Your parents are in town for the holidays. Maybe an elderly aunt or brood of cousins, too. Where can you all get a meal together—with your kids in tow, of course—that everyone can agree on? Turns out, most of us at WSWD have a go-to spot for multigenerational family get-togethers that have appeased and pleased even the pickiest palates and personalities.
Some are classic (Landmark Tavern) and some are cool (Nowadays), but they all share that magic mix—great food, warm service, a welcoming (or maybe quirky and conversation-sparking) atmosphere—that make them ideal settings to create some memories.
After all, restaurants don’t have to offer crayons or large-print menus to be considered family friendly, but they often do need to meet a few basic criteria: food that’s good but not too fussy (fusion cuisine, in my experience, is not generally a hit with older folks), easily accessible seats and bathrooms, and a reasonable noise level (a cheerful din that drowns out whining kids but doesn’t rattle the grandparents is perfect). And proximity to a toy store doesn’t hurt!
Without further ado, our family favorites:
Don Giovanni, Hell’s Kitchen
When I was growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, my family would always go to Don Giovanni to celebrate any occasion. It has an expansive Italian menu with great brick-oven pizza and amazing chicken parmigiana. This is the place that taught me what calamari is all about. I have great memories of us sitting around savagely ordering pizza and appetizers and cracking corny jokes. You need to make reservations for a larger group, but I don’t recall ever waiting that long when going with a small group, even on a Friday or Saturday night. —Joshua Hernandez, experience planner
Dim Sum Go Go, Chinatown
Every Christmas Day since my son was being held in a sling, we have taken the grandparents to Dim Sum Go Go for dumplings. They get the sense of Chinatown adventure without the full Chinatown crush, and we love crowding the big round table with stacks of bamboo baskets filled with shrimp and chive dumplings, duck dumplings, steamed pork buns, rice cakes, you name it. Everyone gets to choose, so it’s a mix of exotic and classic. Now that my son is older, he likes to weigh in, too. And last year, he even taught the grandparents how to use chopsticks! —Secret Culinary Insider
Milon, East Village
I take my entire family to one of my solid go-tos for BYOB group dining since 2005, Milon Bangladesh on Curry Row. You may recognize this restaurant for its chili pepper lights, world flags, and year-round Christmas decor. Milon and its surrounding restaurants have employees who stand out front and aggressively fight for you to dine at their location, and it’s hilarious. It does get a little loud in there, especially when they play the “Happy Birthday” or “Celebration” songs, but my abuela and entire family love it! It’s superfun, affordable, and memorable. Let’s just say, I’ve probably celebrated many of my birthdays there, that’s how much I love it. —Carolina Ramirez, partnerships
Monte’s Trattoria, West Village
When my aunt, who is in her 70s, visits from Italy, we choose Monte’s in the West Village, with all of her little grandnieces and -nephews to welcome her back. The food is authentic and the ambience is always comfortable. The location is perfect, too; we enjoy walking off dinner on MacDougal Street. —Carolyn Innocenzi, head of client experiences
Shun Lee West, Upper West Side
The food is reliable and good. It’s comfortable and feels like a remnant of the old Upper West Side—timeless, understated, and somehow kind of regular. Like an elevated neighborhood Chinese restaurant, when the neighborhood is Lincoln Center and your next stop is the New York City Ballet or Metropolitan Opera. The dim sum at the café remains very good, if not inventive, and you always feel like you’re actually somewhere permanent and welcoming in a city that’s relentlessly changing and mercenary. —James Luria, general manager
Egg’s menu offers breakfast all day, which typically satisfies the pickiest eaters—plus, it was awarded a Michelin Star in 2017, so it’s safe to say the eggs are good. My favorite part: In lieu of tablecloths, there are big sheets of paper, and every group gets a cup of crayons for drawing and playing games. —Hannah Maier-Katkin, editorial intern
Landmark Tavern, Hell’s Kitchen
When my grandmother was living, she made the LIRR trip from Lynbrook to Penn Station at least once a week with her gaggle of retired gals. She’d hit up museums, see the latest blockbusters, and go to Broadway shows. Regardless of where she went, though, she would always end up at the Landmark Tavern on the corner of 46th Street and Eleventh Avenue. Unlike the usual spots around the Theater District, this 19th-century tavern had the unpretentious, weathered, cozy environment that she loved most when she dined out.
The longtime waitstaff and bartenders knew her by name by her third visit back in the ’90s, and they eventually got to know me and my family when she began taking us when I was a kid. Grams died about a decade ago, but my mom and I still go from time to time, ordering her usual (fish-and-chips and two pints of Guinness) and sharing war stories with the staff who still know our names after all this time. The atmosphere also remains the same two decades since my first visit, particularly the plenty of tables filled with multigenerational families—including grandparents and grandchildren splitting shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. —Jess Bender, senior editor and WSWD dining and drinking expert
I would say this place is great for adventurous families—and families that love to dance! You can reserve up to three of the large indoor or outdoor picnic tables for a big get-together and order a bunch of fried chicken sandwiches and beef brisket plates to share. The best part about this venue is that it has a little bit of everything for everyone: game nights for the family, music for the millennials, food for all ages. In the summer, it is the best dance party that’s worth the journey. In the winter, it’s the best spot to watch soccer and have brunch. I see myself having a wedding reception here and inviting everyone I love. —Sayaka Ueno, photo editor
Freds at Barneys New York, Upper East Side
For most family-wide get-togethers, we go to this sunny restaurant on the 9th floor of the flagship store. It has a little something for everyone. My fussy grandma can always be satiated with the chicken Milanese, served with thinly sliced vegetable slaw; my mom with the Madison Avenue chopped salad; and my little brother with the shockingly delicious turkey club. Although it has a more upscale reputation, this place really is filled with regulars and their whole families, especially during Sunday brunch. Plus, the shopping on the floors below isn’t too shabby and you can blow off some steam post-meal. —Ally Schenker, assistant editor
Cafe Steinhof, Park Slope
This Austrian comfort-food joint has a surprisingly friendly menu for everyone. My dad says the Wiener schnitzel with cucumber salad is just as good as what his Slovak mom used to make, and my kids love the tomato soup (which is actually pretty special) and kielbasa. I’m a vegetarian and find more solid options here than I do almost anywhere else! It is eclectically decorated with Austrian knickknacks and just has a really relaxed, fun, unpretentious vibe. The great draft beer selection helps. And when my kids get restless, we let them pop out on their own to browse the toy store, Toy Space, right next door. —Patty Onderko, executive editor