Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kids eat free in Oak Park

It's been two and a half years since I last updated my post on local restaurants where kids eat free, and our Oak Park area dining options are continually evolving, with restaurants opening and closing all the time. I figured it was time for an update. What follows is by no means comprehensive, but it should offer a great start to local families who want to eat out with their kids. I've divided this into places where kids eat free one or more nights a week and a more general list of kid-friendly establishments.

Kids Eat Free Deals

Flat Top Grill
Fuego Loco
Trattoria 225
Gaetano's--Not a kids eat free place, but worth a mention. Every 3rd Monday Chef Gaetano offers "Parent's Night," which means Mom and Dad enjoy a fine dining experience in the front room (and wine is 1/2 price) while the kids get pizza, pasta, a drink and ice cream, plus craft and a movie in the supervised back room. The fee for children is $10 a head and my girls ask to go back all the time!

Denny's - I've never actually been.

Avenue Ale House
Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles


Francesca's Fiore


Maya del Sol says to look for a Sunday kids eat free deal in the fall.

Other Kid-Friendly Options

In addition to the restaurants listed above, you can find children's menus and a welcoming staff at the following restaurants in downtown Oak Park: Lake Street Kitchen + Bar, Sushi House, Marion Street Cheese Market and Maya Del Sol. And while they don't have kids menus per se, there are lots of child-friendly breakfast options at Delia's Kitchen and George's Restaurant. Erik's Deli has a great deal for kids; $3.99 buys a sandwich, chips and a drink.

South on Oak Park Avenue, Sen Sushi is one of our favorite restaurants. Zoe and Ada share the chicken teriyaki kids meal and we get the sushi lunch specials. In the Harrison Street Arts district, check out the Buzz Cafe (kids menu and very family-focused) and Eastgate Cafe (there's a peanut butter sandwich on the menu). In Forest Park, Caffe Deluca balances its elegant atmosphere with a somewhat pricey kids menu, but you might be better off splitting a plate of red-sauce pasta from Jimmy's Place among 2-3 children--and heading next door to the Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor afterwards.

If you don't mind a short drive, check out well-crafted diner fare at The Depot American Diner (just across Austin Avenue in Chicago) and the amazing Italian specialties at Freddy's in Cicero (cash only). Neither have a kids menu, but both offer lots of affordable kid favorites.

Obviously you'll be fine bringing the little ones to any area fast food restaurant, but I am partial to Burger Boss in Elmwood Park (which has a kids menu), Five Guys in downtown Oak Park (which does not), Chipotle (across from Five Guys) and Culver's on Roosevelt Street in Berwyn, which gives kids a free custard with each chldren's menu item (butter burgers, chicken fingers, grilled cheese and corn dogs).