I am powerless to resist a good cupcake. The ladies behind Georgetown Cupcakes certainly know what they’re doing. Their cupcakes are almost perfect and my current favorites. What makes them so good? The combination of fluffy, moist base and buttercream swirl, in the perfect ratio. I also love their inventive flavours, like cookies and cream cheesecake.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that the Georgetown Cupcakes in SoHo is great place for an afternoon tea stop with kids. They have a few tables to sit at so you’ll have to strike it lucky to get a spot. The line for cupcakes moves very quickly thanks to their organisation and efficiency, which is another thing I love. You give your order and pay, then move down to the next counter where someone else has already boxed your order for you. Super fast, in and out – perfect when you’ve got a fussy kiddo.
Highchairs: No. Stroller storage: No. You can wheel your stroller in and park it by your table, or fold it and keep it with you if it’s small. Easy access: Yes. Change tables: No. Kids’ menu: No. Baby-friendly rating: ♥—-
I had a massive craving for mac & cheese, so off we went on a freezing cold day to Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese – AKA S’MAC. There are so many things I love about S’MAC – the number one thing being they share my philosophy that mac & cheese is more than just a side dish – it’s a genre of meal to be celebrated.
The restaurant is pretty tiny, with tables squished together. Come on a weekend at peak lunch time and be prepared to stalk other diners to score a table.
There are several size options for your mac & cheese. I like the Major Munch because it means I have leftovers to take home.
You will also be overwhelmed with options for your mac dish – do you want it classic, with veggies, garlic or meat mixed in? If you have special dietary needs you’re taken care of. S’MAC offers gluten-free and multi-grain pasta, as well as lactose-reduced and vegan cheese.
When your dish arrives (they’re pretty quick!), it comes piping hot in a little pan. It’s not the prettiest dish in the world, but damn, it sure is tasty!
While the restaurant isn’t the most baby-friendly place around, it’s very welcoming to kids with its chaotic, colourful environment, and fun food that most kids will love.
Highchairs: No. Stroller storage: No. This place is super tiny. Bring a carrier or folding stroller and prepare to squeeze in. Easy access: Yes. One step to get in the entrance. Change tables: No. Kids’ menu: No. But did I mention pretty much all they serve is mac & cheese? Baby-friendly rating: ♥—-
With Restaurant Week hitting New York, I was excited to try out Norma’s for their all-day breakfast. The Restaurant Week deal was pretty sweet ($25pp for continental bread basket, entree and smoothie), and made the over-the-top prices seem more reasonable. We booked a table for 9am on a Thursday since I thought it would be a good time with Cheese’s naps. Sadly, when we arrived, we found out that the Restaurant Week promotion was only in effect from midday, despite this not being written anywhere on the Restaurant Week promotional material. Since we’d come so far and we already being led to our table, we felt like we had to sit down and order a ridiculously expensive breakfast. So disappointing.
Note to those visiting Norma’s for the first time. The dishes are all stupidly expensive. They average at about $21 an entree. They are huge however and will definitely fill you up for a while. Where you have to watch out is the extras that they they push on you. When we sat down, a waiter approached and gave us free samples of a smoothie (which we were supposed to receive as part of the Restaurant Week deal), and offered us glasses of juice from a pitcher instead of water. An unsuspecting diner might think this was either a) complimentary or b) reasonably priced. Just so you know, it’s neither. The orange juice is $9. Apparently you get unlimited refills, but still. $9. Be warned!
I was hoping that Norma’s would be really kid-friendly after I read their website. The whimsical, fun description of the restaurant is below:
“Breakfast for lunch? Always.
Will I still be hungry? You gotta be kidding.
Do we like kids? More than whipped cream.”
Sadly the reality was very different. While they did have a highchair, that was the extent of the baby-friendliness. The menu is so exorbitantly-priced that it’s way too pricey to order a kid their own meal, and there is no separate kid’s menu. Our waiter was aloof and made us feel unwelcome. The food took forever to come out. We had to break out the Cheddar Bunnies to keep Cheese amused while we were waiting.
Alec ordered the Sweet Suzy. He said it was amazing and was really happy with his dish.
I ordered Nutella Packed Jacks and while the fruit was really fresh and sweet, the pancakes were undercooked and doughy. Usually I’d send them back, but it had taken so long for us to get them that there wasn’t time before we had to leave and take Cheese home for a nap.
I have to make a note here to say that we came on a weekday – the restaurant may be more kid-friendly on weekends. If you’re keen to give it a try, book a table to minimise your wait. They have long queues every day of the week as they have a restaurant that seats 100 and service the hotel they’re housed in, which has 700 rooms.
Highchairs: Yes. Stroller storage: Minimal. Bring a folding stroller or carrier. Easy access: Yes. They have elevator access. Change tables: I didn’t get the chance to check out the restrooms, but there is ample space to change a baby on the benches in the foyer. Kids’ menu: No, but lots of food kids can share with you. At an average of $21 per entree, you probably won’t want to buy them their own dish. Baby-friendly rating: ♥—-
At Le Parker Meridien
119 W 56th St,
New York, NY 10019
We were walking through Chelsea Markets when I spied this …
I am completely unable to pass by pasta. I’m a carboholic and would eat pasta every day if I could. It was midafternoon and prime brunch-time, so we thought we’d peep in and see if they had tables available. The hostess gave us a very warm welcome, especially Cheese, and said they could seat us right away. She helpfully whisked away our stroller to a cute stroller parking area, and we were sat at a table ready for us with a highchair, all while the hostess smiled and chatted with us and the Cheese. So far, total score.
While we waited for our server, we looked around us at the many other families tucking into delicious-looking pasta dishes. Lots of toddlers and small kids shovelling spaghetti bolognese into their mouths, as well as older kids and teenagers, all sharing and enjoying beautiful pasta. Heaven!
We did wait a while for service, but when the server arrived he apologised and explained that it was shift changeover time and he was sorry that we were overlooked as the previous server for our section had just left. After our orders were taken, we thankfully didn’t have to wait very long before our dishes arrived. We ordered a pasta dish each, thinking we would share them with the Cheese. We didn’t count on the pasta dishes being on the small side – Cheese quickly inhaled about half of one dish on her own. She is clearly a carboholic too. She particularly loved the spinach and ricotta girasole dish, and enjoyed crunching down on the parmigiano reggiano basket after the pasta was gone.
After lunch we went for a walk on the waterfront nearby to a small playground. There are options for kids to blow off steam in all weather – the nearby Chelsea Piers has indoor play space, as well as the outdoor playground we discovered and the Chelsea water park on 23rd st for the warmer months.
Highchairs: Yes. Stroller storage: Yes – plenty of storage space for full-sized strollers. Easy access: Yes. Change tables: No. There is one disabled restroom on the upper level for both men and women, and one restroom down two flights of stairs – not enough restrooms for such a large restaurant. No change table, but plenty of space on the floor if you’re desperate to change a baby. Kids’ menu: No, but what kid doesn’t love pasta? Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥♥♥-
We stopped by Aroma after a trip to nearby 9/11 Memorial, badly in need of a place to replenish strength with some out-of-town visitors. The casual vibe at Aroma is perfect for families, particularly those with young infants. Toddlers, too, are welcome – they can happily run around without bothering other diners. Cheese particularly loved the stands with packets of chips on them at a perfect height for little fingers to grab. Thank you Aroma staff for your tolerance!
Order and pay at the counter, then take a seat at one of several long tables. High chairs are available, or you can park your stroller at the table with you.
Aroma is a huge, modern cafe with lots of tables with plenty of room between them, and large, comfy chairs. Add in free wi-fi, fast service and delicious sandwiches, and you’ve got a solid, reliable place to stop and take a breath in the busy city.
Highchairs: Yes. Stroller storage: Yes. This is a huge space, plenty of room for your SUV-sized stroller. Easy access: Yes. Change tables: No. Kids’ menu: No. Kid-friendly rating: ♥♥♥♥-
Cupcakes, cupcakes, and more cupcakes. Magnolia is still the go-to place for cupcakes in New York. They’re the perfect mix of fluffy, moist base, with just the right amount of buttercream frosting. Visiting the original, and most famous, location in the West Village however, is a bit tricky when you factor in an infant. The shop is tiny, with nowhere to sit down at all. There is just enough room inside for a giant queue of tourists making the Magnolia stop on their trip.
This doesn’t mean that you should skip the deliciousness however. The best method is to come with a friend if possible, who can wait outside with the baby while you duck in and buy the food. Right across the road is a little square with benches and trees, so you can take your treats there to relax and eat. If your baby is more towards toddler age, head to the park attached to the square so you can let your kid run wild on the play equipment and still enjoy your precious cupcake.
Highchairs: No. Stroller storage: No. Easy access: Yes – one step. However, the bakery is always packed to the rafters, so you’ll be lucky to be able to squeeze in there with a stroller. Change tables: No. Kids’ menu: No. Baby-friendly rating: ——
E.A.T. was opened by Eli Zabar in 1973. It was the first of Eli’s shops, filled with his ideas on what makes for great food – delicious bread, overstuffed sandwiches and salads made in small batches several times a day. E.A.T. is a great cafe to stop by on the way to or from the Met, particularly if you have your infant or toddler in tow. The cafe has lots of tables and space – we were sat immediately during a busy Sunday lunch period. Right after being seated, water arrived – in a bottle for us, and in a cute little cup with a straw for the toddler.
The service continued to be attentive and fast. A bread basket with three kinds of bread and butter quickly appeared (their tagline is “Everything comes with Eli’s Bread!”), and our meals arrived with astonishing speed. Dining was a bit pricey (a cheese omelette was $20), but hey, it is the UES after all, and it’s worth paying a bit extra to have an enjoyable dining experience with babies and toddlers.
Highchairs: Yes. Stroller storage: Yes – but minimal. We folded ours next to the table and it was no problem. Take an umbrella stroller or baby carrier if possible. Easy access: Yes – one step to get in, and then navigate through the take away shop before getting to the entrance to the restaurant. Change tables: No. The bathrooms are tiny (also a bit gross) – no room to even change a baby on the floor. Kids’ menu: No. Kid-friendly rating: ♥♥♥♥-
1064 Madison Avenue (between 80th and 81th Sts),
New York, NY 10028
Phone: (212) 772 0022
If you’re after a place that’s super-girly AND baby-friendly, you can’t go wrong with Sugar & Plumm. If you have a daughter, you simply must check this place out! She will love it 🙂 Their tagline is “a spoonful of whimsy on the Upper West Side” and it is spot on.
The place is pretty spacious, and divided into a cafe on one side and a little shop and bakery on the other. The staff are dressed in these pretty purple dresses, and are really sweet and friendly. The place is unbelievably baby-friendly, with loads of high chairs, areas to park your stroller, and even super-cute plastic cups with lids that they serve (complimentary) water in for the kids!! LOVE it.
Their desserts are the stars of their menu, and the GRASSHOPPER (mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate sauce, peppermint patty) was a winner. It came in a tall frosted glass and was pretty luscious. Very filling, so two can probably share a milkshake!
I opted for the SMORE’S SUNDAE (chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, graham cracker, chocolate sauce) and really gave myself an ice cream overdose! It was 3 or 4 scoops of ice cream in there, and basically one gigantic sugar overload 😉
A perfect restaurant for the whole family – a huge, dim sum smorgasbord, where no-one cares how much food you drop on the table or floor. No need to worry about a fussy baby – the noise level from the vast amount of people is already so high that a sad baby won’t be noticed.
The food is delicious and fast, with food carts constantly zooming around, piled high with a great variety of small, bite-sized dishes – perfect for eating single-handed while entertaining a toddler if you don’t mind stabbing them (the food, not your toddler) with a chopstick, or asking for a fork.
The only downside is the long wait for a table. Get there early, or have friends get there before you and mind a spot in the queue for your whole party.
Highchairs: Yes. Stroller storage: Yes – and you can park your stroller at the table if you prefer. Easy access: Yes. Change tables: No. Kids’ menu: No. Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥♥–
Via Quadronno is famous for their mouth-wateringly amazing paninis. Also gasp-inducing? The prices. Two paninis, a latte and a croissant will set you back around $40. Note to pastry lovers: They have Payard’s croissants here! The perfect, buttery pastries are worth the exorbitant prices.
Describing this restaurant as tight-quarters is an understatement. Our suggestion is to order takeaway at the front counter and eat your delicious panini either on the bench out the front of the restaurant, or take a short walk to nearby Central Park for lunch with a view.
Highchairs: No. Stroller storage: No – this is a tiny cafe. Bring a carrier if possible if you’re planning to eat inside. Easy access: Yes – one step. There are more stairs however into the main dining area in the rear. Kids’ menu: No. Baby-friendly rating: —–
25 East 73rd Street (at Madison st),
New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 650 9880