Chow Down Chi Town: Kid Friendly Eats

We’ve got some good news and some bad news…let’s rip the bandaid off first…the babysitter canceled. You FINALLY decided on which sandals to wear for date night, you opted for flats over heels because hey, summer is almost over and you feel like dancing in the dark while you’ve still got the chance. IT WILL ALL BE OKAY. Don’t reach for the take out menus just yet…we’ve got some local spots that are so kid friendly you won’t even know they are there… because they will be too busy licking their fingers to bug you.

Left Coast Food & Juice: Just a few months old (just like your youngest!) this fresh find offers superfood boosted smoothies, amped up avocado toast, buckwheat not one but TWO ways (pancakes AND crepes), and more. One of our wonderful founders, Paul Kahan, created menu items that bring a new sense of health and freshness to fast dining in Chicago. Ditch the burger and fries. Grab a vibrant salad of shaved carrots, beets, roasted broccoli, toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds, crunchy quinoa, and lemon yogurt. This salad doesn’t disappoint. If you need a midday meat pick me up, try the “D-O-Double G” wrap with turkey meatballs, roasted tomato, spicy hummus, parsley AND romaine, and tahini hummus all bundled in a whole wheat wrap. Most importantly, the unique kids menu is tiny but mighty:

“Uncle Rico’s Quesadilla”: made with a whole grain tortilla and served with some nutritious sides, green beans and brown rice. Add chicken or avocado for a protein packed meal.

“Holy Meatballs”: made with turkey meat, served over couscous…now this one is served with broccoli, but the tomato sauce is so good that even the pickiest of palates will devour this dish.

“Chicken Little”: get your greens and your oranges with the fresh peas and carrots in this delightful dish, and some healthy grains too with a quinoa kick.

“Sunbutter & jelly time”: nut free but flavor full, this is definitely not your ordinary PB&J. Add sliced apple or banana for a fruity surprise – it’s like dinner and dessert all in one.

Crosby’s Kitchen: Kick off the evening with some deviled eggs (lobster deviled eggs to be more specific). These little gems are perfect for little fingers. Then dive into some radiant rotisserie chicken and brilliant buttermilk biscuits for the main course. Smear on some house made strawberry rhubarb jam (and extra butter if you dare) for an end of the night treat that will leave taste buds of all sizes tingling with joy. And if the kids still have some room left in their little bellies, we’ve got two words for you…SKILLET COOKIE. Drowning in vanilla ice cream, oozing with ooey gooey melty mushy chocolate chips, everyone will want (need) a fork, and even the adults might need bibs for this bad boy. P.S. KIDS EAT FREE EVERYDAY FROM 4-6PM.

Roots: Kids will want to order from your menu and theirs, with choice like Garlic Monkey Bread Bites, taco pizza, and their choice of seasoned curly fries or sweet potato tots. Tots for your tots, it doesn’t get much better than that. And in case you missed it…TACO PIZZA. For moms, dads, and any one who is past the blissful age of being amazed by two foods combined in one, there are some spectacular salad and of course PIZZAS to choose from. Caprese with…bacon, kale with…roasted Brussels sprouts, and chicken salad with…wait for it…toasted ramen noodles. And we haven’t even got to the pizza yet. Duck sausage, pulled pork, pickled fennel, sauerkraut, Gouda, Manchego and even cheddar CHEESE CURDS (for all you Wisconsinites out there), the flavor profile possibilities are close to endless. Throw some apple, arugula and roasted squash on top for a slightly sweet superfood slice for the kids. Or try chicken sausage, broccoli and pear for a protein packed pizza pie that little hands will love.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken: Check out the “Kid’s Corner” at this local gem. From executive chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp comes one of the greatest (and most drool-worthy) deals in town – the “Honey Buddies Meal.” Offering perfect petite portions of fried chicken strips, pimento mac n cheese, corn muffins, honey butter, and a sheet of honey buddies stickers to keep them occupied after mealtime…if they aren’t already in a food coma. Wash down dinner with a big (or small) glass of refreshing housemade lemonade, or some organic milk or apple juice. And don’t forget about brunch. Chicken & biscuits, chicken & grits, or the most sinfully delicious of them all…CHICKEN & FRENCH TOAST…with bourbon maple syrup & honey butter as if it wasn’t good enough already.

Spacca Napoli: Super family friendly and super duper delicious. Spacca Napoli brings quality pizza and prosciutto to Ravenswood residents. Eggplant and octopus options for the little ones with open minds and open mouths. Potatoes and tomatoes for the fair-weather foodie. And of course PLENTY of cheese. SO MUCH CHEESE. Parmesan, Pecorino, ricotta, mozzarella…drooling yet? But the cheese is not even the star of the show. Even your youngest with sleepy eyes will perk up for dessert. They may not be able to pronounce “focaccia,” but they will go nuts over it smothered in Nutella, gelato and powdered sugar. Okay…not the healthiest of options, but hey, they tasted the puttanesca pasta with ANCHOVIES so they deserve a little treat.

Xoco: Did someone say CHOCOLATE?? Yes. We did. But first, we have to eat our veggies. Don’t worry, at this spot for elevated Mexican street food, getting your little ones to eat their vegetables will be easy as pie…or cake, or churros…Xoco has all of that. Anyway, start off with roasted garlic and lime peanuts, or bacon caramel corn (unless you want to save that one for dessert). Dive into the guacamole bar with toppings like grilled onions and pumpkin seeds. Choose from soup, salad, sandwich or a combination for the main course. Chicken, chorizo, mushroom, zucchini, pickled peppers, potato-masa dumplings…whatever your little ones want to try, they’ve got it. Now…for the preschooler with the sweet tooth, it’s chocolate time. They will love sipping on freshly made “bean-to-cup” drinking chocolate, with flavors like allspice and mint fresh from chef and owner Rick Bayless’ garden. They might be bouncing off the walls later tonight…so the grown ups can grab a cup of chocolate espresso or chocolate cappuccino to keep up. Now as long as they didn’t pick the arugula and zucchini off their sandwich…take some churros for the road with chocolate dipping sauce or soft-serve ice cream (or both)…and everyone will have happy full bellies for bedtime (once they run off that chocolate).

Lula Café: For the fiercest little foodies out there, Lula Café, of our very own Jason Hammel, offers much more than the typical tyke fare. There is no kids menu, encouraging your little ones to dine with the adults and order something a bit more adventurous than they normally would. Set in a classy yet kid friendly environment, Chef Hammel offers some of the best breakfast, brunch, lunch AND dinner in Logan Square. Take PB&J to a whole new level with the “Tineka,” a unique combination of Indonesian spiced peanut butter, tomato, cucumber, red onion and sprouts all resting on beautiful seeded whole grain sourdough. Still craving carbs? The spaghetti will push your little ones way past basic marinara, topped with sweet and spicy chile sauce, or “salsa rossa,” and dolloped with queso fresco and a hefty handful of BACON. Still not satisfied? Adventurous eaters and picky palates alike will want to dive in to the sweet corn dish…plums, pancetta, cashews, house made BUTTER…need I say more?

So don’t kick of your dancing shoes just yet. The night is still young, and even though you’ve got some young ones of your own to cater to this evening…these kid friendly (and foodie friendly) finds will let you have your cake…or cookie skillet…and eat it too. Unless little hands get to it first.

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