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
Next time your weekends a little bland, relish this: There are plenty of kid-friendly adventures to be had in our own backyard.
Years ago, Devon Avenue in west Rogers Park mainly was a Jewishcommunity. Today, this bustling neighborhood is known as “LittleIndia.” Make sure to bring a hearty appetite when you visit,because the Indian restaurants are known for their buffets. Acouple of our favorites are the popular Viceroy of India andSher-a-Punjab, a hole-in-the-wall that has a terrific lunch buffetfor $7.95.
My kids used to only eat the chicken tandoori and naanbread. When asked to try new Indian dishes, “No way!” would be akind way to describe their response. Over the years, they’ve cometo eat their words, along with second and third helpings of gulabjamun, doughnut holes soaked in a sweet syrup, now my son’sfavorite dessert.
Of course, we never leave Little India without wandering abit, enjoying the beautiful saris and Bollywood posters in thestorefronts.
Viceroy of India
- 2520 W. Devon Ave., (773) 743-4100
- 2510 W. Devon Ave., (773) 973-4000
“What’s klezmer?” asks my 12-year-old. Ahhh, music to my ears.Our outing on a recent Sunday was the klezmer brunch at CityWinery.
Located along restaurant row in the former meat packingdistrict, City Winery looks like a microbrewery inside, exceptthey’re making wine in the vats instead of beer. During the weekit’s an adult venue with a variety of musicians performing, butevery Sunday City Winery pairs lively bands with breakfast in aklezmer brunch, perfect for kids.
- 1200 W. Randolph St.,(312) 733-9463
A visit to Chicago’s Chinatown, the fourth largest in the U.S.,is like visiting another country without ever leaving the city. Ourfamily enjoys visiting Chinatown Square, the two-story outdoorpedestrian mall selling everything from Chinese toys and trinketsto health food and teas. In the southwest corner of ChinatownSquare is Lao Sze Chuan, restaurateur Tony Hu’s flagshipeatery.
Hu’s dynasty of Chinese restaurants includes seven withinChinatown. If you want a taste of Hu’s empire, you’ll typicallyhave to wait an hour for a table on a Saturday night; Lao Sze Chuanonly takes reservations for parties of six or more. Best thing todo is leave your name as soon as you arrive and begin youradventure visiting the surrounding gift shops.
No visit would be complete without stopping by Joy Yee’sSmoothie Bar for a bubble tea with tapioca balls-a sweet treat weonly get in Chinatown.
Lao Sze Chuan
- 2172 S. Archer Ave., (312) 326-5040
Joy Yee’s Smoothie Bar
- 2139 South China Place, (312) 328-0001
Where’s the beef? Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square, ofcourse. Gene’s is a remarkable reincarnation of the once popularDelicatessen Meyer. This hip and architecturally stunning space isfar removed from the butcher shop that once stood here. Much likeLincoln Square, it’s changed with the times, no longer cateringonly to Germans. Still, there’s a pedestrian-friendly block whereyou’ll find signs of the neighborhood’s German roots, includingMerz Apothecary, Cafe Selmarie and the Chicago Brauhaus.
Gene’s Sausage Shop &Delicatessen
- 4750 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 728-7243
Another one of my family’s favorite food stops is JoongBoo Market, a Korean grocery store, just off the KennedyExpressway, on the city’s northwest side. Tucked in the back of thestore is a small cafe serving authentic Korean dishes, as well asthe best chicken wings in Chicago-ready for take-out.
Joong Boo Market
- 3333 N. Kimball Ave., (773) 478-5566