Don’t be fazed by the Michelin star: London’s best tapas joint is still approachable. Sit next to your little one at the counter and watch the chefs preparing all manner of snack-sized Spanish delicacies – their famed tortilla is a safe bet, even for nervous kids.
Want to prove that you can still manage a hip meal out, even with kids in tow? Staff treat little ones like regular diners at this Bethnal Green institution, so tuck into comfort-food brunch dishes and maybe even sink a daytime cocktail – just like old times.
Cheese and Marmite straws; fish-finger sarnies; chocolate custard – the repertoire at this quintessentially British bistro could have been dreamed up for kids. Young ones also have their own mini menu (carrot sticks, mac ’n’ cheese, breaded cod and chips, ice cream), plus fruity, juicy drinks.
Caravan’s all-day menu is a whirlwind of big flavours done gently. Good luck snaffling one of the jamón croquetas with saffron mayo – they’re irresistible to humans of all sizes. Staff are as friendly as characters from ‘Balamory’, and kids will love the fountains on Granary Square.
They may have fancy-sounding names, but Herman Ze German’s dogs are some of the best ‘wursts’ in London – a world away from your average kids’ party or back-garden barbecue. Youngsters love ’em, especially when they’re liberally smothered in ketchup, mustard, mayo or German curry sauce.
Mark Hix believes children’s dishes should be as much of a treat as mum and dad’s, and he proves the point at Hixter – a relaxed open-plan venue where kids have their own selection and under-tens can eat for free from the grown-up menu (weekdays 4pm-6pm, weekends noon-6pm).
There’s nothing scary about a ‘hopper’, especially when it has an egg in it. These Sri Lankan baskets of batter are decidedly kid-friendly, so spice things up with a sprinkle of sambal, a scoop of curry and (hopefully) a pickle or two.
Kids may be familiar with ‘growing patches’ at school, but this all-day British brasserie gives them a first-hand taste of farm-to-table dining – thanks to seasonal produce from the owners’ family enterprise in Sussex. Who knows, your picky darlings may even come to love salad.
Bang-on if you’re taking the kids to a show, this stablemate of Salt Yard offers a tasty mix of Italian/Spanish small plates in the cosy surrounds of a former theatreland pub. The famous stuffed courgette flowers drizzled with honey are a must-try for any budding foodie.
Breakfast at Ottolenghi’s Islington branch – the one with the on-table toasters – is a rite of passage for posh kids who live locally. Evenings are more grown up, although small people will easily be won over by the colourful counter displays – plus cakes for the journey home.
Head to this counter-only joint straight after school, and you’ll be rewarded with London’s favourite plate of pasta in no time. But be warned: your kids may love this dinky-portioned, soft ’n’ squiggly comfort food so much, they’ll turn up their noses at supermarket pesto.
Relive that famous father-and-son moment from the movie ‘Bicycle Thieves’ by ordering a fried mozzarella sandwich for your little boy (or girl) at Pastaio – Stevie Parle’s artisan pasta joint. Bowls of the glistening handmade stuff come in small-sized servings too. Alfresco tables are like gold dust.
Family eating is second nature to the Chinese, so it’s no surprise that this palatial rendezvous is good with kids. Sit at a big circular table and share the spoils from some superior dim sum – ideal finger food for youngsters who haven’t yet mastered the art of chopsticks.
We guarantee your kids won’t feel embarrassed eating pizza with mum and dad at this ultra-hip but bright and sunny eatery – there’s nothing like feeling part of the in-crowd. Parents should also bookmark breakfast and brunch for weekends and school hols.
The good old days? Well not exactly, but eating fish and chips in Poppies’s kitsch, vintage chippy is still a treat for young and old alike – they even have a children’s menu (cod bites, fishcakes, sausages). Soak up the nostalgia – just don’t mention the war!
When the suits vacate Canary Wharf, this slick Japanese rolls out the red carpet for residents. Family brunch is a blast: under-tens can choose from a three-course menu and run riot in the play area. Helpful staff also mix excellent cocktails for parents.
Bite-sized dim sum are brilliant for children, and Royal China’s distinctive black-and-gold venues are old hands at welcoming families – Chinese or otherwise. Challenge the little ones with chicken’s feet and squid balls or keep them sweet with char-sui buns, crispy spring rolls and custard tarts.
It’s not quite Old MacDonald’s farm, but kids will love the barnyard vibe at this playful British eatery. The menu keeps it small, with lots of ‘mouthfuls’ for curious little ’uns – mushroom Marmite and egg confit eclair, followed by a honeycomb crunchie, Johnny?
‘Small plates’, ‘half plates’, sweet plates’ all built for sharing and loaded with bright, bold Indian flavours – that’s the deal at this Covent Garden restaurant/bar. Kids can pick and choose to their heart’s content – just don’t let them near the pokey cocktails.
If Hamley’s did restaurants… a meal at this hotpot specialist is like an edible construction challenge. Snatch your favourite ingredients from the conveyor belt and dunk them into your own personal soup concoction. Given the opportunity for mess, grown-ups get to wear bibs too.
Venue says Latest of our hot pot signature series with Somsaa collaboration. Kiao tiew ruea, or simply pork boat noodle. £10.50 for the set menu.
Marcus Wareing’s casual venture is formal enough for a special family meal, but also pro-youngsters – offering a seven-course tasting deal for adventurous ‘culinary kids’ alongside the regular children’s menu. Armed with the recipes, wannabe Junior MasterChefs can even try out the dishes at home.
Venue says Enjoy three courses from our seasonal set menu as you sip a specially crafted cocktail, only for £29 in the heart of Covent Garden.
The relaxed ground floor of this cosy pub suits families refuelling after a runaround on Hampstead Heath. Little ones can point out doggy visitors from their high chairs, older kids can get stuck into the communal board games. The gastro grub, in adult and child’s portions, is spot-on.
It seems like every third customer at this friendly Italian in south-west London’s Nappy Valley is a child, and the lovely staff manage to fuss over all of them. The menu of trad trattoria classics is kiddie-appropriate, as is the casual, bustling atmosphere.
This Japanese café in Haggerston gets top rating from young customers thanks to its toy-filled playroom and canalside location. There’s no pressure to spend and scarper: while away the afternoon with as many matcha lattes as you can handle.
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