Kids, these days, huh! You gotta
love feed 'em. I'm pretty sure that's in the contract you sign by bringing them into the world. Often, this can be dealt with easily, with a simple home-cooked meal or one of those ziploc baggies of Cheerios I see every single parent carrying with them at all times. But other times, for so many reasons, you want to go out! Cooking takes time, and anyway, we live in one of the food capitals of the world.
It gets tricky when kids are in the equation, though, for endless reasons parents (or even casual observers of human behavior) already know. Just because you like a restaurant doesn't mean you and your children will have a good time there. Hence, we've put together places we know to be not just reliable, but perfect, for all the different scenarios in which you and your children will be dining out. Eat up.
We know this is a point of controversy, and there are definitely ways to get it right or wrong. That said, if your kid's not old enough to run circles around the place and the bar itself is kid-friendly, we see no reason why you shouldn't be able to relax with a beer outside of your home. Der Schwarze Kolner (like most German-style beer halls), with its large tables and solid snack menu, is inherently a kid-friendly setting during earlier hours, and has even been known to host playgroups. You and your kids are more than welcome.
710 Fulton St., Fort Greene
Conveniently located if you're anywhere in the vicinity of Williamsburg, and anyway, I don't think there's much explaining needed about the innate connection children have with hot dogs (and tater tots).
555 Driggs Ave., Williamsburg
Granted, it's a little out of the way unless you happen to live in Bushwick, but truly, I cannot think of any place more welcoming to parents, children, grandparents, cousins, cousins once or twice removed, really anyone. The pizza is delicious and perfect for sharing, of course, but more importantly, the booths are large and cozy and the owner is more than happy to let your entire bloodline take your time with a relaxed, totally unhurried meal. Also, an opportune moment to introduce your offspring to the wonders of fresh cannoli.
254 Irving Ave., Bushwick
The fact that this place has couches and is located in Park Slope makes it sort of an obvious option, and it lives up to expectations, in a good way. Your kid can get hot chocolate, you can get a drink-drink, if you're so inclined, you can both share some kind of baked good and decompress. The point here is to relax.
837 Union St., Park Slope
Really, if there were an MVP award to be given out here, it would likely go to Blue Ribbon. They actually take reservations, for one thing, and in addition to an excellent, surprisingly varied kids menu, there are lots of solid grown-up attractions, like oysters, and grappa. A good, low-stakes environment for everyone to use their utensils correctly (and enjoy some genuinely superlative food).
280 5th Ave., Park Slope
It varies from kid to kid, but in general, getting youths to try food they've never tasted (or can't properly pronounce) can be kind of an uphill battle. Meaning, then, that when it comes time to gently branch out, nothing is better than a no-nonsense, well-priced Polish place with the never-fail fallback option of pierogi.
631 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint
So maybe it's not where you'd have your birthday dinner, but you have to hand it to any place that goes this far out of its way to accommodate your kids, along with every single one of their friends (and friends' parents). Even if you're not renting it out for a private event, there's foosball, a play area for kids, even designated stroller parking spots. The really, really like children here.
81 Atlantic Ave., Cobble Hill
A tasty, reasonably priced path of least resistance. There's a standard-issue kids menu, sure, but there are also numerous opportunities to branch out into the exciting world of non-American cheese, along with healthier options like tofu, veggie, chicken, and turkey burgers. No member of your family can possibly object.
67 Lafayette, Fort Greene; 234 Flatbush Ave., Park Slope
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.