The London Kids Guide
For such a posh city, London is actually very kid-friendly. What’s more, so many of the child-specific experiences—be it parks, specialty shops, restaurants, or bakeries—are just as much fun for grown ups.
The Bull & Last168 Highgate Rd., Hampstead Heath | +44.20.7267.3641
This is the kind of Hampstead Heath go-to where everyone, even the family dog, is welcome. The atmosphere is cozy and traditional with maroon leather seats, chalkboard menus, and lots of distressed wood. Don’t miss the bread basket, homemade ice cream, and ale (for grownups only).
Dirty Burger6 S. Lambeth Rd., Lambeth | +44.20.7074.1444
Unlike most of Soho House’s buttoned-up and exclusive restaurants, the Dirty Burger brand is a series of down-and-out tin-clad locales churning out ridiculously tasty and super-cheap cheeseburgers. (Vegeterians can order the "Cop Out," which is just as satisfyingly dirty.) It’s very purposefully a no-frills situation that’s totally worth the wait. There are more locations in Whitechapel, Kentish Town, and Shoreditch.
Honest Burgers4a Meard St., Soho | +44.20.3609.9524
Like all good things in London, this burgeoning chainlet is growing fast. Once a beloved food truck with a cleverly built-in pizza oven, it now has not one but two bricks-and-mortar outposts. The thin-crust pizza at all their charmingly lo-fi locations is superb, as are the negronis and affogato. At the new spot off Carnaby, we’re looking forward to fried pizza courtesy of their first authentic Neapolitan fryer—the guys spent a couple of weeks in Naples recently to learn the art of frying pretty much everything.
Nordic Bakery37b New Cavendish St., Marylebone | +44.20.7935.3590
Walk by any time of day and you’ll run into the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. They’re a perfect treat and so is the smörgâs-inspired menu of dark rye bread sandwiches. The space is, as befits the name, pared down, modern, and an ideal place for grabbing a quick, casual bite. There's a second location in Marylebone and another in Soho.
Fischer’s Restaurant50 Marylebone High St., Marylebone | +44.20.7466.5501
The sausages and schnitzels are good, but it's really the atmosphere that makes this Marylebone spot worthwhile. Modeled after an old-world Viennese café, it looks like a meticulously considered set from Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. There are dark wood booths, Tyrolean landscapes on the walls, and an old-school newspaper rack, which all help it achieve the feeling of a time warp. Not surprisingly, it’s from the team behind The Wolseley and The Delaunay, who are known for their cinematic spaces.
Granger & Co175 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill | +44.20.7229.9111
Known for his relaxed approach to cooking, Bill Granger has fronted major culinary hits in Australia and Asia. This bright, airy, and generally packed place on Westbourne Grove is his first London restaurant, and like its predecessors, it offers casual all-day dining with a comfort-food slant (awesome mash) and a fantastic weekend brunch. Look for simple dishes, like the signature ricotta hotcakes or the full Aussie breakfast. The no-reservation policy means you'll probably have to wait, but it's totally worth it. For the North Londoners reading, there's a second location in King's Cross, plus two more in Clerkenwell and Chelsea.
Il Baretto43 Blandford St., Marylebone | +44.20.7486.7340
Located on a quiet street in Marylebone, this place boasts full-on fancy décor and an overall upscale vibe. The food, and the pizza especially, is delicious. Kids feel like they're getting to experience something grown-up while adults get to enjoy great food and a cocktail or two.
Roka30 N. Audley St., Mayfair | +44.20.7305.5644
The original Roka restaurant is housed in a large, open space with light wood fixtures, an impressive robata grill in the center of the dining room (it has an oddly hypnotic effect on kids), and floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto Charlotte Street on nicer days. Grilled items are of course what this place is all about, but not in your usual combination of flavors: asparagus is dressed with sweet soy and sesame and black cod gets a yuzu miso treatment. There's also fresh sushi and sashimi options if you're feeling like something a little less charred. There are multiple locations across the city.
Cereal Killer Café192a Brick Ln., Shoreditch | +44.20.3601.9100
With a menu that includes 120 different types of cereal (some of them extremely rare and difficult to source), 30 varieties of milk, plus a selection of Pop Tarts and old-school sodas, this place specializes in nostalgia for children of the '80s and '90s. Created by hilarious Irish identical twin brothers, Gary and Alan Keery, the flashbacks don't stop with Lucky Charms: The café is jam-packed with toys and trinkets like Troll dolls and Power Rangers action figures, and features a facade made of VHS tapes. There are multiple locations in London.
Pizza East56 Shoreditch High St., Shoreditch | +44.20.7729.1888
At four locations deep (three of them are in the UK), this casual Italian joint can easily qualify as a chain. Their approach to pizza, however, is very mom-and-pop: all are made in a wood-burning oven, resulting in a chewy, crispy crust that's actually pretty hard to find in London. You can get a table inside the sprawling, industrial-looking dining room, have a quick snack at their bar, or order for takeaway.
Ba Shan24 Romilly St., Soho | +44.20.7434.2234
This is one of London's best spots for Chinese. At first glance it looks a bit on the small side, but because it's actually split into several levels, it can comfortably accommodate bigger parties (make a reservation). The home-style tofu is a favorite among locals as are the pork buns, which are served as if they are little burger buns. As a whole, the menu errs on the spicy side, so ask for milder, kid-friendly options.