From fab fro-yo to ginormous pizza slices, there’s plenty for kids to be excited about with Chicago’s latest restaurant openings. Grownups, you can rejoice too: The newest spots have foodie cred and cool atmospheres that give you a welcome break in your day. Dig into an adorable new café from a yogurt chain, a tamale food truck’s permanent home, a BBQ palace and more. Gather the kids, loosen the belts and get eating.
photo: Bee & Tea
Bee & Tea
You know and love Forever Yogurt for its dizzying array of customizable frozen yogurt flavors and toppings. (It’s nice knowing that pink lemonade yogurt with Sno Caps is an option you have in life.) Now there’s more to love with the company’s new spin-off concept, Bee & Tea. There’s a lot to love about it, including colorful, cartoon-y decor, not to mention the array of Asian-inspired boba teas and chewy bao creations. If the kiddos haven’t tried boba, yet, tell them it’s a milky-sweet beverage that toes the line between smoothie and tea, often made with milk tea and studded with chewy tapioca pearls, flavored jellies, and rich red beans. At Bee & Tea, guests can choose their tea flavor — anything from apple and cherry to white chocolate and guava — and add optional toppings, jellies, and popping boba. Supplement your slurping with bao ‘wiches, doughy steam bun pockets filled with the likes of BBQ pork, coconut creme, and Nutella-banana.
1843 W. North Ave.
Dough Bros Pizzeria and Sub Shop
The food pyramid is pizza-shaped for a reason. When you have a craving, head to this newbie. What’s not to love about bubbly cheese, pliable dough, tangy tomato sauce, and spicy slivers of pepperoni? Your new downtown pizza fix can be sated at this a casual New York-style slice of comfort in River North. All the delicious essentials are present and accounted for, including cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom, available by the slice or the pie. Subs include meatball, Italian, turkey club, roast pork and fried eggplant.
400 N. State St.
photo: Tamale Station
What happens when a Lucha Libre-inspired, sombrero-clad tamale truck opens its own storefront? Your kids go nuts, that’s what. One of the wildest, most offbeat food trucks on local roads, Tamale Spaceship is known for contemporary tamales served by staffers wearing Mexican fighting masks. With their new Wicker Park restaurant, aptly dubbed Tamale Station, the Spaceship broadens its range with more tamales, tacos, salads, soups and other treats. The Lucha Libre motif makes for a marvelous, comic book-like mural along the southern wall, and guests order off Mexican fighting mask menus, which would also make for nice Halloween costumes or masquerade garb. Try the Space Guacamole, an out-of-this-world delicious medley of tomato- and chile-infused guac with corn chips, cilantro, and lime juice. Move on to the Complicate tamale with succulent flank steak and rich black mole or the No Ones tamale with barbacoa-style roasted chicken and green peanut mole, essentially zesty BBQ chicken enrobed in masa.
1341 N. Damen Ave.
Okay, so it’s not new — but it has a fresh trick up its sleeve. You might know that a visit to Mindy Segal’s restaurant can be tricky to finagle later in the day, when crowds and noise make for a clamorous dining environment for families. Now, thanks to Segal’s new bakery service, kids can get their fill of high-quality scones, fudge-filled croissants, chewy bagels and buttery fruit-strewn Danishes throughout the day. Instead of opening a separate standalone bakery as planned, the pastry chef decided to fold it into her restaurant, adding weekday cafe hours beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday through Friday. This allows for a leisurely new setting in which to enjoy some of the best sweets in the city. And don’t miss the dense, rich hot chocolate.
1747 N. Damen Ave.
photo: Husky Hog BBQ
Husky Hog BBQ
Another food truck-turned-restaurant is Husky Hog BBQ, a drool-worthy destination in Bridgeport that’s filled with kiddie faves such as pulled pork, beef brisket, mac and cheese, potato salad, s’mores and more. The menu may seem modest, but the man behind the Hog has chops. It’s all courtesy of Joe Woodel, a Southern expat, culinary school alum, and frequent contender in the Kansas City Barbecue Society. So you know your meat is in good hands. The storefront is small and cozy, with the feel of a jumbo food truck. There are counter seats and standing space to linger, lending an intimate sensation of hanging out in a chef’s kitchen. It also provides an up close and personal vibe for chatting with the staff and watching the cooking action.
335 W. 31st St.
Have you tried a new restaurant lately that you’ve loved? Let us know in the Comments!
— Matt Kirouac