces. Duck meatloaf and flap steak with chow chow (pickled relish) are reinventions of classic comfort food — in a good way. And kids aren’t forgotten here (as you’ll note by the many in the dining room around the 6 o’clock hour).  Children will be happy there’s fried chicken on the special three-course $10 kids menu, while parents will attempt to steer them away from a side of fries or noodles to carrots or broccoli (good luck with that). The clown face sundae included in the “happy meal” is likely best part. 542 Court St., Brooklyn, 718-852-8490, buttermilkchannelnyc.com

 

Allergy Friendly

Tanoreen (Photo: Courtesy Tanoreen)

A kid-friendly dish from Tanoreen (Photo: Courtesy Tanoreen)

Spring Street Natural
On one of the hippest corners of SoHo (it’s down the block from the ever-trendy Balthazar for goodness sakes) sits this airy health food spot; a popular neighborhood hang that’s open for three meals a day. A large menu means there’s something for everyone, and a staff that’s in tune with various dietary needs and restrictions makes dish adjustments no problem. But don’t expect boring, bland diet food. There’s big flavor in the grilled kimchi-lamb burger, which comes on a rich, eggy challah roll with goat cheese and spicy harissa aioli. International flair is all over the menu from the Tuscan kale salad to Malaysian grilled tofu. Crab cakes, edamame and a chicken cheeseburger are mini-me pleasers. Make sure to take advantage of the tables by the windows — a perfect place for people watching. 62 Spring St., 212-966-0290, springstreetnatural.com

Tanoreen
You may not think Middle Eastern when you’re looking for an allergy-friendly venue, but the cuisine is surprisingly dietary friendly at this Bay Ridge spot. At Tanoreen, the vegetable-forward menu is vegan-friendly and hospitable to the gluten averse as well. There’s baked eggplant layered with ground lamb, vegetables and almonds and super garlic-y shrimp. Standards dips such as baba ghanoush, hummus and labneh (a thick yogurt) are on the menu as are an addictive dish of Brussels sprouts with a “tahini-yogurt-pomegranate” sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs (you never know!). There are chicken fingers with French fries at the ready, too. And there’s a changing table in the bathroom. 7523 Third Ave., Brooklyn, 718-748-5600, tanoreen.com

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