By Cathy McNulty
Recently my husband and I, in an attempt to shake those winter blues, took our two sons (ages 4 years and 18 months) to the All Aboard Diner located in Downers Grove just off of I-355. After spending all of winter “dining” in various places geared toward children, we walked into the place expecting a terrific atmosphere for the kids, okay service and mediocre food. I am happy to say we were pleasantly surprised.
As a diner that focuses on providing a family orientated atmosphere, All Aboard pulls out all the stops to make families feel welcome. High chairs and booster seats are fixed to help kids sit right up at the counter, where a train will soon deliver their meal. There are coat hooks towards the back of the diner so that you don’t have to have all that bulk crowding your own seat. This might be something that only a mom would notice, but you can relax while using the toilet with your little one in the room, because the lock is high up on the door. There’s no need to worry about your child unlocking the door before you are ready! Also, there’s a step stool by the sink to make it easy for your child to wash their own hands. Of course, besides these family friendly amenities, the entire diner is decked out with trains!
As soon as your child enters the diner he can watch and interact with a train set right at their own level. There are a ton of buttons just calling out to children to be pushed. One will move the train, another the tree swing, another will sound the whistle, and so much more! There’s also a train track set up high, near the ceiling, with a train constantly circling around the diner. Of course, let’s not forget the train that circles the counter. The most important train of all, delivering meals and desserts! These trains managed to keep my 18 month old occupied while we waited shortly for our food and while we were eating.
My husband and I were surprised by the selection offered on the menu. Wraps, burgers, salads, soup, sandwiches, and dinners geared towards adults filled two and a half pages of the menu. All Aboard Diner also has a beer and wine bar. I ordered the Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wrap and a Miller Lite. The wrap, served with my choice of fries, fruit, or chips, was delicious. Just spicy enough to keep my mouth watering, but not too spicy I couldn’t eat it. My husband order the Chopped Steak dinner and before I had a chance to ask for a taste, his plate was cleared. The children’s menu offered a wide variety of choices, surely the most picky eater could find something they like there. The menu included: cheeseburger, burger, cheese pizza, hot dog, corn dog, chicken nuggets, chicken fries, macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese bites, and popcorn shrimp! My oldest son order his usual – a cheeseburger. He was pleased because the beef wasn’t bigger than the bun, the bun didn’t have seeds on it, and it didn’t fall apart while he was eating! We ordered the macaroni and cheese for my younger son. He was pleased because it looked and tasted very similiar to the stuff I make at home. All of our meals were prepared in their peanut free environment! Overall, we were so surprised by the quality of the food – delicious!
The service here was excellent. From the time we entered the diner until the time we left we were all made to feel very welcome. The servers were attentive to our needs. There were a few people there celebrating birthdays – what fun that was! The “food train,” as my son called it, would deliver a birthday ice cream treat while a birthday song was played over the intercom. The staff would all sing along and clap for the birthday person (both birthdays were adults!). All children get to pick out a train whistle (it’s not that loud) and a ring when it’s time to go home, which makes getting out and to the car just a little bit easier when your little ones don’t want to go home!
All Aboard Diner also has a party room and is available for birthday parties. The guests will first eat their meals at the counter, then adjourn to the party room for cake, ice cream, and presents.
I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone with children (girls or boys) and to any adult train buffs! Chicagonista readers can enjoy 10% off of their meal just by mentioning this article! Discount available only for meals and cannot be applied to parties.
This is an original Chicagonista article.
Cathy McNulty is a part-time teacher and a full-time mom. You can find out more about Cathy at McCathy’s Tub.
About the Author: Cathy McNulty is a part-time teacher and a full-time mom. You can find out more about Cathy at McCathy’s Tub - http://www.mccathy.blogspot.com/.