OUT AND ABOUT
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Kid-friendly food fit for all
Sloppy Jo’s Lunchroom
733 St. Johns Ave.
(847) 266-TOTS (2627)
From birthday parties to summer picnics to school lunches, few people escape childhood without having at least one Sloppy Joe. Relive those carefree days with your own family by visiting Sloppy Jo’s Lunchroom, located across from the Ravinia Metra stop in Highland Park.
This cozy nook is for "youngsters" of all ages. Sloppy Jo’s serves up comfort food for any mood, from its namesake sandwich to Frito Pie and Fluffernutter Sandwiches. Grab a side of tater tots and a drink and you’ll be whisked back to childhood quicker than you can say "Jo!" You can even treat the kids to some of the candies you enjoyed back in the day.
The menu is not the only unique element of this 1-year-old eatery. Environmentally friendly serving products are used wherever possible and customers use biodegradable sporks (a spoon/fork combo). Patrons can play with an Etch-a-Sketch, use the free Wi-Fi or listen to their own music with the "Dock It & Rock It" station for iPhones and iPods.
Sloppy Jo’s Lunchroom is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (seasonal hours vary). Cash and prepaid "Flash" cards (which can be obtained and stored at the restaurant) are the only payment methods available.
When you put all of these ingredients together, you’ve got the perfect after-school hang-out or family field trip.
Places to go, things to do
With the economy tanking and less cash for family outings, now’s the time to check out Free Chicago, a guide of free things to do and see in Chicago and the suburbs ($12.96, Xavier House Publishing, www.xavier-house.com). The Kids Love Illinois guide ($14.95, www.kidslovetravel.com) is another handy guide for families on the go. The book has information on family-friendly places throughout the state, including admission cost, hours and a description of what your family will love about each location.
READER TO READER
Readers share their favorite things to do with their families on the weekend.
"My family loves to visit the Morton Arboretum, especially the Children’s Garden. There is so much to explore, while learning so many new things at the same time. We have tons of fun and love being outdoors."
"During the summer, we take out a membership at a local water park and spend as much time as possible there—even after camp in the evenings. When the weather is cold and dreary, we head up to Nickel City to play arcade games for nickels—even my 2-year-old loves it."
"Now that the weather is getting nice, my family likes to go to the park and the Cosley Zoo on the weekends. The best part is that both are nearby and free. We love spending time outdoors."
"Our favorite weekend destination is Graue Mill and Fullersburg Woods in Hinsdale. My daughter likes looking for fairy rings (a ring of mushrooms) and secret passageways. We pack a picnic, meet up with friends and spend a day hiking the trails and watching the ducks."
"Being a single mom of four kids, I tend to try to hit the things that are very low in price. As a family we frequently visit Michael’s Crafts—they have free crafts every Saturday around 11 a.m. for kids. Afterwards we visit the Schaumburg Library in the afternoon; they have free movies every Saturday for families and they usually play the latest movie on DVD. I pop my kids some popcorn at home and we do this all without spending a penny and the kids love it.
"As a family we look forward to the summer months, so we can have picnics, bike rides and nature walks on the weekends."
"When it’s nice out, we love Millenium Park ... it’s so gorgeous. The Bean is always different, and I like crossing over the bridge to the small playground on the other side. The Crown Fountain is also a treat."