Polish donuts. Meatball sandwiches. Nutella empanadas. There’s a lot for kids to be excited about at the local eateries that opened this fall. Parents, we’ve got you covered as well (did you see the part about Nutella empanadas?!). From a family-friendly brewpub to an Eastern Euro-flavored hideaway, this is where to fill your tank now.
photo: 5411 Empanadas
The trend of food trucks going brick-and-mortar carries on with a couple new dumpling-oriented spots. And if there’s one food high on adorability and kid appeal, it’s dumplings. First up: a sleek new Wicker Park restaurant from the 5411 Empanadas food truck team. They already operate a small storefront in Lincoln Park, but their new outpost brings more seating, more menu items, more sweets and more to smile about. Kids will love the BBQ chicken empanada, or the banana-Nutella version for dessert. There’s a sweet corn version for veggie lovers, as well as beef and chorizo empanadas that taste like glorious Hot Pockets.
2045 W. North Ave.
The brothers behind Piece Pizzeria & Brewery have teamed up again to launch a casual bagel cafe alongside the restaurant. For the brothers Jacobs, it’s a return to form, as they previously operated a bagel bakery in their pre-Piece days. The results are gloriously doughy and indulgent. The sunny, casual cafe features a dizzying array of bagels in classic and contemporary flavors, with optional cream cheese spreads, coffee, some pastries, and breakfast sandwiches. It’s a simple formula, and a heartwarming one. Because nothing says “family-friendly breakfast” like a carb bomb bedecked with cream cheese.
1931 W. North Ave.
photo: Polak Eatery via Laura C on Yelp
Hot on the heels of 5411’s South American-flavored dumpling debut, another dumpling food truck parks itself at a new storefront in Humboldt Park. The Pierogi Wagon’s new restaurant, Polak Eatery, is open for business, expanding on its pierogi repertoire with numerous other Eastern European-inspired comfort foods. The quaint space gets its homey appeal from reclaimed wood furnishings, exposed brick and a smattering of tables. The comfy-cozy vibe also translates to the menu which offers modern interpretations of Polish nourishment in the form of pierogi dumplings (doughy little morsels brimming with potatoes, cheese and more), along with Polish doughnuts called paczki, soulful borscht soup, gravy-slathered poutine, hearty goulash and other delights.
1043 N. California Ave.
photo: Snarf’s Sandwiches
Kids and sandwiches go together like Spongebob and square-shaped pants. There can never be enough sandwich spots for kids to drool over, but one newbie has our attention for its impressive array of classic-inspired toasted sandwiches, its cartoon-y branding and its proximity to Oz Park. The Boulder, Colorado-based sandwich shop has locations throughout the state, along with St. Louis and Austin, and its chosen downtown and Lincoln Park for its inaugural Chicago entry (with another one due by nearby DePaul campus). With artsy interiors and facades reflective of the neighborhood, Snarf’s ingratiates itself to its new home well, inviting diners with a Wizard of Oz-inspired tiled mosaic. The sandwiches read like kid catnip — most of them riffs on classic favorites like roast beef, meatballs, corned beef, grilled cheese and PB&J. Ideal for kids is the Novice size sandwich, a 5-incher ideal for smaller mouths. And don’t forget the milkshakes.
2201 N. Lincoln Ave.
600 W. Chicago Ave.
photo: The Rivers Edge Bar & Grill
The Rivers Edge Bar & Grill
Chicken wings, bacon-topped burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and other classic American favorites form the foundation for a solid family-friendly meal at Batavia’s new Rivers Edge Bar & Grill. Located on the city’s historic and picturesque North River Street, the comfortable space features a massive outdoor patio, live music and trivia for those who like to test their wits while tearing into Buffalo wings. The menu is divvied into comfort foods both old school and new. For sports-loving families, Rivers Edge airs football games and serves up chili and hot dogs at halftime.
12 N. River St.
photo: Granite City Food & Brewery
Granite City Food & Brewery
The national restaurant and brewery chain has made its Chicago-area debut in Orland Park, and at long last we have a brewpub with an affinity for kid-friendly cookery. Not only is the restaurant spacious and comfortable, outfitted with large booths, granite pillars and a nifty view into the brewing facilities through tall windows, but Granite City goes to great lengths to make little eaters feel right at home with its in-depth kids’ menu. The “Just for Miners” menu features items like mini corn dogs, grilled chicken, rigatoni noodles and pepperoni flatbread pizza. Plus, the menu features cartoon characters and numerous interactive games like mazes and Sudoku. Cheers to that!
14035 S. La Grange Rd.
What restaurant do you love to take the kids to? Let us know in the Comments!
— Matt Kirouac