Remember that time in your life when waiters and waitresses didn't know if you wanted a kid's menu or a grown up menu? Well, now there really isn't that much distinction between the two. Many of our childhood favorites – think grilled cheese, chicken fingers, and chocolate chip pancakes – have worked their way into the big leagues.

No longer is it unacceptable for a 20-year-old to order mac and cheese as their main course. Though I love testing out my taste buds and ordering tuna tartare or duck confit, I cannot seem to get rid of my childhood cravings. And, apparently, neither can the rest of the world. 

Now, let's explore what and how these 10 famous NYC hotspots are revamping your childhood favorites. Be prepared, there are a lot of options.

1. The Smith

What's better than a warm bowl of mac and cheese? I'll answer: nothing. The Smith's mac and cheese side dish is a definite crowd pleaser and a must-try in NYC.

So, what makes The Smith's mac and cheese different than your typical bowl of Kraft mac and cheese? Well, to start it's skillet roasted – making the four gourmet cheeses both melt and crisp up all at once.

*Cue the slow-mo video of a fork breaking into that warm gooey cheese*

2. Beauty and Essex

Grilled cheese tomato soup dumpling. Yes, I did just write that. This tapas dish is, without a doubt, all the rage. Beauty and Essex keeps the focus on the two main ingredients while giving it a sophisticated twist, turning it into on of the best grilled cheese I've ever had. Sorry, Mom.

If you are looking for a little taste of heavenly goodness, you need to make a reservation at Beauty and Essex ASAP. The second you bite into this dumpling cheese bursts out and perfectly compliments the tomato soup base. Cheese. Oozing. Ugh. Amazing.

3. Cacio e Pepe

A simple bowl of penne with Parmesan and butter is often a favorite of many. Cacio e Pepe takes the classic kid ingredients and multiples them by about...mmm...a thousand.

Think overload of Parmesan and butter, plus more cheese – typically pecorino – cream, freshly cracked pepper, and what else? Oh yeah, a giant wheel of cheese. 

I guess the more butter and cheese, the more adult-like a dish is. Right...?

4. Flex Mussels

No longer do parents need to sneak french fries off of their kid's plates. Now, restaurants let adults feel comfortable ordering fries by adding truffle oil, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. Never fear, ketchup is still allowed an encouraged.

Try out Flex Mussels, a 4.4 star NYC restaurant to get a taste for some of the best truffle fries the city has to offer. 

5. Momofuku Noodle Bar

It's fair to say that many children spent roughly ages four through ten ordering solely chicken fingers at restaurants. I know I did...

Aware of society's innate love for battered chicken at any age, Momofuku has made one of its staple dishes Fried Chicken. But, this isn't your typical fried chicken recipe:

The dish serves up one whole southern style chicken that is fried with buttermilk and spices, and one whole Korean-style chicken that is triple fried and served with a spicy glaze. Don't forget about the mu shu pancakes, baby carrots, radishes, bibb lettuce, four sauces, and herb basket. You also have the option of adding caviar. Now, THAT is what I called an elevated chicken finger.


While it's hard to beat the grilled hot dogs you ate at your neighborhood barbecues as a kid, NYC/DC restaurant DBGB is serving up some pretty delicious weenies. 

DBGB elevate their hot dog game by adding toppings such as green papaya, crème fraîche, lemon braised spinach, chilli sauce, red onions and, wait for it, quail egg.  

Warning: ketchup still may end up all over your face as you devour this hot dog.

7. Jack's Wife Freda

Nothing beat Saturday mornings filled with Disney Channel, orange juice and waffles as a kid. While many young adults may have replaced Disney Channel with Netflix, and added a little somethin' somethin' to their orange juice, their love for waffles is forever undying. 

Places like Jack's Wife Freda, Sarabeth's and Bubby's High Line know what waffles mean to the typical Saturday brunch-er, making waffles a permanent option on their menu. 

8. Milk and Cream Cereal Bar

Say hello to Milk and Cream Cereal Bar. The ice cream shop that offers a rather large list of toppings including cookie crunchies, Fruity Pebbles, marshmallows, Frosted Flakes and many, many more. 

Not feeling the ice cream? No worries. They offer cereal bowls with choices like Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Rice Crispies and, once again, many, many more. 

This trendy spot let's adults walk around in public and freely enjoy their childhood favorites like Teddy Grahams and Captain Crunch without feeling any sense of embarrassment. Amazing, I know.

9. Buns Bar

Buns Bar is a prime example that adults are not exempt from needing a napkin, or five, while enjoying a milkshake.

Buns Bar takes milkshakes to a whole other level by decorating with and adding ingredients like cereal, frosting and gummy bears. What makes their milkshakes so "adult"? Well for one thing, you have the option of having them infused with Grand Marnier (brandy). 

Fair to say their milkshakes brings everyone to the yard.

10. Treat House

Snap, crackle, pop, Rice Krispies. Oh, the delicious combo of marshmallows, cereal and butter. Treat House is a bakery on the Upper West Side featuring a deluxe assortment of rice crispy treats. 

With 12 options from Birthday Cake, to Caramel Sea Salt, to S'mores, to Moccachino, anyone, no matter what age will enjoy these treats. Even if you're an adult you can still sing the song..

So, what's next?

Yes, these examples don't fall within the increasingly high in demand dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, organic foods category. But, what's better than reliving some of your favorite childhood memories than through food?

Next time you're in NYC, book a table or pop into one of these spots. You'll find the deliciousness easily outweighs the calories. Yes, #freethefriedfood will be trending.