The single cheeseburgers at this ever-expanding franchise are perfectly kid-sized (and reasonably priced at less than $5), though Mom and Dad might want to order a couple to satisfy their appetites. Visit all of Shake Shack’s six NYC outposts to try the tricked-out frozen custard Concretes in various location-specific flavors. For instance, the Shake Shack in the lower level of Grand Central Terminal serves up the GCT Crunch-stellation ($4.30–$6.55) featuring Valrhona chocolate crunchies and toffee.
When all the kids are screaming for ice cream, take them to Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, where they can try wacky flavors like The Munchies (with pretzels, potato chips, Ritz crackers and mini M&Ms). All of the ice cream on offer (and many of the mix-ins) are made at Ample Hills’ Brooklyn shops using the freshest possible ingredients. As if the promise of a sweet treat isn’t enough, Ample Hills also features a play space stocked with books and a window that offers a glimpse into the production room, so tots can see how their ice cream gets made. Planning a birthday party or other celebration? Ample Hills cakes ($35–$58) combine two delectable ice cream flavors heaped on a brownie base and topped with whipped cream and your choice of hot fudge or caramel.
If your kiddies love fish sticks, bring them to A Salt & Battery, which claims to be Manhattan’s sole “truly authentic” chippy. The miniature fried “fish bites” ($6–$10) are perfect for tiny fingers, and the chips ($5) are as good, if not better than any French fries we’ve had. The frying doesn’t stop with dinner either—dig into a deep fried Mars bar, Toffee Crisp or Lion bar (all favorite British candy bars) or banana and pineapple fritters (all $4) for a sweet treat.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a kid who doesn’t love grilled cheese...or an adult, for that matter. At Melt Shop, the beloved sandwich is their specialty. While kids will probably stick with the Classic (American cheese on white bread; $5.05), more adventurous eaters (and their parents) can try the Shroom (with mushrooms, goat cheese and pesto; $8.96) or the Award Winner (with bacon and cranberry; $8.96). Nutella-Fluff milkshakes ($5.51) will blow everyone’s mind for dessert.
In addition to a ride on the Wonder Wheel and a spin through the arcade, no trip to Coney Island is complete without a Nathan’s hot dog. This boardwalk staple has been around since 1916, making it a classic Brooklyn landmark. Other kid-friendly (and wallet-friendly) offerings on the menu include crinkle-cut fries and corndogs. Mom and Dad may also want to sample the oysters from the clam bar.
Kids will think they’ve died and gone to food heaven at S’Mac, which elevates a childhood staple to the gourmet level. There are a dozen varieties of mac to choose from, like the Cheeseburger with cheddar and American cheeses and seasoned ground beef; all served in personal-sized skillets. The “nosh” size ($5.75–$7.75) is perfect for kiddie appetites; but families will want to order the “mongo” ($15.50–$19.75) and enjoy leftovers tomorrow (and the next day…).
With several outposts throughout NYC, including Lincoln Center, Chelsea Piers and Bryant Park, ‘wichcraft is a good option for grabbing a healthy bite on the go. The seasonal menu features breakfast pastries, inspired sandwiches, soups, salads and coffee beverages. For picky eaters, there’s a kids’ menu with no-frills PB&J and grilled cheese ($6.89).