One of the best things about living in New York City is that there are endless family-friendly restaurants in every neighborhood that not only welcome your kids but make it easy to scoot your stroller up to outdoor seating and enjoy something yummy. So back away from the kitchen and head to one of these kid-friendly restaurants with an outdoor space—deck, porch or garden—that offers the ultimate pairing: good food for all and no eye-rolling when you show up with your brood. 

For a Seaside Vibe in Red Hook: Brooklyn Crab

Brooklyn Crab calls itself a "shack", but it's more like a (charming) behemoth offering tasty food, good times, and great views of the water. The casual restaurant serves up sustainable seafood over two sprawling levels that include the funky beer garden area dubbed "Reed Park." There are amusements aplenty here for you and the kids, including cornhole and yes, a mini golf course. While you slurp down oysters or crack into lobster, the kids can choose from the kids menu featuring items such as hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fish and chips ($15, with fruit or french fries, drink and dessert). (Stop by 

Brooklyn Crab
24 Reed St. 
Red Hook


photo: Gallow Green

To Feel the Rooftop Magic: Gallow Green

Your kids are probably too young for "Sleep No More," the immersive theatrical production happening right in the McKittrick Hotel, but they can enjoy the magic of Gallow Green, the rooftop restaurant that features a rustic abandoned train car, the most resplendent of rooftop gardens, planted pathways to explore and a true getaway from the hustle bustle of the city. A prix fixe brunch, which starts at noon, features everything from an omelet station to trays stacked with fried chicken, sliced steak, a variety of salads, including a locally sourced tomato, mozzarella and basil salad and a stocked sweets table. Once a month, Gallow Green features "Potions & Planting", a British tea (stacked with a generous three-tiered tray sporting raspberry jelly sandwiches, cheddar cheese toasties, chocolate-chocolate crunch cakes, fairy cakes and lots more) accompanied by a class for kids ages five to 10. The event goes from 10-11:30 a.m. and is just about the most adorable thing ever as these lucky students get dressed up for tea and are escorted to stations covering flower pressing, gardening and potion-making. (Cost is $25 per person.) Feel the magic!

Gallow Green
542 W. 27th St.

For Stellar Tacos In The Rockaways: Tacoway Beach

Headed out to The Rockaways? (You can get there by ferry now.) Head over to Tacoway Beach (formerly Rockaway Taco) for what some claim are the best tacos in NYC. Affordable and relaxed, this is a spot to soak up summer, with funky decor, and menu items such as fish, tofu, and papa con chorizo tacos, grilled Mexican corn, guac and plantain chips, and more. Wash it down with a cold brew or refreshing  juices like watermelon or pineapple mint. Tip: it's cash only, bring some bills. (There is an ATM on site.) 

302 Beach 87th St.
Rockaway Beach

photo: Erik Medsker

To Dress Up for Brunch: Tavern on the Green

No trip to Central Park is complete without at least a peek at the historic Tavern on the Green, a restaurant that has captured the spirit of New York City since 1934, but why not go hog wild and actually eat there? This welcoming and fun place for families serves brunch beginning at 9 a.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays, just in time for that much-needed second or third cup of coffee for exhausted parents. Kids—whether they’re tourists or locals—will love tucking into brioche French toast with fresh strawberries and vanilla whipped cream while watching bikers, runners and walkers ‘round the corner of the park path right in front of the outdoor space.

Tavern on the Green
67th Street and Central Park West

photo: The Osprey

To Get a Break From Dumbo’s Hustle and Bustle: The Osprey

The Osprey, located in the lobby of the rustically stylish 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, features a gorgeous outdoor patio that offers a tucked-in space right along the Brooklyn Bridge Park paths. On the weekends you will find local families outside reveling in the East River breeze and rest assured: Your kids will love the kids’ menu that features chicken fingers and fries, pasta with butter and cheese or marinara, grilled cheese and fries. Don’t forget to order the toasted s’mores—a graham cracker, toasted meringue and chocolate ice cream concoction that requires zero campfire. (Should a sudden rain shower drive you inside, not to worry — the verdant, plant-filled interior makes for a dining experience that virtually feels al fresco!) 

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
60 Furman Street, Brooklyn

photo: Vinateria

To Enjoy Harlem’s Streetscape: Vinateria

Whether it’s the Applewood smoked bacon cheeseburger or the French toast, you can’t go wrong at a meal served at this cozy Harlem mainstay that features wraparound sidewalk seating. Brunch is your best bet for the picky eaters in your family. Then again, any kid who tries the Pipette Pasta & Taleggio AKA mac n cheese will want to come back to this stylish spot again and again

2211 Frederick Douglas Blvd.

photo: Giovanni Rana

For Tasty Italian and People-Watching: Giovanni Rana

People-watching reaches new heights when you grab a seat in the shaded patio of this Chelsea Market gem. And to say that the house doyenne Antonella Rana loves little ones is an understatement. While you settle into your seat and watch the comings and goings on this super-hip block, this mom of two personally sees to it that your kids are happy too.The kid's menu looks like it came out of the pages of an art book and includes such faves as homemade four-cheese ravioli or penne with marinara sauce or butter. Recent additions to the kids’ menu include the RaviolPizza — a hybrid of ravioli and pizza which comes with a DIY pizza roll-cutter for a hands-on experience — and Mix n Match Fresh Juice, a juice made to kids' individual specifications using ingredients such as apple, celery, lemon, beet, kiwi and more. Splurge and order chocolate ravioli—chocolate-hazelnut ravioli that’s lightly fried, dusted in powdered sugar and served alongside a strawberry dipping sauce—and your kids will be begging for a speedy return to this Chelsea eatery.

Giovanni Rana
75 Ninth Ave. (at 16th St.)

To Find Some Quiet off Union Square: Bowery Road

Walk by Bowery Road and you’re sure to see a plethora of high chairs and strollers, especially at brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Don’t be surprised if your server gives your kids brightly colored cookbook pages and crayons to color—and keep them busy until your food arrives. Our faves: The granola, whole grain pancakes and brioche French toast, all served in this sophisticated space that’s just far enough from the Union Square fray to make you feel like you’ve left the hubbub for a bit.

Bowery Road
132 4th Avenue

photo: Bubby's High Line

To Dig into Pancakes Before a High Line Stroll or Whitney Museum Visit: Bubby’s

Say the word pancake and images of a light and fluffy stack come to mind. Bubby’s reinterprets these ‘cakes,’ using sour cream instead of milk to get the perfect fluffy note. And with its wraparound deck, surrounded by huge pots of flowers, this downtown fave might just be the best place to relax before you start your High Line stroll. Best of all: Bubby’s serves a locally sourced brunch beginning at eight AM. So roll out of bed and head over. Just don’t forget to order cheese grits and a basket of homemade buttermilk biscuits.

Bubby’s High Line
73 Gansevoort St.
Meatpacking District

To Catch the Game and Chow Down: Duke’s

Who needs a dedicated kid's menu when you can hang out on the patio and dive into the huge sandwiches, salads and burgers at Duke’s, one of the liveliest spots in Murray Hill. If your kid’s a rabid Yankees or Mets fan, he or she will go nuts at the chance to chomp down on an al fresco burger or mac-n-cheese while watching the game: every TV in the house faces the outdoor patio. It’s the next best thing to being at the game!

560 Third Ave. (between 37th and 38th St.)
Murray Hill

For Chillaxing with Pizza and Homemade Meatballs: Layla Jones

Owned by a local couple with two kids (named Layla and Jones, of course) this place is pretty much as close to having dinner at your suburban friend’s house as you can imagine without leaving the 718. That is, if your friend happens to be an insanely good cook. Locals know that this is one of the chillest backyards in Cobble Hill and the kids’ menu is equally as inviting. Dishes such as spaghetti with a homemade to-die-for meatball ($7) or a chicken and mozzarella panini ($5) will become fast faves. With room for kids to roam and lots of fellow families, it’s easygoing all the way at this spot.

214 Court St. (between Warren & Baltic St.)
Cobble Hill

photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

To Immerse Yourself in Nature: Yellow Magnolia Canteen

One of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets, especially on an overcast day, this cheery outdoor café overlooking the Garden’s lush Pavilions (tropical, desert and warm temperate) is as family friendly as it gets. The kids’ menu features hot dogs, grilled cheese, breaded chicken fingers (these taste homemade) and cheeseburgers (juice boxes and fresh squeezed lemonade and strawberry lemonade are also available) as well as sophisticated salads for mom and dad and beer and wine, too. Vegetarian and vegan diners won’t be disappointed, either, with several menu items available, including the Impossible Burger, made of all plant protein. Note: To access the café, you have to pay Garden admission or be a BBG member.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
990 Washington Ave.

photo: Cafe du Soleil

To Pretend You’re in Paris: Café Du Soleil

So authentically French, you’ll spot this sunny café from a block away thanks to its welcoming yellow and blue awning and massive umbrellas to shade you from the hot sidewalks. Once inside, your kids will get a kick out of the Parisian décor, including authentic shutters, paintings and French flags. Your kids will love trying out a massive Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame and pairing either with a cone of frites. They’ll never request a PB&J again.

2723 Broadway
Manhattan Valley

To soak in the Tribeca scene: Yves

Take a step off the Hudson River Park paths and zip over to Yves, a corner bistro with sidewalk seating that’s in prime people-watching territory. We recommend visiting here for this sweet spot’s signature pancakes served with chocolate chips or blueberry a la mode.

385 Greenwich Street

photo: ©2013 Philip Greenberg

To Sit in the Shadow of 30 Rock: Summer Garden and Bar at Rock Center Café

This summer garden is the ultimate outdoor restaurant to take your kids. Located right on the ice skating rink, you’ll get cool breezes from the gilded fountain and your kids will love the burgers and crispy fries. Brunch is super popular among families so arrive early to snag a table and gaze on the gorgeous architecture surrounding you. Lucky for us the café opens at 9:30 on Saturday and Sunday—prime time for exhausted moms and dads!

Summer Garden and Bar at Rock Center Café
20 West 50th Street, Concourse Level

For Mac & Cheese Among the Fashionistas: Delicatessen

Even if your fashionista days are currently on hold, you’ll get your fill of the latest trends sitting in the airy outdoor space at this bustling SoHo-bordering-Nolita café. And your kids will be happy, too. Not only does the restaurant serve nine (!) types of Mac-n-Cheese, but the attentive wait staff here will cater to your child’s every need. Pair brunch here with a trip to the nearby New Museum and you’ll satisfy your cultural cravings, too.

54 Prince Street (at Lafayette St.),


—Lambeth Hochwald


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