We’ve been back to Chicago a couple times since our original Top Ten Chicago Restaurants for Foodies with Kids! post, and while many of the restaurants are still solid choices – some have closed and we’ve also found new favorites, so we’re sharing Ten More Chicago Restaurants for Foodies with Kids!
Best Chicago Restaurants for Kids
Since our original Chicago restaurants post, Grahamwich, Graham Elliot Bistro and Hot Doug’s have all closed. And I hate to say it, but our last visit to the Billy Goat Tavern was a bit disappointing – we’ll likely still go back because we love the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier so it’s a convenient stop for burgers and fries, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there again (and I wouldn’t recommend you do either unless you’re a huge SNL fan).
However, while it’s sad to see favorites fade away, Chicago will always have an amazing array of restaurants to choose from – and after trying nearly 40 highly-recommended Chicago restaurants, we’ve narrowed our selections down to this list. (And we still highly recommend all of the other restaurants mentioned in our original article.)
I also feel like I need to mention: there are crowd favorites that I just did not agree with and so, I didn’t add them to this list. For example, everyone who’s been seems to love Rick Bayless’s XOCO but after two visits I just don’t get the allure. I liked his Topolobampo located next door, but the first time our churros at XOCO had a very distinct onion flavor and the “recommended” dish that we bought was really bland – the hot chocolate was indulgent and yummy, though. The second time, we just opted for churros and while these hadn’t been contaminated with onions, they were still just too savory for me.
While we like freak shakes and crazy concept restaurants, I want my food to be more than just Instagram-worthy. I want amazing, try-to-replicate-it-at-home-it-was-so-good food that both my daughter and I are going to love eating, at locations that welcome both of us. All of the restaurants that made this list fit that bill.
I honestly thought the concierge at Loews had our family pegged all wrong when he recommended this bowling alley for us, but it was a solid recommendation.
Conveniently located close to Navy Pier (which houses our favorite children’s museum EVER), Pinstripes boasts a delicious, casual Italian menu but the showstopper was their Apple Pear Bread Pudding which is flash-fried. It is hands down the best bread pudding I have ever had, and I basically order bread pudding whenever it’s on the menu.
You can order the full menu at the bowling alley, or just do appetizers while the kids play a round and then move over to the restaurant for some concentrated eating.
What We Ate: Tomato-Mozzarella Bruschetta, Margarita Pizza, Mozzarella Marinara, Cocktails, Tiramisu and Apple Pear Bread Pudding
Kanela Breakfast Club
Such a fun breakfast/brunch spot with several locations around the city, Kanela gets your food to your table quickly but also has a great vibe that makes you comfortable and ready to stay all day. They don’t take reservations but if you’re there before the hangover crowd, you’ll get a table easily.
Everything we ordered was beautifully executed and there was such attention to detail in developing the recipes. The Monkey Bread has put my cheater biscuit-dough version to shame and I will be trying to replicate their version soon!
What We Ate: Fresh Juices and Lattes, Red Velvet French Toast, Fried Chicken & Waffles, Monkey Bread
Conveniently located in the lobby at Loews Chicago (near Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile), ETA describes itself as “a tavern for today’s travelers, welcoming guests with rustic American fare and Midwestern warmth” and I would say that is a spot-on description of the vibe and menu you’ll find here.
During the day, the restaurant is brighter and more casual, while in the evening it has an understated elegance. Everything we ordered was amazing and the staff was welcoming to my 6 year old – even giving her a sneak peek in the kitchen and offering her ice cream.
The menu may seem like typical pub food, but everything is elevated to gourmet status – my favorite was the sous vide chicken and dumplings.
What We Ate: Pot Roast Poutine, Mac & Cheese, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Chicken & Dumplings, NY Strip Steak, Chocolate Stout Cake
Now that Hot Doug’s is closed, I needed to add a new hot dog recommendation – and after trying out a couple of different options, I found Portillo’s to be the best.
We opted for Chicago Dogs and Frozen Custard – and their chocolate cake is supposed to be legendary. The dog was a true Chicago dog, not just in toppings but in portion size as well. The thing I love about Chicago Dogs is that they are a sandwich! There are so many toppings, you may struggle to finish the entire thing.
What We Ate: Chicago Dogs, Frozen Custard
Texas de Brazil
An interesting name for a Brazilian steakhouse, hinting at the restaurant’s “blending the Brazilian culture and fare with generous Texas-style hospitality.” Texas de Brazil restaurants grill all of their meats the traditional gaucho way – over hot, natural wood coals – and have an amazing buffet offering of cured meats, gourmet cheeses, curries, soups, salads, perfectly prepared veggies, and more!
This was a classy, gourmet setting with such attention to detail and great customer service. I loved the buttery lobster bisque, homemade chimichurri sauce, traditional hummus, pineapple carpaccio, grilled provolone cheese, asparagus with orange vinaigrette, picanha, and flank steak.
I’m actually super upset that I somehow missed the lamb offerings and Brazilian cheese bread (which has been on my food bucket list for awhile) – I guess I’ll just have to head back soon!
What We Ate: EVERYTHING!
Originating in NYC, Luke’s Lobster is one of our Chicago traditions as there seems to always be one close to us wherever we stay. (And for some reason, we always crave seafood after a day of travel.)
We get the same thing every time and it is always satisfying, delicious, and that perfect amount of buttery-savory. It’s everything a lobster roll should be and also super affordable when it comes to sustainable lobster (about $20 for a full meal).
What We Ate: Lobster Roll, Wild Blue Salad, Mexican Cokes
Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.
The ambience and customer service at this restaurant is awesome – the manager came around to everyone’s tables at some point in their meal to ensure everything was great and to ask where they were from, etc. But the real winner is that pizza pot pie!
Seriously, a half pound of pizza (or order a full pound if you’re splitting) and they did not go light on the cheese! The pizza pot pie was delicious and a fun twist if you’ve already done Chicago deep dish a couple of times.
(And bonus: it’s super close to Swirlz Cupcakes – one of my favorite Chicago cupcake spots, and is across the street from Vanille, one of the city’s top pastry shops.)
What We Ate: Guinness (for me) and Pizza Pot Pie
Chicago knows fried chicken and locals know the best comes from Harold’s Chicken.
They have stand-alone locations and a food truck – and the food truck ALWAYS sells out. It’s actually kind of sad seeing all of the other food trucks with no one lined up while everyone is flocking to Harold’s. It almost makes you want to visit them – but only almost. They also have fried fish.
What We Ate: Delicious double brined fried chicken with fries, lemonade, and soft bread (which I didn’t get any of).
Okay, this is another NYC Staple and a Chicago transplant, but honestly, if you don’t have Shake Shack near you and you’re not planning a trip to NYC anytime soon – you need to hit this up and it’s super conveniently located close to both Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park.
Get ready for one of the best burgers you will ever eat, delicious fries, housemade lemonade, and if you have room – be sure to grab their frozen custard! They even have fun twists on the custard to pay homage to Chicago.
What We Ate: ShackBurger, Shack-ago Dog, Raspberry Ginger Lemonade, Frozen Custard, Crinkle cut fries, Vanilla Custard Shake
Topolobampo or Frontera Fresca
Both of these restaurants are Chicago institutions from Rick Bayless.
Topolobampo is his more gourmet offering, but it was still very welcoming to us with kids and the food was unlike anything you will have encountered at another high-end Mexican restaurant. Supper offers a couple different prix fixe options (set menus) while lunch is a bit more casual and they also have a lunch menu that helps you get in and out in 60 minutes (intended for people on lunch breaks but perfect for travellers with kids). We went for a quick lunch and I can’t wait to return and try one of their more extensive offerings.
Frontera Fresca on the other hand offers traditional tacos, tortas (sandwiches), salads and quesadillas but with amazing flavors and combinations that you may not have seen anywhere else. There are several locations so it’s an easy one to work into your travel plans.
Pin this collection of Awesome Chicago Restaurant Recommendations for your Chicago Vacation Planning:
Between our two lists (this one and our first installation), I hope you are able to find the perfect Chicago restaurants to satiate your foodie family’s appetite during your Chicago vacation!