Best restaurants for families in a city that loves its food
It is no secret. Chicagoans love food. So, on your next trip, come ready to eat! Whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian or none of those things, we don’t disappoint any tummies, big or little.
1/Shaw's Crab House
21 E. Hubbard St., River North
Offered on Saturdays and Sundays, Shaw’s brunch buffet is nothing short of spectacular. While the restaurant, of course, has the hearts of seafood lovers, this brunch will not disappoint even your pickiest eaters. Think crab legs, sushi, create-your-own waffles or omelets, carved beef tenderloin, caramelized bacon, salads, mimosas, and a sweets table that will blow you away. It’s a pricey brunch for adults but free for kids under 6 and just $10 for kids over 7 years old. Great for large families and my personal favorite for brunch in the city. $$$
KidTripster Tip: Make a reservation ahead of time. They do fill up quickly.
20 N. Michigan Ave., Magnificent Mile
Stop at Remington’s Restaurant, if your need a break from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue. This classic American grill, just across from Chicago’s Millennium Park, offers a wide variety of seafood, steaks, salads, and sandwiches. It’s a great spot for a craft cocktail, too. The restaurant is large and can get noisy, but it’s also trendy and fun without being pretentious. $$
KidTripster Tip: Locals go for the infamous Wrightwood Salad which is the only consistent menu item offered at their other five, locally-owned restaurants (with different names and menus).
835 N. Michigan Ave., Water Tower Place
You likely haven’t experienced anything like this before: each member of your family gets a card to swipe, and then you’re all able to explore the food court at Water Tower Place and mix and match your lunch or dinner options. Collect everyone’s card and present them to the cashier at checkout. Foodlife is fantastic for families that need a wide selection in a casual environment. We love the build-your-own pasta, BBQ, sushi, and dessert stations! $$
2207 N. Clybourn Ave., Lincoln Park
Pequod’s Pizza is arguably the best Chicago-style, deep dish pizza in town. It’s not likely near any place that you’re staying while visiting Chicago, but make the effort to get to this Lincoln Park institution. It’s been cooking its pizza in the same cast iron pans since 1970. Eat like the locals! $$
KidTripster Tip: Head over on a weekday for lunch. It’ll be empty, and you can snag a personal pan pizza and a fountain drink for just $4.95.
1960 N. Western Ave., Bucktown
For more than 90 years, Margie’s Candies has been a Chicago institution. Think old school soda fountain with traditional diner food. Expect a warm welcome, cozy booths, tons of homemade candy, and the best ice cream sundaes that you’ve ever eaten. $
KidTripster Tip: They are open all day, so consider making the trip to Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood mid-afternoon to beat the summer crowds.
Diversey Pkwy., Lincoln Park
Our family has been frequenting this little-diner-that-could since it was just one location over a decade ago. Now Yolk owns ten restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, and Texas. The place really goes above and beyond for the smallest of customers. Order a cinnamon roll while you wait for your main course. (Yes, eat dessert first!) Locations in Lincoln Park, Streeterville, South Loop, West Loop, and River North. $$
KidTripster Tip: Arrive early on the weekends or expect to wait. Chicagoans love their brunch.
820 W. Randolph St., West Loop
One of the few restaurants around that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Little Goat does them all really well. Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, has anything but traditional items on her menu that includes Breakfast Spaghetti ’N Clams ‘N Crab, Fat Elvis Waffles (peanut butter, banana, and bacon maple syrup), and a hot crab dip that is truly amazing. Is your kid not so adventurous? That’s ok, the restaurnat still serves chicken fingers, mac and cheese, and pancakes. $
8/Dylan's Candy Bar
445 N. Michigan Ave., Magnificent Mile
Located near the InterContinental Chicago, Dylan’s Candy Bar is not like any candy store that you’ve ever visited. This two-story shop is wall-to-wall confections. It has an attached café with lunch menu items as well as craft (and candy-themed) cocktails. There’s a chocolate fountain, bulk candy section, as well as a station in which to personalize your sweet treats and souvenirs. $
2056 N. Lincoln Park W., Lincoln Park
R.J. Grunts is a local favorite in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. It’s noisy, fun and has been around for more than 40 years. Here you can find traditional (and very large) American lunch and dinner menu items along with a delightful (and always refreshed) salad bar. It also has an all-you-can-eat weekend brunch. You can walk to the restaurant from the Lincoln Park Zoo. $$
KidTripster Tip: Visiting in the winter? The soup is priced at whatever that day’s current temperature is.
3311 N. Clark St., Lakeview
Mia Francesca, a neighborhood fave near Wrigley Field, serves pasta, pizza, and chicken. It’s noisy, cozy, and can get busy on the weekends. The brunch is one of the best on the North Side and accommodates families with a wide variety of tastes (gluten-free, vegetarian). This small welcoming restaurant now has 33 sister locations in four states, so it’s got to be doing something right. $$
Christa Reed is a TV fanatic and philanthropist. She enjoys drinks with umbrellas, unreasonable amounts of caffeine, and watching the Cubs. She lives in her dogs’ Chicago home with her 4-year old son and husband.
This writer received some complimentary meals for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.