If dining out with a baby wasn’t already a major undertaking, imagine if a Michelin-star chef tweeted about your choice to eat at his fancy restaurant with a little one in tow. Maybe you heard about the couple that recently brought their baby to highly acclaimed Alinea. Although chef Grant Achatz, who has two boys himself, didn’t choose to ban babies from his restaurant, the debate over whether or not they belong in dining rooms of that caliber became a hot one. We’re entering the conversation with our recommendations of upscale restaurants around town (the ones you usually reserve for date night) that we think welcome young ones with open arms.
The luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Chicago may not seem like the obvious choice for a night out with the littles, but it actually caters quite well to tots. Kids are encouraged to throw coins in the beautiful fountain adjacent to the restaurant. The dining room has a kids’ menu full of choices to appease even the pickiest, all made with natural ingredients. The regular menu takes a farm-to-table approach, emphasizing local purveyors, small plates and snacks. Head there for a fancy brunch and try the new kids’ brunch kart, which launched over holidays; kids choose a mocktail, a first course that could be anything from yogurt push-ups to paint-your-own-icing cinnamon rolls, and a main course with Nutella-banana quesadillas and mini brioche French toast bites.
120 E. Delaware Pl.
Although there isn’t a kids’ menu at this River North upscale Italian restaurant, owner Jack Weiss assures kiddos are welcome. The restaurant is happy to accommodate those who require a more spacious table for highchairs or strollers, or those preferring to be in a high-traffic area to drown out the noise. They make everything to order so you can make alterations to menu items to appease your little ones — all while you indulge in handmade pastas, a glass of Italian wine and basket upon basket of freshly baked focaccia.
300 W. Hubbard St.
GT Fish & Oyster
Consistently talked about as one of the best restaurants in Chicago, GT would make a superb date night. (We flip for its crudo, lobster rolls and clam chowder.) It’s also a place you can take your bambinos. Chef Giuseppe Tentori is phenomenal and a somewhat recent new dad himself. For brunch there is a special kids’ entrée that includes fried chicken, a pancake and fruit. For dinner there is no set kids’ menu, but Giuseppe is happy to prepare things “on the fly” for young ones if they aren’t daring enough to indulge in the vast array of seafood. Kids love the nautical theme throughout the restaurant, and parents adore that there is a single-stall bathroom on the main level — easy for diaper changing or a quick escape with a fussy baby.
531 N. Wells St.
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
White tablecloths drape the tables at this higher-end steak and seafood restaurant, but don’t let that dissuade you from bringing the kiddos. The chef has four young daughters himself, so he understands what it’s like to dine out with kids and does everything he can to make it a fun and comfortable experience. The restaurant has some of the best stone crab in the city and amazing steaks as well. And for the kids, the menu — complete with games and riddles — runs the gamut from your traditional fare (grilled cheese, chicken tenders) to more upscale options like crab cakes and a petite filet. Servers are trained to treat kids like the humans that they are, giving them a dining experience along with their parents.
60 E. Grand Ave.
This newer Lakeshore East steakhouse has all that you’d expect from a classic steakhouse: ginormous hunks of meat, classic martinis and indulgent sides. What you may not expect is the kids’ menu with mini portions of the adult classics. Your little foodies-in-the-making can order a petite filet, beef tenderloin tips or fried shrimp and be just like mommy and daddy.
180 N. Field Blvd.
Have you taken your little one to an upscale restaurant? Let us know about your experience in the Comments section below.
— Samantha Lande
Photo of GT Fish & Oyster: Eric Kleinberg Photography