September 25, 2004

NYC Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Vol. 1

Partly because I'm slack, partly because we were traveling, and partly because I was a bit skeptical at first, I didn't start up a list of kid-friendly restaurants. Well, now I have.

Though a lot of Daddy Types readers are in or around NYC, increasing numbers aren't, and doing a second ny-centric category in a really useful way seemed a bit daunting. But if people keep their suggestions coming, I think this can become a pretty decent resource for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

From our perspective, since having a kid, we've kept going to a few of the places we always went to. My assumption is, a restaurant is kid-accommodating, if not kid-friendly. When in doubt, call ahead. Here are some basic principles we dine with the kid by:

  • Eating earlier than we used to>> someplace that we can be in and out of by 8pm. This takes a lot of scenier places off the list, but earlier reservations also make getting in easier.
  • Loud/active enough that a little crying won't kill the atmosphere. Bistros work well; romantic places don't. Too loud, and it could be a problem, so Coffee Shop at Union Square is out (at least inside).
  • Try to time your meal and the kid's nap. Because those naps are so easy to schedule and manage. heh.
  • Space to maneuver a stroller (this is for <18 months, I'm guessing) is nice. Outdoor tables help. Places like Cafe Habana's too narrow, but Cafe Gitane, we sit outside. Columbus Avenue is a giant foodcourt.

    If you have restaurant recommendations or horror stories, email them, and I'll post them to the new food category. Meanwhile, DT reader (and dad to a 9-wk old) Craig's starter list of kid-friendly restaurants (and his editorial comments) are after the jump. (Thanks for getting the ball rolling!)

  • - Kelley&Ping (Asian, soho)
    Great choice for any age baby. It's loud enough any time of day to drown out even the loudest baby screams. Kids even eat FREE (read the find print. I forget the rules). Note: no changing tables in the one very publicly placed restroom, and beware on hot days -- there seems to be no a/c.
    (While there, bring your baby to Moss across the street to freak out the uptight aesthetes.)

    - Bubby's (American, tribeca)
    Comfortable, spacious, but a few too many kids for my taste (it takes the attention off of me). Al fresco is especially welcoming.

    - Meskerem (Ethiopian, MacDougal street)
    Cramped, hot, and cave-like below street level. Oh, and there's often a wait for a table. Not ideal tyke place, but the food and the waitress' smiles at the baby makes it worthwhile for me. Note: Very cramped bathrooms, completely unsuitable for anything but adult bathroom activity. And, they are not serving Ethiopian coffee anymore :(

    - Le Pain Quotidien (bakery fare, soho & other locations)
    Plenty of room in the large rear seating room for strollers, etc. Calm atmosphere. Perfect for a quick lunch. Note: stay away during weekend mornings.

    - Used to be Le Gamin on Downing street (french, w. village)
    Easy, calm, great late destination with bjorned baby. Grab the bench seat for plenty of spreading out room. Note: only for calm babies. A cranky one might disrupt the ennui.

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