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Visiting Chicago- need dining recommendations that will make adults AND a 5 year old happy....

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Hi all-

My mom, daughter (age 5), and I will be having a girl's weekend in Chicago in early July. While we have the requisite meal at American Girl already reserved, I'd love recommendations for other spots that are kid friendly and that will also satisfy my mom and me.

Specifically, any good lunch or dinner places near the Ritz? Am willing to cab it if needed. No chains please. We are coming from Minneapolis and Dallas so we have our fill of chains at home. My daughter is a somewhat adventurous eater with good manners. She loves sushi/Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Italian.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. For Italian, I'd go to Cafe Spiaggia. It's only a few blocks from the Ritz, and it's one of our best moderately-priced Italian restaurants. If you go to their website at www.cafespiaggia.com make sure you click on CAFE or you'll be looking at info for Spiaggia, its super-expensive sister restaurant next door.

    For Chinese, I'd go to Chinatown, 3-4 miles south of the hotel. There are lots of good places for many varieties of Chinese cuisine; for recommendations see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/594324

    You don't mention Vietnamese, but there's an elegant moderately-priced Vietnamese restaurant within walking distance of the Ritz. It's called Le Colonial. www.lecolonialchicago.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thank you, nsxtasy. We won't be there for Taste of Chicago but I am intrigued by your Chinatown suggestion. Are there other things to do there besides just go to dinner? I'm curious if it would be worthwhile to go before dinner to walk around...how does it compare to SF's or NY's Chinatown?

      -----
      Taste of Chicago Restaurant
      3170 S Ashland Ave Ste H, Chicago, IL 60608

      1. re: minnesotajane

        It's much smaller than the Chinatown in New York or San Francisco. But it has some of the same things to do - browse in gift shops and galleries, bakeries, etc. So it's fun to walk around, either before or after dinner.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Thank you! I think this sounds like something we'd all enjoy. Smaller is fine- probably less overwhelming for my daughter.

    2. If you are coming before the 4th of July, check out the Taste of Chicago (http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en...) which features all sorts of food from an eclectic mix of the restaurants from all over the city. Most restaurants there have "taster portions" which are small-ish samples of the food.

      Even if you're not going to be here then, there is still tons of great food, although it may be more difficult to find these places IN the downtown area.

      Classic Chicago Deep Dish- Gino's East is fun. There is a wait (30-45 minutes) for the deep dish pizza, but guests (including 5 year olds!) can draw all over the wall.

      lot of people like to visit the famous Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) They have the Frango Cafe, with chocolates and ice cream.

      Garret's popcorn has some amazing homemade recipes.

      I know you requested no chains- but Portillo's is a local Chicago chain with great Italian beef, hot dogs, chicken, etc. The themes inside are all related to Chicago history, like Al Capone.

      Rainbow Cone has an amazing ice cream cone featured in the Taste of Chicago every year.

      Hope this helps a bit =

      )

      essert- Rainbow Cone!

      4 Replies
      1. re: andicus

        >> If you are coming before the 4th of July, check out the Taste of Chicago

        Well, I don't recommend it, because most of the food there varies from just okay to just plain awful. But there's not much to lose by walking over there to take a look. You can read more opinions about Taste of Chicago in these topics:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/713576
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/712194
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/613855
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/394355

        Here's what I've written about it in the past:

        "This discussion from 2007 pretty much sums it up:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/394355

        All the negatives are stated there. However, it's in downtown Chicago, probably walking distance from your hotel. You can walk there, and leave at any time. (Admission is free; you buy tickets to exchange for the food.) So why not go check it out? If you try a few places and decide that most of the food isn't that great, you can always leave - and if you're having fun, you can stick around as long as you like.

        What I wouldn't do is to go more than one day (maybe if there's a music group you want to hear, but not for the food). And as lbs says, go early in the day - not only to avoid the crowds, but also so your intinerary doesn't sacrifice a dinner elsewhere in order to eat at ToC.

        I stand by those comments (as well as what chicgail wrote above). I've been mostly disappointed every time I've gone, because the food just isn't that good. But if you want to try it out, go! Just be prepared for the possibility of disappointment, and don't devote a lot of time there if you really want to experience Chicago's best foods. Personally I think spending about 90 minutes there at lunchtime one day is plenty."

        >> Classic Chicago Deep Dish- Gino's East is fun. There is a wait (30-45 minutes) for the deep dish pizza, but guests (including 5 year olds!) can draw all over the wall.

        You didn't mention pizza, but our deep-dish pizza is delicious. Pizano's on State is closer to the Ritz than Gino's East; I think their pizza is better too, but you can't draw on the wall there. And Portillo's is indeed good for Italian beef and Chicago hot dogs, and if you'd like that, it's a good recommendation. From your original post, it didn't sound like you were interested in these "cheap eats" - it sounded like your child would be very happy and well-behaved going to sit-down type restaurants - but these are certainly an option for you (maybe better for lunch than dinner).

        >> No chains please.

        I assume this means you're not interested in national chains (e.g. Chili's). Many of our restaurants, including some of those mentioned here, have a corporate structure covering more than one location in the Chicago area, because they started locally in one location and then opened another and another. It's no different from Minneapolis, where Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery also opened Bar La Grassa, and Alexander Roberts of Restaurant Alma also opened Brasa Premium Rotisserie, and there are multiple locations of Sebastian Joe's for ice cream and Sweets for pastry.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Right- we aren't opposed to locally owned restaurants, but all the searching I did for kid friendly restaurants in Chicago yielded results like Bubba Gump. Just not our thing.

          Do you have any sushi places you'd recommend? I thought Sai Cafe looked good and not too "trendy." Trying to avoid a big bar/lounge scene for obvious reasons, although we'd go early enough to avoid that in most spots.

          -----
          Sai Cafe
          2010 N Sheffield Ave Apt 1, Chicago, IL 60614

          1. re: minnesotajane

            I'm not a fan of sushi so I can't give you a personal recommendation. I know a lot of people like the sushi at Sunda, but it's the kind of big bar/lounge scene you mention. This topic has some sushi recommendations:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760877

            and this one specifically mentions Sai Cafe:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778592

            Hopefully others can also chime in to help.

        2. re: andicus

          Thank you andicus! Gino's sounds like something my daughter would love-- will add it to our lunch list. And so does Portillo's for lunch. I'm not opposed to local chains. Just no Cheesecake Factory, etc. And she would love Rainbow Cone. Thanks for the suggestions. We will miss Taste of Chicago though. Getting there on July 8th.

          -----
          Taste of Chicago Restaurant
          3170 S Ashland Ave Ste H, Chicago, IL 60608

        3. Greek Islands is fantastic for kids. My family has been going there since before I started school, and my 2 and 3 year old's love it. The staff is great with kids, they have a wonderful selection of foods (but nothing like the standard horrible kids menu fare). Their kids menu is "Pick one selection from the make-your-own-platter menu instead of 3". Oh, and who doesn't love saginaki?

          1. Heaven on 7 (Cajun), Bistro 110 (until Aug.), and Ralph Lauren's Grille are all places we hit for lunch and within walking distance. The only sushi place that I know of in the area is Friends Sushi on Rush. We've had it many times when staying in the area. There is a Thai place in the same building (below sushi place) that I've heard is good but have never been.

            Portillos is a chain but kid friendly and "Chicago" food. Same with Rosebud on Rush but its decent enough and kid friendly. You also have Pizza Uno & Duo in the area and, yes, they are technically chains, too. Giordano's pizza is within walking distance too though I personally don't think it is as good as Pizza Uno.

            -----
            Bistro 110
            110 East Pearson Street, Chicago, IL 60611

            Rosebud on Rush
            720 N. Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611

            Friends Sushi
            710 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

            2 Replies
            1. re: HoosierFoodie

              Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due - where deep-dish began back in 1943 and 1955 - are a bit further from the Ritz than Pizano's, but the pizza there is still excellent, as is Pizano's. Pizano's, as well as Lou Malnati's which is another local deep-dish chain, was founded by the son of one of the principal characters in the early decades of Uno and Due. The father and his two sons worked at Uno and Due together for many years before the sons went out on their own.

              >> they are technically chains, too.

              When Uno and Due were sold to the corporation that began selling the Uno's Chicago Grill franchises, it was with the agreement that the two original locations would keep the original recipe for the deep-dish pizza. Which explains why theirs is so much better than the other Uno's chain locations.

              -----
              Pizzeria Due
              619 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

              Pizzeria Uno
              29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Never been to Pizano's which is why I didn't mention it....obviously need to try it.....