It can be difficult to find kid friendly restaurants in Chicago, so sometimes I find myself scrambling for places to eat. Before I even leave the comforts of the suburbs, I’m scouting for the latest and greatest restaurant in the city, and I often ask friends to weigh in with their advice. Unfortunately, I have a picky audience that needs to satisfied, and it comes in the form of three hungry boys; one who will eat anything, one who is a picky eater, and one with a food allergy. We have found these restaurants to be kid friendly and would recommend them to anyone visiting the city. These are the ones we think are the best kid friendly restaurants in Chicago.
1) Do-Rite Donuts – My mouth is honestly watering as I think about these donuts. The place doesn’t look like much from the outside and there isn’t much room inside, but make time for a stop here. My husband and I thought the Cheese Danish donut was pretty epic, and the kids loved the chocolate peppermint donut. Their best seller is their buttermilk old fashioned and it is something you will never forget. Mouthwatering and the right amount of sweetness. There are even gluten free and vegan options, if that’s your thing.
2) Wildberry – This is a chain of restaurants that is very popular in the Chicago area that knows how to make breakfast. They use local farm fresh ingredients and the portions are generous and satisfying. They are known for their pancakes (can you say Banana Cream Pie and Tiramisu?) and Signature Berry Bliss crepes, but you won’t be disappointed by anything on the menu.
3) Yolk – Another favorite breakfast place for us, Yolk, also has some amazing breakfast choices. The kids love the Oreo Pancakes, but I like trying something new every time. They have a Tour de France French Toast Flight (one piece of each of the following: banana nut, sweet orange, and lemon poppyseed or all one flavor) that I highly recommend and their California Omelet is delicious too. Can you tell breakfast is our favorite meal of the day?
4) Lou Mitchell’s – This classic diner has been a Chicago staple for generations and families flock here for the fun atmosphere and the good food. Patrons are greeted with donut holes upon arrival and kids love the milk duds they get before their meal. Portions are on the large side, so families can share. Try the Meltaway pancakes or the fluffy omelettes, you won’t be disappointed.
For Something Fast, That Doesn’t Taste Like Fast Food
5) Shake Shack – One of the new additions to the Chicago culinary scene, Shake Shack has brought their classic burgers, flat top dogs, crinkle cut fries, and frozen custard to the River North neighborhood. The restaurant has a fun vibe, quick service, and delicious food, which makes it a no brainer for families looking for a quick bite to eat!
6) Portillo’s Hot Dogs – Portillo’s is a Chicago institution. Portillo’s is known for their Chicago dogs and Italian beef, so I recommend you try one or both of those on your visit. The place is very family friendly. When you enter, you choose the “counter” you wish to order from, but it helps to look at the menu beforehand. Sometimes the experience can be overwhelming for kids because there are so many choices, but it is also a ton of fun, because they have great food and a fun diner vibe steeped in Chicago nostalgia.
7) Chicago French Market – This is my favorite place to explore near Union Station. This European style indoor market has over 30 vendors offering different types of food options year round. It’s like a gourmet food court and everyone can choose their favorite cuisine. There are sandwiches, sushi, burritos and everything in between. Just save room for sweet treats afterwards because there are some good ones to choose from!
Sit Down Restaurants
8) Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch – Located on the 7th floor of Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue, the restaurant is decked out in sports memorabilia and big screen tvs. The kids’ menu features your standard pizza, mac n’ cheese, and chicken tenders, but the adult menu has some delicious oven fired pizza and stick to your ribs food like meatloaf and chicken pot pie. The place has a lively atmosphere, so loud kids aren’t even given a second glance.
9) Frontera Grill – If you’re a fan of Rick Bayless, you’ll want to make it a point to stop here, and if you love Mexican food, you’ll want to stop here too. Be sure to check the website, because the menu changes often and some days they serve brunch instead of lunch. The meal will be a little pricey for kids, so you may want to order a dish for them to share, but the food is delicious, and they can always fill up on chips and guacamole!
10) Lou Malnati’s – This is my husband’s favorite Chicago deep dish pizza and thankfully they have a location in the suburbs or we would be in the city every weekend! Keep in mind, it does take longer to cook a deep dish pizza, so bring something to entertain the kids. We love the deep dish sausage pizza, but you should know that one piece is very filling!
11) Grand Lux Cafe – Everyone will find something to eat at Grand Lux Cafe because the menu is huge. Burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, they have it all! The location overlooks Michigan Avenue, so kids can entertain themselves by looking out the window or people watching inside.
12) Eataly – Eataly is more of an experience than anything. This massive complex is worth a visit even if you don’t eat at one of their 23 eateries. Throughout the building you will find a mixture of market counters and sit down dining restaurants. Some of our favorite stops include La Pasticceria with fresh baked pastries and the gelato counter downstairs. All the restaurants serve Italian food (of course) that is prepared just feet from your table. What kid doesn’t like pizza or pasta? If you prefer, grab some bread, prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh fruit, and you have a picnic to take to Millennium Park.
13) Crosby’s Kitchen – Located in the Lakeview area of downtown near Wrigley Field, this restaurant almost seems made for kids. They have step stools in the bathroom, doors wide enough to fit those double strollers, and free kids meals from 4:30 – 6 p.m. every day. The restaurant serves American comfort food with a twist, and has plenty of food options for the kids. Just be sure to save room for the chocolate chip skillet cookie!
14) DMK Burger – This is hands down our favorite place to visit for burgers in the city. The restaurant is loud and lively, and the waitstaff is always friendly. There is a set menu of burgers, fries, and a couple of salads. You choose the burger you want, the toppings, and whether or not you want any add ons, like french fries or a salad. They also offer turkey, lamb, bison, veggie, and portobello burgers if you prefer those to grass-fed beef. While you’re there, try the milkshakes, you won’t be disappointed!