Food adventures for families in Chicago

 
 

You never run out of adventures living in Chicago, and I love taking advantage of all the city has to offer. My three kids, though, would often rather play video games and watch TV than go on family outings.

Luckily, I've found a sweet incentive to get them off the couch: food.

It can be tough to get my 12- and 14-year-old boys motivated to go on a tour of Chinatown or Devon Avenue's Indian neighborhood, but if the payoff is a good meal, everyone's suddenly hungry for the urban adventure I've planned.

Here's what's on my menu of fun family food trips in Chicago.

- Andrea Guthmann

 
 

Little India

Years ago, Devon Avenue in west Rogers Park mainly was a Jewish community. Today, this bustling neighborhood is known as "Little India." Make sure to bring a hearty appetite when you visit, because the Indian restaurants are known for their buffets. A couple of our favorites are the popular Viceroy of India and Sher-a-Punjab, a hole-in-the-wall that has a terrific lunch buffet for $7.95.

My kids used to only eat the chicken tandoori and naan bread. When asked to try new Indian dishes, "No way!" would be a kind way to describe their response. Over the years, they've come to eat their words, along with second and third helpings of gulab jamun, doughnut holes soaked in a sweet syrup, now my son's favorite dessert.

Of course, we never leave Little India without wandering a bit, enjoying the beautiful saris and Bollywood posters in the storefronts.

Viceroy of India

Sher-A-Punjab

  • 2510 W. Devon Ave., (773) 973-4000
 
 

Klezmer Fun

"What's klezmer?" asks my 12-year-old. Ahhh, music to my ears. Our outing on a recent Sunday was the klezmer brunch at City Winery.

Located along restaurant row in the former meat packing district, City Winery looks like a microbrewery inside, except they're making wine in the vats instead of beer. During the week it's an adult venue with a variety of musicians performing, but every Sunday City Winery pairs lively bands with breakfast in a klezmer brunch, perfect for kids.

City Winery

 
 

Chinatown

A visit to Chicago's Chinatown, the fourth largest in the U.S., is like visiting another country without ever leaving the city. Our family enjoys visiting Chinatown Square, the two-story outdoor pedestrian mall selling everything from Chinese toys and trinkets to health food and teas. In the southwest corner of Chinatown Square is Lao Sze Chuan, restaurateur Tony Hu's flagship eatery.

Hu's dynasty of Chinese restaurants includes seven within Chinatown. If you want a taste of Hu's empire, you'll typically have to wait an hour for a table on a Saturday night; Lao Sze Chuan only takes reservations for parties of six or more. Best thing to do is leave your name as soon as you arrive and begin your adventure visiting the surrounding gift shops.

No visit would be complete without stopping by Joy Yee's Smoothie Bar for a bubble tea with tapioca balls-a sweet treat we only get in Chinatown.


Lao Sze Chuan

Joy Yee's Smoothie Bar

  • 2139 South China Place, (312) 328-0001
  • joyyee.com
 
 

Market Watch

Where's the beef? Gene's Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square, of course. Gene's is a remarkable reincarnation of the once popular Delicatessen Meyer. This hip and architecturally stunning space is far removed from the butcher shop that once stood here. Much like Lincoln Square, it's changed with the times, no longer catering only to Germans. Still, there's a pedestrian-friendly block where you'll find signs of the neighborhood's German roots, including Merz Apothecary, Cafe Selmarie and the Chicago Brauhaus.

Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen

Another one of my family's favorite food stops is Joong Boo Market, a Korean grocery store, just off the Kennedy Expressway, on the city's northwest side. Tucked in the back of the store is a small cafe serving authentic Korean dishes, as well as the best chicken wings in Chicago-ready for take-out.

Joong Boo Market

 
 
 







 
 
 
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