NOTE: Due to COVID-19 concerns, all these restaurants are closed to dine-in customers as stated in the Illinois’ stay-at-home order. Please visit each individual restaurant’s website to see if pick-up or takeout options are available or learn other ways you can support these small businesses during this challenging time.
If you’ve got a train-obsessed kiddo and have maxed out on visits to museums and transit stations, bring your family all aboard one of Chicago’s train themed restaurants. From working model trains that deliver food straight to your table to actually eating in a refurbished streetcar, here are the best train themed eateries they’ll go loco for.
Billed as the best family-themed dining experience in Downers Grove, All Aboard Diner offers an extensive menu of soups, sandwiches, burgers and more. Junior conductors ages 10 and under can enjoy child favorites (in a peanut-free environment) like chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and pizza, delivered to them by a train on the counter. While they wait for their food to arrive, kids can entertain themselves by playing with a large train set at the front of the restaurant, where they can control the sounds and moving parts.
1510B W. 75th Street, Downers Grove (located in the Grove Shopping Center)
Cheesie’s offers a unique and charming opportunity to dine in an original Illinois Railway train dining car – an experience kids will love! While a bit more formal than most train-themed diners, Cheesie’s caters to kids with chicken fingers, quesadillas, spaghetti, and more. The outside echoes of a train station nearby adds to the ambiance of the restaurant.
200 Applebee Street, Barrington (located in the Ice House Mall)
Des Plaines may be the birthplace of McDonald’s, but most people associate the town with its historic, casual family restaurant, The Choo-Choo Diner, where a model train has delivered its famous hamburgers to hungry patrons for nearly 70 years. When plans for a new police station threatened to close the restaurant a decade ago, the community banded together to save this local gem.
600 Lee Street, Des Plaines
Consistently named one of the best family-friendly spots in the Chicagoland area, The Junction Diner has no shortage of trains. Here, kids can play with a light up train village and ride on a coin-operated engine. The Junction Express rides the countertop rails to deliver delicious homemade fare directly to guests. The Flying Yankee, the Junction’s version of a breaded chicken sandwich, along with donuts made in-house are must orders.
7401 Madison Street, Forest Park
2Toots Train Whistle Grill prides itself on being the only train delivered establishment to provide all seating around the tracks, giving every patron an unobstructed view to relish in the fun. Reminiscent of an oldies diner from the 50s, 2Toots serves up American fare including burgers and hot dogs, crinkly fries, sandwiches, salads and more. Save some room for premium hand-dipped shakes in a variety of flavors to choose from.
Locations in Naperville, Bartlett & Glen Ellyn; visit 2toots.com
While the interactive train table and train counter that delivers meals straight to customers brings train loving littles in, the overall atmosphere is what keeps them coming back, especially on Tuesdays. Dubbed as kids’ night, a face painter and balloon twister will compete with the trains for the attention of young ones. While Windhill serves lunch and dinner, breakfast is their shining star, as it’s served all day. Have a sweet tooth? Must-try staple menu options include funnel cake fries, lemon bread French toast, s’mores crepes and cinnamon ice cream waffles.
3307 W. Elm Street, McHenry
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