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The 28 most romantic restaurants in Chicago

Upgrade date night with a lovely meal at these intimate, memorable dining destinations.

Written by
Zach Long
,
Morgan Olsen
,
Allison Yates
&
Jeffy Mai
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While the quality of the food is always important, a restaurant’s design and ambiance also play a big role in the experience. That’s why at the city’s most romantic restaurants, you’ll find stunning dining rooms, dim lighting, beautiful backdrops and other intimate touches that help spark love. Some of the best eateries in town know how to set the mood. A perfect date may involve a meal at an Italian trattoria, a lavish steakhouse feast or an evening in an unexpected place (who knew furniture stores had so much allure?). Whatever you prefer, the most romantic restaurants in Chicago are sure to provide you with a charming and unforgettable time.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more romantic things to do in Chicago

Romantic restaurants in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

On the northern end of the North Pond Nature Sanctuary sits a lovely farm-to-table restaurant that’s every bit as charming as it is delicious. Housed in a building that was constructed in 1912 to be a warming shelter for ice skaters, North Pond now serves as one of the most romantic dining rooms in town. Chef Cesar Murillo highlights what’s in season with a Michelin-starred tasting menu each night but for a more affordable option, opt for the Sunday prix fixe brunch, which is priced at $49 per person. The skyline views are the cherry on top.

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Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

Brendan Sodikoff’s vaguely French steakhouse is a departure 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, and perfect for a cozy evening with your significant other. 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, and if you really feel like treating your date, you can split one of the seafood towers.

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Hyde Park
  • price 2 of 4

Helmed by chef-owner Erick Williams, Virtue specializes in Southern cuisine and seriously sexy vibes. The lights are turned down low, the playlist is always on point, the food is filled with soul and the menu boasts some excellent wines by the glass and bottle. Couples are best suited ordering a few appetizers and sides to share plus their own entrees. Save room for banana pudding studded with Nilla wafers, and request a round of Champagne with Williams.

  • Restaurants
  • Eclectic
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

This dimly lit fondue den 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 cheese fondue appetizer with bread, grapes and apples is followed by a house salad. Then, beef tenderloin, chicken breast, lobster tail, jumbo shrimp and sea scallops are brought out to be cooked in the tableside hot oil pot. Lastly, a Belgian chocolate fondue served with sweet treats caps things off. We consider that dinner and a show!

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Gold Coast
  • price 2 of 4

A furniture store might not seem like the most logical place for a romantic dining experience, but the in-house restaurant at RH’s Gold Coast location is a pleasant surprise. Push past the furniture to an atrium dotted with leafy trees and tables situated beneath chandeliers. The kitchen serves contemporary American fare like shrimp cocktails, steaks and lobster rolls. Pair your food with a glass of wine and relax in the soft candlelight after dark—and don't let the lush surroundings distract you from your date.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by heading to Piccolo Sogno’s lush, fenced-off garden oasis when weather permits. No, it’s not quite the Tuscan countryside but it’s the closest you can get without a half-day flight. Tony Priolo showcases the rustic flavors of Italy through pastas, pizzas and other staples such as bistecca alla griglia. Pair it with a bottle from the extensive Italian wine list for an impeccably romantic experience.

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Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
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  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

Boka Restaurant Group’s original restaurant has long been a paradigm of fine dining in the local scene. The warm and elegant space is fit for both a romantic date night and a special occasion. Culinary maestro Lee Wolen is the mastermind behind the menu, which focuses on seasonal American cuisine. His talents are on full display with the whole roasted dry-aged duck, a remarkable dish featuring juicy, tender meat under crisp skin that's entirely shareable.

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Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • West Loop

There’s no better reason to get dressed to the nines than having a swanky dinner at BLVD Steakhouse. The beautiful and opulent space is inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age so expect touches like crystal chandeliers and a grand staircase. Culinary director Joe Flamm complements the sophisticated setting with luxuries including caviar service, seafood towers, lobster thermidor and dry-aged cuts of beef. If you’re really looking to impress your date, splurge on foie gras or truffle upgrades for your steak.

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  • Restaurants
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

Talk about romantic! S.K.Y. owner Stephen Gillanders named his Pilsen restaurant after his wife's initials. The sweet vibes don't stop there either: The dining room is sophisticated and intimate, with jewel-toned chairs and a booth that stretches the length of the room. Better yet, the menu is infinitely shareable, with plates like Maine lobster dumplings in jade butter and black truffle croquettes with aged white cheddar.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

Hogsalt Hospitality has a knack for creating transformative spaces that are stunning and memorable. At Ciccio Mio, the company nails the look and feel of an intimate Italian supper club with dim lighting, ornate furnishings and vintage-style artwork on the walls. The food’s no slouch, either, boasting favorites like spicy vodka rigatoni, lasagna rolls and chicken parm. And if you and your date still have room at the end, the cannoncini will provide a perfect finish.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
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  • Restaurants
  • East Village

West Town’s Michelin-starred Porto boasts decor and a menu that whisks couples away to the small villages on the Atlantic coast of Portugal and the Spanish region of Galicia. While every inch of the open-kitchen restaurant exudes elegance and intimacy, dining in the main room offers a dimly-lit atmosphere accompanied by a crackling fire that fuels a wood-burning grill. Sink into soft velvet chairs and sip the Crepusculo, a dark and robust cocktail of Spanish gin, squid ink, wakame-infused honey, lemon, egg white and seasalt. You and your date can also indulge in a few small plates featuring seasonally rotating fresh-caught seafood, vegetables and jamón ibérico.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Italian food is always going to feel a bit romantic (especially when it's accompanied by a nice bottle of wine), but if you really want to heighten the mood, the magical decor at Alla Vita should do the trick. Couples can share a pizza or dig into the exquisite chicken parmigiana under rows of flowing curtains hanging from the ceiling or an indoor pergola draped with greenery. Yes, it's a difficult reservation to get, but a wonderful night with your main squeeze is worth the trouble.

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  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

There are three floors to explore at this modern riverfront steakhouse, which deals in premium cuts, decadent handmade pastas and classic Italian eats. The handsome dining room is hard to forget, but as soon as you see the views—an eyeful of the Chicago River and world-class architecture—you might have trouble concentrating on your date. Center the conversation with a bottle of bubbly and an order of tiramisu.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • 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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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

If your idea of romance includes onion-filled cheeseburgers, Miller High Life and Old Fashioneds, the Loyalist should be your new date-night spot. In all seriousness, this subterranean West Loop hideaway packs the romance with dim lighting, secluded booths, top-notch eats and, yes, one of the best burgers in all of Chicago. Your sweetheart deserves the best, right?

  • Restaurants
  • River North

There's plenty to love about chef Carlos Gaytán's splashy Chicago comeback, which acts as a portal to his hometown of Huitzuco, Mexico. The heated, all-season patio is a cozy alternative to dining indoors, but the restaurant's interior creates an otherworldly backdrop for date night. The sand-colored walls are adorned with encased natural artifacts from Huitzuco. The French-influenced Mexican fare doesn't disappoint either—just be sure to save room for dessert.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

If you love a dark and mysterious vibe, River North’s Gilt Bar features plenty of wooden walls and tucked away corners. Bathed in the soft glow of table lamps, you can sip dark cocktails like the 100 Year Old Cigar, a mix of rum, cynar, and laphroaig. Order from a menu of elevated American bar food or grab an appetizer—go fancy with tenderloin steak tartare or hearty with slow-roasted meatballs. If you stop by Thursday through Saturday, sneak into The Library, a speakeasy-inspired room with chandeliers, velvet booths and books that is only accessible via a nondescript side door in the basement.

  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

Walking into GT Prime feels like teleporting to a lavish set from Game of Thrones. The dimly lit space is filled with both masculine and feminine touches: There's taxidermy, still-life photography, glitzy chandeliers and fur-lined chairs. It's all designed to set the mood for chef Giuseppe Tentori's elaborate menu, which spans land and sea with oysters, king crab, hand-cut beef tartare and all the red meat you could ever want.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • 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 main area, 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.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop

Pulling inspiration from local music, art and fashion, Eleven Eleven aims to stimulate guests with a holistic dining experience. The menu is decidedly modern American, with touches of wanderlust throughout, including Italian and southern fare. And like its predecessor Honey's, the playlist is still bumping and the interior design is still off the charts.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • River North
  • price 4 of 4

If bonding over culinary history and culture are the key to your heart, look no further than chef Rick Bayless’s Michelin-starred Topolobampo. The lights aren’t low but the art-lined walls and dishes honoring the rich heritage of Mexican ingredients will provide plenty of conversation starters. It's Mexican cuisine at its finest, with a Michelin star to boot.

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 2 of 4

Housed in the stately 1920s-era Belden-Stratford building in Lincoln Park, French bistro Mon Ami Gabi’s simple, elegant atmosphere is in effect day and the night. Sit on the patio in warmer weather, imagining yourself at an outdoor cafe on the streets of Paris, or tuck yourself away in the dimly-lit wood-paneled walls of the intimate interior. Whether you order a filet mignon and split a bottle of Bordeaux with a new love interest or unabashedly dig into French-onion soup and ice cream-filled profiteroles, you’ll soon be calling your date “ma cherie.”

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  • Restaurants
  • Logan Square

No matter how often you dine at Daisies, you probably won't encounter the same menu twice. That's because owner-chef Joe Frillman switches things up based on what's in season at his brother's farm. Diners can expect pasta dishes that highlight the week's haul, showcasing fresh herbs and veggies. The serene back patio is a welcome respite from Milwaukee Avenue, and the indoor dining room feels extra cozy come winter.

  • Restaurants
  • Eclectic
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

If you can't take your date on a European vacation, you can at least send their taste buds on a journey through the mountain cuisines of France, Italy, Austria and Germany. Inspired by the rustic inns that provide shelter and sustience for travelers in the Alps, the menu at Table, Donkey and Stick includes charcuterie and cheese boards that are easy to share alongside heartier items like burgers and duck confit. Begin (or end) the evening by sharing glasses of Alpine wine, brandy or liqueur.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • West Loop

The interior of Stephanie Izard's Chinese restaurant in the West Loop was brought to life by design firm AvroKO, which sought to create "a dream-like version of the stores and shops that can be found in all quintessential Chinatowns in America." Every corner of the space has its own identity: There's a jade-hued room where you can wait for your table as well as a smaller dining room that's outfitted in crimson wallpaper and matching drapery. No matter where you sit, there's plenty to take in before you share dishes like xi'an goat slap noodles and veggie spring rolls with your date.

  • Restaurants
  • Lincoln Park

If your love language is raw fish, there are few cooler culinary experiences than Sushi Suite 202, which transforms a 500-square-foot guest room inside Hotel Lincoln into an intimate omakase counter. The semi-private dining destination offers a 75-minute, 17-course nigiri tasting menu that's brimming with tasty bites. If things get especially heated during your meal, it's easy to get a room once you're finshed eating.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Bridgeport
  • price 2 of 4

If your dream date night involves crispy cheese curds, duck fat french fries and a seriously upgraded Chicago dog, you've come to the right place. Chef Kevin Hickey's Bridgeport restaurant checks all of the boxes (and then some) inside a charming, pre-Prohibition era tavern. Plus, a heated tent out back offers yet another way to dine—just be sure to order a round of hot buttered cider.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Douglas

When only a proper feast will do, look no further than this Bronzeville staple, helmed by owner Peytyn Willborn-Mayes. Come summertime, you can dine on the sizable outdoor terrace and indulge in classic Italian eats, like calamari fritti and chicken alfredo, alongside some knockout seafood plates, including the fan-favorite dry rub wings.

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