This is number 12 in my series of things to do with children while you’re parenting alone. Whether you are divorced, separated or just alone for the day with the kids, I hope these posts can be a guide of things to do with your kids in a city that isn’t set up for kids, Chicago. I’m not just a lawyer, I’m also a dad.

Whether it’s due to habit or lack of time, a fair amount of the meals single parents put together may consist of large quantities of the same thing, like pasta or mac n’ cheese. While, admittedly, these can be very enjoyable and filling, they often miss out on the broader spectrum of flavors. Not only that, but if kids can learn at an early age to try to put their phone away, slow down, and enjoy when and where they are then they’ll have gained an incredibly valuable tool. (It’s a long-shot, I know, but we can hope.)

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the movie Ratatouille (besides the fact that anyone can cook) it’s that there is a world of flavors out there just waiting to be experienced. You may not be able to stop by Paris, France anytime soon, but Chicago may be able to provide the next best thing. Specifically for Italian cuisine which is probably most palatable for kids.

Little Italy is located in West Chicago, near University Village. The main collection of eateries and restaurants line a stretch just half a mile long. There’s a variety of flavors to experience, so one thing you might want to try instead of spending all your time on one meal at one location is to take advantage of the short distance and the surplus of options by trying small amounts of bursts of flavors from as many locations as your stomach will safely allow.

There are so many possibilities, but some are as follows:

-Al’s Beef: thinly-sliced, Italian beef sandwiches (ask about the “Italian Stance”)
-Chez Joel Bistro: French cuisine with garden tables outside during warmer months
-Continue Di Savoia: authentic Italian food (including a true Italian mozzarella sandwich) and the opportunity to stock a picnic basket if you so choose
-Jim’s Original: an assortment of Polish sausages
Manny’s Deli: “next-level comfort food” (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and food many people have probably never heard of
-Mario’s Italian Lemonade: delicious lemonade as well as an assortment of shave ice flavors
-Pompei: traditional Italian food (including signature sandwiches)
-Rosebud: traditional Italian food (including Italian desserts)
Sweet Maple Café: a ‘40s-era café serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner

I recommend starting this expedition from the west side of Little Italy (S Ashland Ave & W Taylor St) to the east side (S Miller St & W Taylor St). If you take this route then by the time you get to the end you’ll be only a short distance from several parks where you and your kids can either relax or work off the calories. Also, if the experience was too taxing, you and yours could get a room at the Chicago Marriott at Medical District, located at 625 S Ashland Ave.

Please keep in mind that some restaurants may require reservations. If you’re taking public transportation then take the Pink Line metro (Washington/Wabash).

Little Italy is 2.7 miles from my Chicago law office. Directions below: