The Allis at Soho House Chicago

First of all, meet Blake! James’ pretty little buddy/potential wife. Blake is 11 months old and she is the caaaautest – ahem that toptail though – and I’m so grateful to have met her mom, Katelyn. If you haven’t already, you must check out her FAB blog: But First Koffee. She has amazing fashion and baby tips and is so ridiculously stylish, as is Miss Blake (who was named after Katelyn’s husband – which I FREAKING LOVE!). I cannot stress enough the importance of finding/making/having at least one or two friends with babies really close in age to your own. Especially in the first year of motherhood (AKA the craziest year of your life). HUGE BONUS if they are fun and normal! I’m sooooooo #blessed to have a solid handful of them. Fun and normal mom friends are God’s gift. I guess I don’t know what constitutes normal – I am probably not normal – I just mean someone you can keep things real with. Like myself, Katelyn is at home full-time with Blake and we were intro’ed by a mutual friend (thanks, MC!) and since then we’ve loved getting these two babes (and ourselves) together whenever possible. We have been on the lookout for baby friendly restaurants ever since our first mom date at baby-central: Summer House Santa Monica in Lincoln Park; and we have taken the liberty of combining our findings into this baby friendly brunch guide: Chicago Edition. (Okay, in all honesty this will probably be the only edition, but how cool would that be to travel the world searching for the best brunch spots. Miami Edition? NYC Edition? Paris Edition? AMALFI COAST EDITION????? A girl can dream.)

**A quick note: Katelyn and Blake are experts on the River North and West Loop brunch scene, so definitely be sure to check out her post for the master list of baby-friendly brunch spots in those areas! Here, I will be covering West Town, Bucktown/Wicker Park, Logan Square, Ukrainian Village, and Lincoln Park/Lakeview! We did this shoot at The Allis inside of Soho House (West Loop) and they were so super baby friendly. It is definitely on the list!

Secondly: BRUNCH! Brunch is life. Brunchy brunch brunch. I love brunch. B-R-U-N-C-H!!!!! However, there is a BIG difference between brunch life pre-baby and brunch life post-baby. I’m here to tell you the former is – TBH – a little more fun. BUTTTTTT! The latter is still most definitely doable and also fun, I swear! You just have to find the right spots. Here is a look at the difference between pre and post-baby brunch life:

Pre-Baby Brunch Scenario:
  • Wake up at hungover at 10am
  • Lay in bed and text your friends (usually multiple GC’s going on at once) about what happened the night before, complain about how hungover you are, and debate where to go brunch
  • Send a few Snapchat selfies to aforementioned friends proving your hangover is the worst
  • Peel yourself out of bed and take your sweet time getting ready
  • Stroll into the selected brunch spot without a care or responsibility in the world
  • Order food because you think you’re SOOOO hungry but when it arrives you realize you are nauseous AF and can’t even look at it
  • Drink half of a bloody mary, then: mimosa, mimosa, mimosa, mimosa, mimosa, mimosa, mimosa, then: champagne, champagne, champagne, champagne etc.
  • Sit/hang/drink for hours
  • Then one of two things will happen: go home and nap – OR – rage on…….
  • Feel like crap again the next day (but if it was a good brunch = worth it)
Post-Baby Brunch Scenario:
  • Wake up anywhere between 5-7am depending on your babe (for us it’s usually 6am on the dot, although this week it has been 5:30am EVERY DAY and I can’t take it)
  • Clean and feed a human who’s life depends on you
  • Go to text your friends but realize it is the crack of dawn and that would be psycho
  • Coffee
  • Playtime
  • More coffee
  • Put that presh little human who’s life depends on you down for a nap
  • Text your friends at a socially acceptable hour and decide on a brunch spot
  • Rush to get ready because that tiny human woke up way earlier than expected and you have way less time than you thought, your window is closing just as fast as it opened
  • Stroll into that brunch spot an hour later than you planned with hands full of baby and baby things
  • Order a drink, take a breath, and realize you made it to brunch and life is good
  • Order food because you’re GENUINELY STARVING
  • Forget to eat aforementioned food when it arrives because you are trying to focus on listening/talking to the adults around you whilst baby wrangling
  • Drink a couple more drinks, realize you are actually relaxed and having a good time
  • Realize it’s time to go
  • Panic on the way to the bathroom praying/wondering if there is a changing table
  • Change a diaper whether there is a changing table or not
  • Check please, home you go! No choice there 🙂
  • Get home and actually have a productive rest of the day = feel great the next day

I realize that may sound negative but I promise I mean it in good fun. Also, if you have a kid – you know it’s true. But we honestly get so much more done on the weekends now and I love it. I’m also just a little frustrated right now as I finish up this post at the crack of dawn because James just started waking up at 5:30am every single day this week and no matter what I do I can’t seem to adjust it. And I don’t know anybody else who this is happening to – so I’m emo about it. ANYWHO, I love love love my life with this tiny human and I mean it when I say that brunch is STILL fun, just a totally new and different (more healthy! woo hoo!) type of fun. And like I mentioned earlier, your brunch-with-a-baby experience totally depends on finding the right restaurant.

**Edit: I just got a lifesaving text from my friend who has a son 5 days older than James (hey, John!) and she said the 5:30am wake ups have been happening to them this week too!?!? What is going on with the 8 month olds this week?? We are convinced they are able to communicate with each other from afar like the whales in Finding Nemo and plot against us. I hate to find joy in her pain but knowing I’m not alone actually makes this much better. THANKS, JULIE! 

What makes a restaurant “baby friendly”?
  • They are friendly and welcoming upon seeing you enter with a baby and/or stroller (no eye rolls or sighs)
  • They take your opinion into consideration while finding you a table
  • They offer you a highchair but ALSO allow you to take your stroller to the table if you prefer (so major)
  • The waiters are patient and kind with you and your tiny human (no judgement cast upon you for spills or screams)
  • Changing table in the bathroom or a designated area to do a diaper change
  • Generally good/comfortable atmosphere where you feel comfortable setting up shop
  • HUGE BONUS if they have a seating area with couches! TAKE IT!!! At first we were always hesitant about taking the couch areas because the tables are low and we figured it would be hard to eat but we quickly realized it is SO the way to go with a baby. They can sprawl out and it’s amazing!

As I mentioned earlier, because we live in Bucktown, I am going to give you my recommendations for the best baby friendly brunch spots in the West Town area (Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukranian Village, Logan Square). For River North and West Loop, head over to Katelyn’s post!! I also have a couple for Lincoln Park/Lakeview – but I’m so sorry I don’t have more! Please please please comment with ANY suggestions and I will add them to the list immediately! I want this list to be as humongous and helpful as possible! Alright, let’s get to the point here. Guide is below!

Couches are key!!!!

BABY FRIENDLY BRUNCH GUIDE:

1. Summer House Santa Monica

Ok, this is #1 on my list (after this there is no particular order) because it has been deemed “mommy-central”. This was one of my all-time favorite spots even before I had James, so learning that it is so baby friendly was the best news EVER! The atmosphere is unbeatable, food is great, and they are a judgement free zone when you walk in with a stroller.

  • LOCATION: Lincoln Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (and you can bring them right to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: Fantastic, no couch areas but plenty of room and they are super accommodating!
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes
  • FOOD & DRINK: Soooo good. GET THE CALAMARI!!!! It’s life changing. They have a full bar but I recommend sipping rosé here, it goes best with the vibe.

2. Cafe Robey

This place is in the bottom of the new hotel – The Robey – at 6 corners and it is awesome. The space is sort of a tight squeeze but they don’t even flinch if you come in with a stroller! It is SO cute and has a great little diner feel, the food is amazing! Also their highchairs are AWESOME!

  • LOCATION: Bucktown
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (and you can bring them right to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes (And not your typical wood high chairs, they have these AWESOME Joovy high chairs! I think that is the kind we are going to get James, thanks to this place for the inspo!)
  • ATMOSPHERE: A little tight but BEAUTIFUL. Gorgeous lighting (very Instagram friendly), and beautifully decorated.
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes but the bathrooms are a hike because it is a hotel
  • FOOD & DRINK: AWESOME. The toasted coconut pancakes are maybe the best I’ve ever had? Also, get the chicken sandwich! Their bloody is good! I usually drink wine here though 🙂

3. Taus Authentic

You may have seen this place in my Insta story last weekend – it is INSANELY AMAZING! Next to The Allis, it is probably the most beautiful restaurant in Chicago. Bold statement, I know. It feels like a combination between a gorgeous townhouse in the Gold Coast and a Restoration Hardware show room. They have an AMAZING couch area, complete with TV’s and fireplaces, and the staff might be the friendliest in existence. The chef himself (who I think might be the owner as well?) came out and talked to us, and was SO sweet to James! We saw another family come in with a child and he remembered their names and ALSO offered to make the little one Mickey Mouse pancakes! I can’t. We had such a great experience here, I cannot recommend it enough.

  • LOCATION: Wicker Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (you can bring it right up to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: INSANELY AMAZING AND COMFORTABLE. I recommend the couch area!
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes
  • FOOD & DRINK: AWESOME. The croque madame is to die for!!! Also, Kyle loved the steak & eggs! They also have really delicious cocktails!!

4. Northside

This place has always been our go-to. The food is decent as it is more of a bar scene, but the atmosphere is fantastic. They have a great, open patio area, TV’s everywhere and you can bring your stroller in right up to the table! HOWEVER, I am pretty sure they do not have a changing table – I thought twice about adding them to the list but couldn’t resist because we honestly go like every other weekend for drinks with our parent friends and we always have a great time!

  • LOCATION: Bucktown
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (you can bring it right up to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: Fantastic. Bright and airy with lots of TV’s, an indoor/outdoor patio and fireplaces! So cozy, especially in the winter and fun in the summer because of their great patio!
  • CHANGING TABLES: I don’t think so but I’m no 100% certain – sorry!
  • FOOD & GREAT: The food is good, not great. The nachos and hummus platter are really good though! And I do love the Southwestern Chicken salad. It is bar food but definitely not bad! It’s a bar so you can drink whatever your heart desires, their beer list is HUGE and great!

5. Small Cheval

This is an outdoor spot. They have a huge and fabulous patio with large picnic-style tables where you can camp out with your stroller! However, the inside is nothing to write home about. We would walk here all the time when James was first born (in August) and it was so great. I’m not sure if they have a changing table but as far as a good summer hangout where you can bring a stroller and toddlers can toddle around – this is a perfect spot!

  • LOCATION: Bucktown
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (you can bring it right up to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Not sure
  • ATMOSPHERE: Awesome on the outside! Not so great on the inside. This is an outdoor brunch spot for sure!
  • CHANGING TABLES: I don’t think so but I’m no 100% certain – sorry!
  • FOOD & DRINK: INSANELY AMAZING! It is the little sister to Au Cheval which I’m pretty sure was voted the best burger in America at one point?! Don’t quote me on that. It is 100000000% the best burger in Chicago though, you can quote me on that. They have booze (TG) but for sure get a chocolate milkshake too.

6. Longman & Eagle

I have never actually been here with James but Katelyn has been with Blake and recommended I definitely add it to the list. She had a super fantastic experience!!! I have however, been without James, and in my opinion their burger is 2nd best in Chicago next to Au Cheval! So amazing.

  • LOCATION: Logan Square
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (you can bring it right up to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: A bit of a tight squeeze but cozy and they helped Katelyn find a great baby friendly spot where they could spread out!
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes
  • FOOD & DRINK: Sooooooooooo good! The burger is RIDIC!!! Awesome beer and craft cocktails too.

7. Smoke Daddy

We LOVE The Smoke Daddy. Their BBQ is super delicious and they are super baby friendly. This was another go-to spot for us when James was first born because they are so nice about letting you bring your stroller right up to the table! They also have a changing table in the bathroom – WIN WIN!

  • LOCATION: Wicker Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (you can bring it right up to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: Amazing patio and bar area, the indoor space is a little tighter but still great and they don’t mind accommodating families!
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes
  • FOOD & DRINK: Absolutely delicious – you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. And their cornbread, omg. Order a bloody here!

8. Publican Anker

We were honestly shocked that this place was as baby friendly as it is!!! Such a pleasant surprise. They were super nice about letting us choose where we wanted to sit, they brought us a highchair AND allowed us to pull the stroller up to the table, and the servers were really friendly with James! I did not attempt a diaper change here so I’m unsure about a changing table situation. However, they meet all other requirements and the food is soooo good!

  • LOCATION: Bucktown
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes (you can bring it right up to your table!)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: This place is right on 6 corners and awesome in warm weather because they open the windows and it has a great open-air feel! I love the decor and vibe as well.
  • CHANGING TABLES: Not sure!!!!!
  • FOOD & DRINKS: Awesome. The grilled cucumber is amazing (sounds weird but try it!!!) and the burger is DELISH!!!! They have a great selection of beer too!

9. Lula Cafe

This place is soooooooo cute! And they are soooo nice and family friendly. Heads up, there is always a wait on Sundays – but if you can swing it, it’s worth it! They bring you fruit right away if you have kids/babies so they can start snacking! They also bring *free* fresh baked goodies to your table that are leftover from the kitchen. The vibe is so homey and great. It is a tight squeeze though, so we don’t bring the stroller to the table.

  • LOCATION: Logan Square
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: We haven’t tried because it is a tight squeeze
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: Freaking ADORABLE.
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes
  • FOOD: So. Good. And good drinks! Get the rubarb mimosa, steak salad, biscuits and gravy I could go on. Drooling just thinking about it!

10. Americano

If you follow my Instagram stories, you will see we are ALWAYS here. It used to be Birchwood Kitchen, which I missed at first – but I’m so obsessed with Americano that I don’t even remember BK anymore. This place is SO friendly, the food is delicious, they have a full bar, and the atmosphere is amazing. So well decorated, and it has a European feel which I of course love. Also, I can’t say enough amazing things about their patio! It is SO beautiful, on the smaller side but so peaceful and picturesque – and it is stroller friendly, woo hoo! Love. This. Place.

  • LOCATION: Wicker Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: To die for
  • CHANGING TABLES: I have never changed James diaper here because we live right down the street, so I am not sure if they have one or not!
  • FOOD & DRINK: Small but delicious menu, the rosemary biscuit & egg sandwich is my favorite! And OMG their home made potatoes are soooooooooo good, you must try then. 

11. Trench

I went back and forth about adding Trench as they don’t allow strollers on the main floor and the changing table situation isn’t ideal, but they are SO family friendly and accommodating that I just had to add them. And their food is awesome! They do have highchairs and they are great about letting you flip one upside down to set a car seat on it if you want to.

  • LOCATION: Bucktown
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: No (They have a big staircase going down right when you walk in and they ask that you leave your stroller up by reception)
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: Super cute
  • CHANGING TABLES: Unless they recently added one, I don’t think they have a changing table, however, they do have a little end table that you could change a diaper on (I have) if you need to! They recently underwent a transformation from “Trencherman” to “Trench” and I’m not sure if they re-did their bathrooms!
  • FOOD & DRINK: Fantastic. Awesome food, awesome cocktails, awesome beer menu!

Okay, there you have it! Don’t forget to check out Katelyn’s guide to spots in River North and West Loop! Also, if you have ANY suggestions please do let me know and I will add them to this list right away! Now, for some more adorbs pics of James and Blake. Happy Brunching 🙂

12. Parlor Pizza in Wicker Park

I purposely didn’t add Parlor to this list a few months ago because they have an annoying “no strollers” policy and it used to really annoy me. However, I will say they are SUPER accommodating in every other area. We have been going here a TON lately, their patio is amazing and the food is excellent. All of the staff is sooooo sweet and friendly to James, and they cast no judgement upon us and never try to rush us out.

  • LOCATION: Wicker Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: No. They are super strict about strollers, which is their only downside. However, hey do have a designated “stroller parking” area. 
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: 10 out of 10
  • CHANGING TABLES: No, BUT if you go to the DOWNSTAIRS bathroom there is a counter top in the women’s bathroom that is perfect for diaper changes! There is no changing table or counter top in the upstairs bathroom, just FYI!
  • FOOD & DRINK: Sooooo delicious! Get the nachos as an app they are absolutely to die for. Better than regular nachos! Also, I always order the kale salad too and give James the hard boiled egg that comes with it, they give it to me on the side in a little bowl for him. 

13. Big Star

Although this is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, I didn’t add it to this list originally because I honestly just figured it would be a huge pain to bring a baby there. So happy to report I was wrong! Despite their patio which is pretty tight, they are SUPER stroller friendly and surprisingly very nice about helping you find a comfortable spot that works with a baby! Staff was so nice to James, and again we felt no pressure to eat and GTFO. Wonderful experience! Just a heads up there is no changing table, only downside.

  • LOCATION: Wicker Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes!
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: 10 out of 10
  • CHANGING TABLES: No 🙁
  • FOOD & DRINK: Awesome. Best margarita I have ever had! 

14. Fat Pour

Okay, just a heads up this is a total bar and if you go at the wrong time it can be really loud. But, we have had multiple good experiences there on low key Sundays! I recommend sitting in one of their giant booths on the first floor, they will let you pull your stroller right up to the table and they are SUPER friendly about it! Their booths are huge so it’s nice because James can stretch out and move around a bit.

  • LOCATION: Wicker Park
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes!
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: 10 out of 10
  • CHANGING TABLES: Yes! In the unisex single bathroom 
  • FOOD & DRINK: Great and HUGE portions! Amazing beer menu as well. 

15. Left Coast

Love this place. It is so refreshing and cute! They also have a patio and their main area is stroller friendly.

  • LOCATION: Lakeview
  • STROLLER FRIENDLY: Yes
  • HIGHCHAIRS: Yes
  • ATMOSPHERE: Super cute
  • CHANGING TABLES: I have never changed James diaper here but I assume they have one?!
  • FOOD & DRINK: On the pricey side but so good. They have a ton of healthy juices but alcohol as well!

Okay, there you have it! Don’t forget to check out Katelyn’s guide to spots in River North and West Loop! Also, if you have ANY suggestions please do let me know and I will add them to this list right away! Now, for some more adorbs pics of James and Blake. Happy Brunching 🙂

3 Comments

  1. Hahah definitely still in the pre baby brunch routine. So spot on.
    Lets go to brunch so I can help with the post baby routine!!!!!!!!! And squeeze James the whole time.

    Xo

  2. LOLOL love the pre baby vs. post baby routine. Ummm this list is amazing and I don’t even have a baby! I can’t even imagine how helpful this is to people who do!

  3. Donna Koranda Reply

    This is hysterical! It looks like they lasted a pretty long time in Allis thoroughly enjoying their baby brunch! What a great idea, love it!

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