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DGLimages / Shutterstock

The best kid-friendly restaurants in London

There’ll be no more tears at mealtimes if you take the kids to these child-friendly family restaurants in London

Leonie Cooper
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When you're dining out with kids, it can be tempting to stick to the familiar: chain restaurants do give out free colouring in sheets, after all. But try somewhere new and you'll cultivate your child's blossoming tastebuds, introducing them to a world of exciting new flavours and textures. London is full of restaurants that offer serious food while welcoming all the family, so your kid doesn’t have to cramp your culinary style. From sushi joints to pasta places, the London foodie scene is open to humans of all sizes. If you’ve ever been haunted by the nightmare of being stuck on the kids’ table at a wedding, have no fear – this list takes children’s food seriously. Strap your little one into a high chair, sink a cocktail and dig in (and then maybe hit up some of the best children's theatre in town).

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Amazing child-friendly restaurants in London

  • Japanese
  • Haggerston
  • price 1 of 4

This Japanese café in Haggerston gets top rating from young customers thanks to its toy-filled playroom and canalside location. The name translates as 'kids on the floor', so expect a few of those, too. There’s no pressure to spend and scarper: while away the afternoon with as many matcha lattes as you can handle, while food is an excellent, ever-changing daily set lunch menu of a main dish, rice, miso soup and a small salad. Always delicious and always packed full of variety, there are also rice balls, teas, Japanese toasts and desserts. 

  • Japanese
  • London Fields
  • price 1 of 4

Broadway Market’s premier noodle shop is great for discerning adults (props to their ever-rotating guest chefs’ specials) but also caters ably to picky toddlers. There are high chairs and benches to sit on, and the kids’ tray is a winner: noodles, soup, chicken or tofu and a plate of raw veg and orange slices, plus kids’ chopsticks. The food is usually ready really quickly, but while you’re waiting the staff will bring you crayons – and if it’s nice weather you can sit outside and let your little monsters run wild on the semi-pedestrianised bit of road alongside the restaurant. Best of all, no one working there has ever seemed to mind when more noodles end up on the floor than in anyone’s mouth.

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  • Global
  • Paddington
  • price 2 of 4
Darcie & May Green
Darcie & May Green

A kid-friendly winner for brunch on the water, these two barges on the Grand Union Canal look like floating pieces of art. With owners from Down Under, it’s no surprise that there are flat whites and slices of banana bread for breakfast, plus a daytime menu of fair dinkum Aussie-inspired dishes. Bag a spot on the upper deck if the sun’s shining.

  • Vegan
  • Camden Town

This Camden-based vegan pizza shop isn't just great for fussy eaters, but all children under the age of 10 can score a free mini 8" pizza alongside every full-paying adult; cheesy, tomato or 'pepperoni' options are available, and if your little ones really are little, there are high chairs and accessible areas for prams and buggies.

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  • Italian
  • Shoreditch

Head to the east London outpost of this pasta bar straight after school, and you’ll be rewarded with London’s favourite plate of Italian fast food 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. The best thing about the Shoreditch branch of Padella though? Kids eat free during half term and summer holidays. 

  • Japanese
  • Hackney
  • price 1 of 4

This class-act ramen mini-chain has got spots across the city, and does a great line in kids bento boxes. The cheeky chicken kids bento comes with chicken katsu, vegetables, edamame, noodles, hot chicken broth & half a seasoned egg. Veggie sprogs will like the the yummy yasai kids bento, with broccoli, mange tout, edamame noodles, hot vegetable broth & half a seasoned egg.

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  • Beer hall
  • Walthamstow

Despite being a beer hall and brewery, Big Penny Social is so kid-friendly that it's practically a creche. A huge, 1,400 capacity space, you'll find kiddos running about the place every weekend as their parents drink pints brewed on site. Food is of the extremely child-friendly variety, with burgers, pizza and a dedicated kids menu - hello chicken goujons. 

  • Taiwanese
  • Marylebone
  • price 2 of 4

Kids generally hate queueing, so it’s worth heading to this all-day version of the Taiwanese Bao chain. While most little‘uns will turn their noses up at outré items such as beef short-rib with egg emulsion and fermented cucumber, the fried bao filled with Horlicks ice cream is a guaranteed winner.

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  • Taiwanese
  • Covent Garden
  • price 2 of 4

If your kids like dim sum, they’ll also like the dumplings and regional street food served at this Covent Garden outpost of a world-famous Taiwanese chain. Din Tai Fung is a cult phenomenon – so expect to queue (even if the children protest). It’s more expensive and more fashionable than Chinatown, but the food is worth it: don’t miss the signature xiao long baos (delicate soup dumplings).

  • Contemporary European
  • Tower Bridge
  • price 3 of 4
The Coal Shed
The Coal Shed

The jazzy soundtrack, cool interior, sizzling steaks and sustainably sourced fish might scream ‘grown-up’ but this London Bridge offshoot of Brighton’s Coal Shed also does the business for kids, with a mini menu for cod, chips and peas, cheeseburger and chips or mac ‘n’ cheese, plus a brownie or ice cream to finish.

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  • Cafés
  • King’s Cross

Caravan’s all-day menu is a whirlwind of worldwide flavours – the jamón croquetas with saffron mayo are irresistible to humans of all sizes, but just about everything will suit small but curious appetites. Staff are loveable, and kids will adore the fountains on Granary Square. Caravan’s other branches, like the one in Covent Garden, are also child-friendly.

  • Pizza
  • Clapton

Impress your children by taking them to the lo-fi neighbourhood pizza place with branches across the city. Food-wise, Yard Sale deals in double-fermented stone-baked pizzas (12-inch or 18-inch whoppers) with left-field toppings and goofily enjoyable names such as Holy Pepperoni. And there are Happy Endings ice cream sarnies to finish. Ideal.

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  • Japanese
  • Soho

Kids will get a serious kick out of the DIY aspect of Marugame Udon, where you can build your own noodle or rice bowl, topping it with an overwhelming variety of tempuras. Happily for parents, it's also incredibly, incomparably cheap. There are also Chibi Meals for children under 11 for £4.95, with curry udon, curry rice, chicken paitan and vegan kake, which come in a children's size bowl and with a juice included. Training chopsticks are available and there are highchairs too. 

  • Italian
  • King’s Cross

This branch of Soho fave Lina Stores is housed on a much larger site in a Victorian transit shed behind Granary Square. Light and airy, with paper menus and crayons to occupy little fingers, kids will also love bowls of unconfrontational, creamy and cheesy pasta as well a decent selection of Italian puds (maybe keep the boozy, coffee-soaked tiramasu just for you, though).

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  • Indian
  • Battersea
  • price 2 of 4

Another branch of the much-loved Indian all-day dining chain. You'll find it in the Battersea Power Station development; two floors of chilli cheese toast and chicken ruby curry. It's not just kiddy-friendy, with crayons given out to kiddos, but dogs are also welcome at this branch. So bring the whole damn fam.

  • Pâtisseries
  • Islington

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.

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  • British
  • King’s Cross
Happy Face
Happy Face

Kids will go crazy for the Happy Face, an all-day pizza restaurant with toppings for days. Let the little'uns nibble on burratina before a vegan pepperoni pizza followed by crowd-pleasing dolci of Nutella angioletti; deep fried dough drizzled with Nutella. 

  • Israeli
  • Bloomsbury

Modest and hugely popular, this super-cute Middle Eastern café is known for its friendly vibe and incredible falafel – although finding a spare table at short notice can be a problem.
Those falafels are perfect for young appetites (as are the lamb meatballs), while grown-ups can rejoice in the likes of roasted aubergine with BBQ tahini crust and jewelled rice salad.

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  • Lebanese
  • Soho

If you’re after a quick off-the-cuff lunch with the kids, head down an old Soho passageway to this dinky purveyor of ‘Beirut street food’ – a jam-packed haunt popular for its takeaway wraps (order the spicy sucuk sausage version with some Arabic bread, olives and pickles). Otherwise, sit at one of faux-rustic tables and share the spoils from the all-day mezze menu. Also try Yalla Yalla in Fitzrovia.

  • Italian
  • Seven Dials
Homeslice Neal's Yard
Homeslice Neal's Yard

Loud, informal, bustling and tailor-made for kids in town for a treat, Homeslice serves up ginormous 20-inch pizzas for sharing at the table – although they provide individual slices too (ideal for picky youngsters who don’t want to play ball) – and they’ll even let you have more than one choice from the toppings selection if you ask nicely.

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  • French
  • Bethnal Green

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.

  • Japanese
  • Regent Street
  • price 1 of 4

Parents be warned: it’s all about roll-your-sleeves-up DIY at this branch of Kintan, a bargain-priced Japanese yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant in a basement off Oxford Circus. Smoky, thick-ridged grills are built into each table and the fully illustrated medley ranges from kalbi short-rib to excellent pre-marinated spicy pork. Wipe-clean menus are splashed with red-sticker deals, making it even more of a bargain for families.

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  • Chinese
  • Marylebone

‘Family eating’ is second nature to the Chinese, so it’s no surprise that this palatial rendezvous, located just a stroll from Madame Tussauds, is good with the kids. Sit with your little’uns at one of the big circular tables and share the spoils from some superior dim sum – ideal finger food for youngsters who haven’t yet mastered the art of chopsticks.

  • Crêperies
  • Southwark
Where the Pancakes Are
Where the Pancakes Are

Your kids don’t have to wait till Shrove Tuesday comes around for their pancake fix – thanks to this bright, buzzy venue squeezed into one corner of Flat Iron Square. Sweet and savoury buttermilk varieties abound, from baby greens to banana with praline and marshmallow. Eat in the airy, pastel-walled dining room or alfresco at one of the plain wooden tables outside.

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  • Indian
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
Hoppers
Hoppers

These Sri Lankan baskets of batter (which come complete with an egg) are decidedly kid-friendly, so spice things up with a sprinkle of sambal, a scoop of curry and (hopefully) a pickle or two. Kids will also love the banana chip snacks. 

  • British
  • Spitalfields

Poppies’ pick ‘n’ mix assortment of British kitsch (a jukebox, newspaper cuttings, model aeroplanes, wartime memorabilia) makes it look like some nostalgic fantasy trip, but eating here is still a treat for young and old alike. Soak up the nostalgia, just don’t mention the war!

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  • Spanish
  • Hackney Road
Morito Hackney Road
Morito Hackney Road

A completely different kettle of salt cod to the original Morito in Clerkenwell, this Spanish/North African hybrid is an expansive, concrete-chic space with high ceilings. It is civilised and minimalist, with a menu of sassy small plates that are perfect for curious kids who like to pick, nibble and experiment (anyone for cheese fritters with Cretan thyme honey?). 

  • Italian
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
Pastaio
Pastaio

Relive that famous father-and-son lunchtime moment from the movie ‘Bicycle Thieves’ by ordering a fried mozzarella sandwich for your kid at Pastaio – chef Stevie Parle’s artisan pasta joint in Soho. Bowls of the glistening hand-made stuff also come in small-sized servings for kids in need of carbs. Eating inside is fun, although alfresco tables are like gold dust.

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