What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago? Whether you crave a $2.49 authentic Chicago hot dog or a $15.99 kids-sized filet mignon, these are can’t-go-wrong options for dining with kids in the Windy City.
Favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago
If your kids will eat sushi or plantains, you don’t need this list. This list is for kids like mine – picky eaters who need familiar food. For a restaurant to make this very prestigious list, it needs to have tasty food and a kid-welcoming atmosphere. Not just a menu with chicken tenders and fries.
Here are 21 of our family’s favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago, from budget-friendly to splurge-worthy, that the whole family will enjoy:
This Chicago institution has two 12-foot-tall hot dogs, Morrie and Flaurie, standing on the roof. It’s a 50s drive-in, but who wants to eat in the car anymore?
Go inside and sit at a table to enjoy your Superdawg (hot dog), served in a box stuffed with french fries and a pickle, bearing the restaurant’s trademark phrase, “Hiya!” Try their square-shaped Diced Cream Cones for dessert. Corner of Milwaukee and Devon Avenues, and also a location in north suburban Wheeling.
TravelingMom Tip: When ordering, remember, they’re not hot dogs. They’re Superdawgs.
Near Wrigley Field, this casual, comfortable neighborhood spot has delicious comfort food, especially rotisserie chicken. You HAVE to get the cornbread skillet, served with the hot maple butter. And for dessert, my kids love Crosby’s Kitchen warm cookie skillet with a scoop of ice cream on top. 3455 N. Southport Ave. It’s also fun to walk a few blocks north on Southport, to the colorful candy store Candyality, at 3737 N. Southport, and peruse their old-school candies.
For a list of other fun things to do in Wrigleyville with kids, see my story here.
Awesome barbecue and baby back ribs are served in this corner tavern that’s been around since 1932 and is frequented by celebrities. I mean, wouldn’t the kids freak if a Chicago Cubs player or Jack Black walked into the restaurant? 1655 N. Sedgwick (in the Old Town neighborhood).
Pancakes at Wildberry Cafe or M Henry
Cinnamon roll pancakes? Fruity Pebbles pancakes? Or just straight-up fluffy, plain pancakes? All of the above at Wildberry Cafe, which has locations near Water Tower Place and Millennium Park (just off Michigan Avenue). Another favorite pancake place is M Henry (5707 N. Clark St), an adorable Andersonville neighborhood spot with great, fresh food. Its fantastic kids’ menu has fun items, like a peanut butter, banana & honey sandwich.
If you end up by Wildberry’s Water Tower Place location, check out my story on fun things to with kids around Water Tower Place.
Across the street from Lincoln Park Zoo, this restaurant’s cartoon and joke-filled menu entertains my kids. The food is above-average bar food (burgers, wings, sandwiches) but they’re best known for their salad bar. We’re big fans of their milk shakes, too. 2056 N. Lincoln Park W.
Teens who love spy movies will appreciate this unique Chicago dining experience. The best part of SafeHouse Chicago is entering and exiting the below-ground downtown restaurant. I don’t want to give away the surprises, but you enter through an unmarked door, and must solve puzzles to gain access to the restaurant. The food’s a bit overpriced (they have kids meals). But it’s worth it for the family fun you’ll have with their magic shows, scavenger hunt, cool spy-themed decor and closed-circuit TVs everywhere.
This Safehouse Chicago is the Illinois version of their famous Milwaukee spy museum/restaurant.
Across the street from Millennium Park, this fast food chain is a good place to grab a quick burger, fries and ice cream. A cheeseburger is $5.49 and fries are $2.99, which is a bargain for downtown Chicago. Bonus: it’s located in the gorgeous Chicago Athletic Association building at 12 S. Michigan Ave. Check out their vintage, wood-covered game room in the back. Other locations include one in Wrigleyville, a few doors down from Wrigley Field at 3519 N. Clark St., one near Eataly at 66 E. Ohio St., and one in the West Loop at 185 N. Morgan.
For other things to do near Millennium Park, check out this story .
This is THE place to go for a real Chicago hot dog or Italian beef sandwich. The beloved fast food chain, designed with 1950s decor, has locations all over Chicago and the suburbs. Save room for a slice of their awesome chocolate cake (or have it in a chocolate cake shake). Downtown locations at 100 W. Ontario and in the West Loop at 520 W. Taylor Street.
Deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s
Chicagoans often debate who has the best deep dish pizza. Our fave? Lou Malnati’s (or “Malnati’s” as locals call it). There are dozens of locations around the city and suburbs.
Parents might not love the prices, but tweens and teens absolutely LOVE this place for its over-the-top food presentations and colorful, splashy interior. The smoke-filled punch drinks are served in fishbowl-sized glasses, and the menu is filled with fun items like a bacon cheeseburger milkshake (pictured above). The adjacent gift shops have celebrity-endorsed candies. 55 E. Grand Ave., or near O’Hare Airport (in suburban Rosemont).
Dick’s Last Resort
Teenagers love this place because of the sassy-mouthed, sarcastic waiters who insult and mock you. I mean, the restaurant used to boast, “We put the FU in fun.” The bar food is solid, and it’s in one of the city’s best spots – on a pretty location along the Riverwalk in the iconic, corn cob-shaped Marina Towers. 315 N. Dearborn.
Eat lunch or dinner at an arcade? Yes. This downtown arcade (just off Michigan Avenue) has a way-better-than-you’d expect restaurant and bar inside. It’s a big open space, so you can linger at the table and still keep an eye on the little ones.
Midwest TravelingMom Andrea Guthmann is a fan, too. Read her review here. 322 E. Illinois.
Food courts – with plenty of kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago
Trendy, new food courts – made up of small, local restaurants – are all over Chicago. Upside: there’s high quality food, and something for everyone. Downside: during peak hours, it can be challenging for families to have everyone get their food at once.
- Block 37, close to the big theaters, this mall’s yummy options include Gayle’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese and Latinicity, the upscale Latin American food court.
- Revival Food Hall has everything from Furious Spoon (ramen noodles) to The Budlong Hot Chicken (a spicy fried chicken that’s trendy in Chicago now).
- Traveling on Metra through Ogilvie Station? Go to the basement and you’ll find the Chicago French Market, with 30 unique vendors serving everything from empanadas to lobster rolls. Some of my kids’ favorites: Made-onsite mini donuts from Beavers Coffee & Donuts, meatballs in a bowl of sauce from Polpetti’s, and the Montreal-styled pastrami sandwich at Fumare Meats.
- The posh, new Aster Hall, in the 900 North Michigan Avenue shops (near Water Tower Place), has some digital ordering kiosks and you can get the famous Au Cheval burger, outed not just as the best burger in Illinois, but the best burgers in America. Inside Water Tower Place is foodlife, a not-as-fancy but conveniently located spot that includes a produce-filled grocery store.
TravelingMom Tip: Try to avoid these places between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays. They will be jammed with the work lunch crowd and it will be difficult to find seating.
Steak at Benny’s Chop House or Wildfire
Every Chicago steakhouse will have a kids menu. But not all of them are as welcoming to kids as these two restaurants are. Swanky Benny’s Chop House has a kids-sized (3 oz.) USDA Prime filet that comes with fries, plus homemade chicken noodle soup as a kids appetizer. Wildfire‘s paper, puzzled-covered kids menu includes items like a filet steak, grilled salmon or BBQ ribs with mashed potatoes. Benny’s is at 444 N. Wabash, and Wildfire is at 159 W. Erie (plus several suburban locations)
TravelingMom Tip: It can take more than 30 minutes to cook, so if you’re pressed for time, order in advance.
Afternoon tea at The Drake Hotel
You’ll need to dress up for this fancy, Chicago tradition, which involves tiered trays of elegant finger sandwiches, English scones and desserts. They have kid-friendly dishes, like Nutella and jelly on white bread. But if your kid wants a cheeseburger, they’ll bring you a cheeseburger. It’s a splurge ($20 per kid, $45 per adult), but to eat and sip tea in the historic Palm Court room of the Drake Hotel while a harpist plays? It’s a memorable experience. Read about this and other afternoon teas in Chicago, here. 140 E. Walton Place.