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10 romantic Chicago restaurants for Valentine's Day

Chicago's most romantic restaurants include a great date in a cozy hideaway and fine dining in Lincoln Park

Photo: Colin Beckett
RM Champagne Salon is one of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago.

The most romantic restaurants are usually 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 restaurant or a casual cocktail and pizza date, these are our picks for the most romantic Chicago restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: More Valentine's Day ideas

Romantic Chicago restaurants for Valentine's Day

Ada St.

Michael Kornick and David Morton (DMK Burger Bar, Fish Bar) is working with chef Joanna Stachon (Publican Quality Meats) at this hybrid cocktail bar and restaurant. The room is a lovely and intimate hideaway (seriously, we got lost the first time we went). The deep-fried black-eyed peas make the perfect drinking snack, and a house-made linguine and a flat iron steak are great entrees, but make sure you try the food-friendly cocktails coming from behind the bar.

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River West/West Town


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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River North


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 (like the Creole), share a pizza (we’re currently all about the mortadella), 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.

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Lincoln Park

Geja’s Café

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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Lincoln Park

Les Nomades

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, with 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 mean something.

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Maude’s Liquor Bar

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.

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West Loop

Mindy's HotChocolate

Mindy Segal rehabbed her Bucktown restaurant in 2012, making it sunnier and adding a huge garage door that opens to let in warm weather. Segal—first and foremost a pastry chef—recently appointed Amanda Barnes to head up the savory kitchen, and the menu now includes lobster spaghetti and roasted chicken with a soy glaze.

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Wicker Park

North Pond

Ask for a window seat, if possible. The 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.

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Lincoln Park

Owen & Engine

The dark wood and amber sconces give the restaurant a romantic glow, with meals to linger over. Dinners are packed with a beer list to impress and hearty entrees like rabbit roulade and daily bangers and mash. Start the evening off with snacks and a board, with choices like breads, cheese, charcuterie, house-made pickles or marinated olives. Share some small plates while you wait for the entrees to arrive, and you've got a perfect date.

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Logan Square

RM Champagne Salon

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 macarons and caramels and marshmallows. Heaven? Who needs it when there’s RM?

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West Loop