New York City is undeniably one of the culinary capitals of America. With its diversity of cuisines and rich population of top-notch chefs and restaurateurs, the New York dining scene has something to offer practically every palate.
Of course, when you’re traveling with kids sometimes experimental haute cuisine just isn’t going to cut it.
So to help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best family-friendly restaurants in NYC. Or, if you’re looking for a bit of time away from the kids, we’ve also thrown in some foodie suggestions.
These restaurants are located in New York City and are within walking distance or a quick subway ride from a few great NYC attractions, so they can be easily worked into your family vacation itinerary.
Kid Friendly New York Restaurants
If you’re looking for an extensive menu and inexpensive prices, this is the spot for your family. The Renaissance menu really has absolutely everything, from chocolate chip pancakes to deli sandwiches to pizza.
There will definitely be something everyone in the family will enjoy. The casual environment is good for kids and the food comes out very quickly (great for short attention spans).
With 24-hour service, this diner is number one for convenience, too.
This popular eatery offers more than just shakes. Burgers, hot dogs, fries, and ice cream make this place a kid favorite, but fresh, high-quality ingredients mean it’s a favorite among parents as well!
The prices are very reasonable for New York, and the prime location makes it a definite top pick.
Nearby Attractions: Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, Central Park Movie Tours
Peanut Butter & Co. Sandwich Shop
Only in NYC could you find a restaurant dedicated entirely to menu items featuring peanut butter.
You’d be amazed at the diversity of peanut-buttery options, from the classic PB & J to the Mighty Maple Sandwich (maple peanut butter with crisp bacon) to the Peanut Butter Brownie Blast Sundae.
If your kids want to try out a peanut butter creation, but you’d rather not, don’t worry – a few peanut butter free options are offered as well (like the tuna melt or the salad bowl). This restaurant is so perfect for kids they’ll even cut the crusts off for you!
Nearby Attractions: Washington Square Park, New York University, 9/11 Tribute Center
This restaurant is a re-created 1930s Jewish deli featuring dozens of the owners’ favorite traditional recipes. Your kids might not care for the history, but they’ll love the delicious chicken fingers, frankfurters, and birthday cake for dessert.
If you can get your kids to go for something healthier, they also offer very appetizing soup, sandwich, salad, and entrée options. Try to sell them on the chicken noodle soup or macaroni salad. All menu items are available in house or to go!
Ditch Plains UWS
This place is a great destination for seafood lovers, burger lovers, and barbeque lovers – you name it. Their unique spin on the experience is what they call “beach dining,” a selection of classic picnic or backyard barbeque fare prepared by expert chefs.
You’ll find everything from hotdogs and hamburgers to BLTs and mac and cheese at this tasty dining destination. The Upper West Side location is especially conveniently located for further exploration.
Nearby Attractions: The American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan
NINJA New York
What kid could pass up the chance to dine with ninjas?! This contemporary Japanese restaurant (which includes an accessible variety of cuisines – not just the more complicated stuff) is designed to look just like a recreated 18th century ninja village.
Walk through the maze-like interior and marvel at the beautiful construction – don’t forget a camera! Be warned, however, that this isn’t going to be a cheap dining experience.
Nearby Attractions: 9/11 Memorial and Museum, TriBeCa, City Hall
John’s of Bleecker Street
Representing NYC in the great American Pizza Wars, John’s of Bleecker Street is a local institution that’s been serving up NY-style pizza in this historic location for a long time.
If you’re looking for the authentic NY pizza experience while trying to avoid tourist traps or overpriced meals, this is the place to go. Be sure to arrive hungry, because slices are big!
Nearby Attractions: Hudson River Park, Ground Zero Museum Workshop, departure point for many neighborhood tours (like the Brooklyn Bridge tour)
Strip House Next Door
If you’re looking for another restaurant that represents the best of local cuisine, then why not check out this top-rated steakhouse?
Prices are more than reasonable for how delicious the food is, and it’s in a trendy location that allows you to see more of the city than you might otherwise. Strip House Next Door is the perfect destination for both families and couples!
Nearby Attractions: Union Square, Flatiron District, West Village
Vegetarian & Foodie Options
For those of you in the market for tasty veggie options, then Candle Café is the perfect place for you. With locations on both the Upper West Side & Upper East Side, this trendy local hotspot features fresh, organic vegan cuisine, plus a delicious juice bar.
It’s near a lot of local museums (and Central Park), so it’s easy to pop in for a healthy lunch on a busy day of sightseeing.
This is another excellent vegetarian option that uses exclusively fresh, farm-to-table ingredients in their sumptuous organic cuisine.
Everything is made with only the best fruit, vegetables, and grains, so you know what your kids are eating is going to be healthy and tasty.
They also offer many gluten-free options if you’ve got any allergies in the family.
Nearby Attractions: East Village, Union Square, Empire State Building (a bit north)
Thinking about going for a date night without the kids on your NYC vacation? Then check out Café Paulette in Brooklyn, one of our favorite French bistros.
It’s more affordable than many similar restaurants in Manhattan, but offers the same level of quality and expertise. It’s also a great wine bar, so plan to spend a long time enjoying their delicious offerings in a romantic setting.
Nearby Attractions: Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Lilli and Loo
For lovers of Asian cuisine – including adventurous kids! – Lilli and Loo is an excellent dining destination. Located right in Midtown, this restaurant/sushi bar has tons to offer for the discerning diner in a fun environment.
They serve all of your tradition faves, plus a number of plainer options to appeal to pickier eaters. Plus, it’s super affordable, so you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank on lunch.
Of course, you’ll be able to find several great restaurants in the Times Square area, so don’t feel like you have to wander out to the edges of Manhattan to find good food.
These selections help you avoid some of the more touristy spots and introduce you to a variety of NYC cuisine. Some areas to explore for additional restaurant options include Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the West Village, and NoMad.
Be sure to read reviews before you go, and choose a spot near a subway station for easy transit (not a difficult task in NYC – there are subway stations everywhere).