Eating + Drinking

Actually, *Do* Fill Up Before Dinner: The Best After-School Snacks for Sophisticated NYC Kids

Reward the kids for not napping during social studies with these nine worldly treats.

Photo by D C./Yelp

New fall threads: purchased. The backpack: filled with stationary, loose-leaf, and textbooks. Everything looks ready to go for the first days of school, but you’re missing one crucial detail—what you’re feeding your fave bookworms after the final bell rings! Milk and cookies or a bag of chips might be fine for some kids, but NYC students are a sophisticated and worldly bunch. These are the after-school treats that will satisfy their sweet and/or savory tooth, fill them up, and expand their minds.

Grilled Cheese Empanadas at Empanology

The empanologists at this kid-friendly hot spot make almost four dozen different versions of the Puerto Rican “pocket of love,” but this quadruple-cheese-stuffed handful—inspired by the classic grilled sammie—is the one your young’n will gravitate toward immediately. Pair it with a spicy tomato sauce and it’s a less messy version of the favorite sandwich-and-soup combo. 2407 Third Avenue, Bronx; $3.50

Swingles at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie

Pie on a stick doesn’t seem like the most logical dessert option, yet somehow this Red Hook sweets shack works its magic on its signature product. A miniature tartlet is frozen and prodded with a Popsicle stick, then hand-dipped in super-rich Belgian chocolate to balance out the lip-puckering zestiness hiding underneath. Close your eyes and listen to the waves crashing from Red Hook Channel; it almost feels like you’re in the Florida Panhandle. 185 Van Dyke Street, Red Hook; $6.50

Photo courtesy of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie
Smoky Gobi Roll at Thelewala

MacDougal Street is NYU’s foodie U.N., with a world of global snacks readily available at any time of day. This Indian takeout joint especially does a great job with this, with superstuffed but still handheld paratha rolls made for eating on the street. While the meaty varietals attract the biggest crowds, the hearty and seasonal cauliflower version has a complex kick thanks to smoked chili sauce and coriander. 112 MacDougal Street (between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets), Greenwich Village; $6.42

Crab Onigiri at 969 NYC Coffee

Hailed as an “oasis for Japanese snacks,” this Jackson Heights mainstay (you can spot its prominent yellow awning from Roosevelt Avenue) makes for an A+ after-school choice. All of its heart-shaped onigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed with various fillings) are tasty, but cosmopolitan kids love the spicy crab version, mixed with plenty of Sriracha. Have a Ramuné at the ready! 37-61 80th Street, Jackson Heights; $2.50

Black Sesame Squares at Bird + Branch

Perched away from Times Square’s hustle is a do-good mom-and-pop coffee shop plastered with pastels and birds. You shouldn’t head there just for the aesthetic, though; its dessert selection is also satiable. A constant favorite is the Asian-inspired brownie, which swaps the chocolate for a nutty black sesame base. The end result is as dense and rich as you’d expect your usual square to be. 359 West 45th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), Hell’s Kitchen; $3

Photo courtesy of Bird + Branch/Facebook
Baklava at Al Sham

Astoria’s Steinway Street is full of exotic bites, but this cash-only Little Egypt bakery, filled with sweet pastries, will make your kid feel like, well, a kid in a candy shop. Showstoppers such as the cheesy knafeh pan or dramatically glazed cakes might immediately catch your attention, but you and the kids will be most pleased with what Al Sham is best known for: the baklava, two-bite wonders of perfectly flaky phyllo layers sprinkled with nuts and honey. Get a few of the different varieties and share them on the walk home. 24-39 Steinway Street, Astoria; $3 per pound

Pastéis de Nata at Joey Bats Café

If a crème brûlée and a croissant had a delicious baby, it would be a pastéis de nata. This Portuguese pastry haunt on the Lower East Side has received much-earned acclaim for its traditional palm-size pastel, a buttery vanilla custard tart subtly sprinkled with powdered sugar that will be your kid’s new obsession. 129 Allen Street (between Rivington and Delancey Streets), Lower East Side; $3

Photo courtesy of Joey Bats Café/Facebook
Sourdough Churros at Cafe Esencia

It took a dedicated churro café to take the concept in a whole new direction. In lieu of the usual fried sticks covered in cinnamon and sugar, the Ridgewood retreat coils its sourdough versions up in wheels of varying sizes. Upgrades like dipping chocolate and spiced sugars are also available, but for the sake of avoiding a late-day sugar rush, keep things simple and order a small. 68-38 Forest Avenue, Ridgewood; $4.50

Aunties Favorite at Let’s Makan 

Pancakes: They’re not just for breakfast anymore. Malaysia considers theirs (a crisp, folded dosa called apam balik) a snack food, and this Chinatown hole-in-the-wall serves them exactly as such. While you and your shorty could customize your own pancake sandwich with different batters and fillings, first-timers should introduce themselves to Auntie’s Favorite, a mellow green pandan crepe crammed with toasty peanuts, kaya (coconut egg) jam, and buttery corn. Hey, congrats, your kid’s eating something green! 64A Bayard Street (between Mott and Elizabeth Streets), Chinatown; $3.50

Photo by Julie C/Yelp

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