10 romantic Chicago restaurants for Valentine's Day

From a dark and cozy hideaway to a restaurant splurge in the middle of Lincoln Park, here are 10 romantic Chicago restaurants

0

Comments

Add +
  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    Balena

  • Photograph: Colin Beckett

    RM Champagne

  • Photograph: Clayton Hauck

    Telegraph is one of the best contemporary American restaurants in Chicago.

  • Photograph: Marzena Abrahamik

    The Bluebird

  • Photo Marina Makropoulos

    Maude's

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Most Excellent Contemporary American Restaurants in Chicago: Ada St.

  • Photograph: Nicole Radja

    HotChocolate

Photograph: Erica Gannett

Balena

What makes a restaurant perfect for romance? While the right company can make any spot romantic, we’re usually looking for spots that are quiet enough to have a conversation and dark enough to feel like you’re the only table there. Whether you’re looking for a fancy French spot or a casual mussel and beer date, here are our picks for romantic Chicago restaurants.


RECOMMENDED: Valentine's Day ideas, from romantic restaurants to cute gifts


Ada St.

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Michael Kornick and David Morton (DMK Burger Bar, Fish Bar) teamed with chef Zoe Schor (L.A.’s Bouchon and Craft) for this hybrid cocktail bar–restaurant. The room is a lovely and intimate hideaway (seriously, we got lost the first time we went), and so is the food. Schor’s deep-fried black-eyed peas are the perfect drinking snack, and her light touch with steak (dressed in nothing more than brown butter), salads and even doughnuts makes sense with the food-friendly cocktails coming from behind the bar.

  1. 1664 N Ada St, (between Concord Pl and Wabansia Ave)
More info

Balena

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Between the warmth of the room and the compelling simplicity of Chris Pandel’s food, there is something especially comfortable about Balena, the first collaboration between the Bristol and the BOKA Restaurant Group. Settle in with a few amaro cocktails (our pick: the Montenegro), share a pizza (we’re currently all about the meatball), don’t miss the smoked mackerel, and wrap things up with tiramisu (a light and sophisticated take on the staple). Finally, fall asleep on a banquette. With any luck, nobody will wake you up.

  1. 1633 N Halsted St, (between North Ave and Willow St)
Book online

The Bluebird

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This dark, cozy beer-focused tavern didn’t intend to be such a food destination, but the eats here are taking center stage. Tempting small plates, such as orange-marinated olives, Wisconsin cheddar mac and cheese and paprika-spiced wings are tough to choose from, so don’t—spend the evening grazing while sampling through the vast beer list. Don’t know good suds from duds? The staff members are pretty well-versed, and even when they’re slammed on weekend nights, they tend to field questions or offer suggestions.

  1. 1749 N Damen Ave, (at Willow St)
More info

Henri

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The second restaurant from the Gage team is as opulent as we’ve seen in some time, a place where everything, from the huge crystal chandeliers to the gracious service, has been polished to perfection. Ditto for the classic (and classically rich) dishes like garlicky escargot and roasted foie gras. All is in fine French form—especially the bill.

  1. 18 S Michigan Ave, (between Monroe and Madison Sts)
More info

Les Nomades

  • Price band: 3/4

After more than 30 years in business, this is still one of the most regal restaurants in town. Owner Mary Beth Liccioni keeps the grounds (a townhouse built in 1895) decked out like something out of Dynasty: lush fabrics, ornate carpeting, giant arrangements of flowers. But the ever-changing French-American menu, featuring items such as rack of lamb and slow-roasted veal tenderloin with seasonal accompaniments, keeps the food current (if still pretty rich). Guys, make sure you’re wearing a jacket—this is one place where rules actually mean something.

  1. 222 E Ontario St, (between Fairbanks Ct and St. Clair St)
Book online

Maude’s Liquor Bar

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Cocktailers hit Maude’s around midnight, but we make a point to get there earlier, when the kitchen is still open. That way we can nosh on butter-smooth chicken-liver mousse slathered on toast with shallot marmalade, smoky slabs of pork belly, fanned over a pitch-perfect salad Lyonnaise and roasted chicken paillard. At dessert, only crème brûlée or fancy chocolate squares are offered, a display of brass that would be maddening—if only this hot spot wasn’t so dead-on. Be sure to sit upstairs, where it's dark and perfect for cozy dates and private conversations.

  1. 840 W Randolph St, (between Green and Peoria Sts)
Book online

Mindy's HotChocolate

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Mindy Segal rehabbed her Bucktown restaurant in the spring of 2012, making it sunnier and adding a huge garage door that opens to let in warm weather. Segal—first and foremost a pastry chef—also rehabbed her approach to desserts: Now, the pastry menu consists of a seasonal cake, pudding, pie, etc., and the dessert menu changes weekly. On the savory side, little has changed. The pretzel, the burger, the mac and cheese—breathe easy, it’s all still there.

  1. 1747 N Damen Ave, (at Willow St)
Book online

North Pond

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Okay, so technically you’re not eating outside, but when you’re only a few feet from a pond in the middle of Lincoln Park, you’re as close to nature as it gets in the city. Even more so when you sample chef Bruce Sherman’s latest creations, concocted with as much locally grown organic food as he can get his hands on. Sherman’s ever-changing offerings have included Gulf Shrimp and Manila Clam with black olive Capellini, snap peas, and carrot-shrimp broth topped with pecorino and crumbs, and Alaskan Halibut served with red and white quinoa, cucumbers, bing cherries, mint, and cucumber broth—perfectly lovely reminders of the time of year in case you can’t get a window table.

  1. 2610 N Cannon Dr, (between Fullerton Pkwy and Lake Shore Dr)
Book online

RM Champagne Salon

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

You enter through an unmarked alleyway, glowing strings of lights leading you to a cobblestone courtyard and ornate parlor that resemble a Parisian hideaway. You forget where you are. You order glasses of Champagne you’ve never heard of, you gently unhinge oysters from their shells, and when dessert comes, your selection is plucked from a fanciful cart, replete with bite-size macaroons and caramels and marshmallows. Heaven? Who needs it when there’s RM?

  1. 116 N Green St, (at Randolph St)
Book online

Telegraph

  • Rated as: 4/5

Webster’s owners Tom MacDonald and Jason Normann have narrowed their focus for their second wine bar, which has a prime perch overlooking Logan Square. Sommelier Jeremy Quinn has assembled a list of pretty exciting naturally made old-world wines, and the staff that serves them couldn’t be more easy-going or attentive. Meanwhile, chef John Anderes (ex-Avec) elevates Telegraph into a full-fledged restaurant with a menu that showcases the season (e.g., summer bean salad with smoked walnut, soft egg, black truffle and mizuna) and sates wine-induced cravings (case in point: smoked pork loin with rhubarb agrodolce, sea kale and szechuan peppercorn glaze).

  1. 2601 N Milwaukee Ave, (at Logan Blvd)
More info


Users say

0 comments