It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which means you’re probably on the hunt for a romantic restaurant (that still has an open reservation). We have eight of the best in Chicago detailed below, but our suggestion? Book a table at one of these fine establishments literally any day other than February 14. Whether it’s a first date, anniversary or just because, intimate evenings of wine and shared plates should be fair game all year long. No matter the occasion, or date on the calendar, these restaurants won’t let you down.
Couples have been flocking to Michelin-starred Sepia since it established itself within an 1890s print shop in 2007. Chef Andrew Zimmerman, who has been the lead chef there since 2009, favors local artisan growers using sustainable practices for his ingredients, which leads to dishes rooted in tradition with a contemporary flair. Pair them with wine — the list emphasizes artisanal winemakers with Sommelier Alex Ring at the helm — and you’ve got a restaurant where you can’t go wrong with anything you order, or anyone you bring.
This is the place to go for a celebration. They have a four-course fixed menu ($88 per person), and the staff goes above and beyond to help you celebrate with bottles of bubbly and cards from the staff. It’s a Michelin-starred restaurant that pays homage to the Middle East with a farm-driven Midwestern twist. Online reservations for the Lincoln Park restaurant open on Resy every 30 days, and it fills up quickly.
It’s a new rooftop restaurant in the Loop from celebrity chef Fabio Viviani (he was the sexy one from Top Chef). The menu is filled with delectable small plates ranging from the smoked Moroccan chili wings to the house pork belly bacon, which will leave you drooling. Don’t skip the provocative cocktails: Order their Running With the Bulls (bourbon, tempranillo, vanilla and blackberries), and you may just want to skip dinner entirely.
Where to Go for the Best Brunch in Chicago Right NowDecadent French toast? Or top-tier fried chicken? It’s all on the menu.
There are a few reasons why this restaurant made the romantic list. It’s an outdoor patio with Chicago skyline views (and the indoor area is also chic and fun). They serve upscale yet authentic Chinese food in a very beautiful space. But the biggest reason why Shanghai Terrace is on the list: it’s a quick elevator ride away from a room at the Peninsula Hotel.
Is your idea of romance cozying up by a roaring grill and indulging in fire-kissed steak and seafood? Then El Che is the place for you. Add to that a 100% South American wine list, and this restaurant’s sex appeal is off the charts. Stop in for the happy hour (every day but Saturday, from 5 to 6 p.m.) for some grilled oysters, bone marrow and sangria for some romance on a budget.
Ask any Chicagoan for a list of the most romantic restaurants, and odds are that Geja’s Cafe will make an appearance. This fondue spot has been hailed as the engagement destination for maybe 99% of Chicagoans, as the super cozy, dimly lit space, complete with shared cheese and Belgian chocolate fondue, will make you want to share your life with the person touching skewers with you.
Designed to evoke an Italian supper club, Ciccio Mio is artfully lit with chandeliers, sconces and lamps, and peppered with velvet couches and ornately framed oil paintings. And then there’s the food. The orecchiette pugliese (spicy pork sausage, pasta, broccoli rabe and parmesan) will live in your dreams, while the mushroom carbonara is rich, decadent and meant to be shared.
Be prepared for a very intimate evening at this 28-seat dining room. You’ll be dining on a tasting menu complete with oysters, caviar, foie gras, lobster — basically the best of the best. Michelin-starred Executive Chef Jared Wentworth takes care of his guests, and each dish can be paired with Moody Tongue’s legendary beers.
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