Times Square Family-Friendly Restaurants: Where to Eat with Kids in NYC's Theater District
What's harder than navigating the crowds in Times Square? Finding a family-friendly restaurant in the area that doesn't belong in a mall. Applebee's, Chevy's, Olive Garden, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co... you're supposed to be in the center of New York City not some nearby suburb.
But just as there are things to do with kids in Times Square beyond the usual tourist attractions, there are also a variety of off-the-beaten-track family-friendly eateries serving tasty cuisine that reflect our melting pot of our city. All ten of my picks are places I've eaten at with my seven-year-old in tow, so I can attest to their kid appeal.
Next time you're in the Theater District, whether seeing a Broadway show, entertaining guests or just passing through, skip the chains and see if one of these 10 kid-friendly Times Square restaurants is more to your family's taste.
614 Ninth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets
A good old-fashioned no-frills diner, Westway isn't fancy but it's got a lot on its menu: all-day breakfast, Greek favorites like souvlaki and moussaka, pasta and meat entrees, and the ubiquitous burgers, sandwiches, salads and shakes. No children's menu here, but the portions are big enough to share. Plus there's rarely a wait and the no-nonsense staff gets you in and out in a hurry. Its lack of pretension seems to have celebrity appeal: Reportedly, it's where Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld began brainstorming that "show about nothing and lots of theater folk frequent the spot. I've seen Bobby Cannavale and Zach Braff here in the past.
754 Ninth Avenue at 51st Street
If you prefer your diners a lot more fabulous, it's hard to beat this glitter-encrusted, disco-ball turning, music-themed eatery. The walls are decorated with prints of vintage rock-n-roll posters and dioramas with dolls decked out as famous pop stars (The Beatles, Elton John, Biggie Smalls). Plus the interiors of the individual bathrooms are inspired by famous divas. (The Cher one is my daughter's favorite.) The dishes are more spectacular than your average diner, too: Many of the items have an Asian bent (Mama's Thai chicken noodle soup, Asian Caesar, Kung Pao shrimp tacos) and even standards like mac 'n cheese are spruced up with exotic ingredients (in this case, fontina and goat cheese). There are also vegetarian options. Again, no children's menu but you can easily share, and the kitschy decor and exuberant servers are sure to mesmerize. Bonus: It's so boisterous, no one will care (or notice) if your kids forget to use their inside voices.
West 45th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue
Out of all the massive ethnic restaurants in Times Square—Brooklyn Diner, Carmine's, Ruby Foo's—Junior's is my favorite. An offshoot of the Brooklyn original, the Theater District outpost boasts the same old-time style with NYC memorabilia on the walls, plus potato pancakes, brisket, chopped liver and other Jewish delicacies that taste like they came from my bubbe's kitchen. Of course the local chain is best known for its cheesecake, which is to die for. Downside: It's perpetually overrun and reservations aren't accepted for small parties. But if you just need a snack, hit Junior's bakery right next door, which sells muffins, black and white cookies, rugelach and cake slices, and offers limited outdoor seating.
Dafni Greek Taverna
325 West 42 Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
A good restaurant right on 42nd Street? It's true. Granted, Greek cuisine may be a little exotic for some young palates, but adventurous tweens will be rewarded with mouth-watering staples like saganaki (addictive baked cheese), spanakopita (spinach pie), kalamarakia (fried squid) and a variety of cold spreads. I never order main dishes here; instead I get a bunch of appetizers to share. The place gets super-crowded pre-theater and the restaurant really packs 'em in (sometimes you feel like you're right on top of the next table). But reservations are accepted and it's often empty during non-peak hours. It's definitely not good for preschoolers and I've rarely seen children here. But my grade-schooler has done just fine at Dafni so yours should, too.
Schnipper's Quality Kitchen
620 Eighth Avenue at 41st Street
For the quickest, most kid-friendly meal in the entire area, this cafeteria-style restaurant gets my vote. We raved about the mini-chain's other Manhattan location in our post about places to eat near Madison Square Park besides Shake Shack. It's a similar situation in Times Square since another one of Danny Meyer's popular burger joints is just a few blocks away. But at Schnipper's, the wait is much shorter and the menu is much larger and includes tacos, Sloppy Joes, mac and cheese, fried fish and a wide array of salads in addition to burgers, fries and shakes. Just order at the register, find a spot at the communal tables and your food is brought to you within minutes.
763 Ninth Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets
We already highlighted this sliver of a spot in our roundup of family-friendly restaurants near Rockefeller Center and it's also not too far from Times Square. Choose from an incredible variety of traditional empanadas stuffed with meats, veggies, cheese, rice and beans, plus unexpected multicultural combos like Mambo Italiano (roasted Italian sweet sausage with peppers and mozzarella), Reggaeton (Caribbean-style roast pork with seasoned yellow rice) or Polish (kielbasa and sauerkraut). There are even dessert options (chocolate and banana; figs, caramel and cheese; or my favorite, guava with mozzarella). It's kind of like dim sum: You order a bunch and share, and each one is less than $3. The one downside: There are about six tables and they're often filled. In nice weather, order to go and head to nearby Hell's Kitchen Park, which has plenty of benches.
Virgil's Real BBQ
152 West 44th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue
I am not a barbecue fan and yet I love the grub at Virgil's. You'll find all the standards: ribs, pulled pork, fried shrimp or chicken, plus sides like mac 'n cheese, baked beans, buttermilk biscuits, and mashed potatoes and gravy. The combo platters are pricey but your best bet if you're sharing, and you're going to want to do that because the portions are so huge I'm surprised Mayor Bloomberg hasn't gone after them. Yes it's loud. Yes it's fattening. Yes it's messy. Yes it's overrun with tourists. But it's still worth it. And kids get crayons and coloring pages.
260 West 44th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue
Full disclosure: I personally do not love this cavernous thin-crust brick-oven pizza place, which is housed in the former Gospel Tabernacle Church. But the Times Square outpost of this popular local chain has many fans and I realize lots of kids consider pizza one of the major food groups. The simple Margherita is your best bet for picky eaters but you can also choose from a variety of toppings. Pasta dishes, salads and meat entrees are also available.
And for dessert...
362 West 45th Street at Ninth Avenue
This recently opened dessert spot serves milk and cookies and not much else. But oh the cookies! In addition to the mundane chocolate chip, you'll find maple bacon, peanut butter banana crunch, candied yam and pumpkin spice. There are brownies and ice cream sandwiches, too.
672 Ninth Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets
There's a lot more than bread here. The cafe menu includes scones, muffins, biscuits, doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies and even pizza and quiche. There's one table here so take-out is really your only option but Hell's Kitchen Park is one avenue away.
Read about other family-friendly restaurants in NYC.
- Ninth Avenue Food Crawl: Introduce the Kids to International Cuisines at These Midtown West Restaurants
- Where to Eat with Kids Near Madison Square Park Besides Shake Shack
- Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Long Island City
- Family-Friendly Restaurants in Chelsea: Where to Eat With Kids in Chelsea NYC