Eating out with kids can be a fun experience for the whole family — or it can be a complete nightmare for everyone involved (and that includes the waitstaff and other restaurant patrons). The key is choosing the right spot for your dinner date. Important criteria include a festive atmosphere (read: loud enough so that your kids don’t disturb other diners), delicious menu offerings for mom and dad (and of course the kiddos too), and quick service that gets you in and out before your little diners can even think of having a meltdown. The following local spots fit the bill for family foodie excursions:
1214 W Grace, Chicago
Uncommon Ground is a cozy, welcoming Lakeview destination that serves up simple, sustainable food. I am a big fan of the burger and fresh salads. Kids and adults alike will go crazy for the amazing mac and cheese. As a parent, I appreciate the focus on organic, unprocessed ingredients. Their Edgewater restaurant even features an organic rooftop garden.
2056 W. Division, Chicago
Crust features pizzas topped with fresh, organic ingredients and cooked in a wood-burning oven. At the same time, it is a pizza joint, so kids are absolutely welcome. We especially love the heated back patio where kids can cut loose without disturbing other diners.
3300 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Wishbone truly has something to offer everyone in the family. They actually want you to bring your kids to their restaurant (look, it says so right on their website). Both the regular and kids’ menus offer a wide selection of Southern-style, homecooked foods (think mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, and jambalaya). You’ll all leave full and happy.
3471 North Elston Avenue, Chicago
This Northside spot serves up Irish pub fare in a lively (but family-friendly) atmosphere. Families will especially love the large beer garden where little diners can find plenty of room to roam. Menu standouts include the burger and fish n’ chips. Their kid’s menu even includes root beer floats (yum!).
4343 N. Lincoln, Chicago
The menu at Chalkboard changes daily (they write it up each day on their . . . chalkboard, of course.). The fare is pretty sophisticated, but the atmosphere is relaxed (the owners are parents of a small child themselves). Recent menu items included homemade fried chicken, smoked gouda mac and cheese, and chicken pot pie (my kids would go crazy for any of those things).