When mapping out your Father's Day eating itinerary, why not try out restaurants with some patriarchal soul, where dads work with their kids and where hearts are warm. It's apropos Father's Day dining at its finest in Chicago.
The Purple Pig (500 N. Michigan Ave.)
One of the most prominent examples of father-son restaurant teamwork can be experienced at The Purple Pig, a familial Magnificent Mile hotspot helmed by Jimmy Bannos and his son, Jimmy Bannos Jr. While the former cut his teeth on Cajun and Creole food at legendary Heaven on Seven, he reared his kids in the restaurant industry, imbuing in Jimmy Jr. a love for cooking and hospitality. That passion begot The Purple Pig, a Mediterranean wine bar co-owned by the two Bannos gents. But this time, Jimmy Jr. is the one cooking and overseeing the menu. And he's doing such a good job that he just took home a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef.
Birrieria Zaragoza (4852 S. Pulaski Rd.)
The Zaragoza family is a bit of an institution in Chicago's Mexican gamut, especially considering the cultish acclaim reserved for their namesake Birrieria Zaragoza on the southwest side. This diminutive operation focuses simply on a few menu mainstays, most of which include goat meat. As if goat soups and tacos weren't enough to warm the soul, the familial undertones sure will. John and Norma run the show, working with their children Jonathan, Andie, Tony and Erik over the years to cement themselves as the quintessential destination for family-run Mexican fare in Chicago.
Summer House Santa Monica (1954 N. Halsted St.)
The greatest example of dad-inspired culinary success is Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the city's preeminent restaurant empire founded by Rich Melman. Passing the torch along to his kin, the next generation of Melmans have gone on to open numerous projects themselves, including RPM Italian, Paris Club Bistro & Bar, and the brand new Ramen-san. But among their impressive portfolio, one of the best bets for Father's Day supremacy is Summer House Santa Monica for its beachy vibe, vivifying cuisine, and relaxing ambience. There's also a bakery counter in front, because potato chip cookies are a surefire way to make dads happy.
J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. (901 W. Randolph St.)
For generations, J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. has been at the heart of Italian comfort on Randolph Street. Long before the West Loop was "Restaurant Row," the Graziano clan was stocking artisanal Italian wares, and now under fourth generation ownership, Jim Graziano has added to the heart-warming portfolio of Italian provisions with crowd-pleasing subs, pastry chef-crafted gelato, cannoli, and plenty more. Shopping and dining here feels like perusing your dad's general store, if your dad had a penchant for cured meats and resided in the Italian countryside.
Photos: Summer House Santa Monica, The Purple Pig, Birrieria Zaragoza, Summer House Santa Monica, J.P. Graziano Grocery Co.