We love visiting NYC with our kids, and since it’s a short ride from Boston to NYC, we are able to travel there frequently. We’ve been more than a few times, and yet every trip is completely different. You could travel to NYC dozens of times and do different activities on each trip.
But it’s not just the activities that are exciting – eating in NYC can also be so much fun. There are loads of kid friendly restaurants in NYC – some with themes, and some just have a great family atmosphere.
While you’ll find plenty of fun restaurants in NYC, these are our favorite family-friendly options. Keep in mind that many of the restaurants you’ll find in NYC are kid-friendly, but they don’t necessarily cater to kids. If we missed your favorite kid friendly NYC restaurant, leave us a comment below!
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The Best Kid Friendly Restaurants in NYC
Carmine’s Italian Restaurant
The very popular and busy Carmine’s has several locations outside of NYC (including in Atlantis Bahamas). However, the original is in NYC on the Upper West Side. We went to the busy one in Times Square, which always seems to have a wait regardless of when you visit.
Make a reservation in advance if you are planning to dine there, otherwise, you’ll have a long wait to be seated. This is especially true for the weekends, although I’ve also seen crowds outside during the week.
For our visit, we walked right in with a reservation, while walk-ins were told that it was a 75-minute wait. This was pretty early in the evening, so I’d expect the lines to increase as the night goes on.
Carmine’s is known for their enormous portions of salads and pasta. Everything is served family style, so you’ll definitely want to bring your appetite.
We selected two entrees for our family of four and had plenty of food left over. Tourists staying in a hotel may want to order carefully so they don’t have leftovers.
If you have a family with picky tastes, you may want to look at the menu in advance. That way, you can choose the one or two items that you’ll order and won’t have to have that discussion at the restaurant. For us, we chose one adventurous pasta dish and one more traditional dish.
But Carmine’s isn’t just about big portions – the food is absolutely delicious! The lively atmosphere makes it one of the most fun restaurants in NYC – perfect for families.
We cannot go to New York City without having lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Located right outside of Times Square on Broadway, this iconic diner is a place that kids will love. Featuring incredibly talented servers who take turns performing popular and Broadway tunes, this diner is one of the most popular restaurants in New York.
While the food isn’t as good as other kid-friendly restaurants in NYC, the entertainment makes it a must-visit. Many families prefer to have breakfast here, which is a great option, especially to avoid theater crowds.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner doesn’t accept reservations, and you’ll line up at the door waiting to get in. I’d recommend going early to miss the longest lines. We’ve also found that Ellen’s tends to get really busy at lunchtime on Broadway matinee days – so try to avoid going on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
All of the performers walk around the restaurant as they sing, so there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Even the upstairs area has a good view of the main floor.
We learned about Parm NYC from our Exclusive Resorts concierge, and it sounded like the perfect lunch restaurant for us. There are several locations in New York, including one in Battery Park City, right by the One World Observatory. It’s a casual restaurant, featuring absolutely delicious authentic Italian food.
They do have a kids’ menu (including pasta and chicken tenders), but my kids opted to share a large meatball parmesan sub, while I had the chicken parm.
We were pretty full after lunch, but they also do have some delicious desserts as well. I’d recommend saving room for dessert if you can because they looked really good.
Parm accepts limited reservations, which you can make online if you choose to. I think it’s a great option after visiting the One World Observatory. It’s tucked away a bit, so it wasn’t crowded when we visited.
If you love cheesecake (and who doesn’t!?), then you have to include a visit Junior’s Cheesecake during New York City family vacation. There are several locations, including one right in Times Square.
It’s located down a small alley, so can be a bit challenging to find. Use the Maps app on your phone to get walking directions so you can easily find them.
Junior’s offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a standard diner-style menu. During our visit, I enjoyed a lunch combination of matzo ball soup and a pastrami sandwich. I’ve also been during breakfast and was so impressed by the gigantic portions.
There is also a kids’ menu for children under the age of 12, which includes options such as chicken fingers, grilled cheese, burgers, and pasta.
Junior’s does get busy due to its location in Times Square. It’s a good-sized restaurant, and large parties seem to go there a lot.
For our visit, we utilized the waitlist option on Yelp and got in quickly. I’d recommend doing that so you don’t have to wait as long in the restaurant.
For a sweet, whimsical dining experience, check out one of the locations of Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC. This adorable little tea room offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner including an afternoon tea option. But if tea isn’t what you are looking for, there are lots of other delicious treats on the menu, including sandwiches.
They do accept reservations, although on our visit we were able to walk right in. As always, make a reservation in advance if you are visiting during a busy time of year, or if you have plans and need to be seated right away. Our visit was during a quiet afternoon on a chilly April weekday.
Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer
It may be officially known as Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, but Black Tap is most famous for those Instagram-ready crazy milkshakes. Once my kids saw those milkshakes on social media, we absolutely had to include a visit to Black Tap on our NYC vacation agenda.
There are three locations in NYC (along with one in Las Vegas and a location at Disneyland in California). We went for an early dinner at the Midtown Manhattan location on a summer weekday.
Expect to wait in line regardless of when you go, but it’s always a great idea to get in line early. We waited about 30 minutes after arriving at about 5:30 pm, and the line was much longer when we left.
Black Tap offers delicious burgers, but you may want to order your milkshakes first. Our server recommended doing that because it’s easier to take the food to go rather than the milkshakes.
We received our regular food shortly after getting our milkshakes. My kids decided to share a burger, and they loved it. I’d definitely recommend sharing entrees if everyone is ordering milkshakes because everything is so filling.
I got the Cake Shake, which is available in limited quantities each day. It includes a funfetti cake slice and was so delicious. We were offered to-go cups for our shakes since we weren’t able to finish them, and also brought some of our entrees back to our room.
Gayle’s Broadway Rose
Located at Friedman’s at the Edison Hotel, Gayle’s Broadway Rose is known for singing servers. These aspiring Broadway performers are extremely talented.
Gayle’s Broadway Rose offers ice cream drinks and milkshakes, but they also have a full menu. Options include diner specialties as well as other imaginative menu items like fish tacos and sesame bowls.
Reservations for Gayle’s Broadway Rose can be made online (through Resy) for a limited amount of time slots. See their website for full operating hours.
When dining in NYC, you’ll find a variety of other family-friendly restaurants. There’s a location of just about every chain restaurant, including the Olive Garden and Shake Shack. In general, however, I recommend trying something different while you are in NYC.
There are also loads of places to get delicious snacks, including ice cream, donuts, pretzels, and more. You’ll never go hungry in NYC. If visiting during the warmer months, consider grabbing a frozen hot chocolate from one of the many places offering it (the most popular spot is Serendipity).
What are your favorite kid-friendly restaurants in NYC? Did we include your favorite in this list? If not, leave us a comment below.
If you are visiting NYC, check out some of our favorite hotels:
More resources: Read our New York City Travel Tips post here to read hotel, attraction, and restaurant reviews, tips, and ideas.