HANCO'S: 134 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY
Hanco's is my kryptonite. I know everyone says their place is a "better spot to eat Pho and banh mi sandwiches" but that has not been my experience. Hanco's is just consistently good and Jenson's loves it here. My mom was visiting and banh mi is a food item she can never seem to pronounce or care to remember but she knows she likes it. In other words, this was not her first Hanco's rodeo. We popped in for lunch on a Saturday and managed to score a bigger corner table. There is not a ton of room to sit so if you go during peak times, be prepared to hurl yourself through the air to white flag a table. I managed to do that this particular day. You order your food at the counter and then go sit down so I guess technically it's fast food, but to put it in fast food categories is probably sacrilegious. Here's how it stacks up for families.
How disruptive will my kids be?
Your kids will not be disruptive in terms of noise, but there just isn't a whole lot of room. Ha, welcome to the New York dining scene! So if they are squirmy there isn't a lot of places for them to walk and this place is typically rammed. It's perfect for kids in the sense that it is fast. In theory, you can be in and out of this place in 20 minutes. So if you're feeling like the kids are being pains in the arses, just eat a little bit quicker. Whenever I go in, there are kids everywhere. It's a popular teenage hang as well.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
I am guilty as charged. See above how I say there isn't a lot of space. But that has not stopped me from rolling in with my giant stroller and pulling it up right to the table. I would do that a lot when I would come here on maternity leave with Jenson in his stroller and justify my banh mi, spring roll, bubble tea order to "burning calories breastfeeding." But I would not recommend you do that. There really isn't a lot of space and unless you can get tucked into a corner table or move some chairs in the front, bringing your stroller in here is a bit of a nuisance. That being said, they would NEVER tell you to fold it down. It's just not that kind of a place. And in fact, in the video you'll see that there are a few umbrella strollers open. Mine included.
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
No. They have highchairs and that is about it. But again, this place is all about people eating their pho and then getting the hell out of Dodge. So they really don't want to see your annoying (I mean, adorable) kids longer than they need to. There is no changing station which is bit of a bummer. They do have lollipops on the counter and several hypnotic cats that are better than any crib mobile you've ever seen. So in that sense, your kiddies will have lots of fun stimuli and sugar to boot if that is what you want. Oh, and they have huge, colorful straws for the bubble tea sitting on the counter. Definitely not kid safe at all but you try telling a toddler they cannot play with these things. It's impossible.
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
They open at 11:30AM and the menu is the same all day long. So you really can eat dinner at 4PM if you need to.
Are there food options for allergic kids?
Not really. And I'm not sure how accommodating they'd be as the menu is set and the people are hustling to give people their rice vermicelli. Definitely lots of gluten-free options, but the nut allergies might be an issue as there is peanut sauce on a lot of the dishes and it's one small kitchen.
Why? I love this place and it's one of my favorite places in the neighborhood, but it's not the best environment for dining with your little ones. Older kids are not a problem but when I eat here with Jenson, I know it's going to be a quick in and out experience so that makes this place ideal in a sense. But when in doubt, just look for the hypnotic cats and immediately pounce on that table. The table near the front window is great too as they can toddler judge all the people that stroll by.
***If cooking Christmas dinner is making you cringe like my hubby was when I asked him to take this photo then you should read this post
Tis' the season to start amassing even more credit card debt, regret behavior at work parties and spend a dizzying amount of time feeling inadequate about your potentially tacky-looking mantle and pathetic-looking reindeer cookies (Die. Pinterest. Die.) So I thought I'd bring some Brooklynites some holiday cheer that comes in the form of a list of restaurants that are open on Christmas or Christmas Eve...and some are open on both days. Stop feeling guilty about what you're not making or beating yourself up because your table setting would make Martha's hate list. Let someone else (IE) a restaurant do all the dirty work for you...
Little Goat gets high marks for being open super early on the weekends (7 AM!), which is helpful if you have little creatures at home who arise with the sun. They also offer valet parking, which seems like an unnecessary extravagance early on a Saturday morning, until your hanger overtakes you and you scream at your husband because there are no. goddamn. parking. spots.
Swan Dive turns into the most organic playgroup you've even seen. Kids can roam free, draw with chalk, play corn hole (or just stand inappropriately on the base) and parents can drink cocktails and not worry about disrupting the neighbors (you are)...but it doesn't matter. The food is mostly meat and lets just hope your kids aren't nude shy...
OK, so this is an ice cream shop. I get it...of course it's kid-friendly. BUT, not all ice cream shops are cut from the same kid-friendly cloth. And being that 76 percent of my diet in the summer months is ice cream, it seemed my/our civic duty to review this place for the First Bites community. First off, if you live in Brooklyn (and Manhattan for that matter) you KNOW Ample Hills. Bold statements are made from people that this really is "the best ice cream in America." And being that this ice cream shop is headquartered in the artisanal capital of the universe, rest be assured Ample Hills makes from start to finish all of their ice cream flavors. But don't get too attached to a flavor because the menu is constantly changing. They keep us on our toes...and validating deep internal monologues of why we MUST go back the next day....and the day after that.
08/09/14 - For Sunday Features. Lines. Ample Hills Creamery is located at Union Street in Brooklyn. NYC August 9 2014 (photo by Christian Johnston)
They opened their first place in Queens, NY six years ago....and now they are opening up locations in Tokyo and Frankfurt. Bareburger moves fast. If I'm being totally honest, it's the sort of place I normally don't like eating at. Why? It's just all a bit too perfect. Sort of that "you're in Disneyworld" feel and the founders have spent a lot of money on consumer psychology research. But like Disneyworld, you somehow find yourself BACK in Harry Potter land and swearing to yourself that you are going to go for New Year's Eve EVERY.SINGLE. YEAR because it is THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH.
So you don't have a Shake Shack in your city? No problem! I recreated the Shake Shack burger in my kitchen and it legit tastes JUST like the real thing. Thank you @Smittenkitchen for this amazing recipe. Just because you don't live in New York, doesn't mean you can't eat like a New Yorker. And seriously....this TASTES JUST LIKE THE REAL THING!! Chalk this up to one of my life's greatest accomplishment. Sorry husband and child......
This is basically NY's version of In-N-Out except it is not. Shake Shack is a bit more urban and it stands apart in the burger arena by using a proprietary burger that’s vegetarian fed and humanely raised. Cooked-to-order burgers are topped with fresh ingredients and served on a non-GMO roll. They also make their own custard ice cream that is full of REAL sugar and the most important part of this chain....they serve ALCOHOL. Uh huh. So go ahead and order your kid cocaine that comes in the form of a brownie, custard concrete...it doesn't matter, because you will be sipping wine and all will be right in the world.
It was a day of lunching sophistication. Not even an American (me) could damper that. We headed over to Hotel du Vin, Cannizaro House. Hotel du Vin is a chain of luxury boutique hotels scattered throughout London. Olly's family lives in Wimbledon so we walked over to Cannizaro Park, a massive park that is amazing for kids to run around in (did I mention it is GRASS and NOT concrete?!), feed the ducks, look at flowers and see a mini aviary of birds. On these grounds sits the large mansion-hotel that has a windowed bistro that sits on the park grounds. Before we had lunch, we walked around, fed the ducks and tried in vain to tire out Jenson. Once we walked into the restaurant, I noticed something immediately. There were no kids except for Jenson and my 7-year-old-niece...
So this place is in the heart of Brooklyn and is a vegetarian-only, vegan, gluten-free optional restaurant. You can only wear hemp and showers are not encouraged (KIDDING.) But I do command you to stop your eye roll and Free Yo Mind! Even the most loyal of meat eaters would have a hard time saying anything bad about the food here. It is that good. If you think you could never have mac and cheese without the cheese...I dare you to try their cashew-based mac and "cheese." You won't even miss the cheese. Their gluten-free, veggie burgers are something to write home about and they start the meal with complimentary gluten-free pumpkin muffins...which are also blow-your-mind good. Oh, and portabella steaks are a thing. Did I mention that they are MASSIVELY kid-friendly?!
Calexico is a venue that started out selling their burritos and tacos out of a food truck and now have locations all over New York...but they still sell out of carts. Armed with Jenson, we popped in for some lunch at their new*ish Red Hook location before hitting the Brooklyn waterfront.