If you’re tired of the same old restaurants or just want to experience something different for a change, it’s time to hit up some dim sum spots. (For the uninitiated: Dim sum is a Chinese selection of small dishes like dumplings and rolls that is usually picked straight from a cart that’s wheeled around by the servers.) It’s the perfect kid’s meal: portions are small, there’s a huge variety of flavors and ingredients, and you (usually) see exactly what you’re going to get. Whether you’re looking to introduce your kids to some new flavors, or just want to experience a fun Chinese breakfast or brunch meal, we’ve picked out some of our favorite NYC dim sum spots for you!
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
No dim sum list is complete without a mention of the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Nom Wah is a classic spot that dates back to 1920, and it hasn't changed much since. It is not a typical dim sum experience as food is selected from a menu with pictures instead of a cart, but this just means a less hectic pace and a diner-like atmosphere that's welcoming to families. Be prepared to wait a bit as Nom Wah is well-known and therefore gets pretty crowded on weekends with tourists and other families; weekday mornings are much calmer if you can manage it.
13 Doyers St.
Dim Sum Go-Go
If you're a newcomer to dim sum, Dim Sum Go-Go is a good place to start. This two-floor spot in Chatham Square has a more laid-back feel than traditional dim sum places, with a slower-paced atmosphere and friendly staff. Unlike many other restaurants that offer dim sum in the mornings only, Dim Sum Go-Go has dim sum all day long, so you can have shrimp dumplings and fish balls for dinner if you want. The prices are a bit higher and the selection smaller than your typical dim sum fare, but it's a good place to start if traditional spaces seem too hectic or intimidating.
5 E. Broadway
Jing Fong Restaurant
You haven't truly experienced dim sum until you've been to a cart-delivered food spot. Jing Fong is not a beginner-friendly restaurant but if you've had dim sum before this is an excellent place to experience the hectic, wonderful mess that is authentic dim sum. The giant 2nd floor banquet hall holds an impressive amount of people, and food is delivered by carts wheeled around by servers. Know before you go: the earlier you arrive, the fresher the food will be; servers can be aggressive—be firm about what you want and don't want; you aren't limited to the carts, and servers will bring you specific dishes if you ask for them (if they are available). The restaurant is not friendly to babies or younger kids due to its sheer size and noise-level, but older kids will get a kick out of the bustle and the huge variety of food to choose from.
20 Elizabeth St.
Tim Ho Wan
Despite being a newcomer to the area, Hong Kong-based Tim Ho Wan has a solid reputation as a dim sum spot. Space is a bit tight in this popular East Village spot so snagging a booth seat is recommended if you're visiting as a family. The space is accomodating to kids: there are plenty of high chairs to go around, as well as changing tables in the bathrooms and stroller parking. Although this spot gets crowded, you won't have to wait in a line outside: just leave your number to receive a text message when it's time to head over.
85 4th Ave.
Dim Sum VIP
If you don't quite feel ready to take on the traditional dim sum banquet, Dim Sum VIP offers a quieter experience for families to enjoy. Dishes are chosen from a menu and made to order, and the smaller space has a much calmer atmosphere. This restaurant's strength is in presentation: every dish looks beautiful and delicious before you even bite into it. Be sure to try the piggy buns, a sweet and adorable treat for the kids. The spot has also been known to hand out seasonal buns and treats, like cute pumpkin-themed buns for Halloween.
68 Mott St.
For a truly kid-friendly experience, give Red Egg a visit. Dishes here are also chosen from a menu, served by friendly staff who make you and your kids feel welcome—and helpfully work around any allergies your family might have. Plenty of high chairs are available as well, and mirrors and fun decor give the area a spacious and festive mood.
202 Centre St.
"Kosher" and "vegetarian" are not typically words you'd associate with a Chinatown restaurant, so Buddha Bodai seems pretty out of place smack dab in the middle of Chinatown. But by all accounts this dim sum spot is a delicious alternative for families with certain food restrictions. Every dish is 100% vegetarian (and often vegan) and kosher, with a few gluten-free selections as well, and the taste is a close approximation to the real deal. Try the spare ribs or any of their other dim sum fare for a meal infused with vegetables, tofu, and a slightly healthier version of other favorites.
5 Mott St.
East Harbor Seafood Palace
You don't have to head out to Chinatown to experience authentic dim sum—the East Harbor Seafood Palace has you covered right in Brooklyn. The space boasts a bustling atmosphere and cart-delivered dishes. Fresh fish is picked right out of the large tanks by the kitchen, which are also great for the kids to marvel at. Dim sum is served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (if visiting on a weekend be prepared for a wait).
714 65th St.
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
Although Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao serves dim sum all day, they are more like a traditional restaurant than the other places on this list. Food is served off a menu, while the atmosphere is lively and family-friendly (expect many kids on weekends). Baby seats and delicious food are available aplenty, but staff is also kid-conscious, seating children by the wall to keep them safe from passing servers carrying hot food. If you visit for the dim sum, it's highly recommended that you also give the soup dumplings and scallion pancakes a go. (Our quick and dirty on eating soup dumplings: the soup is inside the dumplings. Don't get burned! Bite a small hole into the side of the dumpling and carefully suck out the soup. Enjoy the burst of deliciousness. Repeat.) This spot is cash only, so come prepared!
38-12 Prince St.
What’s your favorite spot for dim sum with the kids? Chime in in the comments!