Here's your ticket to the perfect spots to fill up on food after you've filled up on fun.
Situated so close together it seems like the city actually planned a "kid island" in the middle of downtown's River North neighborhood are Rock N' Roll McDonald's, Ed Debevic's, The Rain Forest Café and Portillo's, just eight or nine blocks north and west of the Michigan Avenue bridge.
The Rock N' Roll McDonald's
is one of the most famous locations in the world and was once the busiest in the United States. Look for the massive retro-style golden arches and be sure to check out the colorful rock and roll exhibit with its Elvis Presley and Beatles memorabilia, and the McDonald's museum display highlighting the pop culture history of this locally-grown franchising empire.
Ed Debevic's captures that 1950's diner feeling to the max with an exuberant staff that takes no sass. Imagine "Lavergne and Shirley" with good food and poodle skirts. And the world's smallest sundae. Kid-proof eats include baskets of burgers and fries, grilled cheese and chicken fingers.
Nearby is The Rain Forest Café, a tropical play land for young adventurers. Then there's Portillo's. Chicago classics like hot dogs, Polish sausage and Italian beef at this beloved chain will leave your tykes full, while the quick-service style ordering counters make for easy in-and-out dining.
Pizza is a child favorite and Chicago-style deep dish can match the heartiest of appetites. Keep it simple with a cheese pie from The Original Gino's East or get a local favorite like The Lou from Lou Malanti's.
In Water Tower Place (after visiting Oak Street Beach or the John Hancok Observatory) is Foodlife, with 13 different food kiosks, where all members of the family can go their own way and find their own taste. Water Tower is also home to American Girl Place Chicago, and American Girl Cafe is the place for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and parties with your doll-toting little lady. Sophisticated kids will appreciate the playful architecture of The Cheesecake Factory in the lower level of the Hancock Building.
Or if playing games before, during and after a meal will make everyone happy, there's Dave and Buster's just a few blocks north and west.
But if you have access to wheels (or want to take the kiddies on a public transit adventure) and want to give the family a little taste of Chicago's unique side, venture out to Margie's Candies, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that hasn't changed much in 80 years. In Chinatown, the bright and colorful Joy Yee's Noodles has sweet, fruity bubble teas and picture menus to pick out tasty Pan-Asian specialties. Or Superdawg Drive-In, where they still have carhops and a giant-size Mr. and Mrs. Hot Dawg sign that your kids will remember for years.
Browse for more restaurants on ChooseChicago.com and get the inside scoop on kid-friendly hotspots from our Chicago Like a Local family blog.