Two Forest Park restaurants with a special spot in the hearts of local kids won coveted top spots in Chicago Parent magazine’s January “Best of the Best” issue. Three thousand readers took part in an online survey to select the best in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs in 25 different categories. 

(The Chicago Parent is published by our Wednesday Journal Inc. family of publications, which also publishes the Review.)

Readers picked the Junction Diner, 7401 Madison St., as the “Best spot for playdate lunches.” Criteria for the best playdate included a place for kids to run around — while parents get to chat. Adult-friendly fare was critical, as well as kid-pleasers. “Little ones are captivated by choo-choos while parents chow down on salads and burgers and the famous Pot Roast sandwich,” said the review. 

Perhaps their Madison Street wine and beer license helped the Junction beat out Little Beans Café in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. They also beat Little Monkey Bizness in Wheaton and Western Springs and Independence Grove in Libertyville. 


Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, 7347 Madison St., won the readers’ choice for “Best place for a sweet escape.” The shop’s turn-of-the century cinema décor was praised as “a side of nostalgia with a cherry on top.” Brown Cow went down to the mat with some Chicagoland heavies in the sweet shop/ice cream contest, beating the venerable Margie’s Candies in Chicago and Sweet Mandy B’s in Lincoln Square. Brown Cow also beat the chains Scooter’s Frozen Custard and Dairy Queen. Brown Cow was voted one of America’s best ice cream parlors by U.S. News last summer.

Other categories in the “Best of the Best” included: “Best place to forget you have kids” (Girl and the Goat); “Best museum overnight” (Shedd Aquarium); “Best place to warm up” (Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum); “Best place to get your game on” 31st St. Beach and playground) and “Best spot to act like a kid” (Chicago Children’s Museum). 

Chicago Parent’s “Best of the Best” issue is available now around Chicago or online at

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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