Nibbles Play Cafe review

Last week I made the trek out to Wheeling to meet up with a friend for a long-overdue playdate. I’d been to Nibbles Play Cafe before, but it was time for another visit. It’s a great concept–and at $5 admission per child ($3 for siblings) with no wait time or frenetic registration requirements, it’s a no-brainer.

We went during the post-nap lull of the day, which was perfect: fewer kids to battle for dibs on the train table. Which, surprisingly, is not where Wookus spent most of his time. He beelined toward the play kitchen before I could even take his hat off. The staff member-barista-concierge politely asks you to sign in (your name and children’s names) and enters your name into their computer. You don’t pay admission until you’re on your way out in the event that you’ll add coffee or a kid’s meal to your tab.

Which–I promise–you will, because the hours you spend there and the energy your rugrats burn are inevitable (and hit their peak right when they fire up a new batch of cookies in the oven. Funny how that works.) The space is huge–hey, it’s the ‘burbs–and features the play area along one wall, leaving the rest of the place open for parents to park, sip an Intelligentsia brew, or munch on a savory sandwich. Kids are free to bring toys into the eating area, of course, but there really is no need to; the play area is sectioned off into four  door-less “rooms”–pretend play, train table, baby/non-walkers room, and construction zone–for variety, easy access, and low attention spans.

Wookus was definitely kept entertained. I was worried that Mister would be too old to enjoy it, but he was digging it too. After an hour or so they came running for a snack, so we sat and refueled. We also asked for an arts and crafts tray (no extra charge), which turned out to be  a complete craft kit: stamps, crayons, stickers (the puffy, expensive kind–hey, it’s the ‘burbs), and a “wand” to decorate (straw taped to a star cut-out).

It’s n0 mini-children’s museum, so don’t expect it to be. But for two harried moms desperate to get out of the house and into an inviting environment for both parent and child, it’s perfect.



The train table has an adorable bug theme. “If we had Thomas, we’d be breaking up fights every other minute.”


Adorable! Pieces are Nuchi brand.

A corner of the pretend play area and the site of a pint-sized catfight. Another post for another time.

The magnet wall, part of the construction zone


Back area booths. A ton of seating throughout.


My Top Chef in the making


One of the rooms. The bins held legos, small animals, and books. A little meh, but at least it’s an option. You can see the “wall” on the left that separates each play “room”.


A cute little detail in the baby room. It frustrated Wookus to no end, though. “Why door no open?!”

Construction zone with velcro ball-drop-maze thing.


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Filed under boys boys boys, chicago, parenting

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