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Family trip to chicago

I'm traveling to Chicago next week for a long weekend with hubby and twin 10 year old boys. We're coming from Mpls by train and staying near the art institute.
I've found a bunch of options for breakfast/lunch- Bongo room, Hannah's Bretzel, Wow Bao, Oasis cafe, ...
But I'd be interested in more suggested options for dinner. The kids do manage well with nice restaurants (especially with a book along!). We don't want to go really fancy, but good food in a ~business casual atmosphere. On my short list so far are Frontera Grill, Gioco, Amarit Thai, and Giordano's for pizza.
Any comments on these or other suggestions along these lines (or anything else!)?
Thanks for the help!

Frontera Grill
445 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Wow Bao Restaurant
175 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

1312 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

Amarit Thai Restaurant
1 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

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  1. Almost any restaurant in Greektown; my favorite is Greek Isles.


    1. Heartland Café
      7000 N. Glenwood
      Chicago, IL 60626

      6 Replies
      1. re: Khotso98

        If you're staying near the Art Institute then I'd recommend Cafecito for a great quick lunch and maybe The Gage for dinner. Wow Bao does nothing for me, it's a one-trick pony; but if you've never been then maybe that trick will work for you. I'd also recommend Pizano's over Giordano's. And absolutely skip the Heartland Cafe.

        26 E Congress Pkwy Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60605

        Wow Bao Restaurant
        175 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

        1. re: ferret

          I second Pizzanos for the pizza - I like Giordanos but prefer Pizzanos - I also like Heartland but it will be a shlep from downtown -

          On you short list I would definitely go to Frontera - you might have a wait depending on the time you go but it is well worth the wait

          1. re: ferret

            Agree on Greek Town
            Agree on Wow Bau.
            Agree on Pizano's over Giordanos (I would also consider Uno or Due as well)
            Agree on the Heartland -- food is not especially good and it's out of your way.

            Not sure about The Gage with 10-year olds, however. It is a gastropub and while the food is interesting and creative, it is essentially a pub with an emphasis on artisan beers. It's not that the boys can't get soft drinks, it just wouldn't be my first choice with kids.

            Love your choice of Frontera, but be aware that they have few reservations. You can usually get seated if you arrive early (5:30) or consider it for lunch.

            Quite frankly, I don't know anything about either Gioco or Amarit Thai. There is some very good, very authentic Thai in Chicago, but if you don't have a car, you will be taking the "el." Spoon Thai on Western Avenue is easily accessible by train.

            Alternately, Chinatown (also accessible by train) can be a lot of fun. I like Moon Palace, Lao Sze Chuan and Three Happiness. Phoenix has a good dim sum breakfast.

            For Italian I would definitely consider Coco Pazzo Cafe on St. Clair, Cafe Spiaggia (the cafe) or Quartino. I also really like Bandera on Michigan Avenue for an eclectic American stye restaurant that is convenient, comfortable with kids and convenient to where you are staying.

            Big Bowl on Ohio St. is an Asian fusion place you all might also enjoy.

            626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

            Cafe Spiaggia
            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

            Big Bowl
            60 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

            Coco Pazzo Cafe
            636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

            Bandera Restaurant
            535 N Michigan Ave Ste 208, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: chicgail

              Quartino is an excellent option with kids; the portions all tend to be on the small side and allows for some relatively adventurous eating.

              626 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

              1. re: chicgail

                I wouldn't discount the Gage - I had my 2 yr old there the other day and he loved it. Granted, he's an adventurous eater, but I think the twins would enjoy it. I also think the Chinatown and Greektown suggestions are great. Our favorites are Evergreen and Greek Islands, respectively. I would like to add the Purple Pig in as a suggestion - go early (like 5:30 or 6pm) and I think you'll enjoy a fun and yummy family meal.

                1. re: vrollings

                  The Gage should be fine for 10 year olds. I ate there a few years ago with a friend who was visiting with her daughter, who was about that age. As I recall, she went for the cheeseburger and fries.

          2. Thanks for the many suggestions. I love the idea of Greektown or Chinatown- nice to get some ethnic foods that aren't too well represented here in Mpls. Cafecito looks great and I'm sure one of the Italian places or The Gage will work well for dinner.
            Appreciate all of the additional suggestions- I can't wait!
            (And will definitely substitute Pizanos for Giordanos.)

            26 E Congress Pkwy Ste 1, Chicago, IL 60605

            1. I assume that you are staying in the South Loop if Amarit & Gioco are on your list.

              I ate dinner at Gioco last week and was very disappointed. It used to be one of my favorite places but I'd not been in a while. The room was quite crowded and there was not enough wait staff on duty; I had a pasta for main course; pasta was homemade and cooked perfectly but the sauce was underseasoned and underwhelming. Next time I want Italian in the Loop/ S. Loop area, I'll go to Trattoria No. 10, which is also a favorite and much better.

              Amarit is reliable, ok Thai food. Not great. If you are nearby (my office is), it's decent. Certainly not a destination. If I were visiting with family, I'd be much more inclined to go to Chinatown if I was looking for a moderately priced Asian meal, than Amarit, as suggested by Chicgal. My personal favorite there is Moon Palace

              Moon Palace Restaurant
              216 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60616

              1312 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

              1 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

              1. Where are you staying? Based on your short list, it sounds like perhaps you are staying in the South Loop...? If so, I recommend Lou Malnati's at 8th and State for deep-dish pizza. Another place worth considering in that area is Opera, for Chinese and pan-Asian cuisine.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Nsxtasy - When were you last at Opera? I was there a few months ago and was very disappointed with their revised menu. It used to be on my short list of favorite places. Now, I'd be more likely to go to Chinatown.

                  1. re: masha

                    I ate there a few months ago also and I really, really enjoyed it. < shrug > I also noticed that their menu (which I thought was great) was a bit more "pan Asian" than strictly Chinese (or, as they put it on their website, "Chinese with Modern Presentations"). I'd be happy to go back to either one (my favorite in Chinatown is Double Li, which is Szechuan), depending on what I'm in the mood for, traditional Chinese in Chinatown or a contemporary version at Opera.

                    Anyone who's considering Opera, you can check out the menu on their website at www.opera-chicago.com The menu there is similar in style to my meal a few months ago, but with some different dishes.

                2. Many thanks for all of the suggestions. We had a great trip and hit Oasis cafe, Bongo Room, Pizanos, and Greek Islands. The kids declared that 'greek food is now their favorite'! I wanted to hit Lou Malnati's, but one of the kids got sick and we opted for takeout from the closest place we could find (Pizano's).
                  I'm heading back for a weekend with a friend in a few weeks and am looking forward to trying a few more of the suggestions!
                  Thanks again- makes a trip much more enjoyable to know the good spots to eat.

                  Bongo Room
                  1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605