Family friendly restaurants in Chicago

Hi all, will be in Chicago for the weekend with five adults and three kids. Anyone have recommendations for decent restaurants where we can actually get in with a group that size on a weekend evening and where the kids (well behaved but children nonetheless) are welcome? We like all types of cuisine, and will be staying in the loop area. Thanks!

Has anyone ever told you about the awesomeness that is Rainforest Cafe?

A few others that spring to mind that would be kid-friendly and relatively close to where you’re staying:
Little Goat (make reservations soon)
Grange Hall Burger Bar
Urban Belly

Most of these places are pretty large and have larger menus. The funny thing is, I don’t really love any of those places, but that’s partly because I live here.

Of the list, I like Embeya best and they have good food and some well-priced older Rieslings to boot. Quartino’s will be easy with kids – small plates, but they also have pizza and they do well with larger groups. Urban Belly has outdoor seating, which is nice on a warm summer night and it’s also BYO on Sundays. Maggiano’s is mammoth portions of Italian food…tourists eat this place up, pun regrettably intended.

Thanks Corey. of course your statement raises the question of “what do you love that might be doable with a family on short notice?” Certainly there must be something! Massive portions of Italian food is very much not what we need. Also, location doesn’t have to be near the Loop. My b-I-l lives near Pilsen so we may be out that way at some point, and could reasonably do anything West, even if it were further north.

I’ll look into Embeya and Quartino’s.

The Loop is a bit of a food wasteland. There are nicer restaurants that play to businessmen and a lot of fast food for the lunch crowd, but not much “family style”. All of those places I recommended would be a short cab ride away, including some that are walkable depending on exactly where you are staying.

Candidly, I cannot think of any family-friendly restaurants that I love in that immediate area. In that arena, I’d think ethnic restaurants, but the better ones tend not to be in the touristy (high rent) areas.

Since you mentioned Pilsen, 5 Rabanitos is quite good and also BYO. I’m not sure if I’d say I’m in love with the restaurant, but I am in serious like.

I think it depends on what you mean by family friendly. Most restaurants in Chicago will be more than welcoming to kids if they are well behaved. Dine early and it is even better. How old are your kids?

If you are looking for kid’s menus or you are concerned that your kids will disrupt other diners than that is a much different situation.

If it is this weekend, getting a reservation for 8 anywhere good could be a challenge.


Kids are 5 and 2. I just mean not fine dining places where people really don’t want to see and hear from kids at all. My kids are good, but they are also two and five. Not that I’d get a reservation for a fine dining restaurant on such short notice anyway, but my main point was to clarify that I’m not looking for people’s crème de la crème or romantic recommendations, just somewhere to go with family. I don’t need kids menus. I actually know some really good places that (sometimes surprisingly) have kids menus, but in any case, it’s not something I look for when selecting a restaurant.

Don’t bother with Embeya – they closed yesterday.

I really think you would be fine anywhere outside the Michelin starred restaurants. Even some of the 1stars would be fine if you go early. I would look at GT Fish and Oyster, Cafe Spiaggia, Boho house, Publican, Vera, Nomi Kitchen, Bistronomic, Duseks to name a few. Trying to stay away from the chains as those are obvious and so touristy IMO.


See if the big table in the center of The Kitchen is available - lovely place but relaxed enough to welcome children (and you can always slip out for a stroll along the river is someone needs a short break. Wind list has some really nice options like Dirty and Rowdy.

Boho House is comfortable and the food is amazing even if my daughter is no longer on the line there.

Embeya, her first Chicago fine dining work experience, will be missed

Tai Dang, the original chef at Embeya has opened a new spot in Pilsen - family style but elevated Vietnamese - might be the perfect option.

Big Bowl (pan-Asian) is great for kids, and for adults the food is quite decent.