9 of the Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in NYC

September 10, 2018

Stop worrying about where to bring your kids to eat and place your reservation at the 9 best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC.

For some parents, the thought of going out to eat while on vacation is maddening. Add the hustle and bustle of New York City to the mix and you’ve just described every parent’s worst nightmare. Or have you?

While NYC is filled with internationally renowned, five-star restaurants, it is also home to numerous family-friendly establishments. The best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC are filled with whimsical decor and meals sure to put a smile on every kid’s face.

Photo Credit: American Girl / Facebook

American Girl Doll Cafe

If your child is an American Girl Doll fan, a stop at the world-renowned American Girl Doll Cafe is a must. The restaurant serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. Due to the popularity of the cafe, reservations are highly recommended.

Cafe menus boast everything from cinnamon buns to roasted cauliflower and broccoli salad. Don’t worry parents, the cafe also serves beer and wine during dinner service!

two children sitting on a pink bench eating ice cream outside of Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain in NYC, New York, USABrooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain

Modeled after the apothecary stores and soda fountains of the 1920s and on, Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain is a top spot for families visiting the city. Take a trip out of Manhattan (remember, there are five boroughs for you to explore) to sample their sugary beverages. It’s sure to be a highlight of your kid’s NYC trip!

Children love the hilarious names of the savory sundaes, milkshakes, ice cream, floats, and other sugary concoctions. But don’t worry parents, it’s not all dessert. Kids can also order baked mac n’ cheese, an assortment of sandwiches, and more.

Photo Credit: Ellen’s Stardust Diner / Facebook

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a Times Square staple. Home to the singing waitstaff, Ellen’s employs the next Broadway, Hollywood, and TV stars. The diner also serves up a wide assortment of classic diner food, from soup to salads, and sandwiches to entrees.

Children love the neon decor and talented waiters, making Ellen’s Stardust Diner among the best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC. The kids menu also includes tasty items such as spaghetti, mac n’ cheese sliders, and dino chicken nuggets (a classic.)

Photo Credit: The Meatball Shop / Facebook

The Meatball Shop

The Meatball Shop has several locations throughout New York City in neighborhoods including Williamsburg, Chelsea, the West Village, and Hell’s Kitchen. This family-friendly establishment is unlike any other restaurant you’ve ever been to. After all, meatballs are the main dish!

To order, kids start with their choice of meatball (classic, chicken, or veggie), then a sauce, followed by a side. They’re able to create their own meatball masterpiece! Adults are offered a wider selection of menu choices. Kids also love the variety of dessert items, from ice cream sandwiches to root beer floats. Come hungry!

Barking Dog Restaurant

While Barking Dog Restaurant is family-friendly, it’s also dog-friendly! This NYC restaurant serves up American style cuisine alongside cute dog decor and a friendly waitstaff. If your children love dogs, there’s no question about whether or not to eat at Barking Dog Restaurant. The answer is a solid yes.

The best part about Barking Dog (aside from the adorable dogs dining on the outdoor patio) is the expansive menu. Your family will have no problem finding something delicious to dine on! From breakfast to dinner, their menu is jam-packed with classic staples and innovative plates.

Photo Credit: Rob W. / Yelp

Jekyll and Hyde

When searching for the best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC, you’ll likely come across Jekyll and Hyde. This interactive restaurant is a notorious hotspot for visitors. However, a word of caution, only visit with older children or those who can handle the frights inside. Every ten minutes, something unusual or spooky happens inside the restaurant!

The restaurant offers live entertainment, spooky special effects, and a whopping 62 distinct dishes to choose from. Menu items range from “create your own” burgers to traditional fish and chips. For the parents, Jekyll and Hyde offers a full bar with creative cocktail concoctions, too.

close up of several types of cheesecake and coffee on a table at Junior's Cheesecake in NYC, New York, USAJunior’s

Everyone’s heard of Junior’s! Although known for their iconic cheesecake, this Brooklyn staple also serves breakfast all day long, along with a wide assortment of deli sandwiches and chef specialties. If you’re in Manhattan, visit their popular 45th Street location, but be prepared to wait. It’s a top destination for tourists and Broadway show-goers which creates a long line.

Kids enjoy going to Junior’s for the tasty desserts, classic diner environment, and expansive dinner menu. It’s also the perfect restaurant choice if you’re seeing a Broadway show in Shubert Alley.

Photo Credit: Big Daddy’s NYC / Instagram

Big Daddy’s Diner

Since 1969, Big Daddy’s Diner has been one of the best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC. With a 1980’s atmosphere, Big Daddy’s Diner serves up big and bold menu items, including burgers, mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, and more. Their menu has everything kids love to eat!

And, that’s all before the dessert! Big Daddy’s Diner is known for their over-the-top milkshakes and desserts. Just wait until you see the size of these things. Their shakes are covered in candies, whipped cream, and all the sugar a kid could ever want.

close up of macaroni and cheese skillet at S’MAC restaurant in NYC, New York, USAS’MAC

What’s every kid’s favorite meal? Macaroni and cheese, of course. S’MAC is located in the East Village and serves all sorts of mac n’ cheese meals. The restaurant can also cater to a variety of dietary restrictions with gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free meals.

Aside from loving the main dish, kids enjoy creating their own mac n’ cheese meal at S’MAC. They can choose the type of cheese, mix-ins, and more to create a mac n’ cheese masterpiece.

Reserve Your Table at the Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in NYC

A quick word of advice:

If your restaurant of choice allows reservations, make one. Many of these family-friendly restaurants are often crowded due to high demand. Call ahead for a guaranteed seat.

What’s your family’s favorite NYC restaurant? Share with everyone below!