Where To Have A Family Dinner In NYC
A guide to the best places to eat with your children, parents, siblings, granddogs, and the like.
Do you need to plan a meal for some relatives who still make fun of you for having severe pink eye at high school graduation? The guide below is here to alleviate the stress of finding a perfect place to bring your immediate or extended family. These spots have spacious dining areas, some of which we'd describe as “truly stunning," the way our aunt often does. Many of them serve food starting at $20 per person, and there are options for Sharing Families and Anti-Sharing Families alike. Unfortunately, we can’t promise that there won't be any quarrels or passive-aggressive comments about “that shirt you chose.” It wouldn’t be a family dinner without them.
Here’s a great way to avoid any lingering family tension that might surface when you're all at the same table: Bring everyone to Hometown's barn-like space in Red Hook, and distract them with the best BBQ in the city. If anyone isn't into brisket and beef ribs, there are other options like a veggie bánh mì and smoked mushroom tacos. This place would get statewide praise even if it was located in Central Texas.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Mama Fina's House Of Sisig
Mama Fina’s is officially named Mama Fina’s House of Sisig. And that’s probably because the sisig here is what you should prioritize. The pork version is our favorite, but we like the chicken and milkfish options as well. The setup here is casual: You order at a counter and then go sit in a dining room that looks like a place where knights would eat during the medieval period. At least no one in your family is dragging everyone out to do this.
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Sami's Kabab House
This Afghan restaurant in Astoria pulls you in from the street with the smell of spices and grilled meat. Traditional Afghan decorations drape the walls and always make us feel like we’re eating in a friendly stranger's dining room. The portions here are big (perfect for sharing), and the staff will probably treat you better than your siblings do. Get at least one plate of mixed kababs over a bed of seasoned rice, and don’t forget to ask for plenty of white and green sauces for the table.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
If you go to Chama Mama alone, it’s going to take some serious willpower to stop yourself from totally filling up on the flaky, cheesy khachapuri. While we fully condone that, bringing a group (such as people who you may or may not have shared a bathtub with as a toddler) to this Georgian spot in Chelsea will allow you to save enough room for a few plates of fist-sized Georgian dumplings as well. There's plenty of space here, and there's another location on the Upper West Side.
Masti Indian Grill
Masti has “Chatt Bar” in the name, but really it’s a semi-casual sit-down restaurant in Williamsburg where you can share chaat as appetizers with your family (as opposed to devouring a styrofoam bowl of chole by yourself). Our favorite street snack on the menu is the pao bhaji, which requires you to spoon the onion-masala vegetable gravy into a butter roll before eating everything sloppy-joe style with your hands.
photo credit: David A. Lee
Going to Urubamba, a Peruvian spot in Jackson Heights, with only one other person is like going to Easter Island and not seeing the giant heads. You’ll still have a good time, but you’ll miss out on the bulk of the experience. That’s because the very long menu at this all-day spot—which looks like a bed and breakfast in the Andes—is mostly made up of large plates meant to be shared. There's a semi-decent chance your parents will be incepted with the idea of a family trip to Machu Picchu while here, so be ready the change the subject when that comes up.
Peking Duck House
There are two things you need to know about Peking Duck House. You can probably guess the first: This place serves really good Peking duck. The long menu has lots of other options (like dim sum and mala chicken), but you come here for the juicy, crispy duck that’s carved tableside. The second thing to know about this Chinatown spot is that it’s BYOB. This policy will be helpful when your aunt gets into her diatribe about "what's wrong with society."
A true classic. The East Harlem location of Patsy’s Pizzeria is the original, and it's been in the same location since 1933 when Pasquale “Patsy” himself first opened the doors. You don’t need to have a much-longer-than-it-needs-to-be discussion with your family about what toppings to get. Just order some plain pies. Those are why you come here.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
This Palestinian restaurant in Brooklyn Heights is from the same people who run Ayat, but it's a bit more formal than its counter-service sibling. Also, it's BYOB. We suggest ordering the ouzi lamb on a potpourri-like pile of rice, almonds, and peas as well as the bamia with pleasantly bitter okra. There may be no other place on this list that epitomizes family-style dining more than Albadawi. (The portions are absolutely massive.)
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
BCD Tofu House
This is a Korean mini-chain with a few locations in California, and their location on 32nd Street is open until at least midnight every day of the week. So if you have a karaoke-loving family (lucky you), come to this place for a dinner and singing doubleheader. If you couldn’t tell from the name, you should be ordering the tofu stews, which come with items like pork, shrimp, sausage, and cheese.
Kailash Parbat is where you go when you’ve got picky eaters in your family but you still have to invite them because they'd eventually find out that you had dinner without them. The extensive menu has food from almost every region of India—including a few dishes beloved by the diaspora in Singapore—and they do them all very well. You’ll find homestyle dishes like Sindhi curry and paneer bhurji, as well as chole bhatura that fulfills all of our fried bread fantasies.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Are you really thinking of bringing your family to The Smith again? Try Upland instead. The menu here is similar in spirt to what you'd find at The Smith, but with a few more Italian-leaning options. Even if you have a bunch of picky eaters in your family, the pasta-burger-salad-dominant menu is large enough for everyone to find something that they’re at least mildly excited about. The space also looks like Martha Stewart's doomsday bunker (in a good way), and there are plenty of spacious booths.
Park Slope has a limitless number of family-friendly restaurants, including this Jamaican spot on 5th Avenue with a big outdoor dining area and delicious oxtails. Start with some egg rolls stuffed with salt fish, then make sure at least one person gets collards on their plate. The collards are finely chopped and screaming with scotch bonnet spice. As a rule of thumb, we encourage our relatives to order rum cocktails when we’re all together. This approach stands at Negril.
Ayada in Elmhurst is one of our favorite Thai restaurants in the city. You can usually call and get a last-minute reservation for a spot at a big table in their two-room space—and we slightly prefer the room on the right hand side. Once you get here, focus on the seafood, like the raw shrimp, crispy catfish salad, and whole fried fish. The panang curry with duck is also outstanding, and this place serves some of the best drunken noodles in the city. It’s hard to pick favorites, so order a whole table’s worth of noodles, seafood, and soups, and split them all.
Broadway! Is! Back! Or at least that’s what your uncle has been texting the group chat for months. If you, said uncle, and a few genetically-similar people are meeting somewhere near Times Square, head to Joe Allen before or after dinner. This is the sort of old-school theater haunt that hangs up copies of the day’s newspapers by the bar for anyone’s reading pleasure. Get a couple of caesar salads for the table, as well as a nicely-cooked, thick-patty burger covered in cheddar. (And grab a round of cold vodka martinis too.) There’s a chance you’ll be seated next to a Broadway lead, Jimmy Fallon, or someone who is talking sh*t about Jimmy Fallon—and your family will probably be delighted by this.
The Queensboro Restaurant
The Queensboro doesn’t have a motto, but if it did, it would be something like: “Salad and chicken? We’ve got that.” This Jackson Heights spot serves pizza, pasta, and vegetable sides, as well as some entrees like steak and a burger. Thrilling? Not so much. Useful? Very. As an added bonus, the big space has potted plants and leather booths. Try this spot for brunch, when there will most likely be a ton of babies running around, so no one will hear you and your family fighting about the quality of the CBS show The Good Wife.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Your family’s visiting from out of town, and you need a spot that’s accessible from both your sister’s hotel on Canal Street and your cousin’s hotel in Midtown. Ideally, it would also have a long menu with plenty of options and a noisy enough atmosphere so you won’t have to apologize to nearby tables once your cousins move onto their second martinis. Head to Kyma, a big Greek restaurant near Union Square that serves some very good seafood and has a bunch of round tables that work for groups of six to eight people. We’d recommend making a reservation ahead of time, since it can get crowded.
This Brazilian spot in Carroll Gardens opened literally one day before the citywide shutdown in spring 2020, so it’s possible your family hasn’t been here yet. Santo Brúklin makes delicious baseball-sized pão de queijo, topped with everything from guava paste to spicy ’nduja. We'd also recommend the excellent caipirinhas and a steaming cauldron of feijoada, both of which are especially enjoyable in the spacious backyard.
Wu's Wonton King
Walk into this legendary Cantonese restaurant on East Broadway and you’ll be greeted by tanks filled with giant crabs while waiters carry steaming bowls of wonton soup. The dining room is full of big, round tables that are usually topped with delicious pea shoots, salt and pepper prawns, and crispy fried Dungeness crabs spinning around on lazy Susans. Of all of the places on the Lower East Side, we consistently recommend group dinners here the most. The BYOB policy is a huge plus.
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photo credit: David Sullivan
Cafe Altro Paradiso
Your family members don’t have to play tennis or own a beach house to like Altro Paradiso—but that’s the energy here. This is a half-fancy Italian place with blonde wood and white marble tables, although it isn’t corporate or uptight like a place where you might eat with your family in Midtown. The menu constantly changes, but it tends to involve things like simple pastas, an incredible fennel salad, and cured meats. So come here when you’re looking for something calm and special, but you want to stay downtown.
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This Mexican restaurant in Astoria takes a maximalist approach to dinner that’s perfect for groups. Why serve a habanero mango cocktail without torching a sprig of rosemary in it first? Why paint a patio muted pastel pink when a shade called “hot pink” exists? If there’s a vat of earthy mole negro in the kitchen, why not pour a pint of it onto a plate with chicken enchiladas or tender short rib? The portions of Oaxacan specialties here are massive, and the mole and tequila flow like tap water. Start your family meal with some gooey choriqueso and a round of cocktails.
Eating at a big round table with your family isn’t a recent trend. That’s exactly what people at Bamonte’s in Williamsburg have been doing since this Italian-American spot opened in 1900. The dining room, which has a few round tables covered in white tablecloths scattered around its big space, hasn’t been updated since the ’50s. This is an ideal choice for a night of passing around baked ziti, pork chop parmesan, and fried calamari.
When you’re looking for a family home, there are several things you want to take into account. Nearby schools and transportation, for example. Also, whether or not there’s a Han Dynasty in the neighborhood. There are four NYC locations of this Chinese restaurant, and this one on the UWS is perfect for big groups and sit-down dinners when you want excellent dan dan noodles and spicy chili wontons. As for mains, we suggest trying the excellent and numbing mapo tofu as well as dry pepper-style chicken draped in chiles.
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When we go to Ops in Bushwick, we often wish that our ancestors had made careers out of throwing pizza parties, so they could have taken on the surname “Pizzapartymen.” This homey sourdough destination is a place for fellow Pizzapartymen wannabes, complete with big cans of tomatoes on every table and great wine. Try the Juno pizza with potatoes, broccoli rabe, and a mix of creamy provola and sharp ricotta salata, and be sure to get the massive square pie topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, and briny olives.
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While dining at this exceptional Indian restaurant in Long Island City, everyone in your family will remark about how damn lucky you all are to be eating curry goat and biryani with a layer of dough baked on top. Come here with people who like to share a bunch of plates, so you can try a whole slew of chaat, grilled meats, and curries. We’d just suggest making a reservation ahead of time.
It’s more than appropriate to show up to some family dinners after biking across the city wearing rainbow Tevas and a sweaty Mets hat. Locanda Verde in Tribeca, however, is not one of those casual places. Most people make reservations in advance for dinner at this upscale Italian restaurant, since it's definitely part of the busy Tribeca scene. Prepare for bowls of really good homemade pasta, such as seasonal tortelli, potato gnocchi, and a meaty, satisfying ravioli dish. To start, we always order the creamy sheep’s milk ricotta topped with sea salt.
Proximity to NJ Transit or the LIRR, unfortunately, might be part of the equation when determining a spot for dinner. If you’re looking for a place near Penn Station that doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere near Penn Station, go to Farida—a charming and casual Central Asian restaurant with excellent Uzbek plov, manti, and lamb dishes. The menu is extremely meat-heavy, so this isn't the best place for vegetarians, but as long as that’s not an obstacle, you’ll all love it.
Al Di La
Al Di La is one of our absolute favorite neighborhood Italian restaurants, and it has a near 100% success rate with just about everyone who enjoys pasta and wine. Not only does Al Di La embody the exact kind of quaint place that people think is on every corner of movie-set-Brooklyn, but their regional specialties match the charming setting. We like the spaghetti vongole, the seasonal risotto, and the fact that this restaurant has a separate wine bar where you can wait for your table.
Meeting uptown but don’t want to go to the same (possibly snoozy) place you always go? Try this Upper East Side Peruvian restaurant. They specialize in seafood and cocktails, like a classic white fish ceviche bathing in a zippy leche de tigre. There are also plenty of options for siblings who want to share—including their lomo saltado and large-format cocktails—as well as single-portion entrees. We’d recommend sitting on the plant-decorated sidewalk patio (which feels secluded from the busy street), unless your family is alright with a particularly loud dining room.
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Every entree at this Ethiopian spot on Avenue B near Tompkins Square Park comes with two vegetable sides. While we recognize that you’re an adult and can do what you want, we can’t stress enough that one of those sides should be the creamy, garlicky shiro wot. We like to plop a thick layer of shiro wot on each torn piece of injera before topping it with other delicious things like tart red beets or tender dark meat chicken that’s been slow-cooked in onions, berbere, and spiced clarified butter. With a few family members present, stick to the combination platters. Otherwise, the best non-sharing route at Haile is to order spicy beef tibs with shiro wot and green beans on the side.
Yoon Haeundae Galbi
Koreatown is full of fun family gathering spots, including this Korean BBQ spot whose original restaurant opened in 1964 in Busan, South Korea. As the name might suggest, this is a place to eat beef. (In fact, there aren’t any non-cow protein options offered.) When you’re at Yoon Haeundae Galbi, we’d recommend one of their three meat combo packages that come with four different cuts of beef and feed three to four people.
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If your family is requesting a “Classic New York experience,” but you'd rather not spend $300 or have to wake up at 5am to book a reservation, J.G. Melon’s Upper East Side location is a good option. This place has been serving one of the best thick-patty burgers in the city for decades, so that’s what you’re coming here to eat—and you’ll want to make sure you get some cottage fries as well.