New York is one of those places where the food's just too good for you -- or your progeny -- to waste any time on "kid food." There's cute, there's unusual, there's ordinary, there's adventurous, there's pizza and hot dogs, there's sushi on conveyor belts, and everything in between.
• H&H Bagels. This is a must-stop for New Yorkers, as it is for many visitors, given its convenient location just steps from the renowned Upper West Side deli-cum-food-emporium Zabar's. Old-timers insist that H&H led the Big Bagel Downfall when it opened its doors in the '70s -- too sugary, too soft and too doughy. A bagel should resist the teeth, they cry! A bagel should have no hint of the sweet! Well, the lines out the door attest to the love that many have for H&H's version of the traditional Jewish boiled dough with a hole in the middle
Charles Gabriel, owner of Charles' Southern Style Kitchen, serves kiddie staples like mac and cheese.
(Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)
In addition to the time-honored varieties of plain, pumpernickel, onion, sesame and poppy seed, H&H has embraced such innovations as sourdough, whole wheat and -- can you just see the old-timers clutching their hearts? -- blueberry. Ask what's just come out of the oven and order that -- those are always the best, and a warm bagel in its little brown bag is enough to keep even the grumpiest child mollified for half an hour.
2239 Broadway at 80th Street, 212-595-8000; also 639 W. 46th St. between 11th and 12th avenues, 212-765-7200; www.hhbagels.com. 95 cents a bagel, $11 for a baker's dozen.
Serendipity 3. Some places are just too popular, and I'd always pulled my son past the lines snaking out of this famous ice cream parlor whenever we passed by, scoffing, "No, honey, that's for tourists!" But one day I relented, and I'm glad I did.
The hot fudge sundae ($7.95) is a glorious thing: three scoops of ice cream overflowing a big glass bowl on a stem, with some of the world's best hot fudge dripping down the sides. And the restaurant's signature concoction, frozen hot chocolate ($7.50), more than lived up to its reputation and kept Martin busy for a good half-hour, sucking the frigid mass through a straw, excavating with a spoon, poking through whipped cream. (Desserts are definitely the strong point: The chicken salad sandwich arrived on burnt bread with a flavorless filling.)
Although the crowds represent the worst of New York (you think to yourself: Doesn't this city have any other ice cream parlors?), here's a tip on avoiding the insane waits: Either get there at 11:15 a.m. (the restaurant opens at 11:30) or have a full meal, not just dessert, so that you can make a reservation.
225 E. 60th St. between Second and Third avenues, 212-838-3531, www.serendipity3.com. Entrees $7.50-$19.50.
Risotteria. It's one of those only-in-New-York ideas: fast-food risotto. Who woulda thunk it? As it turns out, it's a great invention. Risotteria, on a traditionally Italian stretch of Bleecker Street in the West Village, turns out a tremendous variety of interesting and delicate risottos with amazing speed. Some kids love the porridgelike consistency of this rice dish, and the menu's huge range (vegetarian, chicken, shrimp, and on and on) should satisfy almost any child. But for those who are at the "don't mix my foods together in one bowl" stage, the restaurant has added a fine pizza selection. Adults can round out their meal with panini, salad, even a glass of chianti. Kids will love to sit on the banquette against the glass wall looking out onto the passing parade of Bleecker Street. (Foodie adults: Be sure to check out Faicco's Pork Store down the street, along with Murray's Cheese Store and Amy's Bread.) Since the restaurant has fewer than a dozen tables, it's best to arrive early -- it opens at noon -- and avoid the crush of peak hours.
270 Bleecker St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues, 212-924-6664, www.risotteria.com. Entrees $7.50- $15.