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Manhattan Restaurants
9 E. 18th St., near Broadway
This quintessential family restaurant is a sprawling, noisy Union Square institution with a Statue of Liberty motif and kiddie favorites like sliders and macaroni and cheese. A transcontinental menu includes spicy buffalo-chicken sandwiches from New York, poached-pear-and-blue-cheese salads from Illinois, mixed seafood gumbo from the Deep South, and grilled-vegetable enchiladas from out West. Weekend brunches are especially popular with kids, with a magician and a balloon artist. (I–M)

Artie’s Deli
2290 Broadway, near 83rd St.
With deliciously gruff deli waitresses who seem like they’ve been working the counter for decades, it’s hard to believe Artie’s is only four years old. The menu is a child’s dream—fries, chicken fingers, grilled cheese—and the signature kids’ treat, a hot dog wrapped in a knish, is for the more adventurous. Free dishes of pickles (garlic and half-sours, with peppers, too) come before the meal, and you can order a slice of birthday cake even if it’s not your birthday. (I–M)

Macaroni and Cheese
Blue Smoke
116 E. 27th St.
These days, most restaurants gussy up their mac and cheese with fancy ingredients like Gruyère and Black Forest ham. But Blue Smoke’s ultra-creamy version, made from American and cheddar cheeses, is deliciously lowbrow (think fancy Stouffer’s) and comes as part of an $8.95 prix fixe kids’ menu that can include hushpuppies and ice cream.

270 Columbus Ave., near 72nd St.
A glass-enclosed sidewalk charmer, the awkwardly named @SQC welcomes children of all ages. A baby-food menu (we swear) accompanies regular items like crispy chicken, soups, and Belgian-style frites. Adults love Scott Quentin Campbell’s inventive drinks (the Celebration Cocktail is raspberry-flavored Stoli vodka, champagne, pomegranate juice, and mint) and beautifully presented dishes (miso cod, grilled duck breast with blood-orange sauce). The restaurant’s signature “life in a cup” hot chocolate is so rich it’s on both the drink and the dessert menus. (M–E)

The Barking Dog NYC
1678 Third Ave., at 94th St.
1453 York Ave., at 77th St.
150 E. 34th St., near Third Ave.
With a fun canine theme that includes doggy watering fountains outside, these comfort-food eateries appeal to the stroller set as well as to older kids. The mostly American menu of salads, sandwiches, and dishes like meat loaf and pot roast also offers a few British staples, such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie. Beware: Weekend brunch lines stretch around the corner. (I–M)

25 W. 56th St., near Fifth Ave.
The rotisserie and grill show at chef Waldy Malouf’s open-fire kitchen will thrill your kids. Younger tykes can color away, while chef wannabes view the action up close. So no one gets cranky, waitstaff bring kiddie amuse-bouches of pizza or French fries right away. Kids 9 and under eat free and can order from their own “Little People Menu.” All will love the spit-roasted ten-herb chicken, wood-roasted lamb T-bone, and fabulous house-baked breads. (E)

120 E. 56th St., near Lexington Ave.
47 W. 56th St., near Sixth Ave.
Long before Iron Chef taught us just how quick-handed knife-wielding Japanese cooks can be, there were the lickety-split tableside cooking shows that are still the main draw at these teppanyaki steakhouses. Your chef might flip a shrimp into his hat or build a volcano from onion rings doused with water. They have an award-winning kids’ menu and pint-size chopsticks for preteen purists. (M–VE)

Big City Bar & Grill
1600 Third Avenue, at 90th St.
Give thanks to Big City Grill, which, in cooperation with PlayDine, has created a gigantic supervised play space for children ages 1 to 9: After dinner, kids can run around, climb, and play games until you’ve enjoyed your last civilized sip of coffee. There’s a kids’ menu with typical chicken-finger fare. Adults get the popcorn and fajita versions plus other choices like grilled Atlantic salmon and pork chops. (I)

Blue Smoke
116 E. 27th St., near Lexington Ave.
The inimitable Danny Meyer has brought sophisticated down-home barbecue to Manhattan. Order the brisket or pulled-pork sandwich with a side of sweet-potato fries. Hamburgers and chocolate cake are knockouts. (M)

Bright Food Shop
216 Eighth Ave., at 21st St.
Plant your kids on the counter stools at this quirky Chelsea restaurant, and watch the chefs in the open kitchen dole out humongous platters of Mexican-Asian fusion cuisine. Breakfast is a winner. Try the huevos rancheros, with two layers of soft tortilla, eggs, and a mass of black beans, sour cream, cilantro, and melted cheese. (M)

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From the Fall 2004 edition of the New York Family Guide