When it comes to the typical “family restaurant,” our feelings can be mixed. Spending time together: Love. Stealing bites of our kids’ chicken tenders: Really love. Navigating ball pits: Can we not? These seven family-friendly restaurants find just the right balance.
SUMMER HOUSE SANTA MONICA
Kid cuisine isn’t typically the healthiest—unless you’re at Summer House Santa Monica. All menu items are made from scratch with all-natural ingredients, like the organic crispy chicken fingers and hormone-free turkey meatballs. To boot, a portion of all proceeds from the kids’ menu benefits Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
1954 N. Halsted St.; 773-634-4100 or summerhousesm.com
Pizza is that universal food, enjoyed by all ages. Adults will appreciate Forno Rosso’s wood-fired crust with sophisticated toppings (San Marzano tomatoes and Fior di Latte mozzarella, for instance). Kids will love that it’s bread and gooey cheese. And everyone can appreciate a patio where it’s not impossible to get a table (including space for a stroller).
Multiple locations; fornorossopizzeria.com
Right in the heart of Southport corridor, this casual spot has all the family-friendly bells and whistles. Kids eat free every day from 4 to 6 p.m., there are step stools in the bathroom and wide doorways easily fit bulky strollers. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the skillet cookie dessert—try not to fight your five-year-old for it.
3455 N. Southport Ave.; 773-883-2525 or crosbyschicago.com
To your kids, eating offal (organ meats) probably sounds...awful. So while you indulge in a rustic pasta dish with organ meat (it’s seriously delish), your kids can chow down on pappardelle with butter and Parmesan or a classic grilled cheese. Settle who picks dessert with a friendly match at the foosball table.
1904 N. Western Ave.; 872-315-3912 or animalechicago.com
This is the spot to break during your day at Lincoln Park Zoo. Sippy cups, crayons and animal crackers keep kids occupied so parents can enjoy their burger or salad. And a stroller valet? Genius.
2056 Lincoln Park W.; 773-929-5363 or rjgruntschicago.com
LITTLE GOAT DINER
Little goats and big goats alike will find something tasty here. Mac and cheese, hot dogs and waffles are safe bets for picky eaters. More sophisticated palates, meanwhile, will relish the Top Chef-approved menu.
820 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-3455 or littlegoatchicago.com
If you’re dining early on account of bedtime, you’re in luck. Mia Francesca’s happy hour (Monday through Thursday, 3:30 to 6 p.m.) has $3 beers and $5 wines and cocktails. Plus, while you dine on salmon alla fresca, your little ones can feast on spaghetti and meatballs or a personal cheese pizza.
3311 N. Clark St.; 773-281-3310 or miafrancesca.com