Newsflash: Going out to dinner with the family does not mean sacrificing flavor and style–and need not require greasy tater tots and boxed mac ’n’ cheese. That said, we're not suggesting that you cart your infants off to Alinea and fill their bottles with sea-moss foam, or even suffer through a meal at a themed eatery. The alternative is restaurants that successfully serve up a blend of alluring parental criteria: fast service, ambiance, nice wine list, great food , kid-centric amenities (high chairs crayons, etc,) and some all-important menu offerings that are pleasing to the pint-sized. Happily, Chicago—a bastion of Midwestern hospitality—is filled with such family-friendly spots. Take Chez Moi, where in one hour, an entire family can feast on poulet frites; or, upscale food court Food Life, which offers cuisine from around the globe, is served in a snap. And at La Madia, kids will be in heaven shaping their own pizza while parents enjoy some well-deserved Pinot Grigio. Here are the best around the city:
This eatery near the North Side takes pizza to another level. Kids will love it because they can make their own pizzas and watch as they are cooked in the brick oven. You will be happy with a juicy Merlot and the gastro greatness of grown-up pizzas with goat cheese, melted leek, garlic and pancetta lardon.
“Casual,” “fresh” and “fast” are magical words to parents’ ears. This upscale food court on Michigan Avenue boasts 14 stations with scratch-made foods that range from tacos, crepes, barbecue, pasta, sandwiches, sushi, salads, pizza, soup and grilled seafood. Diners are led to set, clean tables that are routinely bussed.
This infamous retro diner serves up a side of snark with each meal earning its tagline of “sassy servers, tasty burgers.” The waitresses sport quirky ensembles and often break out into dances up on the soda fountain. On tap are greasy-spoon classics such as meatloaf, chili, burgers and chicken fried steak.
This Lincoln Park bistro is as famous for French classics—such as moules marinieres and profiteroles—as it is for rolling out the welcome mat for families. The menu enfant is Parisian perfection offering petit steak frites, croque monsieurs and delightful Shirley Temples. As a bonus, the service is fast and fabulous.
Classic Chicago ambiance, snappy service and zesty dishes are served family-style at this old school Italian eatery in Bucktown. Gargantuan portions of ravioli, chicken parm and fried mozzarella are on the table within minutes. The ancient juke box is another huge draw for kids.