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You’re heading to Manhattan, the “City That Never Sleeps.” Except you are traveling with children, so your trip may present some adjustments in how you enjoy a night on the town (and you’re really hoping for some sleep). While we can’t guarantee the kids will sleep, we can guarantee that you don’t have to just pop into the nearest Times Square-tourist-trap-chain restaurant thinking there are no other kid-friendly places to eat in the city. You can enjoy a nice meal, some ambience and some great food when traveling as a family in NYC. Hip, trendy restaurants are a dime a dozen in this city, and there are restaurants your kids will love at every turn, including these 11 great hotspots and timeless classics.
73 Gansevoort St., (212) 219-0666
Hours: Sunday–Thursday, 8am to 10pm, and until 11pm Friday and Saturday
Bubby’s welcomes children with open arms. The Tribeca location is the original, but if you’re taking a stroll along the 1.5-mile elevated High Line park and get hungry, you will find a second Bubby’s is within walking distance. (It’s also across the street from the Whitney Museum of American Art.) What began as a pie shop in 1990 now offers a full made-from-scratch menu that includes breakfast plates, pancakes and biscuits, along with burgers, soups, salads and options for even the finickiest tots. But, seriously, don’t miss the pies that include Meyer lemon meringue, Key lime, sour cherry, peanut butter chocolate, double-crust apple and banoffee (bananas, dulce de leche, espresso and whipped cream in a graham cracker crust).
2. Ellen’s Stardust Diner
1650 Broadway, (212) 956-5151
Hours: 7am to midnight daily
This whimsical spot may scream that it’s catering to tourists, but considering you are a tourist and you’re traveling with kids in tow, this is the place for you. With its Broadway location, servers — dressed in colorful bowling shirts and poodle skirts — sing show tunes and even dance on the edge of the traditional shiny red booth backs! A true diner, kids fare offers smaller portions and prices, which is a nice treat when you’ve spent a bit too much seeing the latest musical. It can get crowded, so take the kids during the day.
3. Jekyll & Hyde Club
91 7th Ave. S., (212) 989-7701
Hours: Sunday–Thursday, noon to midnight , and until 4am Friday and Saturday
If themed restaurants like the Stardust are your cup of tea when visiting Manhattan, add the Jekyll & Hyde Club to your list. Located in Greenwich Village, the restaurant offers a haunted and spooky experience meant for your older kids who like a good scare with their burgers. As the restaurant staff warns: something happens every 10 minutes and live entertainment with a full cast of characters is always a part of your meal, day or night. The menu is filled with American fare, pizza and pasta, so all ages will find something they like.
197 1st Ave., (212) 358-7912
Hours: Sunday–Thursday, 11am–11pm, until midnight Friday and Saturday
Kids love mac ‘n cheese, so how about an entire restaurant devoted to macaroni and cheese? S’MAC stands for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese, and it was Sarita Ekya who wanted to turn a side dish into full meals. You can build your own mac and cheese, select a sampler of different dishes or order off the menu with combinations such as Philly cheesesteak, the Parisienne with Brie, and La Mancha with manchego cheese. There are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options, with a full menu of allergens to ensure every dietary need is met.
5. Ninja New York
25 Hudson St., (212) 274-8500
Hours: Monday–Wednesday, 5:45pm–11pm, Friday and Saturday 4:45pm–11pm and 4:45pm–10pm Sunday
Still craving excitement with your New York dinner? How about descending into old Japan, where black-clad ninjas put on a show around your table? Sure, it may sound a little hokey, but the Japanese food is de-lish and the décor is actually pretty cool — you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled back in time to 15th-century Japan. You can select from multicourse meals or a la carte, with sushi, seafood and kids’ meals served by ninjas. Only in New York, right?
6. The Meatball Shop
Hours: Monday–Thursday, 11:30am–1am, until 2am Friday and Saturday, until midnight Sunday, and 11:30am–4pm for weekend brunch
First: Choose your ball. Next: Choose your sauce. Then: Pick a side. Voila! The meal of your — and any picky eater’s – choice. It’s not all meatballs at this shop: You’ll find veggie balls, salmon balls, Maine Lobster balls, risotto balls, crabcake balls, sandwiches and salads. Even brunch at this New York hotspot that has six locations features dishes like lobster balls eggs Benedict. Gluten-free and veggie options are available, as well. You’ll find the Meatball Shop in the Upper and Lower East Side, Chelsea, West Village, Williamsburg and Hell’s Kitchen, but don’t call this ball shop a chain; this is just true love for New Yorkers.
7. The Nugget Spot
230 East 14th St., (646) 422-7346
Hours: Sunday–Thursday 11:30am–10pm and 11:30am–2am on Friday and Saturday
We’re not trying to stereotype children’s palates too much, but if we’re going to put a meatball place on the list of the best NYC restaurants for kids, we probably also need a nugget spot. Here, six nuggets are $6.66 and 10 sell for $10.10. On the menu you’ll find “the reg,” meaning regular southern-style nuggets, buffalo nuggets, General Tso- inspired nuggets and even grilled “skinny nuggets.” The Cap’n Crunch-coated nuggets get exceptionally high marks from some TPG staffers.
On the “not nuggets” side of the menu, you’ll find broccoli, known here as “stinky trees,” fries, nacho mac and biscuits.
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519 Hudson St., (212) 633-1133
Hours: Sunday–Thursday, 10am–11pm, until midnight Friday and Saturday
Not all restaurants for kids have to be kitschy. Cowgirl, for example, is a funky bar and restaurant in the West Village that will serve moms and dads perfectly blended margaritas along with a Tex-Mex menu. Yet, the restaurant says “bring the kiddos” with its lunch and dinner children’s menu with many items around $7. Kids will find Frito pie, Granny’s grilled cheese and Fiesta quesadillas, along with a hot fudge sundae that looks like a baked potato! Basically, everybody wins.
9. Kellogg’s NYC
31 E. 17th St.
Hours: Monday–Friday, 2pm—6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am–10am
Why would you go to NYC and eat cereal and breakfast items? Well, where else will you find a space devoted to such things! Cereal lovers of all ages (admit it, you’ve been known to pour yourself a bowl for dinner) will want to pop into this cereal café created by Kellogg’s. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy the Coffee & Cereal Club, held daily with free cereal, toppings and milk for kids 12 and younger with a parent. The café features Ping-Pong, puzzles and games and invites families to “put down your phones and crack open a box of cereal.” Note: The restaurant ONLY takes credit cards, which shouldn’t be a problem for TPG readers.
10. Joe’s Pizza
7 Carmine St., (212) 366-1182
Hours: Sunday– Thursday 10am–4am and 10am–5am on Friday and Saturday
Oh boy — pizza in NYC is a touchy subject. Every New Yorker has their favorite (and will tell you if you are wrong about your own personal favorite). But, visiting kids are easier to please than hardened NYC natives, so you almost can’t go wrong grabbing a slice. One option in Greenwich Village is Joe’s Pizza, which is an NYC institution dating back to 1975.
There’s nothing showy or pretentious about Joe’s — just full pies or pizza by the slice. You’ll find other locations on 14th Street, on Broadway and in Brooklyn.
If you find yourself needing some pizza in Times Square on West 44th, you can try out John’s Pizzeria where all of the pizzas are made to order.
550 LaGuardia Pl., (646) 892-3600
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–9pm (open until 10pm Thurs–Sat)
Last, but probably not least, is DŌ located near NYU. If you have ever eaten (or wanted to eat) raw cookie dough, this place is a must visit in any NYC family adventure. Imagine flavors like cake batter with white chips, chocolate chips and sprinkles or sugar cookie with salted caramel, dark chocolate chips and sea salt. There are even vegan, Kosher and gluten-free items available.
It’s safe to eat this dough (or DŌ as it is) raw because the bakery uses a pasteurized egg product instead of a raw egg and a heat process that kills potential bacteria in the flour. So, you can cook this dough and make real cookies, but you totally don’t have to.
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Don’t be afraid to dine out in the New York City with young kids. Sure there’s also old standby options like Chick-fil-A, and don’t kick yourself if your kids need a familiar meal mixed into some of the NYC-only treats. But on the other side of the coin, don’t go to NYC with your family and feel like you are relegated to just fast food chains and pizza slices. Even the trendiest restaurants may welcome you with smiles and a high chair if you dine early enough.
When eating out in NYC with kids, also don’t forget to use credit cards that will give you bonus points for dining out in US restaurants, such as the American Express® Gold Card (4x points), Citi Prestige Card (5x), Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (7x points) and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (4% cash back).
Headed to NYC? Here are some other resources you may find useful:
- Best Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows in NYC for Kids
- Tips for Navigating New York City With Kids
- Enjoy New York City With the Family — Without the Tourist Traps
- Affordable Activities for Families Visiting New York City
- 5 Family-Friendly Hotels in New York City Where You Can Use Points
- Your Points and Miles Guide to New York City
Featured image by Laura Colom / EyeEm / Getty Images
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