It’s that time of the year again! Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas is not far behind. When we think of the holidays, we think of family. We also think of food and feasting together!

When you think of “family-friendly” restaurants or events, what it usually means is “kid-friendly.” It also means that the parents will have no fun (or very little). For example, Chucky Cheese is one of these family-friendly locales in which the only members of the family that have a good time are the children. That kind of atmosphere is totally great for birthday parties but not for quality family time.

I have, therefore, chosen two restaurants I believe offer the best kind of family fun time. Both parents and children will look forward to family night.

1150 Willow Rd.
Northbrook, IL
100 West Higgins Rd.
South Barrington, IL

“Bowling, Bocce, and Bistro” is their motto at this savvy restaurant. You can play bocce ball or bowl and enjoy some great food and drink specials. Instead of firing fake guns at arcade games, teach your children how to play one of these pastimes!

The food offering are vast and mostly Italian. The many menus offer a variety of options depending on what kind of dining experience you want. Lunch and dinner “On the Fly” menus feature quick meal ideas at one low price (lunch $10 and dinner $12). Lunch on the Fly meals such as Chicken Marsala with Parmesan risotto and a spinach asparagus frittata with mixed greens includes a beverage as well as bread with pesto.

What about food for the kids? Flatbreads, small plates, and pastas make for a deep well to choose from. I daresay you could find something for even the pickiest eaters.

Sunday is Family Day at Pinstripes! Kids under 12 eat free from the children’s menu after 5pm. After 9pm, you can bowl for a dollar a game. For a more dynamic and artsy evening, Pinstripes hosts live music every Friday and Saturday night. Their lineup usually includes blues, barrelhouse, and jazz bands.

What about for the parents? See this page for drink and food specials. Also, think about coming here as a couple or with friends. Weekly wine tastings and ladies nights would perk up any bad week.

Goose Island Brewery
1800 North Clybourn
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 915.0071

This choice is seemingly unconventional. Parents see “brewery” and run for the hills. Many assume a place where beer is brewed cannot possibly be appropriate for children. I argue that it can be. What is the fermentation of beer but an experiment in chemistry? The Clybourn location is where students from the Siebel Institute learn to make quality craft beer. Also brewed by Goose Island: soda (Root Beer, Orange Cream, Concord Grape, and Ginger).

Every Sunday, the Clybourn location hosts brewery tours. There you will learn how beer is made, be able to ask all your burning questions, and sample beer or soda. I suggest planning your day around this event since it makes for a full afternoon and an even fuller experience. My family and I went here for my 21st birthday. My little sister was 15 at the time and had a wonderful time. Being a suburban family, we made the day even more special by taking the train into the city.

The food choices range from normal bar fare to authentic BBQ and gourmet options. Goose Island takes pride in its local farmers. Whenever possible, they use locally made cheeses and produce. Another way they contribute: they send their spent grain to local pig farmers. They are quite possibly the happiest pigs in the world.

Tour Information:
Sundays at 1:30pm, 3pm, and 4:30pm
Duration: 60-90 minutes
Reservations are required. Please R.S.V.P. by calling (312) 915.0071.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
— Jane Howard

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