10 Family Friendly Restaurants in New York City

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Our family is fortunate enough to live just a short train, or car ride from Manhattan. We can be in “The City” in under 90 minutes any day of the year. We try to take advantage of this opportunity frequently and have explored so many great places (see this index, this collection of rainy day activities, and this collection of holiday activities). Of course, whenever we’re in The City, we stop for at least one meal. Over the years, we’ve found several restaurants we keep coming back to: good food, good prices, good ambience, and attentive staff. Here are places, as a family with children, we especially enjoy:

  1. Eataly, the mecca for Italian food lovers. The first U.S. store opened in the Flatiron District in New York in 2010 as a marketplace for Italian food and cooking  and now has over 40 locations throughout the world, including 8 US locations. Most complexes include pop up shops  and informal take out dining.
    Kids will love the more informal atmosphere of the eight “counters” or “pop up” shops throughout the complex.
    Locations: In Manhattan, there are two locations: in the Flatiron District and Downtown. Eataly Downtown is located inside the Westfield World Trade Center Mall, on the third floor of Tower 4. There are three restaurants inside the complex: La Pizza and La Pasta, which offers many varieties of pizza and pasta and is very family friendly; Vino E Grano, which has a larger menu; and Osteria Della Pace, Eataly’s more formal, upscale restaurant.
    Read our full post about Eataly here.
  1. Serendipity 3 is known for its amazing desserts, especially frozen hot chocolate, and eclectic decor on its two story restaurant, but guests can order from a full lunch and dinner menu. Serendipity 3 is open till midnight most nights-Definitely make a reservation ahead of time!
    Kids will love the frozen chocolate (everyone will!) and over a dozen different types of sundaes (that easily feed multiple people!). 
    Location: East 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue
    Nearby fun: United Nations tour and Spyscape 
  1. Grand Central Terminal is a commuter rail hub that spans 48 acres and  . The second busiest train station in North America, it opened in 1913; today there are 44 platforms and 67 tracks that service ¾ of a million people each day. There are 35 separate dining options within Grand Central Terminal, including a dining concourse, grab and go options, and full service restaurants.
    Kids will love cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, burgers from Shake Shack, and pizza from Prova Pizzabar;  See the full list and concourse map here
    Location: East 42nd Street
    Nearby fun: New York Public Library and Bryant Park
  1. Sarabeth’s began as a tiny bakery in the early 1980s and has since grown to four restaurants that serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Guests can also purchase some of the homemade jams and breads and snacks at each location. We strongly recommend making reservations, especially on the weekends. 
    Kids will love all the homemade jams and jellies that accompany most meals and breakfast favorites like pancakes, waffles, and french toast.
    Locations: There are four locations in Manhattan: Upper West Side, Central Park South, Park Avenue South, and Tribeca
    Nearby fun: Federal Hall National Memorial, National Museum of the American Indian and Fraunces Tavern Museum (Tribeca)
  1. Carmine’s serves the most massive plates of Italian favorites family style. The large, two story restaurant is a great spot for larger groups and celebrations and has a large bar with additional seating. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time and definitely share plates as portions are meant for two-three adults. 
    Kids will love Italian favorites like spaghetti and meatballs and cheesy garlic bread and the homemade desserts.
    Locations: West 44th in the heart of Times Square and Upper West Side on Broadway; in Washington DC, Atlantic City NJ, Las Vegas NV, and in the Bahamas.
    Nearby fun: Broadway Shows !
  1. Lillie’s Victorian is located in the heart of the theater district. The 40 person bar was imported from a 19th century mansion in Northern Ireland, and much of the antiques and wooden carvings are also from a 19th century Irish estate. The restaurant has both tables and antique banquet booths and is festively decorated for the holidays. The menu has a wide variety of options, extensive craft beer and wine menu, and high tea options.
    Kids will love the entire, reasonably priced kids menu and festive decor during the holiday season.
    Locations: Times Square (West 49th Street) and Union Square (Easy 17th Street) (closed on Mondays)
    Nearby fun: Museum of Illusions and Little Island (Union Square) and Spyscape (Times Square)
  1. Ellen’s Stardust Café is where many Broadway stars get notices- the wait staff are known for performing while they serve! The 50s-themed diner serves American classics. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snacks. Note: It does get very loud inside as the staff is singing throughout a meal. Reservations are not accepted, and there is often a wait, even first thing in the day.
    Kids will love the chance to chime in on a song and love the kids favorites on the menu.
    Location: Theater District on 51st Street and Broadway 
    Nearby fun: Broadway shows! And the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
  1. Fogo de Chao serves 13 different types of meat (steak, lamb, pork, and chicken) that way (albeit no fire pits in the ground!).  The name means “camp fire” or “ground fire” and it comes from the churrasco method of roasting meat which involves preparing an area in the ground for roasting the meat over an open fire. The meat is first prepared on skewers, then roasted over the fire, and then served directly from the skewers. The first restaurant opened in Brazil in 1979 and now the company has over 50 restaurants around the world, including over 40 restaurants in America, and over a dozen restaurants in Brazil, Mexico, and the Middle East. 
    Kids will love the Brazilian lemonade (get it!) and the wide variety of buffet fruits, vegetables, and charcuterie offered on the buffet table. Kids are also half price.
    Locations: The three story, flagship restaurant is located in midtown Manhattan and includes private dining spaces, two bars, an impressive wine collection, and a 17 foot sculpture of O Lacador, a nod to the historical monument in Brazil.  Other locations here.
    Read our post featuring Fogo de Chao here
  1. Eloise at the Plaza Hotel is a special boutique located within the iconic hotel. There used to be a full suite in the lower level of the hotel, but the hotel now features a pop up retail shop on the main level of the hotel, open Wednesday through Sunday. A special Eloise themed tea is available in the famous Palm Court seven days a week, and reservations are strongly encouraged.
    Kids will love getting dressed up, exploring the Eloise themed space and store, and reenacting their favorite book scenes. 
    Location: The Park Plaza Hotel is located in Midtown Manhattan at the southeastern corner of Central Park.
    Nearby fun: The Central Park Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Guggenheim Museum

10.  The American Girl Doll Store and Café is home to a square foot store that includes a massive shop with every AG item for sale, a book and film store, cafe, spa and salon for girls and dolls, doll doctor repair shop, and spaces for special events like holiday brunches and yoga. Currently the New York location offers a prefix menu that includes beverage and three courses for lunch or dinner (no breakfast option). Note that the cafe is usually closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Kids will love celebrating a birthday at the cafe (make a reservation well in advance and bring your doll!) and shopping (make an appointment for a personal shopper- it’s free and the shoppers are knowledgeable and helpful!)
Location: The Flagship store is located in the heart of Rockefeller Center
Nearby fun: Radio City Music Hall Backstage Tour, Rockefeller Center Tour and Top of the Rock

For family friendly activities in New York City, check out this index of posts. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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11 Comments

  1. I love frozen hot chocolate, and it looks like the one at Serendipity 3 does not disappoint. And that American Girl cafe is adorable!

  2. Such a lovely list of family friendly restaurants in New York! I love that kids get to make their own pasta in one of them. Is that Eataly?

  3. Sarabeth’s sounds yummy since I like pastries. But it looks like your kiddos enjoying themselves at every restaurants in the list. I think I must try Eataly near where I live.

  4. Amazing post! Let’s admit I would love to visit all of them, but the serendipity one where you can also cook sounds like so much fun! As always I cannot believe how cute your pictures are, they make me smile all the time. Thanks for sharing!

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