Guide to the best family-friendly restaurants in London
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Disclaimer: While the venues described in this guide are currently open, COVID-19 restrictions may mean their service offering differs sightly to normal.
Eating in London was once an afterthought to sightseeing, destinations and perhaps pub drinking. But in recent years, London has become a culinary destination in its own right with visitors flocking to the city to try the latest hot spots. So, where should you dine in London if young kids are along for the journey?
As TPG U.K.’s resident London mum, I asked around for restaurants where kids are not just accepted but welcomed when they arrive. As an added bonus, many of the restaurants below are located near points hotels that are good bets for families.
Location: 16 locations in London, including Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Shoreditch, the South Bank and Islington.
No matter where you’re staying, you can’t be too far from a Wahaca with its 16 locations in London. You may have access to plenty of Mexican food wherever you are from, but Wahaca is London’s favourite sit-down Mexican restaurant that’s perfect for kids. The high chairs are brightly coloured, the staff is friendly and the music is loud enough to drown out your kids — but not too loud to upset anyone. The Islington branch has a table football game that children can play while waiting for food or entertain themselves while you catch up with your other half over a margarita. The South Bank location is comprised of eight recycled shipping containers arranged over two floors with views of the Thames.
Pricing: The children’s menu is affordable and comes with a drink. The main event is either a quesadilla with choice of fillings for £5.25 or “build your own tacos” with soft tortilla, cheese, lettuce, salsa, meat or vegetable filling with a side of guacamole for £6.
Most adult main dishes are about £10 with tasting platters from £18.50 per person. The restaurant has plenty of gluten-free and vegan options as well.
Locations: Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden and Kensington.
Dishoom is all the rage in London because of its nostalgic take on the Irani cafés of Bombay. Londoners and visitors love it so much there are now five central London locations and with good reason — the food is delicious. Famously lacking a reservation system for dinner, the queue snakes around whatever street it is on.
A lesser-known fact is that children are welcome, so you can get a terrific meal without hiring a babysitter. Also, they take reservations for breakfast and lunch and for dinner parties of six or more.
Read more: 5 top London museums for kids
The King’s Cross location is especially great for a family brunch because of the water fountains around the corner on Granary Square that provide endless entertainment before or after your visit to Dishoom. Just bring a change of clothes if you think the kiddos may go for a splash.
If you really want to have dinner at Dishoom, my tip is to arrive no later than 5:30 p.m. to stand in line. It’s worth the wait, but getting there early should make it more bearable.
Make sure you order the black dhal.
Pricing: Small plates average £9 each. A Kingfisher beer (from India) will set you back £4.70 and there’s an impressive list of bespoke cocktails and mocktails. The children’s menu is £8.30, including choice of two mild Indian dishes, potatoes, slaw and juice.
Darcie & May Green
Locations: Soho, Barbican, Regent Street, Victoria, Portman Village, Little Venice, Broadgate Circle, Royal Festival Hall, Regent’s Place and Grand Union Canal near Paddington.
The Daisy Green group have various locations around the capital each with a slightly different ‘Green’ name but my favourite is Darcie & May Green on the Grand Union Canal. A meal on a boat? What’s not to like? This eye-catching canal boat is covered with colourful pop art and neon signage. If it sounds a little kitsch, wait until you try the famous brunch menu. You will find dishes like shakshouka (delicious Middle Eastern baked eggs), halloumi fries and award-winning banana bread sandwiches. The coffee is also excellent which is handy if you had a very early start.
There’s both indoor and outdoor seating on the boat which is handy given how unpredictable London weather can be. From noon in summer there’s an extra BBQ menu available with kid-friendly dishes like cheeseburgers, chicken schnitzels, chips and even a Mars bar cheesecake ball.
Pricing: While no dedicated kids menu, there’s plenty of options kids will love on the normal menu. Prices from about £8.50 for brunch and main dishes and from £5 for desserts.
Bread Street Kitchen
Location: St Paul’s.
If you are a Gordon Ramsay fan and have children, this is the restaurant for you. Housed in a modern shopping building across from St Paul’s Cathedral in the City, Bread Street Kitchen is large and industrial but kid-friendly. Ramsay is even known to show up from time to time when in town.
Children 12 years and under get a free two-course meal from a menu designed by Tilly Ramsay (Ramsay’s daughter).
On certain Sundays, the restaurant also offers a family brunch and “pizza masterclass,” where kids can learn to make pizza while parents dine and have a glass of Champagne. Check the website for details and book ahead.
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Pricing: Prices start at £45 for one adult and one child.
Location: On practically every street corner.
Carrie Ann Roberts, the owner of fashion brand Mere Soeur and podcaster of the popular Alright for a Mum, recommends a good old-fashioned pub like The Gun in Hackney, east London, that was built in 1860. Unlike many bars in the States where I am from, children are generally welcome in pubs, at certain times.
“I think pubs are just so laid-back, friendly and totally charming,” Carrie told TPG Family.
“There’s no pressure or shushing the kids. Pubs definitely have more character and it’s just part of British culture. We all grew up in pubs, didn’t we? Or maybe that’s just me,” she added.
Whether you live in central London or have come for a jolly from elsewhere, you are entitled to sit back, have a pint and eat a traditional Sunday roast dinner or fish and chips with your children, whiling away an afternoon in the pub.
From traditional pubs to industrial restaurants to popular chains, London has many more restaurants for kids than you might have thought — so get out there and enjoy!
Featured photo courtesy of Kevin Gorton/Getty Images
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