Russians rarely take their children to restaurants, largely because for decades dining out was an occurrence too rare and costly to be wasted on finicky little ones who pose a threat to crystal glassware. The international chains are starting to change that, and a few homegrown restaurants are adopting highchairs and children's menus, too; they're still relatively rare, so don't expect them everywhere you go. Among top-end establishments, the best family venues are the Sunday brunches at the big hotels. Sheraton Palace is especially child-centered, with a well-equipped playroom, clown performances, and free balloons. The all-you-can-eat buffet has enough options for the pickiest of eaters. Mid-range suggestions include Il Patio, whose three restaurants offer children's seats and menus, as well as servers who are patient with scampering little ones (a rarity here). It serves plenty of familiar pizzas and pastas. The budget chain Yolki-Palki (which translates into something like "Good grief!") offers simple, all-you-can-eat Russian cuisine and is one of the few places where you'll see Russian kids eating out. The mini-pancakes (olady) and jam-filled dumplings (vareniki) are good finger foods. The American-style Starlite Diner has milkshakes and cereal and attracts expat families on weekend mornings. The Russian fried-chicken chain, Rostik's, has familiar fare and a play area in most of its restaurants, but the equipment is often crowded and shabby. The most child-friendly places in town are still the U.S. chain TGI Friday's (main branches at the Okhotny Ryad shopping center and at 18/2 Tverskaya St.) and, of course, the ubiquitous McDonald's. (Check out their flagship restaurant on Pushkin Sq., the world's biggest when it opened in 1989.)
Some Yolki-Palki branches follow. All are open daily 11am to 11pm. None takes credit cards.
- 14 Klimentovsky Pereulok, building 1. tel. 495/953-9130. Metro: Tretyakovskaya.
- 18/20 Sadovo-Triumfalnaya Ulitsa. tel. 495/699-8821. Metro: Mayakovskaya.
- 12 Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa. tel. 499/243-2019. Metro: Kievskaya.
- 8/10 Neglinnaya Ulitsa. tel. 495/628-5525. Metro: Kuznetsky Most.
- 11 Novy Arbat. tel. 495/691-6888. Metro: Arbatskaya.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.