Kids Welcome: Where to Eat Near Central Park
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There are many things to do and see with kids in Central Park all year long. In summer you ride the carousel, in winter you skate in either or both of the Park's two rinks; in spring you watch the cherry blossoms, and in the fall, you can go watch the brilliant autumn palette. This abundance of activities and fresh air is bound to awaken appetites big and small. Thankfully the options are many in and around Central Park.
Inside the Park
If you don't want to leave the park, ubiquitous Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien is open year-round and serves the usual cafe-bakery menu (with the notable exceptions of the soft-boiled eggs). Not far from LPQ, at the Visitor's Center and Gift Shop located in the now-extinct Tavern on the Green building, you can enjoy Turkish "tacos" at Pera and Van Leeuwen ice cream from their respective trucks.
Sweet Treats and Sandwiches
Sweet treats abound just a few blocks away from the park's edges. At the Time Warner Center on Columbus Center, Bouchon Bakery offers French patisseries as well as light fare that you can take out (or consume right there, if you are lucky enough to get a table). Going north on Columbus Avenue, before you hit Magnolia Bakery, you will find delectable panini, gelati, soberti, and of course, bomboloni, those custard-filled Italian donuts, in a myriad of flavors at Bomboloni.
On West 74th Street and Amsterdam, Levain Bakery serves their legendary doughy chocolate chip cookie, a finalist in the Serious Eats chocolate chipper competition (I happen to think they are the best in the world, period). They also have great bread, hence great sandwiches and pizzas, and if you happen to be in Harlem, they have recently opened an outpost on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 117th Street. Likewise, at Silver Moon Bakery on Broadway and 105th Street, you will find fine baguettes and pastries that you can take out or, weather cooperating, enjoy at their sidewalk cafe.
Over on the Upper East Side, Yura on Madison (92nd Street) and Two Little Red Hens (2nd Avenue and 85th) are perpetual favorites among SE:NY staff. Yura is closer to the park, and more upscale (and expensive). Two Little Red Hens is farther over on Second Avenue, and homier.
At tea time, fans of Eloise might enjoy the Plaza Hotel's Eloise Tea, served in the Palm Court. Better yet, Alice's Tea Cup, with three locations on the Upper West and Upper East Sides, will lend your kids a pair of fairy wings for the duration of your meal there and sprinkle some fairy dust on them as well. Alice's Tea Cup has some of my favorite scones in the city.
For more substantial and casual meals not too far from the park, my favorite would be Kefi. The regular menu offers great selection for parents and kids alike, and they have a children's menu in any case. I like El Paso Restaurant for great Mexican fare and a nice outdoor space in the back. Gabriela's on Columbus and 93rd and Cafe Frida on Amsterdam and 98th are also good options for Mexican meals.
For a more upscale experience, Ed's Chowder House offers an excellent three-course kid's menu in a beautiful Lincoln Center setting.
Beloved burger joint Shake Shack is on both sides of Central Park, at Columbus and 77th Street and 86th Street and Lexington. Alternatively, try the burgers at the Burger Joint at Le Parker-Meridien on 56th Street and 6th Avenue.
Where do you like to eat with kids near Central Park?