If you’re tired of the old standbys of pizza and burger joints, try taking your family on an ethnic adventure by visiting some of Chicago’s restaurants, which represent just about every ethnic group. You may be surprised to find your picky eater likes chicken tandoori or huhner schnitzel.
“It’s a wonderful experience to take kids out to try different ethnic restaurants,” says Dorothy Coyle, director of the Chicago Office of Tourism and parent of a 6-year-old, a 5-year-old and a 9-month-old. “It’s kind of an adventure because you don’t know exactly what you’ll have. It breaks up the routine of places you might go and it’s a fun way to visit a neighborhood.”
Coyle and her husband have taken their children to many ethnic restaurants and found that no matter where they go, they’ve always been able to find something their kids would eat.
She recommends ordering a variety of food and then sharing to let kids try out new dishes and flavors. Encourage kids to take at least one bite before deciding if they like something or not.
Kids often are intrigued by the different presentations of food-many will try kabobs just because it’s fun to take food off the stick. And if they don’t like any of the ethnic food, there’s almost always rice or bread to fill up little tummies.
Seeing the different types of decorations in the restaurant or in the surrounding neighborhood can be a way to expose children to different cultures without hopping on an airplane.
“They love seeing what’s in the restaurant and they’re discovering a new culture, so they’re not focusing too much on every little part of the food,” says Coyle.
Here are some ethnic restaurants and some kid-friendly foods to get you started. Remember, this is just a starting point. When visiting a Chicago neighborhood or attraction, ask for food recommendations in the area to find other hidden gems.
German: Brauhaus, 4732 N. Lincoln Ave.
Menu suggestion: wiener-wurst, toast Hawaii (ham, Swiss cheese and pineapple), huhner schnitzel (breaded chicken breast).
Indian: Tiffin 2536 W. Devon Ave.
Menu suggestion: chicken tandoori, mali koffa (cheese croquets in tomatoes and cream sauce), mix grill (great for sharing) and basmati rice
Polish: Smak Tak, 5961 N. Elston Ave. Menu suggestion: potato pancakes, chicken fingers, meat and potato pierogies Mexican: Neuvo Leon, 1515 W. 18th St. Menu suggestion: quesadilla, soft tacos, fajitas and chips/nachos Afghani: Afghan Kabob , 4040 W. Montrose Ave. Menu suggestions: chicken shish kabob with rice, chicken kabob sandwich, french fries Greek: Parthenon, 314 S. Halsted Menu suggestion: small broiled meatballs, cheese pies, pork shish kabob, hummus
Chinese: Moon Palace 216 W. Cermak Rd.
Menu suggestion: eggrolls, sliced chicken soup, moo shu chicken, Mongolian beef, fried rice with chicken, pork or vegetables