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Family Weekend Highlights (Best Chicago Restaurants)

Basically, my family weekend was a tour of the best Chicago restaurants. To say that we ate ourselves silly would be an understatement! Don’t worry, we did plenty of other things, too. Check out my family weekend highlights!

Tour de Best Chicago Restaurants!

Looking for the best Chicago Restaurants for a foodie family visit? Don't miss this post from Suzlyfe! Beacon Tavern, Lillie's Q, Ella Elli, and more! @suzlyfe


The fam got in early/mid afternoon but hadn’t had lunch yet, so I took them to Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken, which was right next to their hotel. I had already eaten, but I made sure to steal as many fries (with that seasoning) as I could get away with. Also, Coke Freestyle machine πŸ˜€

John Hancock Tower

We headed downtown to the John Hancock tower! It was my first time there, and the perfect day to see around the city.

Chicago view from John Hancock @suzlyfe

We had some time between our visit and dinner, so we stopped for drinks and a snack at D4 Irish Pub in my old environs. On the way to dinner, we made another stop at Dylan’s Candy Bar, where I picked up a new friend!

Beacon Tavern

Beacon Tavern didn’t disappoint us; it was just as amazing as I remembered. And dining outside? Even better.

Beacon Tavern Relish Tray Chicago's Best Restaurants @suzlyfe

We got a variety of things, including the relish plate, the cheddar bay biscuits, baked brie, and then I got the Hamachi Ceviche.

It was a highly sophisticated dish, much more so than I expected: there was a lime/citrus ice that melted into the bowl for your citrus, a bed of avocado for your creaminess, the hamachi (which was perfection) and then jicama on top for crunch. It came with crackers, but I ate those separately! Definitely a must dish for summer!

Beacon Tavern Fish and Chips Chicago's Best Restaurants @suzlyfe

Alex got the fish and chips, and between his fries and Mom’s fries… well, no fry left behind, lol. 


Alex had to work, so I met the fam at 11 to head downtown again for Taste of Chicago. I love my family, but remind me not to take them to food fests, lol. Making decisions is not their strong suit! But not to worry, we ended up with some serious winners of dishes, and unfortunately a few that were meh.

Taste of Chicago Winners:

Farmers Fridge Avocado Toast and Chili Lime Watermelon at Taste of Chicago 2017 @suzlyfe

Farmer’s Fridge Chili Lime Watermelon and Avocado Toast. These were simple dishes, but I can’t describe how amazing they were, and how perfect for the hot summer day. Seriously, so good that I got them TWICE. I will recreate and post the recipes!

Taste of chicago Franco's Ristorante Sea Salt Caramel Gelato @suzlyfe

Franco’s Ristorante Sea Salt and Caramel Gelato. One of the best ice creams I’ve had in a long time. The texture was almost like soft serve, with a bit more thickness, and the flavor was pure and not overpowering–just the right amount. Stunning, and we considered getting another, but decided to try something else!

Honorable Mention: Gator Bites (alligator sausage) were delicious but the red pepper jelly and caramelized onions were overpowering. The sausage was great by itself!

Carbon fire grilled steak tacos. The steak was just delightful.

I had two other stops for them before we returned home. 

Cindy’s Rooftop Bar @ Chicago Association Hotel

Taste of chicago Franco's Ristorante Sea Salt Caramel Gelato @suzlyfe

A great spot to people watch, but hard to get a seat without a rezzo. We got lucky with some stools outside!

Chicago Cultural Center

I had to take them to see the Tiffany Domes. One of my favorite rooms in Chicago.

Dinner at Ella Elli

This was our “fancy” dinner, and I found Ella Elli on the Eater Heatmap of places to eat in Chicago right now. OMG IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Every. Bite. My favorites:

Ella Elli Chicago charcuterie board @suzlyfe

Marinated Olives with Grilled Sourdough (best bread of the night) + Charcuterie Board (I could live in this)

Ella Elli Chicago Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde @suzlyfe

Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde (to die for) + Tomato and Burrata Pizza (A MUST GET)

Ella Elli Chicago Salt Roasted Carrots with Harrisa @suzlyfe

Salt Roasted Carrots with Harrisa (amazing)

And then we decided to get all three desserts. The Profiteroles were good, but I was obsessed with:

Ella Elli Chicago Greek Yogurt with Berries @suzlyfe

Greek yogurt with berries and honey (amazing. Simple. stunning) + Meyer Lemon Poundcake (my picture didn’t make it)

Damn it feels good to be a gangster.


I got up to coach Saturday, Alex and I ran home together, then we met the fam and walked up to perennial brunch favorite Hutch for some serious noms.

The Nutella Poppers are always delish.

Hutch Chicago brunch biscuit chicken @suzlyfe

Alex got the Big Biscuit and Fried Chicken. The chicken was good, but that biscuit (cheddar and chive, if I am correct) is out of bounds. I got my Lakeview scramble, which was bigger and better than I remember!

We needed to walk a little, so we walked up and around and back from Wrigley. It was another picture perfect day!

Dinner at Lillie’s Q

After naps, dog walks, and refreshing, we headed to Bucktown to Lillie’s Q. I had wanted to go for some time, but never had the opportunity. Well, it certainly lived up to expectation! Favorite dishes:

Lillie's Q Bucktown Barbeque sauces @suzlyfe

The sauces. All of them.

Lillie's Q Bucktown Fried Pickles and Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies @suzlyfe

Fried Pickles (ask for the comeback sauce that comes with the pimento cheese hush puppies)

Lillie's Q Bucktown Sweet Potato Fries and Brunswick Stew @suzlyfe

Sweet Potato Fries (rivals our favorites at D4!) + Brunswick Stew (FILLED with all the good meats)

Lillie's Q Bucktown Q Salad with Pulled Chicken @suzlyfe

Q Salad (My stomach was a little funky, so I went with a salad, but the pulled chicken was AMAZING.)

I have to say that everything we had was amazing–the pulled pork, tri tip, and ribs were fabulous. I haven’t been the biggest fan of pulled pork for a while because I only ever seem to get super fatty portions (which I know some poeple love but I hate). The pulled pork at Lillie’s Q was perfectly pulled and shredded.

Lillie's Q Bucktown Banana Pudding @suzlyfe

Banana Pudding. We got this on a whim, but it was 100% worth it.


Orange on Clark

With a noon flight, we opted for breakfast at Orange. That means Pancake Flights!

Orange on Clark Pancake Flight @suzlyfe

Final Thoughts:

I can’t believe how quickly this trip went by. I literally blinked and it was over! I have to thank the Chicago gods for giving us perfect weather, the food gods for giving us amazing food, the work gods for giving Alex as much time off as possible (he got out pretty early the days he worked) and the transit gods for minimal traffic and bringing my family and to and from my safely.

Got a #foodie family visiting #Chicago? Where to eat, from brunch to dinner! #chicagoeats Click To Tweet

And before you all go and say, “You guys get along so perfectly!” I’ll be the first to admit that I get a little high strung around my family, and I can get a bit domineering and take-over-y, and that definitely happened on this trip a few times. It is something that I work on constantly! But most importantly, we always bounce back, say we are sorry, and learn from our mistakes. That, to me, is the mark of a great trip–great memories to smile over, to laugh about, and to learn from!

What looks delicious to you?

How do you gauge a great family trip?

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  • Reply jen

    That little Hen Cracker & Dip Plate from Beacon Tavern is adorable, I would have been tempted to accidentally walk out with it in my purse. JK πŸ˜‰

    July 10, 2017 at 6:00 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think they might have noticed but worth the risk, right?

      July 15, 2017 at 9:44 am
  • Reply Kimberly G

    …and bookmarking this for when I’m in town for the Chicago Marathon lol

    July 10, 2017 at 6:44 am
  • Reply Sarah Dudek

    Everything looks so good. I could totally go for a pancake flight right now.

    July 10, 2017 at 6:54 am
  • Reply Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups

    Omg, I want to eat all the things!

    July 10, 2017 at 7:12 am
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    Wow I do love to eat vicariously through you! You and your family sure know how to do it right. Hope your weekend was exactly what you needed πŸ™‚

    July 10, 2017 at 7:34 am
  • Reply Hamie@TheMomGene

    I want alligator sausage and banana pudding and it’s not even 8 a.m.

    July 10, 2017 at 7:46 am
    • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

      That banana pudding divine!

      July 10, 2017 at 9:29 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      What a way to start the day!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:36 am
  • Reply Rae

    If I weren’t already so full from my own weekend indulgences, I’d be drooling right now. Looks like a lovely weekend!

    July 10, 2017 at 8:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m sure you’ve got a little extra saliva, lol

      July 15, 2017 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Cora

    Dear lorrrrrd.

    I knew there was a big food recap coming up this week but you guys KILLED it. One day I will get myself a pancake flight. And those sweet fries? Even from here they look like the best ones I’ve ever seen.

    July 10, 2017 at 8:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      There are definitely up there. WHen are you coming to visit/live with me?

      July 15, 2017 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Annmarie

    The John Hancock Tower has such awesome views – I have a few pretty cool pics from when I went there. Definitely going to bookmark this post so I know where to go when I come back to Chicago!

    July 10, 2017 at 8:49 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Put me on your itinerary!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:35 am
  • Reply Emily

    Ok so that was a sacrifice for you to stop and take pictures of all of it before digging into all of this deliciousness. πŸ™‚ I love that you are totally honest about you and your family; I don’t get along with my family perfectly either, but God has definitely used it to teach me about Jesus’ love and how He enables me to learn to love more.

    That gelato looks REALLY really good, but I also am kind of eyeing the fish n’ chips. πŸ˜€

    July 10, 2017 at 9:16 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We aren’t perfect, and we can’t have perfect relationships. What is important is that we always come back together!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:33 am
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    So many of Suse’s readers want to go with Susie on a restaurant tour around Chicago–well, THAT is what we did this past weekend!!!! If I ate like that at every meal, I’d be the size of my ski-boat!

    This was a perfectly crafted dining tour like a perfected poured Guinness. You have to have a master to “build” one, and we had our own little blond master at the “stick.”

    I couldn’t tell you which meal or even food item I liked best, because each was a stellar examples of what it was.
    I have to admit that two of my faves would be the avocado toast and the sea salt and caramel gelato from Taste of Chicago.
    The trip to Lillie’s Q was perhaps my favorite meal–because of the sauces. The pulled pork and the pimento cheese hush puppies were excellent vehicles for the BBQ sauces. You need to try them all–because each one is unique.
    Having grown up in the deep south (where certain areas are famous for their own recipes) I know my BBQ sauces, and these were excellent examples of each area’s specialties, all at one place. WOW!

    I also found another place that I shall return to on my next trip to Chicago. There’s a Walgreen’s drug store that is close to our hotel–it is a skin care and makeup heaven. I’m the relative of Susie’s who, at one point, had over 300 lipsticks. I’ve pared back to about 60, but this place was like nirvana—the Dylan’s Candy store of makeup. I shall return!

    We had a wonderful trip, great meals and drinks, great company and our tour guide(s) poured their hearts into planning this.

    I didn’t have as much Ridley-time as I’d have liked, but she was a bit overwhelmed with all of these people on her sofa. She did however, lick me on the eyeball, so I felt loved!

    On the flight back to Atlanta, I did something I never do on planes–I slept. Susie’s dad and her brother always sleep on planes, but I never do. Well, this time, I took a nap, too.

    Thank you Susie for a wonderful weekend!

    love you,

    July 10, 2017 at 9:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You will be back soon. I will make sure of that. Love you!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:32 am
  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    What a fun (and delicious!) time! Can you be my chicago tour guide when I come to visit?!

    July 10, 2017 at 9:48 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Twould be my pleasure

      July 15, 2017 at 9:32 am
  • Reply Suzy

    Whoa, food. That’s…a lot of it. I’m impressed! Someone had told me that you guys don’t have Nando’s in the States. Maybe it’s just not in Washington State or something? Glad you had such a good weekend!

    July 10, 2017 at 10:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      They came to Chicago 2 (?) years ago?

      July 15, 2017 at 9:31 am
  • Reply Sarah @pickyrunner

    Saving this post for when I’m in Chicago for work (either August or September), and you’ll be getting a text from me obviously to see you!

    July 10, 2017 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply Hannah

    That all looks amazing, but banana pudding is possibly my favorite dessert of all time. And I haven’t had it in forever. That probably needs to happen soon.

    July 10, 2017 at 1:20 pm
  • Reply Ashley @ Whiskers and Weights

    All of the food looks amazing! Especially the fried pickles…I’m obsessed with those things!

    July 10, 2017 at 2:38 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I”m big on all things pickles

      July 15, 2017 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Each dish looks absolutely delicious! I could live on that charcuterie board – yum!

    July 10, 2017 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    I just ate dinner but now Im hungry again from seeing all of that! How have I never heard of pancake flights before? Brilliant. Glad you had a great weekend!

    July 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love pancake flights. Lots of places around here have them (we brunch hard in Chicago)

      July 15, 2017 at 9:30 am
  • Reply angela @ happy fit mama

    I’m not a banana pudding person but that looks so darn cute! And of course, pancakes. I need to find a flight of pancakes!

    July 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I agree that you totally do!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    You hit some pretty good spots! Lillie’s Q is yum! I actually found the sauce at Target. Who knew?

    July 10, 2017 at 8:34 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yep, they sell it all over!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Liz S.

    MAJOR yes to the gelato! Can’t beat quality frozen treats.

    July 11, 2017 at 1:03 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      This gelato was magnificent

      July 15, 2017 at 9:27 am
  • Reply

    Oof, lots to choose from. but definitely for me the fish and chips. Sorry to be such a traditionalist, but it just looks cooked to perfection.

    Glad you had such a fab weekend my friend. Great photographs and a great recap!

    Ps. My family struggle to make food decisions too. It’s the vast choice they just can’t get used to!!

    July 11, 2017 at 2:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We are sticking to restaurants from now on lol

      July 15, 2017 at 9:26 am
  • Reply Alicia @Bridges Through Life

    Looks like you had great eats and so much fun with the family. I can’t believe you haven’t been to the top of the John Hancock tower before. Then again it took me like 20 years until I did that. I still prefer the Sears/Willis tower because of the awesome glass floor lookout though.

    July 11, 2017 at 5:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      John Hancock is just more convenient!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:26 am
  • Reply Rachel @ RachandNate

    This looks AMAZING! Growing up in Indiana, we mostly heard about Chicago for its pizza. Now I’m realizing there’s a lot more there that I NEED to try sometime! Planning my trip now πŸ™‚

    July 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      We NEVER get deep dish unless someone comes here and asks to go?

      July 15, 2017 at 9:25 am
  • Reply Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    Fried pickles is totally my guilty pleasure. I basically never eat fired food, but I cannot resist them.

    I pretty much want to jump on a plane and have you recreate this weekend for me. Please.

    July 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I would be happy to oblige

      July 15, 2017 at 9:24 am
  • Reply lindsay Cotter

    I think we need to visit Chi town again. I haven’t been to but like 1 place!!

    July 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm
  • Reply Mary Beth Jackson

    WOW! Those looked like some amazing places to visit and eat! I hope I make it back to Chicago one day to try a couple of your recommendations!

    July 11, 2017 at 2:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I would be glad to provide more!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:24 am
  • Reply Kat

    I’m glad that you had such a great trip with your fam! And I totally understand what you mean about getting into little tiffs with your family – we all do it! That’s what family does – no family is perfect and anyone who tells you they are is lyingggggg. πŸ˜‰ The most important part is coming together and having a good time together – loving one another, making memories and of course, eating alllll the amazing food πŸ™‚

    July 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      They are sooooo lying. And we don’t like liars!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:23 am
  • Reply GiGi Eats

    That succulent chicken needs my mouth to suck its bones dry!

    July 11, 2017 at 8:09 pm
  • Reply Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine

    I want to eat it all!

    July 11, 2017 at 8:20 pm
  • Reply San

    I love hanging out with my family and cabin fever is a word that really never comes up when I am around them… your weekend sounds just perfect with sightseeing and all the food.

    July 12, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You and your family are always out and doing things and I love it!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:11 am
  • Reply Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I love that you guys have Nandos over there now. Everyone in the UK is obsessed with Nandos.

    July 13, 2017 at 10:00 am
  • Reply Sarah Rosenblatt

    YASSSSS I am bookmarking this post for our trip. Currently stalking all the menus of all the places you mentioned, cause it’s a slow work day, lol. Banana bread waffles at Beacon Tavern? Mind blown. Ooooh and the pancake flight! It’s happening.

    July 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is around the corner from your B&B!

      July 15, 2017 at 9:06 am

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