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The 15 most romantic restaurants in Chicago

Upgrade date night or plan an anniversary dinner at these intimate, memorable dining destinations
Aba
Photograph: Jeff Marini Aba
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Maybe it's the candlelit tables or the lengthy wine list. Or perhaps it's the cozy booth seating that squeezes you even closer to your dining companion. The most romantic restaurants in Chicago crank up the heat and set the mood for an intimate evening out. Over the years, we've kept a running list of the city's best date-night spots—from a secret sushi haven to a fancy French steakhouse to an old-school fondue den. As an added bonus, most offer excellent wine selections and cocktail menus. These 15 eateries are excellent choices for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary dinner or any old Friday night.

The most romantic restaurants in Chicago

1
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Elske

icon-location-pin West Loop

When the name of the restaurant translates to “love,” you can expect plenty of romantic feels. So is the case at Elske, a fine-dining destination from husband-and-wife team David and Anna Posey. Fit and priced for an anniversary dinner or special occasion, this West Loop restaurant is lovey-dovey in a sophisticated way. The intimate dining room is filled with handsome wood tables, soft curtains and candlelight. The delicate, thoughtful dishes on the $85 tasting menu speak a love language of their own.

2
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, American

Bellemore

icon-location-pin West Loop

Even if Bellemore didn't serve a single morsel of food, we'd still consider it one of the most romantic backdrops in town. The sprawling interior is outfitted with rounded booths, moody artwork, funky light fixtures and plush, velvet barstools. Lucky for you, chef Jimmy Papadopoulos ups the ante with a menu of stunning seasonal fare like shaved foie gras with cocoa nib granola, caramelized brioche and persimmon.

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3
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Beatnik

icon-location-pin East Village

As far as we're concerned, there are three very different spaces within Beatnik: The light and airy front room, the funky side bar and the dark and sexy dining room. For date night or a special occasion, book a table in the latter, which is filled with massive chandeliers, pillow-lined couches and ornate rugs. A menu of shared plates that pulls from all corners of the globe will strike up conversation as you sip cocktails.

4
Bavettes1.venue.jpg
Restaurants, Steakhouse

Bavette’s

icon-location-pin River North

Brendan Sodikoff’s vaguely French steakhouse is a departure—or perhaps an evolution—for the restaurateur. While his other spots (Gilt Bar, Au Cheval) have their charms, the appeal of this spot—decked out with jazz-era decor and music—is practically universal. Diners need not be huge steak fans to get a good meal; in fact, as good as the steak frites is, both the fried and roasted chicken are even better. Elegant cocktails begin meals here; fabulous pies (lemon meringue, chocolate cream) end them.

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5
RMChampagne.OutdoorBars.jpg
Photograph: Colin Beckett
Bars, Wine bars

RM Champagne Salon

icon-location-pin West Loop

Transport yourself to Paris at this dainty West Loop hideout, where champagne flows like water and the pommes frites are always fresh. If it’s a warm summer night, grab seats on the string-light–adorned patio and order a glass of sparkling rosé to cool down. Winter diners won’t be disappointed with the sweet indoor parlor, which is dark, buzzy and decked out in candles.

6
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Aba

icon-location-pin West Loop

Come summertime, Aba is the place to be in the West Loop, thanks in part to its spacious patio that's dotted with fire pits. But for a special evening out with your partner, request a seat in the lush sky-lit dining room and order from chef CJ Jacobson's menu of Mediterranean-inspired menu. We're big fans of splitting an order of spicy hummus and a few skewers from the grill. Top off the night with crème brûlée pie, which is just as amazing (if not better) than it sounds. 

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7
NorthPond.Venue.jpg
Restaurants, Contemporary American

North Pond

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

This North Side restaurant—just steps from a pond in Lincoln Park—makes you feel close to nature and far from the hustle and bustle of the city, so it’s perfect for a date. Chef Bruce Sherman’s latest creations are 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—all delicious and just the things you may need to help you and your sweetheart forget if it’s chilly outside.

8
Gejas.venue.jpg
Restaurants, Eclectic

Geja’s Café

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

This dimly lit fondue spot is a reliably romantic date destination. The four-course Prince Geja Combination, while pricey, allows couples a chance to get cozy while experimenting with various dips. A salad starter is followed by the cheese fondue appetizer with bread, grapes and apples. Then, beef tenderloin, chicken breast, lobster tail, jumbo shrimp and sea scallops are brought out to be cooked in the tableside hot oil pot. Be sure to save room for the flaming chocolate fondue dessert.

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9
maudes00x476
Restaurants, French

Maude’s Liquor Bar

icon-location-pin West Loop

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.

10
Fruit loop donut at Dusek's
Photograph: Clayton Hauck
Bars, Gastropubs

Dusek's Board and Beer

icon-location-pin Lower West Side

There's something inexplicably sexy about having an entire night planned out to a T, so here's your game plan: Grab dinner at Michelin-starred Dusek's in Pilsen (black truffle and foie gras fondue, anyone?) before heading downstairs to basement bar Punch House for a cocktail. If you've still got some steam, belt it out at piano bar Tack Room on the ground floor before heading home for the night. 

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11
Cafe Marie-Jeanne
Restaurants, Cafés

Café Marie-Jeanne

icon-location-pin Humboldt Park

When you walk into Café Marie-Jeanne, you’re greeted by a spread of candlelit two tops. The all-day Parisian-influenced café definitely gives off the romantic French vibe, making it easy to grab a glass of wine and a plate of cheese and charcuterie to catch up over. Plus, you’re surrounded by other restaurants and bars to keep the night going after this date starting point.

12
Bars

Good Measure

icon-location-pin River North

If you like your date night with a side of punk-rock vibes and hand-cut fries, grab a booth at Good Measure in River North. The retro dive bar boasts a lineup of classic cocktails and a full dinner menu, making it a one-stop shop. Toss in a rockin' play list and sexy lighting, and you've got a great excuse to cuddle up close to your special someone.

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13
The Allis
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, Cafés

The Allis

icon-location-pin West Loop

By day, the Allis at Soho House Chicago is filled with groups of friends catching up over tea and laptop-equipped busy bees. But after the sun goes down, the hotel lobby transforms into a date-night destination, complete with candles, comfy couches and crystal chandeliers. Stay for a cocktail or two or order small plates like the lamb meatballs, snapper crudo or burrata with tomatoes and basil. 

14
Boudin Noir and baked potato bread at Parachute.
Restaurants, Korean

Parachute

icon-location-pin Avondale

Whether you’re booking a special birthday dinner for your partner or searching for ways to upgrade an otherwise-ordinary date night, Parachute is an excellent bet. The Korean-American restaurant serves adventurous bites that will keep conversation alive long after your last glass of wine. Husband-and-wife owners Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim offer an array of shareable dishes like grilled swordfish, raw scallops with Asian pear and the famous baked potato bing bread. Add this intimate spot to your fancy-night-out rotation—you won’t regret it.

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15
Anjali Pinto
Restaurants, Japanese

Naoki Sushi

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park

Romance isn’t all French fare and fondue. When done right, sushi is a passionate affair, and no one does raw fish better than Naoki. Savor fatty bluefin tuna, sea urchin and yellowtail while sipping sake-centric cocktails at this Lincoln Park restaurant. And because it’s located through a secret passageway inside the Belden-Stratford apartments, you’ll feel like you’re on a secret mission with your sweetheart.

GYG Chicago TTD

More to explore

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