You can’t always count on your kids being well behaved. Sometimes it’s best to plan for a worst-case scenario. So here are some restaurants that won’t kick you out when you try to explain where veal comes from and your kid starts screaming. All of these places are pretty casual, and they stay busy enough that your child can throw a fork at someone and you can plausibly shift the blame. Most importantly, however, they all serve food that your kid will consider edible. (For even more options, search our tag “Perfect For Screaming Children.”)
The Smith is great for a lot of things, and truly excellent for just about nothing. But that doesn’t matter - because it’s always somewhere you can go and have a perfectly good time. The food is solid (nothing mind-blowing), there’s room for your bags and strollers, and it stays noisy enough that your kid can shout the alphabet backwards if they want. All that, and there are four locations in Manhattan.
Bubby’s has two locations, but we’re partial to the original in Tribeca. It has more character. We also like how this is a family-friendly place that doesn’t feel lame. The food is also pretty solid. It isn’t anything fancy, but it’s perfect for both children and adults. They have burgers, mashed potatoes, mac n’ cheese, and also things like steak and salmon. They also do breakfast things at night. So stop by for dinner, or come during brunch. You’ll find a mix of families and hungover young people.
This place is sort of like a really nice food court with a full bar. Because of the bar, you can’t bring your kids here at night - but during the daytime, it’s a perfectly good spot to hang out. There’s plenty of room for strollers, and they have some big tables that are perfect for groups. There’s also little patio outside if your kid is looking a little pale. To eat, you can pick from a few different vendors serving stuff that both you and your kids will enjoy.
Calexico does California-style Mexican food, and you should probably emphasize this fact when you take your children here. You don’t want them to grow up thinking chipotle-glazed chicken wings are an authentic Mexican delicacy. Authenticity aside, this place is great. It’s inexpensive, your kids will at least be able to eat some rice and beans and maybe a quesadilla, and you can make noise here. Calexico is casual, and if some screaming goes down, no one’s really going to care.
You’ll see some kids here for sure. Edward’s is really just a nicer version of a diner, and it’s a good place in Tribeca to bring some children. There’s a lot of stuff on the menu, so everyone is bound to find something to eat here. Even if it’s just chicken fingers and some fruit. The Mexican food here is also surprisingly good, and they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Late-night, you’ll probably feel out of place here with your kids. It’s Bushwick, and people are going to be getting rowdy. Then again, you probably aren’t going out late at night with your kids. That wouldn’t be a very good precedent, and it could mess with some sleep cycles. So stop by for lunch or an early dinner. Roberta’s isn’t as busy then, but the pizza is just as good.
If you’re down in Battery Park showing your kids the Statue of Liberty (while lying about the ferry being broken), check out Parm. It’s fun, casual, and they have pasta. Kids eat pasta like someone told them it’s the only way they’re getting any bigger. Parm also has sandwiches and stuff like baked clams, so you should be happy too. Also, there’s plenty of room and some nice booths that you can grab for a little more privacy.
Threes is more of a bar than a restaurant, but it’s one where you can bring your kids. It’s big, nicely decorated, and if someone takes a picture of you and your kids here, it won’t look like you took them on a field trip to a dive bar. They also have food from The Meat Hook, including burgers, steak, and even a few salads. When night rolls around, you have to be 21+ to hang out here, but stop by on a weekend for a some daytime food and drinks. If it’s nice out, grab a table in the backyard.
Pizza, pasta, melted cheese, and chicken parm. La Villa serves the type of stuff that your children think of when someone says “Italian food.” It isn’t anything fancy, but they make a pretty good pizza, and you’ll definitely find something to feed your kids. Even if it’s just plain pasta with some cheese sprinkled on top. Also, you won’t be the only family there. So maybe some other kids will start shouting and make you look like a better parent.
photo credit: The Mermaid Inn
The Mermaid Inn
Come here for happy hour. It runs from 5-7pm daily, and they do dollar oysters and discounts on certain drinks. For parents, this is pretty ideal. We doubt your kids get super excited about dollar oysters, they can always have something like the mac & cheese. And you can have a $7 glass of wine. Maybe that’s why you see so many parents here.
If you’re in the East Village, where are you going to eat with your kids? Momofuku Ssam Bar? Probably not. Go to Luzzo’s. It’s easy, kids like it, and they even have a few TVs. This is just a neighborhood Italian place in the East Village, and you aren’t going to brag about eating here at the next PTA meeting, but you can get a perfectly good dinner here.
Five Napkin Burger
Yeah, you could go to Shake Shack, but who wants to wait in a Shake Shack line with kids? And don’t burgers seem healthier when you order them at a table? Five Napkin Burger isn’t the best burger spot in the city, but it’s very family friendly, and that counts for something. So if you’re tired and you don’t feel like making food, and you happen to be passing a Five Napkin location with your kids, consider it. They can order something off the kids menu, and you can stare blankly at a wall while you drink a milkshake. As far as the food goes, we wouldn’t suggest anything other than their burgers. But you probably already know not to order “tuna poké nachos.”
There’s plenty of room at Spritzenhaus. You can get a stroller in here, easy. And once you get inside, you can get your own picnic table (if it isn’t too busy). This is a nice indoor beer garden next to McCarren Park in Williamsburg, and it’s good choice if you need to drink a beer and your kids think sausage is an acceptable food.. That’s the main thing they serve here, but they do a bunch of different varieties. Spritzenhaus is especially nice in the summer when there’s outdoor seating and they open all the windows.