7 Favorite Family-Friendly Restaurants in NYC

New Yorkers are some of the most discerning diners in the world. Same goes for New York City kids. Check out these family-friendly restaurants on your next trip to the Big Apple.


Here are seven family-friendly restaurants for visitors looking for a more unique dining experience than the chain restaurants crowding every city block.

1. Café Lalo

It’s all about the ceiling fans at this adorable neighborhood café that was a Hollywood set for Meg Ryan and Tom Hank’s You’ve Got Mail. Most New Yorkers who hang here are big fans of the foamy cappuccino, the selection of over 100 gourmet desserts, and the sandwiches and salads. I was a huge fan of the whirling ceiling fans that cast a hypnotic spell over my son Alex while I satiated my sleep-deprived state with a latte and grown-up conversation. We lived across the street from Café Lalo and spent many mornings, afternoons and evenings there—beneath the ceiling fans.

201 West 83rd Street (between Amsterdam and Broadway), tel. 212-496-6031, Open Monday through Thursday 8 to 2 a.m.; Friday 8 to 4 a.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

2. Peanut Butter and Co.

Kids go nuts for the “Peanut Butter Cup” sandwich—freshly ground peanut butter that’s kissed with a layer of Nutella—at this whimsical SoHo spot. Extreme-sports type kids dig the “Heat Is On Sandwich,” spicy peanut butter and chilled chicken with a smidgen of pineapple jam. Yep, there are non-peanut butter items on the menu like tuna, turkey, grilled cheese (boooring). Bonus: benches out in front.

240 Sullivan Street, tel. 212-677-3995, Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

3. Mickey Mantle’s

A grand slam for baseball families (you know who you are!). Even if you’re not into sports, kids enjoy eating in this upbeat, noisy restaurant that rivals ESPN Zone as my son’s favorite place to eat in the city. Big screen TVs punctuate the multi-leveled dining room, as do displays of authentic autographed baseballs, bats and T-shirts (they’re for sale but pricey). Snag a booth and order off the Little League Menu for kids 12 years and younger (think chicken fingers, pasta and tomato sauce, burgers and waffle fries). Health-conscious adults can order off the low-carb, low-fat Spring Training menu.

42 Central Park South, tel. 212-688-7777, Open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

4. Bubby’s Pie Co.

There’s more to this Tribeca eatery than pie—although the pies are incredible. We happened upon it quite by accident while walking uptown from Ground Zero (about 10 blocks away). We were drawn to the hip family crowd who we expected to see enjoying pie but instead were devouring generous portions of meatloaf and fried chicken.

120 Hudson Street (at North Moore Street), tel. 212-219-0666, Open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday 8 to 12 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday dinner from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. There is also a limited menu available Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.

5. Balthazar

Francophiles, like myself, will adore this popular SoHo brasserie that is happily a great fit for kids, too, thanks to a high-decibel noise level and menu items like Nutella on a baguette for breakfast and—my son’s favorite—the pommes frites (french fries). The mood is Parisian—smoky mirrors and red leather banquettes adorn the enormous space. It’s also a favorite of celebrities, so if your kids grow antsy, tell them to star search.

80 Spring Street (between Crosby and Broadway), tel. 212-965-1785, Open for breakfast Monday through Friday 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 to 10 a.m.; brunch, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; lunch and late lunch Monday through Friday noon to 5 p.m.; and dinner, Monday through Thursday 5:45 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday 5:45 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

6. Café con Leche

Unassuming from the outside, but the menu keeps them coming back for an authentic taste of Cuban and Dominican food (think huevos rancheros, paella, beef empanadas and arroz con pollo). Hey, you’re in New York; see what the Melting Pot of the World has to offer. Kids love the fried plantains. A brunch menu features old standby items like pancakes and French toast.

424 Amsterdam Avenue (at West 80th St.), tel. 212-595-7000, Open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

7. Zoë

Settle into a booth at this fun-loving downtown restaurant and your kids will be a captive audience. A nice touch: Encourage your kids to check out the Chef’s Counter where Zoë’s culinary team explains the ins and outs of the cooking process in the open kitchen, complete with wood-burning oven, grill and rotisserie oven. The kid’s menu is edgy with items like Zoë’s famous crispy calamari and dipping sauce ($5.50) and the kid’s cocktail, the Pineapple Surprise.

90 Prince Street (between Broadway and Mercer streets), tel. 212-966-6722, Open for lunch Monday through Friday noon to 3 p.m., dinner, Tuesday through Thursday 6 to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11 p.m. and Sunday 5:30 to 10 p.m. Also open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Destinations: New York City

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Eat

User Comments

the photo caption is wrong that picture of bubby's is the one located in DUMBO, not the one in soho.

Correct Nabe Thanks JustRob. Yes, Peanut Butter and Co. is indeed in the Village and not SoHo. Sorry we missed that one during edits.

For the recod Peanut Butter and located in the heart of Grenwich Village, not SoHo

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