When it comes to eating as a family, what could be better than the food that has graced American tables for decades? So many family restaurants in New York are celebrating time-honored favorites by adding a unique touch to classic recipes. Kids will dig in to New American fare including everything from elevated burgers and hot dogs at The Farm on Adderley to Grandma-approved dishes like matzo ball soup at Bubby's and Junior's.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of the 50 best family restaurants in NYC
Choose from 10 different burgers ($13.95–$16.95)—including lamb, turkey, tuna and veggie varieties—at this upscale burger spot that feels more like a neighborhood joint than a chain. Kids under 12 can take their pick from a special menu that includes hot dogs ($5.95), chicken tenders ($5.95), plain pasta ($4.95) and PB&J ($3.95) in addition to the namesake burgers. Be sure to save some room for a brownie sundae ($7.00) or s’mores milkshake ($6.00).
An enchantingly girly day at this megastore isn’t complete without afternoon tea at the cafe. Dolls are invited too, of course—they even get their own custom-sized “Treat Seats.” Just as each doll has a place in history, many menu items have historical significance (like 1930s-inspired garden sandwiches and a WWII-era “victory garden chocolate mousse flowerpot”). All meals have fixed pricing ($20–$26) and set seating times, so call ahead for reservations.
Kids and parents alike love the French toast with local fruit ($12) and buttermilk fried chicken and waffles ($16) on the brunch menu at this East Village farm-to-table spot. Picky palates won’t say no to housemade bacon ($6), and if your little ones have a sweet tooth, keep them happy nibbling on housemade bacon ($6) or fresh doughnuts ($2 each or $3 for 5).
Kids will love the BBC burger (topped with grilled onions, cheddar and a ‘rooftop pickle’; $14) or the Friday fish & chips special at this quaint and cozy West Village eastery. Ask for a sneak peek of the hydroponic rooftop garden, where most of the produce is grown—the cool factor just might convince the kids to eat their veggies.
From the ambiance to the portions, everything is larger than life at this amped-up diner. Kids can order from their very own menu, which includes hot dogs and chocolate chunk mini pancakes, then check out the pop culture memorabilia that lines the walls while they wait for their food. Bring your whole clan for one of the monthly family trivia nights, or throw your child’s next birthday bash in the restaurant’s party room (they’ll even provide balloons!).
Families flock to this eatery’s two NYC locations for the gourmet brunch spread, which includes eggs benedict ($22), sourdough pancakes ($15) and more, crafted from scratch using Grandma-approved family recipes. The kids menu features comforting classics like matzo ball soup ($6) and mac and cheese ($5). Be sure to leave room for a piece of Bubby’s’ famous pie—the restaurant got its start as a pie baking company back in 1990. Today, the options include Local Apple, Peanut Butter Chocolate and Toigo Farm Peach & Vanilla Bean Crumble pie ($8 a slice; ask about whole pies available for purchase).
The dishes on the kids’ menu at this “finer diner” in family-friendly Park Slope have cute names like “The Hokey Pokey” (a customizable omelet; $6) and “The Nutty Monkey” (PB&J with bananas; $7). Even greasy spoon fare from the regular menu items will please youngsters with retro classics like grilled cheese on thick-sliced bread ($8) or mac-n-cheese with a crispy crumb topping ($11).
Ditmas Park locals and visitors alike love this low-key neighborhood spot for its seasonal American fare made from fresh, local ingredients. The kids’ menu features classics like grilled cheese, PB&J, organic hot dogs and even tofu (all $8), because this is Brooklyn, after all. Parents can enjoy a local beer or craft cocktail alongside a house-made burger in the peaceful backyard.
After whiling away an afternoon browsing the many shops and attractions of Chelsea Market with the family, stroll into The Green Table for a tasty organic lunch. While the menu changes daily to reflect the market’s freshest offerings, regular kid-friendly staples include comfort-food classics like chicken pot pie ($18) and mac and cheese ($16), along with root-beer floats ($8) for dessert.
With 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to enjoy, South Slope’s Greenwood Park is a super kid-friendly bar in one of Brooklyn’s most family-oriented 'hoods. In addition to the whopping 60 beers on tap, there’s a bar menu with plenty of items for little ones to nosh on while you sip. Park your stroller in the sprawling garden and order a warm soft-baked pretzel ($3.50), a hot dog ($3.50) or some chicken fingers ($5.50)—it’s the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. Just make sure you clear out by 7pm, when Greenwood Park becomes 21 and up.
If your idea of comfort is diving into a hearty sandwich amid a forgiving din, then one of the Grey Dog’s three locations fits the bill. Add in a glass of crisp white wine and cookies the size of your head, and you may never want to leave. The joint plies picky eaters with numerous lunch options for $10 and under: chicken-salad-and-bacon melts, PB&J, juicy burgers and transcendent fries. Tots may also want to choose veggies and dip ($10.95) or chicken tenders ($9.95) from the Small Plates menu.
Little ones can pick from a selection of kiddie diner favorites, like grilled cheese and chicken fingers, on Junior’s appropriately-titled Junior Menu. But the main attraction at this New York institution is the rich, fluffy cheesecake. It comes in several varieties, including Red Velvet, Apple Crumb, Devil’s Food and of course, seasonal Pumpkin, but the classic plain will never let you down.
This bakery and restaurant is the perfect choice for when you’re in the mood for homestyle food, but you don’t feel like cooking at home. The Sunday brunch always draws a crowd; eggs in all forms ($9.50—$15) come with a fluffy biscuit instead of traditional toast, while kid-friendly sweet specialties include baked cherry vanilla French toast ($14.75) and chocolate chip banana pancakes ($14.50). Stop in for family supper and you’ll be just as satisfied by hearty, comforting dishes like meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy ($16.50).
You guessed it: Cheese is the main attraction at this sit-down extension of the legendary Bleecker Street cheese shop. The small plates at Murray’s are ideal for kid-sized appetites. Try the decadent cheese fries ($9), or take turns dipping into fondue ($26 for four people) for truly hands-on dining fun. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with Murray’s classic mac & cheese, made with three kinds of fromage and served family-style ($35 for four people).
You can’t argue with a burger joint that’s weathered the Depression, Prohibition, and two World Wars. The P.J. Clarke hamburger is an institution in itself, and kids will love it “simply on a bun” ($9.90) or in miniature format, topped with cheese and served with shoestring fries ($16.75). Though the tots may turn up their noses, parents can enjoy fresh seafood from the raw bar or delve into the deluxe burger options.
This cozy, casual cafe serves homestyle breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes every day of the week. Its Madison Avenue outpost is ideally located for grabbing a bite after strolling through Central Park or browsing the halls of the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art. During the breakfast, lunch and brunch service, kids can sip a fresh Four Flowers Juice ($7) made with orange, pineapple, banana and pomegranate, dig into an autumnal Pumpkin Waffle ($16) or go for a basket of muffins with Sarabeth’s’ famous preserves ($12.50). At dinner, they can choose from a variety of entrees, including pastas ($23–$24) and chicken pot pie ($22).
Kids of all ages are sure to love this whimsical eatery as much as tourists do. The signature Frrrozen Hot Chocolate ($8.95) is decadent enough for any sweet tooth, but the massive menu spans omelets ($8–$14), sandwiches ($11–$16.50), pastas ($15.50–$18.50) and sundaes ($9.50 and up). Even if one kid’s in the mood for eggs and another one wants a burger, there’s something to please everyone. A note: tables at Serendipity can be tough to come by, and they are often booked months in advance, especially around major holidays. If you’re walking in, prepare for a wait of up to an hour.
The “French Redneck” eats at this Park Slope spot put a Southern spin on classic plates. Kids will get on board for brunch specials like French toast ($12) or chicken and waffles ($16) and lunch items like a simple cheeseburger ($15) served with their self-described “best homemade French fries in Brooklyn.” Mom and Dad might want to sip one of the eclectic cocktails, like a refreshing margarita ($11) or the signature Sidecar ($10) along with dinner.
Have a throwback meal—old-school prices included—at this improbable greasy spoon in Tribeca. Tots can choose from all the expected diner classics like eggs any-style ($6.75–$12), hot and cold sandwiches ($6–$13.75) and burgers (this joint flips 27 different varieties; $6.50–$12.25). Families can grab some straws and share creamy milkshakes or root beer floats ($4–$4.50) to top it all off.