Where to eat with children in New York
There are many restaurants in New York that cater for kids. What’s great is that there are a few things that actually make it a lot easier than in England. In New York, for example, it’s very common to only order a starter, or to ask for an extra plate and cutlery so you can share your meal. The pizzas, in particular, tend to be large enough to share. Another nice option is to take a boat tour with dinner buffet. This is a nice break, and the buffet system is ideal for children, as they can choose exactly what they like to eat!
Things to Consider
There are a few things to consider at some restaurants in New York: Making a reservation, for example, is often not possible. This means that it’s quite normal to have to wait outside before you can be seated. Maybe that’s not too much of a problem for you, but does your child still fancy a nice dinner after waiting half an hour or longer? Restaurant chains sometimes have chairs outside, but smaller restaurants do not. The only tip I can give to help prevent you from waiting, is to make sure that you are at the restaurant before the clock strikes six. This way you are ahead of the musical-visiting crowds, who, especially in Midtown, flood the restaurants from 6:00 p.m. onwards.
To indicate which restaurants are most suitable for children, I have listed them by age:
Babies and Toddlers
Being a parent, I would not hastily recommend going to fancy restaurants with a baby. Formal restaurants in Manhattan are small, cramped and often don’t have space for a pram. If baby is old enough to sit on your knee, or a highchair is available (which is rather unusual), it might be possible to arrange something. Bear in mind though, how you would feel when your child (of course this never usually happens) starts screaming hysterically. Also be aware that in this kind of restaurant, they almost never have space to change nappies. The bigger chain restaurants are definitely a better option, in that case. They are often spacious, have room to have your pram next to the table and make you and your kids feel welcome; with highchairs and children’s menus. Examples of these chains are Friday’s, Dallas BBQ, Applebee’s, Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
Primary Schoolers (between 5-11)
Children within this age group especially like eating out at places where there’s a fun experience involved. At Dave & Buster (42nd Street), they can go wild in the game zone. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (a Forrest Gump themed restaurant) on Times Square, is quite an experience in itself, particularly fun if the kids have seen the movie.
Teenagers (between 12-16)
This age group tend to be really happy with burgers and pizza for dinner! Luckily, there are an abundance of these in New York. Great places to eat with adolescents are, for example, 5 Napkin Burger, John’s Pizzeria and Lombardi’s Pizza. Does your child crave pizza again but you want more variaty? Try Carmine’s – an Italian family restaurant serving seafood platters, meat dishes and of course, Antipasto. Everything is made to share. This way, your youngster can explore new flavours they might not have discovered yet, without immediately leaving a whole plate untouched if they don’t like it.
Young Adults (16+)
Is your child a young adult already? Then it’s nice for them to experience one of the ‘fancier’ restaurants in town. However, contrary to what they might be accustomed to in England, in New York young adults (under 21) can’t go out, or even enter a bar without being accompanied by an adult (someone over 21). Supernova NYC on the first floor of the Novotel is a nice spot, with the view of Times Square and an option to eat outside. On Fridays events are organized on the roof. Other restaurants that could be a good option are steakhouse STK, The Stardard Grill and Robert NYC.