stop between Union station and Navy Pier
July 21, 2013 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Family is taking the train into Union station tomorrow. Weather permitted we're walking to Navy Pier. We need a family friendly place to stop for lunch along the way chain restaurants OK, we have w 1 and 4 year who get picky eating out. We are trying to go direct as possible so no choices that would mean back tracking.
posted by dstopps to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is a free trolley from River North to Navy Pier. The trolley operates between Navy Pier and State Street, traveling on Grand and Illinois, in a big loop.

Upon arrival at Union Station, call ahead and order a pizza from Lou Malnati's on Wells Street and Illinois St. The pizza will take a while to cook, so ordering ahead will save you time as well. Walk north and east from Union Station to get to Lou Malnati's in River North.

After lunch at Malnati's, you'll already be close to the trolley -- just walk four blocks east to Illinois and State Street to get picked up.

History behind Malnati's: The original Pizzeria Uno (and later on Pizzeria Due) were the first to sell deep dish pizza in Chicago. Rudy Malnati Sr. worked at Pizzeria Uno with his two sons, Lou and Rudy Jr. Both brothers eventually left Uno and branched out into their own pizza businesses. One of the brothers, Lou Malnati, founded Lou Malnati's. The other brother, Rudy Jr., founded Pizano's.
posted by kathryn at 3:37 PM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Did the trolley in the past had to watch three trolleys come and go before we got to the front of the line, the Navy Pier - Union station trolley is the busiest though. Lou malnati's sounds great keep suggestions coming.
posted by dstopps at 3:51 PM on July 21, 2013

Excheq is roughly between Union and Navy Pier. Standard pub grub. Petro's, across from Daley (SW corner) is extremely kid-friendly--just your basic deli, absolutely nothing to get excited about, but it's serviceable and inexpensive.

Across the river, there's a Weber Grill restaurant at State and Grand; much nicer is Grahamwich at State and Ohio (you might consider that backtracking, though as it's a block or two north of the route to Navy Pier, depending on how you're going). West Egg at Fairbanks and Ohio is also very kid friendly and more or less on the way. D4 at Ohio and Grand is a little nicer.

You might try stopping in to Fox & Obel, which is quite close to Navy Pier.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:22 PM on July 21, 2013

Why not walk over to the french market

Lots of choices, the best montreal style smoked meat sandwich (fumare), awesome belgium fries and amazing macaroons at vanille, something for everyone and a hidden gem.

Forget the chains, you can do that in the suburbs.
posted by HonestAsian at 4:59 PM on July 21, 2013

For getting back to Union Station from Navy Pier, you can take the 124 bus, which starts its route right at the Navy Pier bus terminal. $2.25 per person, which I think for 4 people beats a taxi although I don't often take taxis, and it beats standing in line forever when you're tired and cranky.

The bus will take you to Clinton and Jackson, across the street from the "main" building of Union Station, the one with the columns. (Google map of the bus trip shows you riding around the corner to Jefferson near Adams, but in my experience Clinton and Jackson is the End of the Line and the drivers make you get out)

Here's the bus route brochure:

I was going to recommend Bennigan's on Michigan and Adams, I've eaten there several times and it's "fine," but the Yelp reviews are crappy and I don't want to be blamed if you hate it! Maybe zoom in on the map right by Millennium Park and see if you spot something appealing to the picky people, as I think walking up to Navy Pier via Millennium Park and perhaps along the lakefront would be really nice. (There's a ramp for bicycles/strollers to get you to Navy Pier along the lakefront, but you do have to share with the bicyclists. As in, keep some space on your side of the path for them to keep up their speed)
posted by Anwan at 5:05 PM on July 21, 2013

It's a long walk from Union Station to Navy Pier -- about 2-1/2 miles. For me, fine, but not with the kids. Be ready to use the buses or taxi.
posted by lathrop at 5:09 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: great ideas so far. We do have some great walkers but the distance is why we're stopping along the way. We the down to the park then over to the Pier last year and it was a smidge too far so that's why we want to angle over. We don't need a place on the way back as we will be getting picked up at the pier.
posted by dstopps at 6:17 PM on July 21, 2013

Best answer: I don't know how things are now that it is Macy's, but in the past I would have suggested stopping at the seventh floor of Marshall Fields. Macy's appears to have retained this in some form according to the web site. There's also a food court in the lower level.

Note also that it may be interesting to see if you can incorporate some of the Chicago Pedway into your trip, if you choose to stop at Macy's.
posted by jgreco at 6:27 PM on July 21, 2013

The walk along Wacker drive is architecturally really interesting. I walked it once with a 6-year-old who didn't complain once. If you have a stroller it would be better.

Anyway...I can't think specifically of any great restaurants for a quick stop that are exactly on Wacker, but Clark is about halfway and there is a Cosi or Subway at Clark and Lake street. If you push on to Michigan Ave there is a McDonald's right by the Wrigley building just after the bridge.

I think there are some benches along the river on Wacker, but I can't remember if they are on Upper Wacker or down on the river walk (Lower Wacker).

Alternatively, the 151 bus goes right from Union Station to Michigan Avenue. You could take that bus and go to McDonalds (or any other restaurant along the way) then walk from there to Navy Pier.
posted by achmorrison at 6:45 PM on July 21, 2013

Take the water taxi between the two points and eat at one of them?
posted by BibiRose at 7:42 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any way you route it, the walk is 2.3 miles (or more)--so if the lakefront route was a little too much last year, I think the idea of taking bus 151 part way is a great idea. (Or the 124, caught at Canal south of Adams). Oh, I just realized in my above answer I said "Jefferson and Adams", I meant "Canal and Adams".

You could take a bus to Michigan Avenue, find food and walk from there. There's a Corner Bakery Cafe on Wacker, just west of Michigan. That may offer an easy eating solution.

If you take the bus partway you won't be on your feet as long and could just wait to eat at the Pier, which is very family-friendly and I think has a food court of fast-food type stuff, so everyone has more choices?

By the way it's supposed to be really hot tomorrow, plus a chance of thunderstorms, maybe plan to take the bus all the way to the pier, and then if it's not too bad you could walk partway.
posted by Anwan at 8:04 PM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: Macy's was a great stop, we took our time and both kids loved the buildings. We did switch the 4 year old to the stroller and the 1 year old to a baby bjorn for the second half of the trek. Again thanks for all the answers.
posted by dstopps at 5:48 PM on July 22, 2013

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