Need HELP on finding restaurants for me and my 7 year old daughter
I'm a frequent business traveler to Chicago, and always come to this board for suggestions of where to eat. I'm bringing my wife and 7 year old daughter to town for the first time. My wife and I will eat anywhere, but my daughter not so much. We will be in town most of next week, and I really want her to enjoy herself. I'm looking for suggestions of kid friendly/fun restaurants.
Here are the particulars of my stay: in town from April 5th through the 10th; staying at the Ritz-Carlton by the Water Tower; don't have a car (will travel via foot, taxi and maybe CTA).
I plan to take her to Rain Forest Cafe...seems fun for kids. What's the name of the pizza/hot dog place across the street from it? Also plan to go to Navy Pier on the 5th; any good restaurants there? She does like Chinese, but I haven't been to a Chinese restaurant in Chicago. Where should I go?
Any and all suggestions area greatly appreciated.
ed bebevics for sure ---its like an old 50's diner with annoying servers and singers and the worlds smallest sundae served in a shot glass.
if she likes drag queens --- go to KITKAT --she'll probably just think theyre nice ladies singing to her table for fun
maybe when she's older take her to Dick's Last Resort
till then try Carnivale or Ala Turka maybe....
The advice others have posted here is good so far. Here are some additional options.
Another choice in the genre of kid-friendly American restaurants (along with Cheesecake Factory and Rain Forest Cafe) is Grand Lux Cafe. I've been there with my cousin and his two kids around the same age as your daughter, and it was perfect. On Michigan Avenue just a few blocks from your hotel. www.grandluxcafe.com
Chinatown is about four miles south of your hotel. It's easily accessible by el (that's our subway, portions of which are elevated) and, for the "price of admission", kids LOVE the idea of going on a train ride! You can catch the CTA Red Line near your hotel at Chicago and State, and take it south to Cermak/Chinatown. (CTA information is at www.transitchicago.com ). The restaurants are all within two blocks of the el station. While the food at Lao Sze Chuan is very good, if you are considering Szechuan food, I think Double Li is a better choice. At Double Li, Ben Li, the owner, is typically around and very able to help folks decide on what to order. I've seen him helping a family with a child your age, so you'll be in good hands there. The advice and service I have received at Lao Sze Chuan is, well, not their strong suit. Also, Double Li has a nicer decor (LSC is rather bland and ordinary). Double Li is a storefront on Cermak; Lao Sze Chuan is located at the end of a long building (basically a strip mall) known as Chinatown Mall. It's fun to walk down Wentworth and check out the shops while you're there.
One more place I'd recommend taking your daughter is Bongo Room ( http://chicago.menupages.com/restaurantdetails?restaurantid=13028 ) for breakfast/brunch. Their pancake specialties are awesome! They rotate the menu, but my two favorites have been pretzel pancakes with white chocolate sauce, and blueberry pancakes topped with almond panna cotta sauce. The standard order size consists of three HUGE pancakes; it doesn't mention it on the menu, but you can also order a one-third or two-thirds portion at a reduced price, either for the smaller appetite (like your daughter's) or to try more than one dish. Waiting times to be seated can be long on Sundays unless you go early; other days, not too bad. It's about two miles south of your hotel, an easy ride by el (it's right at the Roosevelt Road stop on the Red Line) or CTA bus.
On a clear day or evening, the Signature Room might be fun for your daughter. That's the restaurant on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building, with a great view looking out over the city. They're open for lunch and dinner, and brunch on Sundays. www.signatureroom.com
There's lots of stuff for kids to do in Chicago, including Lincoln Park Zoo, two miles north of your hotel (admission is free, BTW), Millennium Park where kids can splash in the Crown Fountain on warmer days and they love "the bean" (Cloud Gate sculpture), etc. I know the Chowhound Team prefers that posts here concentrate on food, so for visitor information and stuff for kids, see the visitors bureau website at www.choosechicago.com
Thanks-a-plenty nsxtasy. You've helped me out in the past when looking for restaurants for just me, so I'm sure your suggestions for my daughter will be spot on. Grandluxe Cafe as well as the Signature Room sound like very interesting picks. And thanks for the directions to China Town!
My son is 7 and he is crazy for pizza, so my suggestion is for you to try Pizzeria Uno or Pizzeria Due, which are in that same area as Rainforest Cafe and Ed Debevics.
My son was also wowed by recent visits to Rainforest Cafe and Ed Debevic's, so I wholeheartedly agree with those suggestions. Rainforest Cafe isn't super pricey--I think it 's more that it's overpriced for what you get. IIRC, it was like $14 for a so-so Asian chicken salad. But the kids meals are inexpensive, so it balances out.
Enjoy your visit, and if you can, take your daughter to the Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum. She'll love them!
The good restaurant @ Navy Pier is called Riva. It's fancy, pricey and probably would be wasted on your daughter in addition to not being that great of a value for you. Personally, I'd hit Charlies Ale House for a relaxed burger and brew. Your daughter might be more interested in Bubba Gump's because of the movie tie in. There are a few other restaurants, along with a food court (Mickey D's, a decent dog joint, etc.), none of them particularly notable.
BUT, if Daddy is working hard all the time, and the little one likes dolls, it may be a fantabulous bonding experience for the whole family.
Prepare to PAY for your bonding experience, yes, but it might make a little girl SO VERY HAPPY.
I'd also think:
Ed Debevic's (50's style diner with gimmicks for kids.)
A stroll/meal through ChinaTown? (A Dim Sum lunch experience, perhaps?)
For a fancy setting Chinese meal, Opera or Red Light? Is Opera still around?
If she likes Mexican food, I'd suggest Frontera Grill for the heck of it. If you catch Bayless there, you can watch his show, and say you've seen him.
Rain Forest Cafe is more geared towards wowing kids and making parents pay for it. I have not eaten at the place at the American Girl Store, but the others can also wow the kids while also netting a decent meal for the price.The Cheescake factory has a fun factor to it as well. Foo-foo drinks, and the space is kinda grande. If you are coming in early on the 5th, you MIGHT want to think about the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues to start things off in grande style - depending on when you are hiting Navy Pier. Just some more thoughts for you, mgh. Good Luck!
I would try to work Frontera and several other Mexican restaurants into my plans before Salpicon, but that's personal preference. Plenty of people who will disagree with me. PLENTY. As for "Chinatown," it's an entire section of city dedicated to asian goods and restaurants - mostly concentrating on the Chinese as opposed to other Asian nationalities. Not too many "upscale" restaurants in this area, but then again, I don't really seek out "upscale" restaurants, I mainly go out for good food. I would suggest a dim sum lunch if you go at lunch time (where you simply pick plates of foods off of a cart, and then your plates are tallied up at the end of your meal) and then a stroll around (interesting shops with little gadgets, maybe get the family some fancy chopsticks*, there are candy stores, chinese bakeries SESAME BUNS - YUMMM!) and then a visit to Joy Yee for a bubble tea. If it's nice out, it will be a good walking tour. Chinatown is a quick jaunt SW of the loop.
For a Chinatown dinner, I'd recommend Lao Sze Chuan in the Chinatown mall.
2172 S Archer Ave
For dim sum lunch, maybe Phoenix?
2131 S Archer
ChinaTown will stretch further south than these two places, but you can walk through the Chinatown mall for starters. Joy Yee is pretty close to these two places as well. Just start walking, and see where it takes you. Taxis will be plentiful. If you see a bakery type place, and feel the urge, the buns or balls rolled in sesame seeds are chewy, a little bit sweet and I love them. Several shops will have them. You will also probably see a few places with bbq whole ducks hanging in the window. If that might irk anyone, just be prepared.
* break out your fancy chopsticks when you order Chinese takeout back at home to remember the day you walked around Chinatown in Chicago, and had the tea with the "bubbles" in it!