I guess this is a question for the parents out there.
My husband and I have recently moved back to the Chicago area, with our 13 month old daughter. She's a lovely kid, fairly well behaved, but yes, still a baby. While we have a fair number of people offering their baby sitting services, we still like to take her out with us when we can.
The issue is: where?
Much internet and chowhound searching is directing me to places that are either obviously kid-friendly (Gino's East, Portillos, etc.) or not our style (The Cheesecake Factory, Choo Choo whatevers, food courts in malls)
Ideally, we could eat in real restaurants, with delicious food, and not have to stress about whether or not our kid is being giving the stinkeye by the wait staff.
I know that technically, we can take her wherever we want, at whatever time we want. But I'm trying to figure out what restaurants are going to be the most comfortable for our whole clan, without having to resort to crummy chains.
For example, I was told Revolution Brewing was pretty good for kids. It's loud, they like the babies and treat em well. Other than that, are there any good, delicious restaurants that are good for the little ones?
Not concerned about cost, or availability of kids menus. Thanks!
I've seen a baby at GT Fish & Oyster before, but that was for lunch, not dinner, though I suppose an early dinner would be OK. I'm trying to remember but I think they have high chairs.
Doug at Hot Doug's loves kids. And I've dined with my friends and their 2 babies/toddlers at Julius Meinl. I'm fairly certain they've also done weekend brunch at Publican with their kids (it's so loud that it doesn't matter much if the baby fusses). I believe that Lula Cafe is also kid friendly.
What about Chinatown?
These folks with a 9 mo old did Xoco and Purple Pig:
Just to echo a couple of kathryn's points... Kids of all ages (including babies/toddlers) are common at just about any breakfast/brunch you can think of. And a lot of folks take children along during early dinner seatings, when restaurants are not very crowded.
I'd suggest trying the places you want to go to, and seeing how it goes. If it works out okay at brunch and at off hours, it will probably be okay at other times too.
My niece is 2 and we've been taking her out to places since she was a baby. Mind you these are all located on the north side because that's where we live
Rockwell Bar and Grill (plastic lids on cups. Immediate crayons. Good bar food)
Los Nopales (step above Mexican food
42 Degree North Latitudes (above average bar food
Candlelite (thin crust pizza and cheese curds
The Bad Apple (to die for burgers
Restaurant Sarajevo (Cevapcci is so good
The Red Lion (fish and chips - really surprised by this place
Frasca (actually haven't been there but have heard good for kids. On our list
Semiramis (Lebanese. Like their lamb
Racking my brain for more. I will add more once we go to them. We eat out once at least twice a month with her
As a non-parent, I appreciate your sensitivity to your fellow diners, and your need to still enjoy good food.
I think for the most part your best bet will be to stick with neighborhood spots, where young families live and dine. Dining at an earlier time, or having special meals at brunch or lunchtimes are also something to consider. I'm much more tolerant, or even oblivious, to kids at 5:30 or 6 than at 9pm, and you probably don't want your baby out too late anyway. I am not surprised when babies cry, I just appreciate it if you take them out of the dining room if a moment of soothing doesn't do the trick. It really is only at fine dining spots that I get annoyed.
Ibs named some options in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood. There are many places along Lincoln Ave, including Tank Sushi and Bad Apple (great craft beers and burgers; there were kids there when we went around 6:30 on a Friday).
Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Logan Square have numerous options. Pilsen, Greektown, and Devon Ave are also casual and family-friendly with some diverse eateries. Check those boards for interesting spots and most places will work.
Good advice from GourmetWednesday!
>> I think for the most part your best bet will be to stick with neighborhood spots, where young families live and dine.
Very true. And if you mention which neighborhood you live in, we can probably give you some specific recommendations that are close by.
Also note that, in addition to those neighborhood spots tending to have a lot of young families dining out, those in your own neighborhood have the added benefit of becoming part of your "regular rotation". These are places whose geographic proximity makes them especially convenient for repeat visits. And when you go back repeatedly, you get to know how suitable they are for you, and you get to be familiar with the staff, etc.
Tzurriz beat me to the punch: Greek Islands is a great place to go with young children. The service is generally quick, it's loud enough that no one notice a slightly fussy child, and the food is good.
The Argyle street suggestion is also excellent. Indeed, my general rule when our son was young was to go to family run, ethnic restaurants. Whether it was Indian restos on Devon, Chinese restos in Chinatown, or Mom and Pop Italian, they were always welcoming. This is even more true, it seemed, if you are of a different ethnicity and your toddler digs in with relish to their food. I've got very fond memories of beaming waiters when our blond haired tyke would devour muter paneer and naan on Devon St.