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Bringing Out Baby
Nina Williams

Wendy & Julian
You used to go out. "Used to" being the operative words. You used to have a life. The truth is that you miss going out. You miss your old life. Ever since you've had your baby, you've been trapped inside of your house longing for the days when you would people watch and eavesdrop on fascinating conversations. More importantly, you crave interesting dishes that dazzle your pallet.

And now that you've more or less settled into your role as a new parent you're wondering where you fit in? Where can you go where you won't intrude on the parentless? Is there a place where you can order a real glass of wine? Where can you go to feel like your old self with a new addition?

Finding a restaurant in the city of Chicago is not very hard. Now, finding a restaurant in Chicago that welcomes children? Well, that's considerably harder. Now while searching for a casual dining place where you can have a truly lovely dining experience with your little one may seem daunting, it isn't. It is definitely possible.

Luckily there are eateries in the city where the number of adults significantly outweigh the number of children. There are places where you won't slip on oily French fries or trip over plastic balls. There are real restaurants where you won’t get nasty looks from other patrons when your baby cries for a minute or two. They do exist. I promise you.

Wishbone is one of the most family friendly restaurants in Chicago. Their walls are adorned with colorful and interesting childlike artwork featuring farm animals. They offer a tasty southern influenced menu for adults and a rather extensive list of libations including several types of beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. They accommodate children by giving them an activity sheet accompanied by a set of crayons. Although Wishbone is rather large with two dining rooms, it’s best to avoid during brunch time on the weekends unless you don't mind the wait to be seated. At any other time of the week, Wishbone is filled with a mix of dating couples, mentors and mentees, and friends. There would be a serious void in parents' lives if Wishbone weren’t around. Luckily, they are here to stay.

Happy mom and kids.
Francesca's Forno attracts many a family because it is modern, spacious, tasty, and as a bonus they love small children. This Italian restaurant is located in the heart of Wicker Park on the highly trafficked Milwaukee Avenue. They offer a children's dinner menu, which features pasta, pizza, and chicken as well as a children's brunch menu which features pancakes and French toast. The food is relatively inexpensive, and the drinks are reasonably priced, but what really makes this spot great is how creative the menu is. They offer items like the Panettone, which is Italian French Toast with sweet Mascarpone cheese and fresh berries or the Tegame which is an amazing breakfast skillet not to be missed. These are so good that you might just have to order both. Bring your children here for brunch on the weekends and let them try some of your food. This is the best time to go as there is usually ample seating and the service is excellent.

Another great restaurant to bring your children to is Dinotto. It is a neighborhood, rustic Italian restaurant in the heart of Old Town across the street from the Pipers Alley Movie Theater. It has a very beautiful old world, romantic vibe to it. There are two dining rooms with ample space and they also welcome children. They do not have a set menu for children, but will accommodate them just as well. Be sure to ask the waiters and waitresses for their suggestions. They are very helpful. The service here is extremely attentive and the wait staff is pleasant. Dinotto has an extensive wine list, specials, and excellent tiramisu.

Russian Tea Time
Is there anything more interesting or exotic than going on an adventure downtown to have tea time? Russian Tea Time, a restaurant catering to all things Russian offers just that--a time to indulge in relaxation and conversation weekday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. Your server will bring you a tower of sweets and savories which includes scones, sandwiches and sweets. They will also bring you any kind of tea that your heart desires as long as it's within the confines of their menu. There is one tea that isn't listed on the menu, but one that you should try--it's a spicy, traditional Russian black tea served in an interesting silver and glass goblet. This restaurant has a very traditional look to it as there are tiny chandeliers hanging above as well as several Russian vases and dolls. And though you would think that a place such as this wouldn't be child friendly, it is. Enjoy yourself and remember no ball gown is required.

Bin Wine Cafe is a lovely place with fantastic artwork, tasty food, decent service and an excellent selection of wine. This is another great restaurant where you should feel comfortable bringing your newborn or well behaved child. Although this isn't a restaurant that many people would consider child friendly, I have dined next to a child or two on occasion and it was perfectly fine. This place is just too beautiful to pass up. In the summer time they open their windows and you can sit outside and people watch. And trust me; there is a ton of people watching to do in Wicker Park. You should not pass up Bin Wine Cafe.

With the exception of Wishbone, these restaurants aren't places that people would typically classify as good for kids. But as long as you respect these restaurants and you have your children under control, most Chicago eateries will welcome your children and your business with open arms.

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