Starved after your visit to one of the top kid destinations on the Upper West Side? Home to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) at 79th Street and Central Park West and the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) at 83rd Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway, few Manhattan neighborhoods scream kid-friendly quite like the UWS, and that means the area's restaurants are overwhelmingly welcoming to families.
So while you really can't go wrong, we've rounded up 12 of the best spots where you can grab a quick bite or even sit down for a full meal. For more family-friendly eateries, check out our NYC Restaurant Guide.
Can't beat a burger and fries at Good Enough to Eat. Photo courtesy of Good Enough to Eat
Good Enough to Eat
520 Columbus Avenue at 85th Street
The staff here really goes out of its way to please families. The decor evokes a Vermont farmhouse, and the kids' menu offers mini burgers, macaroni and cheese, pasta, and pizza. The homemade desserts are uniformly delicious, and include American classics like pie, fruit crisp, and layer cakes. Beware: Even after moving from its Amsterdam Avenue location in early 2013, Good Enough to Eat is still as popular as ever, especially for brunch. Opt instead to go for lunch or dinner when things tend to quiet down.
201 West 83rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway
Located right across the street from CMOM, this crowded cafe serves sweet snacks for kids and a shot of caffeine for parents. In addition to yummy cakes, pies, and cookies, there are light meal options like grilled sandwiches and salads. Due to its small size, flight of steps, and lack of high chairs, it's not a great place for toddlers. However, Lalo offers brisk take-out so it's a good spot to grab a to-go snack. The artsy atmosphere, which includes jazz and classical music in the background, may look adult, but the staff welcomes families.
476 Amsterdam Avenue at 83rd Street
Named after a seeing-eye dog, this beloved neighborhood spot is just around the corner from CMOM. A perfect spot for dinner, parents can sip on wine or beer while children color, then everyone can enjoy salads, finger foods, and burgers. Popular with the brunch crowd, too.
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Peacefood Cafe's delicious and famous chickpea fries are a hit with kids. Photo courtesy of Peacefood Cafe
460 Amsterdam Avenue at 82nd Street
This comfy vegan eatery is a great choice for a healthy snack or meal, especially if your family is looking for tasty gluten-free or vegetarian options. There are lots of kid-appropriate choices, including delectable baked goods like brownies and chocolate chip cookies with no refined sugar, dairy, or eggs, and a variety of smoothies. For more substantial fare, try a panini, pizza, or salad.
Enjoy deep dish Chicago-style pizza in NYC.
432 Columbus Avenue at 81st Street
The restaurant's signature deep-dish Chicago-style pizza and its proximity to AMNH keeps it packed with families. The large kids' menu includes a make-your-own pizza option, where children get an apron, pizza crust, and toppings, and then go to work. Pasta, chicken nuggets, and burgers are also available. This place is big, so you usually don't have to wait too long for a table.
2090 Broadway at 72nd Street
Snappy hot dogs and an array of tropical fruit juices keep this take-out place packed. Its "Recession Special"—two dogs and a drink—costs about $5. Waiting for your grub is a quintessential New York experience. As you watch the franks sizzle on the grill, you rub shoulders with a veritable cross-section of the world, everyone from panhandlers to the rich and famous. Warning: Hot dogs are pretty much the only option here, so if your brood doesn't like 'em, skip it. The line often spills out onto Broadway and there is no seating, just counter space, so get your meal to go and eat in Verdi Square across the street.
Alice's Tea Cup
102 West 73rd Street near Columbus Avenue
The UWS location of this beloved Alice in Wonderland-themed mini-chain features lovely Lewis Carroll-inspired murals. Before you're seated, the staff sprinkles your kids with fairy dust and offers them fairy wings (although they're on lend, you can opt to buy a pair). The spot specializes in a British-style tea of scones, clotted cream, and jam, but also serves savory sandwiches and salads, perfect for a light meal. For kids, there's a Menu for the Small, or you can order The Wee Tee, which includes a scone, kids' menu item, dessert, and a beverage. Service is leisurely, so don’t expect to be in and out. Also, it's best to make a reservation as the place is often packed, but still it remains one of our favorite spots for a fancy tea outing with the kids.
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Kefi has delicious Greek food for kids and parents.
505 Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets
The homey Greek cuisine at this spot will warm your soul and the price point will be easy on your wallet. The tsoutsoukakia have been voted the best meatballs by New York Mag and just might be familiar enough to make your finicky toddler an adventurous eater. The portions are generous, as is the dining area, meaning you won't wait long or leave hungry—a definite plus after an afternoon of museum hopping.
2450 Broadway between 90th and 91st
This family-style restaurant serves delicious Italian food in a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for post-museum dining. The extensive menu provides plenty of palate-pleasing options for the whole family, including spaghetti, meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, and a range of chicken and seafood options. For dessert, there's chocolate cannoli, tiramisu, and more.
And for dessert...
325 Amsterdam Avenue between 75th and 76th Streets
The UWS outpost of this frozen yogurt chain is a popular after-school snack spot. There are 16 flavors and tons of toppings to choose from. Best of all, you customize your scoop yourself at the bar. The entire yogurt, toppings and all, is weighed, and you are charged per ounce, so everyone gets a treat that suits their appetite.
Treat House takes rice crispy treats to a whole new level . Photo by Anna Fader.
452 Amsterdam Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets
If rice crispy treats are your thing—and why wouldn't they be?—Treat House is the place for you. This spot handcrafts beautiful, tasty, bite-sized crispy rice confections in inventive flavors such as birthday cake, bubble gum, chocolate pretzel, cookies and cream, and more. Adding to the sweetness of these treats is the back story about how the company came to be and how it "treats it forward" today.
221 West 79th Street at Broadway
For a sweet, interactive dessert experience, head to this chocolate shop where you can pick up a treat to-go at the counter, or craft your own using Voila's artisanal chocolates and yummy mix-ins to create a sweet ending to a family outing.
Top photo courtesy of Carmine's
This article was first published in November 2011 but has since been updated.