Hello Mama Friend,
As we are gearing up for our monthly trip to New York, I thought I might share Lenny’s very own guide to NYC dining for babies. Not only did Lenny spend the first 14 months of his life living in New York, but we are fortunate to now spend at least one week per month in The City for work and play purposes.
It is a quick drive from Boston, usually around 3.5 hours if we go at a reasonable traffic hour. We drive because 90% of the time we bring Stella, but the train is an easy option when it’s a quick trip (shorter than 3 days).
After Lenny got his shots at 8 weeks old, we started to take him on a weekly date night in New York. We quickly realized not all restaruants were as accommodating as others, and we found ourselves sticking to the same 5-6 places most often. Now that we are visitors in New York, it’s even more essential that we have our neighborhood go to spots, since we don’t have an entire apartment in the City anymore. I have wanted to put this post together FOREVER since this topic is one of the most frequently asked questions by friends and in the play group that we are a part of in Boston.
Navigating NYC with a baby isn’t easy, and most often when I was out and about with Lenny alone I would stick to places within walking distance. Not all of the subway stops in New York are created equal, as in they don’t all have elevator access! Wheely is an app that you absolutely need for navigating New York with a baby. You may have to get off a stop or two before (or after) your destination if traveling via train. I learned this the hard way… 😳.
For date nights it was much much easier, since I would have Kurt to help me put the stroller in an Uber. I cannot recommend enough the UPPA Baby Mesa carseat for city dwellers/ and frequent travelers. It is compatible with the UPPA Baby Strollers, but also a few other brands as well. It has a very easy seat belt buckle cross over feature (no base required!) that allows you to ride in an Uber or Taxi with super easy installation, and then just click the car seat onto your stroller when you arrive at your destination. We would have been limited to the West Side of New York without the Mesa, and while a little more expensive than other infant carseats, it was 100% worth it!
Oddly- you can ride in a NYC Taxi with a baby without a carseat, meaning it’s legal. When you leave a NYC hospital after birth you aren’t required to have a carseat. You could take your baby, hail a cab, and ride just holding the baby all of the way home. Archaic right? Maybe in the olden days when carseats weren’t the law and people actually obeyed the speed limit this would be OK, but currently it’s mind boggling to me that this is still a thing. This rule doesn’t extend to Uber or regular cars, only NYC Taxis…🤔
Uber in New York does have the Uber Carseat option, but beware it is a forward facing carseat. We used it once for a quick 1 mile ride this past Winter. The seat is more like a booster seat, so unless your baby is a pro at sitting up straight and is over the age of 2- I do not recommend it be your go to mode of transportation in the City.
Sorry for the digression lol- anyways, linked below is the UPPA Baby Mesa. We installed the carseat base in our car for long drives, and we used the heck out of the carseat for city use. When traveling by plane we always had our carseat for a rental car or cab, and generally Lenny preferred riding in the carseat attached to our stroller than the normal stroller seat or bassinet feature, until he was about 7 months old. Lenny did outgrow the Mesa sooner than most. For long car rides we got a convertible carseat for him at 11 months old (strictly for comfort reasons), but still used the Mesa for city rides until he hit the height and weight limit. We got the Mesa in Pascal, which is a soft grey and virtually showed 0 food or dirt from travel. I still have it to loan to friends when they are visiting since we still live in a city setting, and it’s so easy to install quickly for picking them up at the airport etc..
^On our way to a doctor’s visit on a really cold day, so we couldn’t walk! UB Mesa and CG’s cover for the winnnn!
Another must have item for quick jaunts around the city that I used religiously was my Covered Goods multitasking cover. It fit the UB Mesa and Vista seats perfectly, and protected Len from germs, sun, light rain, and the wind. It also functioned as a breathable cover and drape like feature while Kurt and I would enjoy dinner, Lenny usually slept comfortably in his seat with the cover on, add in a to go sound machine or an app and you’re golden. My favorite baby sound app is WombSounds, it instantly initiates nap time for Lenny, even to this day! Below is the CG multitasking Cover and a portable version of the Skip Hop sound machine we’ve used every night for almost 2 years. (Incase you don’t want your phone tied up being baby’s sound machine).
Now for our FAVORITE New York City Baby Friendly Restaurants!
Pier i Cafe– 500 W. 70th Street, enter at Riverside and 68th Street (UWS) Best Spring & Summer breakfast, lunch, or dinner option.
Pier i might as well be called Pier Kid (it’s dog friendly too). I can’t even begin to count how many times we visited Pier i with Lenny, since it was right outside our door while we lived in New York. We brought him here at just a few weeks old, since I felt it was ok because it wasn’t an enclosed area. It is open seasonally, so not a Winter option, but this place is as baby proof as they come. Equipped with a kid’s menu, a slew of high chairs, stroller parking, and ice cream for dessert. The menu for adults is really good, and they carry lots of local beer, wine, and cocktails too. My favorite mocktail while pregnant was their blueberry lemonade with a splash of soda water! My mouth puckers just thinking about it- so so good! When we were apartment hunting (babyless and not yet married) we initially were sold on the location of our apartment because of Pier i. It’s so fun for brunch, buckets of beer, and is always a solid 10 degrees cooler than anywhere else in the City, because it is right on the Hudson. I often stopped here during Lenny’s morning nap for coffee, and we had a many a lunch dates together enjoying some much needed out of the apartment time. The best perk of this restaurant if you are visiting NYC with a mobile toddler is the BEST baby/toddler playground is on 67th & Riverside right where the entrance ramp is for the Cafe (more on this later). There are restrooms in the trailer behind the Cafe, and one of the stalls includes a changing table. However, there is lots of grass nearby (it’s part of Riverside Park), we usually just changed Lenny on a blanket in the grass. BONUS- a Mr. Softee truck is almost always parked right across the street at 67th and Riverside Blvd. Though there are inner City battles regarding this issue, Mr. Softee is arguably the most famous soft serve ice cream truck in New York.
^Lenny and me kicking off LAST MDW Weekend at Pier i.
Otto – 1 Fifth Avenue at 8th Street (Greenwich Village) Great anytime, but make a reservation!
We love Otto! Shout out to our friend’s the Ganas Fam for introducing us to Otto. Their food is really really great and they go out of their way to accommodate the little ones. They have a fab wine selection, and some of my favorite appetizers in the City. Otto has straw style kids cups, lots of crayons, and will basically make anything for you on the menu into a kids rendition. The first time Lenny ate kale was at Otto, and he loves their homemade pasta with butter and cheese. This place is very spacious by New York City restaurant standards, and has a changing table in the last stall of the ladies room. The location for this place couldn’t be better, you are right by Washington Square Park and so much more that the Lower West Side has to offer.
Lincoln Square Steak – 208 West 70th Street (UWS) Best for date night with a baby <3
This is the first place we took Lenny for date night. This steak house caters to the ballet crowd since it is so close to Lincoln Center, but we found that it wasn’t all that busy around 6:30-7:00 on Friday and Saturday nights. It is very spacious inside and they usually let us pick our table closer to the back or in the corner. I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant with toddlers or older kids who will be ordering a full meal, since it is a bit pricier. This is a great place for a date for mom and dad with baby in tow since the staff is super accommodating and the owner is so personable by visiting every table at the end of their meal and checking on how things turned out. I don’t eat steak, but Kurt always enjoys his, and I love their french onion soup and lobster ravioli. On one occasion they opened one of their “private rooms” for us because the restaurant was louder than usual on that occasion, and we so appreciated that. Lenny napped the entire dinner through, and Kurt and I had a great much deserved dinner date.
Dos Caminos – 825 Third Ave at 50th Street (UES) Best week night option! (also recommend the Park Avenue location for babes)
Dos Caminos is a small chain restaurant, and both the 50th St. and Park Ave. locations have been very toddler friendly, especially on week nights around 6:00-6:30. Both of these locations are spacious and have a kid’s menu. Most recently Lenny enjoyed the “Make Your Own Tacos” and ate them deconstructed at dinner, and finished the rest for lunch the next day. Oh, and Mama loves their skinny margaritas!💃🏽
SOUTHGATE Bar + Restaurant – 154 Central Park South (Near Columbus Circle) Our fav spot for lunch with a view and people watching.
SouthGate is located in the JW Marriott Essex House on Central Park South, adjacent to the Park, right where all of the horse and carriages line up. While pregnant I loved their ramen, and it was our go to place on Saturday’s for lunch before our weekly trip to Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. Central Park South is my favorite part of the Park, since you can smell the horses and it is close to Sheep Meadow. Lenny and I lunch here often when we visit and the staff is always very accommodating. They are equipped with high chairs and always allow us to sit in the window to horsey watch. They have a kids menu, and Lenny really likes their chicken tenders and fries. P.S. The Zara closeby on 5th Avenue is the best in all of the City! (53rdish and 5th!)
^Auntie Lysh made this video of Len at SouthGate
Trattoria Machiavelli – 519 Columbus Avenue (UWS) Best Brunch!
We happened upon Machiavelli on a dreary January day totally on accident. We had Ubered to a restaurant across the street on Columbus that we had coincidentally heard was family friendly. When we got there the wait was an hour and 45 minutes, on a Saturday at 11:30 AM…. So directly across the street Machiavelli was beaming with a huge live Christmas tree still in the window. We entered (there is only one step up so it is stroller friendly) and we were immediately seated at a cozy table that allowed us to just remove a seat and park Lenny’s stroller at the table. There is ample stroller parking by the bar if you will be using a high chair, or have a multiple strollers. Since that day it has become our go to brunch spot, and we still haven’t tried the place across the street. Their Weekend Brunch Menu is to die for, Kurt’s all time favorite item being the “Occhio di Bue in Purgatorio con Salsiccia”. They make Lenny scrambled eggs with cheese, have organic pastries, and in the summer the front of the restaurant is open and airy. Machiavelli’s is one of the UWS’s best kept secrets in my opinion. If you think you missed it, you haven’t! The awnings on the front simply read “M”. A fun Sunday activity is to have brunch at “M” and then head to The Grand Bazaar for some antiquing.
^Another Auntie Lysh video, we love brunch with Auntie L!
SaraBeth’s – 381 Park Ave. At 27th Street (Park Ave. South) Anytime because it’s HUGE
This is another small chain restaurant in the City, but they aren’t all as large and in charge as this location on Park Avenue. The UWS and Central Park South locations are much smaller, but I would still consider them baby friendly- since they have kid’s menus. I just like the space here so much for toddlers, since I don’t feel like if Lenny decides to throw his chickpea fry (he is OBSESSED with them) it won’t necessarily hit another patron in the face.. lol. They have a huge menu and we always enjoy the atmosphere at SaraBeth’s.
We hope that you enjoyed Len’s guide to NYC Restaurants! Be sure to check back soon as I am finishing up Len’s guide to his fav. playgrounds, drop in classes, and museums in New York.
We are currently conducting our “research” for similar posts all about Boston, Cambridge, and Brooklyn too!
P.S. If you are visiting and need baby goods on the go there are two Buy Buy Babies in the City, one on the Upper East Side and one in Chelsea. The best option though, is Amazon Prime Now- which includes free 2 hour delivery anywhere in New York City (even hotels), the most life saving tool available to City mommies!
***Meghan Weaver is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://www.amazon.com.