The Best Restaurants To Eat With Babies (Where You Won't Get Any Side-Eye)
The London spots where crying, cooing, and catatonic snoozing are accepted by servers and diners alike.
The tricky thing about babies is that unlike investment bankers and six year-olds who have discovered screen time, they’re hard to bribe. You can’t say “please just let me finish my tagliolini” to someone whose vocabulary consists of ‘bah’, ‘ee’, and what can only be interpreted as ‘I am hungry’ in whale song. That’s why you need a restaurant that knows that the tiny human present is undoubtedly the main character here. Places where crying, cooing, and catatonic snoozing are entirely accepted by servers and diners alike. These are those restaurants.
All of the spots on this guide have changing facilities available.
The Clarence Tavern
Pubs aren’t always great for children, but The Clarence Tavern is. Almost nothing about this Stoke Newington pub isn’t welcoming or nourishing, and it’s the kind of place everyone can relax—whether you’ve got an iPad at the ready or not. The menu changes regularly but there’s stuff for littles one (very good-looking homemade fish fingers and the like) that bigger people at the table may eye enviously if it wasn’t for the dauphinoise potatoes in front of them. There’s a heated terrace as well, or inside has plenty of room for buggies.
Lina Stores King's Cross
We have taken small humans to Lina Stores in King’s Cross and it was an absolute success. The legacy of our visit probably remains in crayon on the mint green booth in the corner, an exceptional piece of artwork we’re calling Dead Pigeon I Saw In The Canal. Even this moving artistic display didn’t cause a single server to bat an eye as they offered more crayons and suggested the orecchiette con salsiccia d’agnello for the grown-ups. The restaurant itself is a retro pastel daydream and you’ll usually see a couple of buggies parked by the adjoining deli. Plus, thanks to its location it’s still got a decent buzz even if you’re heading here for an early dinner.
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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Overlooking Kingsland Basin, Toconoco is a little waterside oasis a short stroll from Dalston. The pushchairs by the door and soft toys on the counter of the bright and breezy Japanese cafe indicate that small people are very much welcomed guests. In fact, while half the space is canteen-like with bowls of bouncy udon and plates of satisfying mackerel onigiri on tables, half is set up as a kids’ play area. If miracles occur and the baby falls asleep (OK, that’s a big if when there’s a whole lot of sensory play on offer), head to the small, covered alfresco terrace for a more peaceful coffee and slice of nutty black sesame cheesecake.
Where The Pancakes Are
In the battle of crying child vs pancakes, a three-stacker wins every time. With enough room to comfortably bring a pushchair in, a couple of high chairs available, and a children’s menu that includes enough pancake topping options that it could double as a bedtime story come 6pm (is that when babies sleep?), this all-day London Bridge restaurant might be your new favourite spot. And if the only way your mate’s picky two year-old—sorry, 24 month-old—will eat asparagus is if it’s sandwiched between some fluffy pancakes, then this is the perfect place for that too.
One way to avoid any potential family dramas is to sit everyone at a table and stick a load of pizza in front of them. That is a simple fact of life. Theo’s should be one of your first ports of call given its super laid-back and super friendly approach to everything. The original location in Camberwell is our favourite but, for practicality’s sake, the Elephant & Castle spot might work better. It’s big and full of booths to stuff everyone in, and they still have the same excellent lunchtime panuozzo deals on (as well as a full drinks list, FYI.)
Child in one arm, dog in the other. If you have the look of someone who’s watched a small human try to snort a Petit Filous in the hopes of a sugar high, that’s because you have. You glance into Bellanger, all glossy wood and gold detail. No? Yes, the answer is yes. Bellanger is a lovely French brasserie in Islington that’s for everyone, eau de filous included. It’s all about classics like schnitzel or salmon and eggs here, and, really, it’s an ideal place to take your kids. Especially if you ask for a booth.
Din Tai Fung
When you’re navigating life with a twin pushchair, spatial awareness has a whole new meaning. The bigger the space the better, and Din Tai Fung—a Taiwanese dumpling spot in Covent Garden—is huge. We’re talking two floors and 250 covers, kind of huge. Everything happens quite quickly here, from the ordering to the bamboo steamers filled with xiaolongbao arriving at your table, and the bill arriving shortly after you’ve polished off the last of the dan dan noodles. And the good news is that it’s loud enough that you won’t have to worry about telling the kids to keep it down, there are high chairs available on request, and did we mention how spacious it is?
Apple Butter Cafe
This little Monmouth Street cafe has a special place in our hearts. Not because the food is going to blow you away, but because it’s so reliable. Need a lunch spot you don’t have to book in advance? Sorted. Need somewhere quiet for an intimate catch-up in Covent Garden? This is the place. And that also counts when you add a mini human to the equation. It’s a spacious spot, which means you won’t feel awkward about rocking up with a pushchair, and it’s always relatively quiet on weekdays which makes it a useful place to have in your backpocket. You’ll find solid versions of things like shakshuka and an aubergine and tomato pasta. Come for the convenience, and stay for the velvet sofas, relaxing environment, and tasty food.
The dynamic nature of parenthood means that one minute you’re learning about the laws of physics via a tiny solemn shit in the bath, and the next you need to find a restaurant for dinner with your mate who still wears matching socks. Enter Hide. This huge perfectionist of a restaurant opposite Green Park doesn’t look like somewhere that’s perfect for babies, but with its tiny stools for handbags and slick service, Hide makes sure everyone has an exceptional time. Including small humans who like to test their lung capacity when you’re three bites into London’s most exquisite french toast. Book for the more casual ground floor area and know that it’s an all-day situation, so your sophisticated catch-up can also accommodate a nap schedule.