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.
'Kids Welcome' on Serious Eats
A recent brunch with my daughter at Ed's Chowder House has convinced me that this is the best "grown-up" place to take kids to eat around Lincoln Center.
It's hard to convince anyone to go to the Upper East Side for a meal; the argument has to be compelling, as there's probably not much food there that you can't get elsewhere at an equivalent or better level. It happens, however, that the Upper East Side is home to some of the best Persian restaurants in Manhattan. On a Saturday night when we fancied a taste of Iran, we trekked across town to Persepolis on Second Avenue, and we were glad we did.
Anyone seeking a South American grill experience or to revive the memories of a trip to the Rio de la Plata should go to La Fusta, the cheerful and well-priced Argentine restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens (with a second location in North Bergen, NJ). La Fusta ("the whip") is decorated in an equine motif, a reference to the country's love for horses. On a recent Saturday night visit, the clientele ranged from large to small families, from old to young couples. We were all greeted by a maitre d' full of cheer, and tended to by attentive, muy simpatico waiters.
Takahachi may be my new favorite spot for lunch in Tribeca (and I am almost thinking jury duty might not be that bad after all). The lunch specials, in the $15 range, may also be the best Japanese food bargain you could get for the amount and quality of the offerings at this beautiful restaurant on Duane Street.
Lunch in Midtown is a challenge in so many ways—time is limited, good eats may be scarce, and service is by necessity rushed and harried. While lunch at Pongsri Thai Restaurant on West 48th Street is not exactly a relaxing experience, the restaurant's wonderful food and attentive service make it, against all odds, a delightful place to go have a family lunch.
There is a two-block stretch of Lexington Avenue in the low 100s that's filled with charming little dining establishments; one of them is Itzocán Bistro, which promises and delivers Franco-Mexican fare. True to its name, Itzocán is more of a bistro than a Mexican restaurant, and you won't find chips and salsa here. Rather, bread and butter are brought to the table. Mexican ingredients and flavors impart a lively, subtly assertive twist to a traditional French bistro repertoire of dishes, putting Itzocán Bistro in a class of its own.
Brazilian food lovers have plenty of decent options in New York. If you want a churrascaria, Plataforma and Riodizio will do the trick. For cool Brazilian atmosphere, Barzinho, Favela Grill and Bar Bossa are pleasing options. For cheap and delicious-by-the-pound bounty, Copacabana is the best bet. If you want to make it yourself, Rio Bonito supermarket will provide all the necessary groceries for a Brazilian feast. Yet my favorite all around Brazilian restaurant in the city is Malagueta, located on a quiet, easily accessible corner in Astoria, Queens.
Dim sum turned out to be an excellent family-friendly dining experience, as variety, portion size, restaurant setup, entertainment, and cost all combine to make parents and children happy.
The Himalayan Yak's staff was very attentive to my daughter and smilingly guided us through the long menu. The restaurant is large and comfortable (they also have live music Friday through Monday) and a good place to introduce kids to Himalayan fare at very reasonable prices (the highest priced item on the menu are prawns at $12.99).
If vegan food were always this good, I would happily give up my pancetta. Blossom, with two venues in the city (Chelsea and Upper West Side), plus a takeout place and a chocolate bar, serves flavorful organic, vegan dishes that will impress animal-free food lovers as well as steak-eaters.
New Leaf Restaurant and Bar's greatest asset is the synergy between its food and locale. Located in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park, one of the highest points in Manhattan and the home of the Metropolitan Museum's medieval art branch, the restaurant is unique not only because of its beautiful setting in a cottage-like building in the middle of the park, but because it is actually a charitable and environmentally responsible operation.
Walk out of the 2 and 3 subway lines' 125th Street stop and even before you reach the Red Rooster in Harlem, you will find Chez Lucienne, a delightful French bistro serving classic dishes in an elegant yet casual space filled with warm and joyful service.
Spring is, at least officially, upon us; despite the unpredictability of the weather, we just want to shed that winter coat and be outside. In Chelsea, a neighborhood not particularly known for its child-friendliness, the place to get that whiff of spring and let the children run a bit are the suspended gardens of the Highline. Some parents might even want to try checking out what's happening the art scene in one of the area's many art galleries. And when hunger strikes, an early dinner at Bottino might be all you need to end the day.
With a chic seaside shack decor, a hopping happy hour, and very high decibels, the Oyster Bar is a vibrant restaurant that pleases both parents and children with a wide selection of oysters and an appetizing variety of hot dishes.
Serious Eats: New York has been on a Korean food kick lately, and while there may be other restaurants in Flushing, Queens offering extraordinary renditions of particular Korean dishes, Kum Gang San (in Flushing, with a second branch on 32nd Street in Manhattan) is an excellent choice for parents searching for a solid Korean meal with their children. The restaurant is large (with gardens, fish ponds, and waterfalls); the food is delicious, plentiful, and easily enjoyed by children; and the service is extra-attentive to the little ones.
The ride to Bay Ridge might be long for some New Yorkers, but if the destination is Tanoreen, the much praised Middle Eastern restaurant in Bay Ridge, the effort is plentifully compensated. Chef Rawia Bishara produces food that is well-balanced and perfectly executed, and despite the bountiful portions of the entrees, the delicate harmony of spices and textures produces an indulgent restaurant experience that lingers in your memory without weighing in your stomach.
Smoke offers jazz brunches on weekends where children are not only welcome but the target audience. In addition to the regular Jazz brunch on Sundays, Smoke has recently launched a Jazz for Kids brunch on Saturdays. The result? Saturdays that are decidedly kid-friendly—and Sundays that are not.
Mexican restaurants might pose problems for children because of the chilies used in the preparation of many dishes. However, not every dish is spicy, and many can be adjusted for unaccustomed palates.
Thanks to Chef Michael Psilakis' focus on the clean tastes of fresh ingredients, Kefi's solid menu catches the diner's eye at every turn, and pleases not only food-loving parents but also their little ones.