Chef Matthias Merges is a busy man. He's the chef/proprietor at Asian street food-inspired Yusho (2853 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-904-8558) and craft cocktail bar Billy Sunday (3143 W. Logan Blvd., 773-661-2485). He also recently opened A10 (1462 E. 53rd St., 773-288-1010, a10hydepark.com), a French-Italian bistro. But Merges (a Charlie Trotter alum, by the way) manages to spend some time out of the kitchen exploring Chicagoland with his wife, Rachel Crowl, and their two daughters Gretl, 12, and Tatum, 9.
"As a family, we love camping and hiking. It's difficult to find a trail or park which offers a total outdoor hiking experience like this trail does." 6300 W. Devon Ave., Norwood Park.
"We're dog lovers, so when it's warmer, we bring our Saint Bernard, Jupiter, here for a romp in the lake. We'll pack a picnic and just hang out on the beach." Wilson Avenue at Simonds Drive.
"The Museum of Contemporary Photography is great, since our kids are interested in photography. The location gives us direct access to run around Grant Park as well." 600 S. Michigan Ave., 312-663-5554.
"No one treats kids as special as Jason Hammel does at Lula's in Logan Square. The food and vibe are wonderful in this intimate cafe." 2537 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-489-9554. lulacafe.com.
"We spend a lot of time here. There are great cooking demos, wonderful vegetable and herb gardens, and thoughtful art installations throughout the year." 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, 847-835-5440.
Carnitas Don Pedro
"My girls love going to Pilsen to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W. 19th St., 312-738-1503). Afterward, we always eat right nearby at Don Pedro's. Every time we visit, they get a tour of the kitchen where they view the huge vats of frying pork." 1113 W. 18th St., 312-829-4757.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun