Adventure, baby!

Midtown West

The Plaza Food Hall: Kid-Friendly Dining, Midtown, New York

Plaza Food Court - FP Patisserie by Francois Payard
Some of the best croissants you’ll ever get in NYC. FP Patisserie by Francois Payard

The Plaza Food Hall beneath the famous Plaza Hotel is our secret go-to place when we’re in midtown and need to eat something good in a hurry. For some magical reason, tourists haven’t yet discovered it, so it’s never crazy busy, even on weekends at peak brunch or lunch times. This could be due to its relative newness—while the more well-known The Plaza Food Hall By Todd English opened under the Plaza in 2010, the expanded (and more reasonably priced) food hall with the smaller vendors only opened in May 2012.

Plaza Food Court
Spreading out the delights.

The food court consists of stalls from some of New York’s finest (and most famous) restaurants and bakeries. Current vendors in the Food Hall: Billy’s Bakery, FP Patisserie by Francois Payard, Kusmi Tea, La Maison du Chocolat, Lady M, Luke’s Lobster, No 7 Sub, Pain d’Avignon, Sushi of Gari, Tartinery, Three Tarts, William Greenberg and Yoart.

Plaza Food Court
Open dining area with lots of room.

Give yourself time to do a lap and get acquainted with your huge amount of choice. This will be the most difficult part of your time at the Plaza Food Hall. Honest. Some vendors offer ready-made food that you can simply grab and chow down, you can also get made-to-order cooked food if you’re planning to hang around a bit longer.

Plaza Food Court
Pain d’Avignon vegetarian quiche.

I chose a vegetarian quiche from Pain d’Avignon. It was heated up for me in their little toaster oven, and came with a separate side salad, delicately topped with lemon dressing. Cheese, of course, devoured most of my quiche (anyone else have a hard time keeping track of how much they eat with a toddler stealing half of their food?).

Plaza Food Court
Salmon salad from FP Patisserie by Francois Payard.

Alec chose a salmon salad from FP Patisserie by Francois Payard, plus a few croissants for us to share. Tip: the croissants by Francois Payard are some of the best croissants you’ll find in New York City, so grab a few when you get the chance, even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry at that moment. You’ll be thanking yourself (and, hopefully, us!) a few hours later for your forethought.

One of the reasons the food court is so family-friendly is the large seating area they have. Plenty of room for strollers, lots of high chairs, and a casual, yet upmarket, ambience lending itself to the feeling of finer dining, without the pressure of trying to ensure that your little kids don’t make a peep while you’re eating.

Don’t fill up too much on savouries—be sure to leave room for a treat of the chocolate, cupcake, slice of cake or yogurt variety. Take dessert to go if you can’t squeeze in another bite.

Plaza Food Court - No 7 Sub
No 7 Sub.
Plaza Food Court
La Maison Du Chocolat
Plaza Food Court - Three Tarts Bakery
Three Tarts Bakery.
Plaza Food Court - Luke's Lobster
Luke’s Lobster.
Plaza Food Court - Tartinery
Tartinery.
Plaza Food Court - Lady M
Lady M.
Plaza Food Court - FP Patisserie by Francois Payard
Delish – FP Patisserie by Francois Payard.
Plaza Food Court - Billy's Bakery
Billy’s Bakery cupcakes.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes. Enter via 58th st and take the elevator down.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Not a specific menu for kids, but a lot of places to choose from, so there’s sure to be something kids will like.

The Plaza Food Hall
1 W 59th St
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 986 9260
Prices: $$$
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-9:30pm Sun 11am-6pm

Ellen's Stardust Diner; Kid-friendly Restaurants, Midtown Manhattan, New York

Somehow I’ve managed to live in New York for two years and not hear about Ellen’s Stardust Diner until now. It’s totally a tourist trap – in the middle of Times Square with exorbitant prices, but it boasts something even I was willing to wade through the Times Square mosh pit for – singing waitstaff! And not just any singing waitstaff – Broadway singers between Broadway jobs, literally singing for their supper.

Inside this kitschy exterior …

The outside isn’t much to look at. It looked so dodgy in fact, that Alec waited outside with Cheese while I poked my head in to make sure it wasn’t a total dump. What I saw, however, was this …

A Broadway song and dinner, perhaps?

As you can see from the photo, the diner was packed. It’s two floors so there’s lots of room, and when we arrived at 2pm we didn’t have to wait at all for a prime table.

A word of warning, this place is loud. So loud I had to point at the menu to my waitress after she dropped by once her number was over (she was excellent, by the way. I would totally pay to see her in a show).

Sharing an Oreo shake with my Cheese.

The menu is huge – and really overpriced. Be prepared to get totally fleeced in this diner. You will however, in return, get a solid, decent meal, and an amazing show of constant, extremely high quality, singing. Also, take note that you’ll have to tip the staff twice – once to your individual server for their wait service, and once for the entire team for their singing, as they only get paid minimal wage ($5 an hour – WTF?!) and don’t get paid to sing. Whoever is running this joint is making a FORTUNE.

Standard diner fare.

Our visit however was well worth the expense. All three of us enjoyed the singing immensely, as well as being happy with the food. Cheese spent the majority of our time there standing up in the highchair and dancing. She just couldn’t believe all of the live music – when various singers walked straight up to her and sang to her, I thought her little head was going to explode with joy.

Can’t. Believe. Her. Eyes!
Sitting back and enjoying the show.

This was not a relaxing lunch experience by a long shot – but it was so enjoyable that we will definitely be back. Note to dairy lovers who order shakes – they will bring out the shake in a glass plus the leftovers in the metal cup it was spun in, so unless you can stomach two shakes in a sitting, be safe and share with a friend.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes – bring a folding stroller if possible though.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: Yes.
Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥♥♥-

Ellen’s Stardust Diner
1650 Broadway (at 51st st),
New York
Phone: (212) 956 5151
Hours: Mon-Thur 7am-12am, Fri-Sat 7am-1am, Sun 7am-11pm

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Landmarc (at the Time Warner Center)

Landmarc at Time Warner Center - kid-friendly restaurants, New York
Cheese!

For Alec’s first Father’s Day, we wanted to try a restaurant near Central Park. Landmarc at the Time Warner Center is right on the edge of Central Park, at Columbus Circle, so it’s the perfect location if you want to dine and then stroll or play.

Landmarc at Time Warner Center - kid-friendly restaurants, New York
With Dad and the spoon.

Landmarc features standard breakfast and brunch food, like omelettes, pancakes and egg dishes. I found them to be a bit over priced (a basic omelette starts at $18), you do get to eat lunch with a killer view of the park and Columbus Circle.

A real family restaurant, there are always lots of kids dining at Landmarc – which will be obvious as soon as you arrive and see all of the strollers parked outside. Be sure to reserve your table in advance via Open Table.

Last bite: Solid food, great view, and you’re right on Central Park!

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes. Stroller parking outside the front of the restaurant (inside the Time Warner Center), or you can bring in small foldable strollers with you.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Landmarc
10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 823 6123

Hours:
Open 7 days a week from 7am-2am