A list-in-progress, which will grow longer as Curious G grows more curious, of our favorite kid friendly places to eat that you would want to go to even without kids. Check back as we update every week. Scroll down and browse by neighborhood. Click on images for links.
Battery Park City
Parm, Battery Park City (also Nolita, Upper West Side)
My first memory of dining at the original Parm on Mulberry Street (pre Curious G) is a blur of wine and red sauce Italian classics followed by enormous slices of homemade ice cream cake. It was blurry and slurry; call it was one of those spontaneous nights that ended with sloppy dancing in a downstairs bar on Prince Street around the corner. Nonetheless, I still remember the standouts from that night’s meal and continue to share them with Curious G whenever we visit the Parm in Battery Park City, where the seating is plentiful and the chicken parm served with spicy rotini pasta hits the spot everytime. The Spumoni ice cream cake is a classic with Pistachio, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. Don’t be intimated by the size because it will be gone in 60 seconds after your first bite.
PJ Clarke's, Brookfield Place, Battery Park City (also Midtown East and Lincoln Square, Philadelphia and DC)
The PJ Clarke's Clarke burger is often touted as the best in the city. While it’s not my #1 favorite, it's pretty high on my list. The food always delivers on American classics, which also includes steak and seafood. The "on the Hudson" location in Battery Park City's Brookfield Place has a beautiful waterfront seating area outside that we love. Curious G has been coming here since she was a few months old and usually nibbles on the juvenile standards of mac and cheese and tater tots. I gladly partake in the mac and tots, and I always order a Clarke burger with Vermont Cheddar. The oysters are usually delicious, and on occasion, I’ll order a cobb salad as well.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Chinatown (also Nolita and Philadelphia)
Nom Wah Tea Parlor has been serving dim sum since 1920, and will continue to do so for another century so long as we continue to eat dim sum. Skip the crazy wait at Jing Fong, and all the other popular Chinatown spots and come here for all the classic dim sum dishes that are solidly delicious. My favorite is the fried shrimp in bean curd skin. Curious G loves the Chinese greens in oyster sauce, the Shanghainese soup dumplings, and the fried sesame balls with lotus paste. When we come here (usually as a group of 4-5 people) between 5pm and 6pm for an early dinner we never have to wait for a table. The new location in Nolita is on our list of places to check out.
Baz Bagels, Nolita
The chic tropical palm wallpaper and prime Nolita location, right on the cusp of some of our favorite shops, may have spurred my initial interest in Baz Bagels. However, the perfectly fried latkes, hand rolled bagels made with liquid malt, and the milkshakes really locked it down for us. The Pink Lady is unforgettable with a side of crispy golden latkes. We also love Le Grand Breakfast, which combines latkes, eggs, pancakes and bacon all on one plate. Our favorite part of the meal is the banana milkshake. It's served in a large traditional soda fountain glass topped with whipped cream, and is just paradise in a glass.
Pasquale Jones, Nolita
Pasquale Jones may be the location of that infamous Beyonce/Jay Z /Kimye/Alicia Keys/ Swizz Beats/ Diddy post VMA pizza party. But for Curious G and me, it has been a lovely spot in Nolita to have a light brunch or a pizza and pasta heavy supper. We love the white asparagus appetizer (trust me, it’s delicious), the pea shoot pizza, and the Martelli spaghetti. The space is cozy but comfortable, and the open kitchen adds to the homey feel.
Middle Eastern fast food
Contemporary Middle Eastern fast food in a very cheerful and trendy space brought to you by the by CHLOE founder and Eden Grinshpan of the Cooking Channel can now be found on Mulberry Street at Dez. We stopped in the week that it opened and it was already jam packed with people. The decor and space is similar to by Chloe, as is the counter service. The seating includes a few booths, some counter space, a communal table, and outdoor seating in front. The menu includes mezes, salads, bowls, pitas, breads, brunch on the weekend, desserts, and hot and cold beverages including beer and wine. Curious G and I shared the cauliflower falafel and the beet meze. The cauliflower is prepared to taste like a falafel complete with pita and all the trimmings, and it is delicious. The roasted cardamom yellow and red beets come in a bowl of beet hummus with jalapeno, pine nuts, lemon and olive oil, along with a big fluffy pita. We wolfed down our lunch as Ms. Grinshpan walked around and chatted with everyone. Fun lunch was had by all in the Dez. Photos snapped at Dez will be flooding your social media feeds, and new branches of Dez will be flooding the city as well.
Lower East Side
De Maria, Lower East Side
Everything about De Maria oozes with zen hipness. The muted dessert tones present throughout the dining room, the giant cactus in the bathroom, the beautiful alcoholic and non alcoholic cocktails, the namesake Walter De Maria, and the color coordinated photogenic dishes all incorporate to convey a sense of calming, healthful elegance. The food is truly delicious while never overly indulgent, and it is all artfully plated. The menu changes seasonally, and we can’t wait to try the new items. The warm banana bread and short rib with eggs have been mainstays that we love. Go on a lovely day and sit outside.
Pig and Khao, Lower East Side
Pig and Khao serves South East Asian dishes that are inspired by the chef's Filipino upbringing. You will want to order everything and share. Curious G and I love the sizzling sisig, whole dorade gtl style (garlic, turmeric, lemongrass), grilled pork jowl; all with coconut rice. The halo halo dessert is a refreshing feast for the eyes and the tastebuds; a perfect ending. The staff is super friendly and accommodating, and the soundtrack of classic hip hop favorites had us swaying in our seats.
Broken Coconut, NOHO
Salads/ Bowls/ Juice/ Smoothies
Broken Coconut is a cool spot to grab a salad or a healthy bowl. The name comes from the homemade vegan coconut yogurts offered with your choice of toppings that include fruits, nuts, chia seeds, and granola. If you get there at the right moment you can spread out in one of their spacious booths. If you don’t score a booth, chill out on the porch swing while sipping a blueberry lemongrass Kombucha or a ceremonial grade Matcha latte. Beautiful people watching included free with your beverage.
Rai Rai Ken, East Village
Before Rai Rai Ken expanded to a larger location, a few doors down from its original address, Curious G’s daddy and I used to hunch over steaming bowls of yeasty chewy ramen soaking in salty oil-tinged Shio or Shoyu broth with corn, tender pork and egg slices and other goodies (including pats of butter that we paid extra for) while seated on little stools at the counter. We would even queue for the opportunity to have this authentic Tokyo roadside experience because there were only about a dozen stools in the whole place; and because it was the best ramen in town at the time. My current favorite may be the curry ramen at Momosan, but Curious G loves Rai Rai Ken now that the new location offers comfortable and more abundant seating. I like the curry ramen, Shoyu ramen, and miso ramen. Curious G goes for the gyoza and Gommae (spinach cooked in homemade sesame sauce).
Narcissa, the Standard Hotel, East Village
Farm to Table/ American
Narcissa is another spot that Curious G frequented as a little baby because the garden dining area is so charming and the food is so fresh (ingredients are sourced from its own farm in Hudson Valley) and inventively riffed off of old favorites. We love the carrot fries with jalapeno tofu dip. Trust me, you will return to have them again. The grilled burger and lobster soft scramble are musts. Last year, Narcissa's John Fraser opened Narcbar, which is also located in the East Village Standard, and we plan to check it out this summer.
Tim Ho Wan, East Village
Tim Ho Wan was touted as the world’s only Michelin starred dim sum restaurant with the least expensive prices when it opened just over a year ago on East 10th street. People lined up around the block and waited for hours to get their hands on some “world famous” BBQ pork buns. The first time we tried to get a table we were told that the wait was over 5 hours, and they were not taking reservations. Nowadays you can call ahead if they are not too busy; so it’s hit or miss. Once you do get a table, order a few plates of the BBQ pork buns. They are divine. The bun is light and airy, subtly sweet with a delightfully crisp texture. The warm gooey BBQ pork filling is like a prize you get with each bite. Other than the sweets, the other dishes are not as memorable as the pork bun; but worth a try for the BBQ pork bun experience.
Rosemary’s Enoteca and Trattoria, Greenwich Village
Farm to Table/ Italian
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village; just a short walk from Washington Square Park and across the street from Jefferson Market Garden, this Italian restaurant is complete with its own rooftop farm. The food is worth several return visits, we never have to wait for a table, the atmosphere is bright and vivacious, and the seating is very comfortable for large groups that include children. The salads are inventive and, obviously, as fresh as it gets with ingredients sourced from their rooftop; yet I always default to Rosemary’s burger. It is my current favorite burger in NYC; beef, prosciutto, and guanciale combine to make the juiciest patty so savory and slightly sweet topped with “magic spice” ketchup and provolone. The crushed potatoes make the perfect crispy yet creamy accompaniment. Not to be overshadowed by the burger are the pastas. Curious G loves the Cavatelli, which is tossed with peas, mint, ricotta and parmiagiano.
Bubby’s, HighLine and Tribeca
Bubby’s is practically an NYC institution for comfort food. The original location in Tribeca has been around for almost 30 years, and the High Line location has had a thriving brunch, lunch, and dinner scene since it opened a few years ago. Its prime location and homey décor are a fun backdrop to the locally-sourced scrumptious spread, which includes my favorite buttermilk biscuits with butter and jam. These warm, fluffy, tender, flaky, buttery, pillowy bundles of deliciousness are what dreams are made of, and pair well with a side of buttermilk biscuits. Yes, I would eat a tray of these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I could. But seriously, they are great for dunking into a bowl of one of Bubby’s creamy homemade soups. Curious G likes to dig into a steaming stack of blueberry pancakes. The crispy chicken buttermilk biscuit sandwich is a must if you are craving something more savory. If you can score a table outside you’re golden; it's prime for people watching as they stroll past your table of goodies, drooling into their Jeffrey shopping bags.
Terroir High Line, Chelsea
Sandwiches/ Salads/ Beer and Wine
We eat and drink at Terroir High Line several times throughout the summer for a few good reasons. The picnic setting is fun for groups of friends, the water views are relaxing, the food and drinks are yummy, and the location is ideal whenever we are playing on and around the High Line. The menu offers a selection of snacks, salads, crostini, and salads, as well as an expertly curated list of wines and local beers on draft. I’m a big fan of the pulled pork Cuban sandwich with fries and a nice Pale Ale, while G favors the hot dog with fries. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll have a Riesling (or three). After we finish our meals here, we usually walk up to the covered passage where the High Line food vendors are concentrated and have gelato from
The Golden Hour Restaurant at the Highline Hotel, Chelsea
We have not been back to the High Line Hotel outdoor restaurant since it was called 180 Tenth Garden Restaurant and Curious G was a baby, but we will definitely return this year and check out the newly introduced concept, called The Golden Hour Restaurant. I still remember the refreshing frozen Negronis, the perfect summer vibes radiating through the warm outdoor air, and chatting with some friendly neighborhood parents seated at the table next to us. We felt like we were at a backyard party. This summer they will bring out more frozen Negronis, along with other signature cocktails, a raw bar, and other seasonal fare. The location, steps away from the High Line on 20th Street and 10th Avenue, is the perfect spot to chill in after gallery hopping in West Chelsea or just strolling around the High Line.
Union Square/ Flatiron/Nomad
TsuruTon Tan, Union Square (opening soon in Midtown West)
The original TsuruTon Tan opened in Japan in 1989, and the first US location now resides in the old Union Sqaure Cafe space. If you are craving a large steaming bowl of noodles, come here for their udon, which they make daily in house. If you make a reservation for a larger group you may find yourself seated in a booth housed in one of their cozy nooks. We've sat at the communal counter, which worked for us. I enjoy the curry udon with slow cooked beef tenderloin, and like the salmon and snow crab sushi roll (yes I sometimes order sushi at an udon restaurant). Curious G likes the shrimp dumpling appetizer and silken tofu.
Serra by Birreria, Eataly, Flatiron
Birreria was the original Eataly’s rooftop restaurant and microbrewery last summer; and it has been refreshed and renamed as Serra. The menu will feature rustic Italian dishes and the scenery will be similar. The atmosphere was sunny and festive, with access to picturesque views of both the Flatiron building and the Empire State building. While I do not ascribe to the summer time adage of rose all day, I did enjoy the frose here. This summer you can enjoy it in the form of a popsicle placed in a glass of sparkling wine. You really can’t go wrong with a cheese plate to share and some other little plates, which can all be found here .
Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, Flatiron
Shake Shacks can now be found all over the world, but that does not diminish the singularity of the original location in Madison Square Park. I love sitting at one of their metal tables, outside in the shadow of the Flatiron Building, and seeing how excited everyone is to be there. And everyone is always so excited. The last time we ate there we even had the chance to watch a cute celebri-pup wearing sunglasses slurp down a Pooch-ini (the ice cream they serve for dogs). The Shackburgers are probably my third favorite burger in the city and I could eat one or two at any given moment. I usually get a caramel shake or a concrete (think gourmet Blizzard or McFlurry made with rich custard) and fries to go with my burger. Curious G prefers the hot dog or a burger sans bun with a side of fries.
Sandwiches/ Bakery/ Coffee
Daily Provisions is not a real sit-down and enjoy a relaxing meal kind of place. It is, however, the home of the best bacon egg and cheese in town. The thick and tender Berkshire bacon kind of melts into the egg and creamy American cheese, and the roll tastes like a brioche and pretzel hybrid. Each bite is a mouthful of salty, chewy, creamy satisfaction. We also like the housemade potato chips with onion dip (and I don't even like onion dip). The Kouign Amman are binge-worthy but you have to arrive before 11 am to get them before they sell out. If I ever stray from the bacon egg and cheese, I will try the chicken milanese sandwich. The stools are not a bad seating option since everything can be consumed within about ten minutes, but you can bring your sandwiches to nearby Union Square Park or Madison Square Park for some al fresco dining. They also serve Joe Coffee, Salt and Straw ice cream, and a nice selection of wine and beer.
Tacombi, Flatiron (also Nolita, Empire State Building, and Montauk)
Come here for the tacos, stay for the jugos and colorful backdrop. We always feel like we’ve been transported to a tropical beach shack whenever we eat here, even in the dead of the NYC winter. I love the Baja crispy fish tacos and the esquites (Mexican corn served off the cob). Curious G loves the carnitas tacos and freshly pressed pineapple ginger juice. The ingredients are all sourced locally and ethically.
Don’t let the sophisticated décor deter you. Yes, Roman and Williams is the team behind the palette of natural oaks, elegant leathers, and custom-blown glass and copper accents set against the open and airy layout. Yes, Justin Smillie is the chef of Il Buco Alimentari fame that created the California-inspired cuisine. At the same time, your kids will enjoy spreading out in the spacious booths while enjoying their bucatini cacio e pepe or their spaghettini pomodoro. I really enjoy the little gem salad with avocado, ricotta salata, cucumbers and walnut vinaigrette, and feel somewhat transported to California while eating it. It’s just that fresh.
Central Park South
Palm Court, The Plaza Hotel, Central Park South
If you’re feeling fancy, take the kids to Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel. The glamorous ambience of the dining room, which was redone in 2014, is accented with four towering palm trees and other garden elements, with a lovely trellised oval bar as the centerpiece of the room. You may feel like a real tourist while you're there, but that’s part of the fun! Curious G thoroughly enjoyed her afternoon tea during our visit. We went a few days after Christmas, after our dear friends booked it a few weeks in advance. We do recommend making reservations for the afternoon tea service. The Children’s Eloise tea set includes three tiers of goodies (sandwiches, sweets, and scones), and tea and “quenchers” such as lemonade. Adults can choose between a New Yorker tea or a Champagne tea.
Bouchon Bakery Cafe, Time Warner Center, Central Park West
Bouchon Bakery is a good Thomas Keller segue towards Per Se for your kids. As ridiculous as that sounds, it may be taken quite literally since they are both located in the Time Warner Center. Kid friendly Landmarc and Turnstyle underground market are also good Time Warner Center options when you find yourself in that part of town (whether you've just been to Central Park or Gertrude Ederle Playground). But we love Bouchon Bakery's bright third floor location in the Time Warner building, especially when we are seated by the balcony and can look out the grand windows that open up to Columbus Circle. I always find myself ordering the quiche du jour. Curious G like the fruit salad and chicken noodle soup. At times we order the Croque Madame.
Tavern on the Green to go, Central Park
Tavern on the Green is an iconic landmark in Central Park where we have never dined. However, we have experienced Tavern on the Green to go, which is adjacent to the iconic landmark. After ordering from a menu featuring sandwiches, soups, salads, snacks, ice cream, beer and wine, you grab a table in the spacious outdoor patio and wait for them to call out your name so that you can pick up your order. Across the street from Sheep’s Meadow, and next to the Adventure Playground, the location of Tavern on the Green to go makes it the perfect spot to refuel after some serious playing. I usually get the grilled vegetable sandwich (that comes with free chips) and a beer. Curious G eats some of my sandwich and gets an ice cream cup.
La Pecora Bianca, Midtown East (and NoMad)
The elegant and trendy décor and spacious booths are what initially attracted us to La Pecora Bianca. The homemade pastas are what keep us coming back. I love the Papardelle with porcini, sofrito and lemon zest as well as the Bucatini cacio e pepe. Curious G usually gobbles down the gnudi with herbed ricotta, mint, peas and pickled ramps. The arancini and meatballs are must-try starters. The beautiful bar is a lovely backdrop for sipping an Aperrol Spritz, Negroni, or any one of their house wines.
Pink Moose, Midtown East
American Mediterranean Fusion
This cozy neighborhood spot serves classic comfort food tinged with Middle Eastern spice and bold flavors. The friendly staff make you feel like you're a guest in their own homes, and all of the dishes are made to order. The coffee is ground in house and they even make their own almond milk. I order either the Braise the Lord Bouef (succulent slow cooked short rib sandwich) or the lentil berry kale salad each time. Curious G loves their spaghetti and pizza, and usually eats some of whatever I order. The freshly baked chocolate chip cookies are a must.
Upper East Side
Anassa Taverna is located right across the street from the original Dylan’s Candy Bar and Bloomingdales. It’s fairly close to Central Park, as well, if you don’t mind the 10 minute walk. The bi-level space is open, airy, and modern with rustic Greek touches throughout the restaurant. Curious G has been coming here since she was about three months old. I like the food so much that I have brought many friends and family members who were visiting from out of town, and even out of country. Curious G and I love the Avgolemono, grilled saganaki, haloumi, and the Anassa chips (lightly fried zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki). I also love the octopus, the meatballs, grilled shrimp, the spreads, and the Greek salad. The Loup De Mer, which they prepare simply with olive oil, capers, and lemon is divine freshness served on a plate. It pairs perfectly with the horta, which is also prepared with olive oil and lemon.
Cool Mess, Upper East Side
Ice Cream/ Diner
We had dinner here on Curious G’s last birthday because this place lets you make your own ice cream! Each table is equipped with a hypnotic machine that churns and churns until ice cream appears. The three base flavors are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry sorbet. After adding in the base, you get to pick from over 20 toppings and sauces to mix in. We love a vanilla base with peanut butter sauce, marshmallows and strawberries. We have also tried vanilla with pound cake and strawberry sauce, which was just as heavenly. The food menu comes from Burger Heaven which is right downstairs. We usually share chicken fingers, soup, mozzarella sticks, and curly fries. You can also order milkshakes, sundaes, and some other goodies. There is a fun selfie backdrop in the back and the booths are equipped with giant ice cream cones to play with while you wait for your food. Watch out for the wall of candy as you enter and leave because you will want to save room for a cupcake from the Sprinkles cupcake ATM a couple of blocks away.
The East Pole Bar and Kitchen, Upper East Side
Farm to Table American
Curious G likes to brunch here but the dinner service would suit her just fine as well, as mommy and daddy even spent one New Year’s Eve dining here. A sister restaurant to Pizza Beach (another favorite not on this list), the concept is seasonal farm to table and its UES landmarked brownstone location provides a charming and cozy feel. I return over and over for the classic kale Caesar salad and bacon cheeseburger (with duck fat chips). Curious G keeps it classic brunch with the lemon ricotta waffle with berries. The booths are spacious and acomodating; an inviting space for Curious G to lay it down when that food coma hits.
Russ and Daughters, The Jewish Museum, Upper East Side
Bagels and Appetizing
Russ and Daughters is one of the original restaurants that serve “appetizing” (non delicatessen) Jewish food; and it continues to do so as one of the most famous places in NYC to have amazing bagels and lox. The original Lower East Side café has expanded to The Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side. After a fun day of exploring the museum and watching one of their boisterous kids’ concerts, we noshed on a Classic Board (smoked nova salmon and cream cheese on a bagel) and borscht for me; and a blintz with farmers cheese, fruit compote and sour cream for Curious G. This was all chased down with halvah ice cream topped with sesame and salted caramel sauce.
Upper West Side
Café Lalo, Upper West Side
Brunch/ Sandwiches/ Salads/ Dessert
If you need a place to eat after visiting the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, just cross the street and park yourself and the kids here at “the most famous café in NYC, featured in the hit movie You’ve Got Mail” (as highlighted on the website). This café has actually been around forever. It’s very charming and endearing; and greets its guests with a brightly lit showcase of desserts immediately upon entry. Once seated, you can bask in the ample light coming through the floor to ceiling French windows. My favorite thing to order is whichever omelet I’m in the mood for at the moment. Curious G likes the mac and cheese, and we go halfsies on the red bucket of fries. After our meal, we will usually peruse the desserts. Then I’ll make her order a chocolate covered strawberry just because its fruit, and I’ll get some raspberry and apricot rugelach.
Throughout NYC and Beyond
Moonstruck, Midtown East, Kip's Bay, East Village
Burger Heaven, Midtown East and Upper East Side
I rate diners based on whether or not they offer curly and/ or waffle fries (because I love them) and on whether they offer salads that can pass as a decent meal (IMO, this makes them seem like they care about high quality ingredients). We love Moonstruck Diner on East 58th Street, because their waffle fries inspire Curious G to create waffle fry ballads and they make great Cobb salads. The little pita wedges that come with the salads are also warm, soft and chewy, and spot on. Burger Heaven serves up great chicken fingers with a side of curly fries and I love their Burger Heaven salad (think fresh greens, grilled chicken, crispy bacon, cold cucumbers, and honey mustard dressing and, again, pita). Curious G eats just about everything on a diner menu and we usually wind up sharing. Burger Heavens are located throughout the city, but we love the one that’s attached to Cool Mess (also on this list) located on East 63rd Street for its proximity to Central Park and Bloomingdales.