An Aussie Mum Dishes: NYC Food (with and without kids)

Liz shows us where to eat in NYC with and without the kids

 

I’ve been to New York a handful of times now and it is a fabulous city to visit (apart from the first time I visited, which was an absolute debacle, as I happened to be there for the 3 days when they decided to have a subway AND bus strike for the first time in 30 years – just my luck). We have quite a few friends who have relocated there from Sydney, so when we do visit, we tend to spend a lot of time just hanging out casually, rather than doing any serious eating. The list below is a mix of restaurants we went to a while back, way before we had baby, so most are probably more DN type restaurants rather than FF. That being said, there are a few on here that are quite doable with baby/ies. Americans are also some of the most friendly, and accommodating people, so I don’t think you will receive as much stink eye if baby cries or your pram blocks the way.

I’ve added website links this time because some (such as Joe’s pizza) do have copy cats.

Not in any particular order…

Jungsik: a fancy Korean restaurant, but one of the best fancy meals I have ever had. At the time I visited, they didn’t have any Michelin stars, but they now own 2. The food is phenomenal. We went based on someone else’s recommendation and I was not disappointed. I generally don’t like going to fancy Korean as I am used to having really good home-cooked Korean food (courtesy of my mum), but each dish here has so many interesting flavours executed beautifully, while not compromising on the traditional Korean flavours. I would recommend doing the degustation since you won’t really know what to order – it is expensive – but one of the very few times I can say it was totally worth it! Only other time I said that in 2012 was at the Fat Duck. It is a small space, so not that pram friendly, and I have only been at night – I cannot vouch for what it might be during the day as it could be slightly more casual, but I would ditch the kids for this one.
Good to know: DN, 2 Michelin stars, high priced.
Website: http://jungsik.kr/#index

jungsik2

Peter Luger’s steak house: a fellow steak lover friend took us here and they do the fantastic steak – make sure you get the bacon strips as an entree. Do not go with a vegetarian. You order steak for 2 or steak for 3 and they bring out a portion that feeds the number of people. My friend is convinced it is owned by the mob (the telltale signs are supposedly as follows – waiters are all surly old Italians, they only take cash, registers are really old school etc. etc.) Actually, the cash thing is quite common in NYC – a lot of places only take cash so just check the sites before you go so you don’t have to go looking for a cash point during your meal. Something we had to do a couple of times in the beginning as we are used to London with their portable card payment machines. Once you book your ticket to NYC, if you want to go to Peter Luger’s, make a booking as soon as possible – it’s really hard to get a reservation there. We ate dinner at 4pm as that was the only time they had. I have seen kids in there and it is not a fancy restaurant, but it is very busy so not the best place to lug a pram. I would save this one for either a date, or to take older kids.
Good to know: DN (FF if with older kids), mid-high priced.
Website: http://www.peterluger.com/ ourlocations.cfm

Joe’s pizza: Every time I have visited New York, I always eat my body weight in hot dogs (just something about those carts on the street, they always suck me in) and pizza. I have tried a lot of different pizza places (even the famous Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn) but I have to say my favourite slice (so far) has been here. This is the best! Our steak-lover friend took us here too – he and I have the same palate. I would say, skip Grimaldi’s (and with baby/ies, it would be absolute torture to wait in line for that long!) and go to Joe’s pizza instead. The pizza was much juicier and tastier than the slightly dry pizza we had at Grimaldis. It’s all about the sauce to crust ratio… Joe’s isn’t a sit down place, but that makes it perfect for eating with baby/ies. You can run in and grab a quick slice, give kids a nibble and continue on your way. Lunch done in 10 minutes. There are a lot of copy cats, but this is the right one (I checked the photos).
Good to know: FF, low priced.
Website: http://www.joespizzanyc.com/ index.php –

joes-pizza

Pearl oyster bar: no reservations so try and go early – it’s near Joe’s Pizza so you could have lunch at one place, walk around a bit then have dinner at the other hahaha (I actually did do this one day..) Obviously, not really that doable with kids, but if like me, you only walk about 10 metres in the space of an hour due to baby crying, hungry, pooping etc. then it’s handy to know of two great restaurants close together as a good back-up plan for fuel. The Clam chowder with bacon was so good!!! Skip the clams they were really gritty. But everything else was super tasty. It is a bit tight in there (something you need to get used to with most NYC restaurants) so ditch the pram, and/or save this for a DN or with your older kids.
Good to know: DN or FF (depending on time of day), mid priced.
Website: http://www.pearloysterbar.com/

pearls-oyster-bar

Fette Sau: – ribs and whiskey!!! Need I say more?? This is a definite leave your kids at home place (although the seating is all quite open plan, so if you were really desperate to try it, you could sneak a pram in and leave it in the corner..it’s so dark in there no one would really notice). You can get whiskey platters (3 whiskeys at a time for about $15? Which is good if you don’t know your whiskey very well, you can try a few at a time). They don’t take bookings and it is very popular so I would say go for opening time if possible. You just choose a spot to sit and then one of you go and order at the counter. We went 15 mins before they opened and were the second group there. And by the time they actually opened, there was a line behind us. It’s more fun in a group, but will still be good with less people.
Good to know: DN (could be FF but don’t hold me to that), mid-high priced (unless you go crazy with the whiskey).
Website: http://www.fettesaubbq.com/

The Dutch: a very polished, cool, modern American restaurant with really good solid food. They have a very busy bar area you can grab a drink while you wait for your table. This is definitely a DN place.
Good to know: DN, mid-high priced.
Website: http://thedutchnyc.com/

Danji: a very intimate little Korean restaurant, similar to Jungsik in its modern execution of the classic, but a lot more casual and less expensive. It is quite small, so not the best for prams. If you do get a chance to get away, it is a nice romantic DN spot.
Good to know: DN, mid-high priced.
Website: http://www.danjinyc.com/index. html

Rosa Mexicana: a chain Mexican restaurant that won’t be as good as the Mexican food you get on the west coast (or in Mexico, obviously) but still pretty solid. It is a fun restaurant and very FF (although if you go to the one we went to, you will need to lug pram up the stairs, but once upstairs, it is very spacious). The guacamole is a must! Very fresh and they make for you on the spot! Bit of a novelty, but actually tastes great. The rest of the meal was also good but the highlights were the guacamole and margaritas. Worth going since we don’t really get proper Mexican here in London or in Sydney, but not super crucial. Only go if you love guacamole.
Good to know: FF, low-mid priced.
Website: http://www.rosamexicano.com/

rosamexicana

Bonchon chicken: Korean fried chicken!! If you haven’t ever had Korean fried chicken you have been missing out! It is very different to any other type of fried chicken out there. They have a few branches in NYC (I can’t remember which I went to – I think it was the 5th Avenue one) but they are super casual and the one I went to would be very pram friendly. If you get a chance, check out the mini Koreatown in mid-town NYC – it’s a little bit like being in Seoul.
Good to know: FF, low priced.
Website: http://us.bonchon.com/general- locations/

Daisy May’s: BBQ restaurant that do some of the best no-frills BBQ in New York. I haven’t actually been to the restaurant, but we ordered delivery one night as it was too cold to leave the apartment. If, like us, you need a ‘rest’ day, and cannot fathom the idea of taking baby out after a previously exhausting day of walking around with a grumpy crying baby and trying to change a diaper in the middle of the street, Daisy May’s will deliver to most of New York.
Good to know: FF, low-mid priced.
Website: http://www.daisymaysbbq.com/

Shake Shack: burger chain that has a special place in my belly (along with ‘In N Out’ on the west coast). Yes, it is now in London, but I still believe the London branch is not as good as the NYC ones. There are quite a few dotted around the city and some are more pram friendly than others (I’ve been to two of them and one had lots of stairs and was very packed, whilst the other did not have stairs, and although still packed, tables were not as tight together), but all of them are FF. Great if you are craving a burger and don’t want to get one that is the size of your entire face (what is it with the giant portion sizes America??)
Good to know: FF, low priced.
Website: https://www.shakeshack.com/

Gotham West Market: a great little food marketplace, paid out like a food court but much nicer. Lots of wide communal benches, this is a great place to go with kids as there are lots of options for picky eaters, and lots of seating space. I’ve only tried the Ramen there, but all the food options look great, and the ramen was fantastic.
Good to know: FF, low priced.
Website: http://gothamwestmarket.com/

Chelsea Market: pretty famous marketplace, similar to Gotham West Market, but much larger, and each food stall is sort of like a mini restaurant, rather than just a counter. They also have some non-food shops here as well. They do a great Lobster roll at the The Lobster place. Some of the places will be more pram-friendly than others, but it is a great place to take the kids to roam around. Seating isn’t laid out as well as Gotham West Market, but definitely worth a visit.
Good to know: FF, low priced.
Website: http://www.chelseamarket.com/

So there you have it- a roundup of my personal favorites in the great city of New York. If you have plans to head there with or without the kids, do share your own culinary experiences with us so we can all benefit from them!

-Elizabeth Soomin

Aussie foodie and mum to Olive, living in London, UK

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