You’ve seen your fave foodie reality stars on TV, and your kiddos may have followed along, too. Since you live in Chicago, you’re lucky because you can actually go eat at their restaurants (no stalking required).
We found some gourmet reality TV restaurants (i.e. the ones the grownups will love) that will also please tiny tummies, so your kids can be small diners in top chef restaurants.
116 W. Hubbard St., (312) 464-0466
You saw the chef here
Aaron Cuschieri was on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 11
The Tonkotsu ($14) is a creamy pork broth-based ramen noodle soup filled with pork chashu and braised woodear mushrooms that is filling and rich. We thought you could only get soups that had this much depth in Japan, but we’re so relieved that we don’t have to fly all the way to Tokyo to experience it.
If you have really picky eaters, then the chefs here are happy to make a simple noodle soup for them. But there’s so much on the menu that’s way better. The Duck Fat Fried Chicken ($9) was crispy and decadent, while the Fried Brussel Sprouts ($6) somehow almost tasted like fancy fries. The Chahan ($13) is a Japanese fried rice dish, and it’s a fantastic introduction for kids to an ethnic meal, because it’s essentially a choice of a protein combined with fried rice. And if anyone has mastered this dish, it’s Cuschieri.
820 W. Randolph St., (312) 888-3455
Stephanie Izard was the winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Season 4. She was also in an episode of Hulu’s A Day in the Life series, which followed her around for a day as she worked. She was on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and battled Chef Michael Symon.
You can’t go wrong with much here, and some of the dishes and specials even overlap with the bigger goat across the street (that would be The Girl and the Goat) sans the ridiculous reservation times. But the 3 Sister’s Farm Oatmeal ($6) left us racing back for more the following weekend. It was a rich and creamy oatmeal mixed with honey yogurt, apples and oat crumbles that tasted like a warm apple pie disguised as a (not so healthy?) oatmeal breakfast.
Even Elvis might be swayed by the upgrade on his classic meal. The Fat Elvis Waffles ($12) come with a huge scoop of thick peanut butter, chopped bacon bits, maple syrup and sliced bananas slathered over two huge waffles. And if breakfast isn’t your kid’s thing (even at 7 a.m.), you don’t have to fret. They’ll serve your kiddo any meal at any time of the day.
22 S. Wabash Ave., (312) 854-3027
Spike Mendelsohn was on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 4. He’s based in Washington, D.C., and owns multiple restaurants across the country.
This new burger joint serves fancy hamburgers and handspun shakes—so you can really indulge your taste buds by trying Mendelsohn’s twist on the all-American burger. The Prez Obama Burger ($7.25) won the Chicago Gourmet’s 2014 Hamburger Hop with its bacon, onion marmalade, roquefort cheese and horseradish mayo—and it was a winner with us, too. Coming in a close second was Spike’s Sunnyside ($7), which was a burger topped with bacon and a sunny side egg. All the burgers are made with natural farm raised beef and are served on a Pennsylvania Dutch bun.
Kids can get a plain burger ($6.50) and handcut fries ($4), but ours went straight for dessert, where they could choose between Toasted Marshmallow, Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, and Milky Way Malt shakes (starts at $4.50). Make sure you go off-hours or on the weekend to avoid the mad weekday lunchtime rush, which could have kids waiting up to an hour to eat. Everything is made to order, and the shakes take a little time. We came on a weekend and waited about 10 minutes for our food (and yes, it was totally worth the wait).
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.
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