By JENNA JARDINE Dining in the city with kids can be daunting. No matter if you’re a family of tourists, exhausted after a long day of sightseeing, or a family of New Yorkers, trying to break out of your normal routine, it can be tough to find a place with something for everyone. Long waits, less than kid-friendly environments, and complicated cuisines can make what should be a fun family experience, anything but. Still, even for foodie parents, there are plenty of kid-friendly and unique options out there, you just have to know where to look. From kitschy, themed restaurants to quirky places inspired by old New York, the city offers lots of ways to keep the kiddos happy and enjoy a wonderful meal.
NYC has an extensive array of theme restaurants to immerse your family in worlds they’ve only seen on the big screen or read about in history books. Enter the wizarding world of Harry Potter at the new Brooklyn-based Pasta Wiz, where muggles can enjoy a potter-esque atmosphere complete with floating candles and a sorting hat. Dishes at this real-world Three Broomsticks are affordable and versatile, with spaghetti, fettuccine, and fusilli options falling between $9 and $14. Have no fear picky-eaters, you can build your own pasta dish with up to four free toppings. With a promise of only a five-minute wait after ordering, the plates fill almost as quickly and easily as the ones in Hogwart’s Great Hall.
Get lost in Wonderland and snag a seat at the Mad Hatter’s tea party at Alice’s Tea Cup. With three locations, or ‘chapters’ across the city it’s an excellent place for an NYC brunch catered to children. Scones, crepes, and omelets oh my! Whether you prefer Wonderland Waffles, White Rabbit Dark Chocolate Mousse, or a Queen of Hearts Lemon Tart, plan to spend around $20 a person for a complete brunch experience.
If you’re up for a splurge, Tribeca offers a ancient village complete with wooden bridges and lanterns at Ninja. You can fill-up with three to five course meal options in the $40 to $70 range, while a la carte dishes average $20 and $40 a plate. This can seem steep, but keep in mind you are paying for the experience. Ideal for lovers of adrenaline and the Ninja Turtles, this restaurant comes with at least one genuine fright when masked martial-artists jump out and yell ‘ninja’ at you. Even the after-dinner entertainment brings genuine amazement in the form of Ninja magicians.
Good ol’ Days
Bring the kids back to the time of penny candy, soda jerks, and the American diner with these trips down memory lane. Hop in the time machine and take a seat at the ice cream counter of the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain for an afternoon straight out of the 50’s. Their root beer floats, decadent sundaes, and classic egg creams, are the perfect treat to complete an authentically New York experience. You can keep the bill under $10 a person with various flavors of egg creams and ice cream sandwiches, while sundaes barely break into the double digits.
If you’re more in the mood for a burger, find your way to The Burger Garage. This auto-shop turned restaurant plays well to the car enthusiasts out there. Meant to be reminiscent of the 1960’s era of family road trips, the burger joint boasts modern menu options, including choice beef and gluten-free entrees. A lone signature burger, like the B.G. burger, or hot dog, like the Roadster, sit in the $5 to $8 range. Combos, like the Full Tank, Tune Up or Spark Plug, are also offered for $9 to $12. Beware though, this joint may make you feel ashamed for parking your Toyota outside, as it is the type of place which is ideally reached via a ‘62 Cadillac Coupe Deville.
Embrace all the talent New York has to offer with a dining experience fit for the stage. If you can muster the courage to brave the crowds, there is no place like Times Square to take in the exclusive experiences only NYC can provide. No time or money to see a Broadway show? No problem! Ellen’s Stardust Diner can provide both dinner and a show. Enjoy a Hot Diggity Dog or a Be Bop A Lula Burger for $15 to $30 a person. With the 50’s diner feel, complete with poodle skirts, and their singing waitstaff, many of whom are Broadway actors, this famed NYC restaurant is sure to keep the whole family entertained.
A classic for the music loving families out there is the Hard Rock Cafe. Complete with memorabilia from the days of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, it is the perfect way to educate your children on the golden age of rock music. Dive into the Twisted Mac or Cowboy Ribeye entrees for $12 to $30. A diverse kid’s menu and loud, rockin’ beats are sure to get everyone dancing. You can also bring the family to the movies at Planet Hollywood. This Time Square salon offers up an iconic film saturated environment with a kid-friendly, American food menu. You can get anything from individual pizzas to classic cheeseburgers for $15 to $30. No need for the electronics at this joint, or any of those above for that matter, as the hodgepodge of memorabilia is sure to keep dinner conversation going.