Say goodbye to tears and tantrums at your next family lunch out with our top picks for London’s best family-friendly restaurants.
From crowd pleasing pizza joints to restaurants that feel grown-up but know how to charm your little ones, here are our favourites…..
Don’t forget: all of these are on the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme throughout August.
He may be ferocious in the kitchen, but he’s obviously a softie at heart: Gordon Ramsay not only welcomes children to most of his restaurants; he also lets those under 12 years old eat for free from the kids’ menus.
Head to Bread Street Kitchen in St Paul’s to make the most of Tilly’s Treats Kids Menu, inspired by recipes from Gordon’s daughter Tilly’s cookbook – Tilly’s Kitchen Takeover. Simply order from the ALC menu when you dine, and for every adult main, the restaurant offers a two-course kids menu for free.
Plus, the weekends are packed with child-friendly entertainment, from face painting to magic shows and pizza making classes and they’re offering the EOTHO scheme Monday to Wednesday. Downside? They’ll be asking to go back every week.
Bread Street Kitchen, 10 Bread Street, London EC4M 9AJ
Granted, there are probably a tonne of places you’d rather spend your evening but there is no doubt kids go wild for this place.
Located in the heart of the West End, the Rainforest Cafe is an exotic jungle-themed restaurant and a thrilling assault on all the senses for animal-mad little ones. Dine amongst the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest, let little ones’ imaginations run wild thanks to the magnificent animatronic elephants, crocodiles and gorillas; and keep them happy with a child-friendly, global menu, from “Python” pasta and a sparkling volcano dessert.
There is also a cocktail menu should any parents or guardians be in need of a sharpener amongst all the jungle chaos.
Rainforest Cafe, 20 Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus, London W1D 7EU
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What kids don’t love pasta? And pasta doesn’t come much better and more affordable outside of Italy than at Padella.
Both the original Borough and newer Shoreditch restaurants are embracing the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, making their glorious plates of pasta even more affordable – they come in at around £8 a pop so you can try a few.
Make sure you book through the WalkUp app as getting a table is notoriously hard at this much-loved pasta joint.
Padella Borough, 6 Southwark StREET, London SE1 1TQ
Padella Shoreditch, 1 Phipp Street, London EC2A 4PS
With five outposts in the capital, a dedicated kids’ menu, crowd-pleasing pizzas, banging brunches and some of the best coffee in the capital (for knackered mums and dads), CARAVAN is a fine choice for casual, fuss-free family dining.
Head to the Kings Cross restaurant (our fave) for cool, stripped back, industrial-style interiors, an outdoor terrace if you’re still unsure about eating inside and Granary Square’s famous fountains – which children absolutely love on a warm summer’s day.
Kings Cross, The City Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia
Big banqueting tables, buzzy atmosphere and a place that parents will enjoy just as much as little ones, Pizza East is a great choice if you’re in Shoreditch.
The menu doesn’t have a dedicated kids’ section but there’s plenty to choose from, from their signature pizzas to mozzarella sticks, baked carbonara to gelato scoops. Oh, and they have Aperol Spritz on draught for the adults.
Pizza East, Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
Getting little ones on and off the bus or the Tube in Central London is no mean feat, so plan a family lunch out at this hidden gem of a family-friendly restaurant. Tucked away in leafy Richmond, Petersham is essentially a garden centre with a gorgeous store and a charming restaurant.
The Teahouse restaurant offers everything from delicious seasonal salads to child-friendly cream cakes. There is also plenty of open space for them to burn off their energy afterwards and a bounty of plants and blooms to keep them engaged.
Petersham Nurseries, Off Church Lane, Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 7AB
No dedicated children’s menu as such but we defy you to find a child who doesn’t love Bill Granger’s hot ricotta pancakes.
This place is the perfect choice for a late breakfast or lunch with little ones in tow when you can’t face another bowl of chips.
Plus, grown-ups will love the seasonal, Aussie-inspired interiors, quality ingredients and easy-going attitude.
Chelsea, Kings Cross, Clerkenwell, Notting Hill
The facade of London institution The Wolseley, on Green Park, might look imposing from the outside but inside, the restaurant is anything but pompous.
The team are friendly and great with children, there’s always plenty of atmosphere to soak up and it’s great for people watching too.
Tuck into everything from soups and salads to posh sandwiches and their famous burger, or treat your little lords and ladies to afternoon tea. They will be welcomed like royalty.
The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EB
Not necessarily a ‘kids’ restaurant but one that is happy to serve even the littlest of diners (our kind of place), Holborn Dining Rooms has that perfect mix of great food, cool interiors and somewhere that children will feel all grown up in but you won’t have to worry about them breaking something.
Choose from a menu of hearty British classics from a scotch egg to delicious steaks and their famous pies.
Talking of which, next door in the Pie Room, budding Jamie Oliviers can take part in the Holborn Pie Masterclass experience.
Equipped with a personalised apron, hat and mini rolling pin, they will learn how to make one sweet and one savoury treat that they can take home, in a two-hour immersive masterclass with the restaurant’s pastry experts.
Burgers, mammoth portions of chips, milkshakes, bottomless drinks and supposedly Obama’s favourite hamburger, you can’t really go wrong with Five Guys.
If you’re after something cheap and cheerful (seriously cheap and cheerful on the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme), it’s a no brainer and they have joints all over London so you’re bound to find one near you. Plus, there’s a children’s menu and kid-sized burgers on the menu.
You didn’t think we’d run a guide to eating out with children slide by without mentioning Pizza Express, did you? The chain has saved many a parent’s sanity over the years and while the food might not blow your mind, we’ll always have a place in our hearts for garlic dough balls.
Fine dining it’s not and the pizzas may have got suspiciously smaller over the years (or maybe we’re all just bigger?), but you know when you walk through those doors without a reservation that you are probably going to get a table, the kids are going to get crayons, colouring paper and stickers, everyone’s going to get a decent pizza, and the staff are going to be remarkably patient with your little ones.
If you’re aching to try Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano but you’ve got little ones in tow, make this Plan B.
The sister restaurants, Cafe Murano, in St James and Bermondsey, are basically watered down versions of the real deal with better price points. Plus, they have an excellent build-your-own style kids menu of pastas. Basically choose a pasta dish with a sauce of your little one’s liking, from sausage ragu to cheesey parmesan.
We’ve waxed lyrical about how much we love this place on many occasions but it’s just one of those places you can take anyone – friends, a date, your mum or indeed little ones. The menu is casual Italian fare – the pasta dipped in a wheel of cheese at the table is a must and the pizzas will please fussy little eaters – but we recommend going for the interiors alone. The highchairs look like they’re made by Gucci and we’d quite like to pop the crockery in our bags (we don’t). Oh and the staff are utterly charming with little ones.
It’s usually one of those no-reservation affairs (snooze when it comes to eating out with little ones) but you can currently book given the stricter social distancing measures. Take note and make a booking.
Gloria, 54-56 Great Eastern Street, Hackney, London EC2A 3QR
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Who wouldn’t want their buttermilk fried chicken with a side order of skittles? This upmarket bowling alley and restaurant, which has four venues in London, is the quintessential retro American experience.
Children are more than welcome and there’s a finger lickin’ kids’ menu deal that includes food, a milkshake and a game of bowling.
There are also luxurious private rooms available for hire, should your little one want to get into the competitive spirit to celebrate their birthday.
Brick Lane, Holborn, Westfield Stratford, Westfield White City and Manchester