Family-Friendly Fine Dining
by zara husaini
SushiSamba Rio welcomes tastemakers of all ages.
This North Center restaurant focuses on local and sustainable products, and the selection of children’s dishes—free Wednesday through Sunday nights from 5 to 7 p.m.—is no exception. Chef Sean Sanders crafts his own chicken fingers from organically raised Gunthorp Farms poultry; other plates include puffed white cheddar macaroni and cheese and farfalle pasta. 4111 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-4111
The Family Meal offered Monday through Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at this Michelin-approved restaurant boasts four generous portions—salad, pasta, roast chicken, and ice cream—ideal for the whole family or when caregivers dine out with children. 4882 N. Clark St., 773-878-4882
Parents themselves, Next Food Network Star winners Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh welcome little ones with a menu featuring mini bacon meatloaf and Southern fried chicken legs with mashed sweet potatoes; MC2 transforms traditional macaroni and cheese into deep-fried squares. 3819 N. Broadway, 773-868-9866
This sleek restaurant in the Loop serves little ones roasted chicken, hanger steak, and shrimp; with each entrée, children are treated to a choice of sorbet with fruit, a chocolate or caramel sundae, or a brownie (which was famously invented at the Palmer House in 1893). 17 E. Monroe St., 312-917-3404
Mon Ami Gabi
Francophiles-in-training are encouraged to spot basic vocabulary buried in the kids’ menu word search while dining on items like French bread pizza, pasta with butter or tomato sauce, or steak and frites. 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, 773-348-8886
South Water Kitchen
South Water Kitchen embraces the concept that every hour is happy hour while welcoming those who aren’t quite old enough to fully grasp its meaning. Roger Waysok’s Midwestern upbringing inspires his menu, making it an ideal Sunday brunch spot for families. 225 N. Wabash Ave., 312-236-9300
Featuring kid-friendly items like Samba Sliders with sweet potato fries as well as adventurous bite-size sushi with veggie rolls, the diversified children’s menu proves it’s possible to enjoy an evening of sashimi without having to leave little ones with the nanny. 504 N. Wells St., 312-595-2300
Known for its selection of USDA Prime steaks, this sophisticated oasis in Lakeshore East serves young adults entrées like baby filet mignon, beef tenderloin tips, and medallion of salmon with potatoes and vegetables. 180 N. Field Blvd., 312-938-4303
Chef Michael Shrader’s philosophy is that kids who are exposed to fine dining at an early age grow up to be more culturally savvy; he’ll gladly make kid-size portions of entrées like whole roasted baby chicken with fingerling potatoes, glazed carrots, and herbs. Mini toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with pastry chef Mitsu Nozaki’s house-made bread and jams are a hit among little ones and adults alike. 1421 W. Taylor St., 312-929-4302
The West Loop mainstay boasts an extensive children’s menu with dishes such as crunchy French toast coated in cornflakes or chicken, black bean, cheese, and rice burritos; the Rabbit Patch lets discerning diners pick three sides of their choosing. 1001 W. Washington Blvd., 312-850-2663
William H. Macy gets dapper in this behind-the-scenes exclusive.