Back when my daughter was in kindergarten, her class got into a conversation about world hunger. Her solution? Just go eat at a restaurant. (Marie Antoinette would have been proud.)
Clearly, my child has been raised on a diet that's heavy on eating out, and why not? New York City has some of the best kid-friendly restaurants anywhere.
Of course, dining out doesn't come cheaply, especially in this town—unless you happen to be a child. For NYC kids, there really is such a thing as a free lunch, brunch, and sometimes even dinner, if you know where to go. At these nine local eateries, you can feed those hungry mouths for the unbeatable price of $0, while you get a break from playing chef. We know what you'll be making tonight: reservations.
NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
Here's something to chew on: Before heading out, call to verify these deals are still valid as rules often change, and restaurants close.
Bourbon Street Cafe – Bayside, Queens
40-12 Bell Boulevard
This family-owned Cajun eatery brings a N'awlins flair to Queens with down-home staples such as chicken and shrimp jambalaya, seafood gumbo and a basic kids' menu that includes soda and ice cream. On Sundays (except for holidays), children younger than age 12 eat free all day with the purchase of an adult entree.
RELATED: Over-the-Top Desserts in NYC
Photo by Benjamin Kabak / CC BY 2.0
Brother Jimmy’s – Manhattan
Multiple restaurants. Visit the website for locations.
At this (mostly) local barbecue chain, children younger than 12 eat free every day with the purchase of a full-priced adult meal. In addition to mouthwatering comfort food such as pulled pork, chicken, catfish, ribs, and yummy side dishes, kids should dig the old-school arcade games. Some locations turn into a major bar scene at night, so go early.
Jimmy Max – Staten Island
280 Watchogue Road, near Livermore Avenue, in Westerleigh
This Staten Island bistro offers free pizza seminars for children younger than 13 on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 to 7:30pm with the purchase of a full-price adult meal. Children get to prepare individual pies in nine simple steps and then eat them. Reservations are required. Graduates of the pizza seminar can complete a worksheet and return it another day to earn yet another free meal.
Kelley and Ping – Soho
127 Greene Street, between Prince and Houston Streets
Branch out from chicken nuggets and fries at this pan-Asian noodle bar, which offers free dinner for kids younger than 12 with the purchase of an adult entree between 5:30 and 7pm daily. The children's menu includes a Thai Silly Salad with bean sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, and peanut sauce; and the Yin Yang, which is a spring roll, chicken satay, veggie dumpling, and edamame. There are even more whimsical plates from which to choose.
Lucca – Pelham Bay, the Bronx
3019 Westchester Avenue
Generous portions and tasty Italian dishes are the trademarks of this family-friendly spot in the Bronx. Kids eat free on Tuesdays. In addition, Lucca offers a variety of other discounts and special events. Visit the website to download a money-saving coupon or make plans to dine out when it hosts its popular painting nights. Make sure to sign up for the birthday club, too, to get free dessert on your birthday.
Schiller's Liquor Bar – Lower East Side
131 Rivington Street, at Orchard Street
Restaurateur Keith McNally opened this continental bistro to great fanfare a few years back. The atmosphere is casual and kid-friendly, but the menu is impressive, with everything from chicken paillard to mussels and fries. On weeknights from 5 to 7pm, children younger than 10 eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.
Scottadito Osteria Toscana – Park Slope, Brooklyn
788A Union Street
Park Slope parents rejoice—on Tuesdays, at least—when you can hit up this Italian eatery for a selection of Tuscan-inspired favorites. From mouth-watering pizza to housemade pasta and an impressive selection of entrees, and more importantly, wines, this spot serves up homey, delicious Italian favorites for a crowd-pleasing night without emptying your wallet.
Uncle Jack's Steakhouse – Manhattan & Queens
Multiple locations. Visit the website for details.
If your kids are meat lovers, hit this local chain, which offers a free hearty kids' meal (prime filet, prime burger, free-range chicken tenders and more, including a side and a dessert) on Sunday after 4pm with the purchase of an adult entree.
Woodrow's – Tribeca
43 Murray Street, between Church and West Broadway
Sunday night truly is family night at this low-key neighborhood restaurant. On Sundays from 5pm on, kids younger than age 10 eat free with the purchase of an adult meal. Both the grown-up and children's menus have basics, including pasta, sandwiches, and steak.
RELATED: Family-Friendly Outdoor Dining Options in NYC
Photo courtesy of Johnny Rockets
National Chains With Kids Deals
In a city filled with fabulous family-friendly local restaurants, we rarely encourage you to choose a chain. But if you're craving 'burb food, these national chains have outposts in NYC and offer kids-eat-free deals. Days, times, and rules vary by location, so check with the server before the bill arrives and gives you heartburn.
Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
Chevys Fresh Mex
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Uno Chicago Grill
Find out about other great places to eat with kids in our NYC Family Restaurant Guide.
Top Photo: Bigstock
This post, originally published in September 2013, has been updated.