Restaurants where kids eat free
1371 W Chicago Ave (312-850-2700, branch27.com). Brunch (Sat–Sun 10:30am–3pm), dinner. Average main course: $15–$20.
Housed in a former library space in West Town, the dining room at this rustic neighborhood bistro features large, garage-door style windows that open to the breezes, sights and sounds of neighboring Eckhart Park. Kids 10 and younger eat (and drink!) free Mondays through Thursdays from 5–7pm. Tykes choose from menu options such as mini cheeseburgers and flatbread while parents have the run of American classics ranging from herb-roasted chicken to skirt steak and a large selection of craft brews and cocktails.
4111 N Lincoln Ave (773-472-4111, browntroutchicago.com). Brunch (Sun 11am–3pm), dinner (closed Mon, Tue). Average main course: $21.
This homey, green-minded North Center restaurant may not look like much of a destination, nor does the menu read like a list of must-haves. But don’t be fooled: The food here, while on the simpler side, is rife with flavors both big and nuanced. Juicy chicken thighs get paired with rich polenta, beautifully seared walleye gets a lively dressing of salsa verde, and the Browntrout fish trio is made of some of the silkiest cured fish in the city. Kids enjoy the same top-notch treatment, with not-so-run-of-the-mill organic chicken fingers and grilled Tallgrass cheeseburgers. With the purchase of an adult entrée, Junior can indulge in these earthy twists on kids’ favorites for free Wednesdays through Sundays from 5–7pm. And at the end of the meal, he’ll watch his fruit salad dessert get tossed tableside.
4343 N Lincoln Ave (773-477-7144, chalkboardrestaurant.com). Brunch (Sun 10am–2pm), afternoon tea (Sat, Sun 2–4pm), Dinner Wed–Mon (closed Tues). Average main course: $20.
This upscale comfort-food spot boasts a soothing room, a fairly priced wine list and a handful of specialties from chef Gilbert Langlois. The menu rotates often, featuring dishes like hanger steak with smoked sea salt, duck cassoulet and smoked-gouda mac and cheese. With the purchase of an adult entrée, foodies ages 12 and under cozy up to free kiddie portions of fried chicken, mac and cheese, veggies and fruit, Wednesdays through Mondays from 5–7pm (one child per adult entrée).
Trax Tavern and Grill
833 Deerfield Rd, Deerfield (847-236-0203, traxtavern.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $11.
With 17 big screen TVs for sports fans, a rooftop patio and private rooms for parties, this spot offers a fun atmosphere for all age groups. Big salads, pizzas and burgers are hits among regulars. But the real star is on the kiddie menu: a pizza in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. On Mondays and Tuesdays, with the purchase of an adult entrée priced at $10 or more, one child 12 or younger eats free from 4–7pm.