Greetings, First Bites readers! I’m filing this report on behalf of the Chicago bureau. By way of introduction, my name is Liz, and I’ve known the CEO of First Bites since we were apple-cheeked youngsters (with much faster metabolisms) in the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago. My husband is Ben, and like Patrice’s husband Olly, he is an Englishman with a penchant for house cleaning. Our daughter Tabitha was born in September, 2014 and in the short time that she has been eating solids, she has proven herself to be an adventurous and vigorous eater. Or, as Ben like to say, “a dump truck”. Like Patrice and Olly, we are big fans of baby led weaning, and watching Tabby’s little face light up after trying something new and tasty has been one of the best parts of parenthood (so far).
My little family recently relocated from Brooklyn to Chicago. Our life in Brooklyn was quite idyllic in the sense that we lived within close stomping distance of so many great people and also, Patrice. Our weekends revolved largely around impromptu brunches that would morph into afternoon drinks, followed by an early dinner somewhere. This lifestyle was 100 percent made possible by the fact that our families contained one single child who, for the most part, would nap in their stroller. But the point is, we had no shortage of terrific local, family friendly bars and restaurants to choose from, and I was eager to find a similar sort of neighborhood for us in Chicago. Our research and hunting led us to Bucktown, and we’ve settled in here really easily.
When Patrice asked me to contribute to First Bites with a Chicago entry, my initial excitement yielded to a sense of dread. Oh god, I thought, I’m going to be one of those wankers whose brunch gets cold while I’m furiously scrolling through Instagram filters. Ben was very dubious about our foray into blogging, but I assured him that Patrice would reimburse us for our meal. So, without further ado, let’s get weird.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 BITES
Little Goat gets high marks for being open super early on the weekends (7 AM!), which is helpful if you have little creatures at home who arise with the sun. They also offer valet parking, which seems like an unnecessary extravagance early on a Saturday morning, until your hanger overtakes you and you scream at your husband because there are no. goddamn. parking. spots. They offer a basic-but-well-executed kids menu, as well as crayons and high chairs. We brought our own clip on chair, but the staff graciously brought one of theirs over without us even asking. Our waiter was friendly, attentive and he brought our breakfast out quickly. This was helpful because Tabby was really pissed at me after I took two crayons out of her mouth, and I needed a distraction. I’m docking one ‘Bite’ because the front area of the restaurant was crowded due to the wait for a table, which was ~30 minutes. We even told the hostess that we were, “with First Bites”, and she didn’t really seem to care. Get your midwest PR team on it, Poltzer.
THE BIG BITE
Although it’s in the trendy West Loop and is very much a grown up place in the evening, Little Goat is a diner at its core and the daytime atmosphere is bright and lively. And they serve breakfast all day! Their specialty is inventive remakes of classic diner dishes, so you can have a Reuben with kimchi or my order, which was a crab rangoon omelette. Tabby and I also very much enjoyed picking at Ben’s chicken and biscuits when he wasn’t looking. We didn’t partake in any of the delicious looking adult brunch drinks (WTF is wrong with us?), but Ben said that cold brewed iced coffee was excellent. There were plenty of families dining with young children. The ambient noise level is such that your little ones won’t be disrupting fellow diners, and the staff are clearly used to accommodating families. Although they use fancier ingredients than your average diner, there are plenty of interesting sandwiches and breakfast items if your kids want to order off the adult menu. Plus, they have a really cool menu of bottled sodas, like Cheerwine and Green River.
WHAT IS THE VIBE?
Subversive grandpa hangout. On its face, Little Goat looks exactly like every diner in the suburbs, with the mirrored walls, vinyl booths and heavy ceramic mugs. That is, until you see the words, “Fat Elvis Waffle” and “bacon maple syrup” on the menu. The atmosphere is relaxed and lively, and the staff were working hard to get food out and keep the place moving.
CAN I BRING A STROLLER INTO THE SPACE?
There was very limited space in the front of the restaurant to store strollers. Also, none of the strollers were folded. Fold your damn strollers, people!
DOES THE RESTAURANT CATER TO KIDS IN ANY WAY?
Despite it not being a “kid restaurant”, it really is an excellent place to bring them. Besides the kids menu, they also crayons and high chairs. It’s a noisy, lively environment and parents have plenty of air cover if their children decide to be jerks.
DOES THE RESTAURANT HAVE A CHANGING TABLE?
Although I didn’t get a visual on it, I was told by the waitress that there is a changing table. It’s in a unisex bathroom, so dads have no excuse.
WHAT ABOUT MOMS TO BE?
This is like the most pregnancy friendly menu I’ve ever seen. In addition to 10,000 delicious food items, they also have a robust list of non alcoholic beverages. And milk shakes. Caramel apple shake? Pumpkin cookie shake? I might need to get pregnant again so that I have an excuse to indulge.
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
Sunday-Thursday: 7 AM - 10 PM
Friday-Saturday: 7 AM - 12 AM
Are there food options for allergic kids?
The menu is large and diverse, so it’s likely that they’ll be able to accommodate any special requests