A family outing into New York City is enough of a logistical challenge — getting there, finding parking, maneuvering the crowded streets — without worrying about where to eat. While the city abounds in restaurants, here are 10 that will keep the kids happy and satisfy their parents, too. Some of them even justify a special trip in their own right.
BLUE SMOKE, 116 E. 27th St., 212-447-7733;
255 Vesey St., 212-889-2005, bluesmoke.com
With two high-energy Manhattan locations, this Danny Meyer joint boasts some of the best barbecue in the city — fried chicken, pulled pork, spare ribs — with sides such as brown butter sweet potato mash. The kids’ menu (10 and younger) includes a main course (smoked chicken, mac and cheese, ribs or grilled cheese), a side, a drink and a dessert ($14). What’s more, kids get a cookie to decorate.
SERENDIPITY 3, 225 E. 60th St., 212-838-3531, serendipity3.com
Since 1954, this iconic Upper East Side townhouse restaurant has been an institution for families in search of fun in the form of over-the-top sundaes and frozen hot chocolate. The latter is a thick, rich, mudslide of chocolate that’s ideal for sharing with a family of five (or maybe not at all). The menu also includes a selection of soups, salads, pastas, crepes, burgers and sandwiches. But just this once, let them eat dessert for dinner.
THE MEATBALL SHOP
THE MEATBALL SHOP, Five locations in Manhattan (plus one in Brooklyn), themeatballshop.com
What kid could resist a place called The Meatball Shop? Meatballs come in beef, pork, chicken or veggie and can be ordered with sauce, in heroes, atop pasta or with sides such as white beans or steamed spinach. Check off your menu choices with dry erase crayons, hand the order to your server, and wait for your meatballs. Save room for dessert: two-handed ice cream sandwiches are customizable, made with your favorite cookie (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, brownie nut and snickerdoodle) and ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, espresso, brown sugar).
JOE’S SHANGHAI, 4 W. 56th St., 212-333-3868;
9 Pell St., 212-233-8888, joeshanghairestaurants.com
New York offers no shortage of Chinese dumpling houses, but Joe’s Shanghai, with two Manhattan locations (plus one in Flushing, Queens), is the classic destination for soup dumplings, those plump, pinched purses filled with broth and meat. A meal at Joe’s is theater for kids: watching the bamboo baskets being shepherded from kitchen to table, letting the steam float up and away, biting off a little piece of dough, noisily slurping down the soup (warn them to watch out, it’s hot), devouring the dumpling and its meat. There will be mess. Possibly a burnt tongue. But that’s part of the experience.
BUBBY’S, 120 Hudson St., 212-219-0666;
73 Gansevoort St., 212-206-6200, bubbys.com
Take the line of strollers outside as your first clue that Bubby’s is one of the most family-friendly restaurants in the city, with locations in Tribeca and the Meatpacking District. Kids are treated like royalty, with coloring placemats, toys and books. Morning, noon or night, the kitchen offers a comfort-food menu of fluffy buttermilk biscuits, pancakes, bacon and eggs, burgers, steak frites, barbecued chicken and ribs — plus homemade double-deep fruit pies. Before you leave, skip the selfie and step into the old-fashioned photo booth.
SUGAR AND PLUMM
SUGAR AND PLUMM, 377 Amsterdam Ave., 212-787-8778, sugarandplumm.com
This Upper West Side bistro — self-proclaimed “Purveyors of Yum” — is part restaurant, part ice cream parlor and part chocolate shop. The all-day menu includes four kinds of eggs Benedict, bacon-egg-and-cheese waffles and savory crepes, along with a selection of burgers, panini, salads and entrees. Desserts lean toward the more-is-more school of thought and include ice cream-stuffed crepes, towering sundaes, thick milkshakes crowned with cotton candy, homemade cakes and cookies, as well as family-style sundaes that feed up to eight people.
BUTTERMILK CHANNEL, 524 Court St., 718-852-
Doug Crowell’s Buttermilk Channel has been packed ever since the Brooklyn restaurant opened its doors in 2008. That’s in part due to Crowell’s gracious hospitality, but also thanks to chef Ryan Angulo’s menu, with signatures such as green goddess salad with avocado and bacon, fried chicken with Cheddar waffles and a burger smothered in New York State Cheddar, with grilled onions, dill pickles and fries. Kids get crayons, temporary cow tattoos and a menu of their own that includes a clown sundae — a scoop of ice cream with a cone hat.
THISTLE HILL TAVERN
THISTLE HILL TAVERN, 441 Seventh Ave., 347-599-1262, thistlehillbrooklyn.com
Owned by former “Top Chef” contestant Dale Talde and two New York City restaurant veterans, Thistle Hill Tavern is one of Park Slope’s favorite family restaurants. Kids and their parents crowd in on weekends for brunch, where little ones can choose from mac-and-cheese, buttered noodles, a big pancake with syrup, traditional scrambled eggs and toast, or burgers and fries. Parents are fond of their Bloody Marys and brunch choices such as Taylor Ham sandwiches with fried eggs, Cheddar cheese and spicy ketchup; or plates of bacon, ricotta-herb pancakes and sunny-side-up eggs.
ASTOR BAKE SHOP
ASTOR BAKE SHOP, 12-23 Astoria Blvd., 718-606-8439, astor-bakeshop.com
After nearly 20 years of working in some of New York’s most esteemed restaurants (Café Boulud, Tribeca Nobu, etc.), pastry chef George McKirdy decided to switch gears and open a family-friendly, all-day café and bakery, serving everything from morning pastries to afternoon cupcakes and cookies. His cozy corner restaurant in Queens also includes a full savory menu with a burger made from a custom blend and topped with a custom sauce made from dried ancho, chipotle and piquilla peppers, fresh garlic, onions, tomato and mayonnaise. Outstanding.
EDDIE’S SWEET SHOP
EDDIE’S SWEET SHOP, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, 718-520-8514, facebook.com/EddiesSweetShop
Step inside Eddie’s, with its cherry-red swivel seats at the marble counter, and its handsome polished wood banquettes, and you’ll take a trip back in time to the days of old soda fountains. Eddie’s has been serving oversized ice cream sundaes, malteds, shakes and egg creams for more than a century in Forest Hills, and while the millennials in Brooklyn just discovered doing everything by hand, the folks at Eddie’s never stopped. All their ice cream and sorbet is made in house, along with their famous whipped cream, churned by hand and stored in wide, stainless-steel bowls in vintage ice boxes behind the bar. Sundaes come in fluted glasses, and every one gets a cherry on top.