Eating with the Grownups: Great Family Restaurants Both Kids and Adults will Love

As far as family restaurant dining is concerned, there’s far more to life than the drive-thru window.

Of course, it isn’t always easy to wrangle a family of five out of the car and into a restaurant, but it’s well worth it.

Food is an integral part of the social experience. The best way for children to learn appropriate restaurant etiquette is to expose them to it. Not difficult to do here on the North Shore, where many restaurants cater to diners of all sizes.

And yes, while hamburgers and pizza are undeniably tasty, we also want you to know about a few places with great kids menus that give a real feel for the cuisine of the individual restaurant in child-friendly portions—and prices. And don’t forget to check out side dishes and bar food; those are just the right size for little tummies.

And if there are distractions—like games or crafts—to keep your little ones engaged, that’s a bonus!

Akai Hana
3243 Lake St., Wilmette, 847-251-0384, akaihanasushi.com
Vegetable sushi and tempura veggies are just the right size for little hands. They make it easy with special rubber-banded chopsticks for kids.

Bravo Italiano
1701 Maple Ave., Evanston, 847-733-0917
2600 Navy Blvd., Glenview, 847-724-8400
bravoitalian.com
Italian is the name of the game here. Kids can create their own 10” pizza with up to 3 toppings while mom and dad enjoy wines by the glass or the killer Cosmos.

Firehouse Grill
750 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-733-1911, firehousegrill.net
Play with loaner toy fire trucks at the table or older kids can head for the upstairs game room. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a pint and a nice dinner.

Flat Top Grill
707 Church St., Evanston, 847-570-0100, flattopgrill.com
What’s more fun than making your own stir-fry? Watch the chefs in action at the giant griddle; eat a bowl of rice while you wait. Kids 5 and under eat free.

Guanajuato
73 Green Bay Rd., Glencoe, 847-242-0501, myguanajuato.com
This family-run Mexican restaurant loves kids; kids love Mexican food. It’s win-win. Plus, the homemade ice creams are fantastic.

Kegon Japanese Restaurant
569 Waukegan Rd., Northbrook, 847-498-1109, kegonnorthbrook.com
The showmanship of the hibachi chefs always entertains at this Japanese steak house. Fun for the whole family.

L. Woods Tap
7110 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood, 847-677-3350, lwoodsrestaurant.com
Visit the North Woods without leaving the North Shore. Kids love the camp-like feel here, and they even have their own Kids’ Club. S’Mores for dessert!

Pinstripes
1150 Willow Rd., Northbrook, 847-480-2323
100 W. Higgins Rd., S. Barrington, 847-844-9300, pinstripes.com
Upscale bowling and bocce ball courts combine with tasty Italian specialties and a beautiful summer patio to make a lovely evening for all.

Prairie Grass
601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-205-4433, prairiegrasscafe.com
Mom and Dad feast on organic Tallgrass beef and Green City Market produce; so do kids, but from their own special menu.

Tom & Eddie’s
740 Waukegan Rd., Deerfield, 847-948-5117, tomandeddies.com
Design your own gourmet burger and sip a fresh fruit shake while kids play with provided toys. A step up from fast food.

Walker Bros. Original Pancake House
153 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette, 847-251-6000
1615 Waukegan Rd., Glenview, 847-724-0220
620 Central Ave., Highland Park, 847-432-0660
walkerbros.net
Breakfast for dinner! Sometimes there’s nothing better… and the lines are much shorter at night.

Baby Steps…
For kids younger than 6 who aren’t used to eating out, try one of these places where it’s always loud, the service fast, and no one cares if your darling has a tantrum.

Sweet Tomatoes
2351 Willow Rd., Glenview, 847-657-8141

Johnny Rockets
34 Westfield Old Orchard, Skokie, 847-677-6039

Roti Mediterranean Grill
984 Willow Rd., Northbrook, 847-418-2400

Michael’s Chicago-Style Redhots
1879 2nd St., Highland Park, 847-432-3338

Once Upon a Bagel
1888 1st St., Highland Park, 847-433-1411

Prairie Joe’s
1921 Central St., Evanston, 847-491-0391