Whether you’re a native or just visiting, if you want to impress that special someone, check out these romantic dining spots and prepare for success.
Signature Room at the 95th
875 N. Michigan Ave., Magnificent Mile
Located atop the John Hancock Center, the Signature Room’s romance lies within its picture perfect views. With the city sparkling underneath a twinkling sky, couples can wine and dine as they listen to live piano music and exchange glances across a candle lit table.
The menu offers the best in contemporary American fare, including pan-seared Atlantic halibut, sautéed linguine with Gulf shrimp, and roasted rack of lamb. While the main courses are nothing short of fantastic, the desserts are to die for-try the warm Godiva chocolate cake or the white and dark chocolate mousse cake.
How about a morning after treat? Check out the Sunday brunch buffet offering more than 20 different “top quality” buffet items.
Hours: Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Crofton on Wells
535 N. Wells St., Near North
The soft hum of voices and smooth jazz are the only sounds you’ll hear in this popular near north restaurant. Minimalist décor and candle lit tables throughout create a relaxing atmosphere perfect for couples needing to escape to a quiet place or first dates wanting to get acquainted.
Crofton offers an extensive list of more than 150 wines as well as a full bar. The menu offers something for everyone, including Grilled Tasmanian King Salmon, BBQ Pork Tenderloin, and Spicy Herb and Chipotle Roasted Amish Chicken (they even offer a few vegan dishes)-all prepared with a touch of France.
* Crofton on Wells introduced a new prix fixe menu offered Monday through Saturday from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. They offer a prix fixe option of four courses for 55.00 tax inclusive and four courses with wine for 75.00 inclusive.
Hours: 5-10:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Webster’s Wine Bar
1480 W. Webster, Lincoln Park
“Intimate” and “unpretentious” is how most people describe this west Lincoln Park wine bar. Soft lighting, muted tones and comfortably spaced tables create an atmosphere that’s great for couples, conversation and first dates.
Begin by choosing from a staggering list of more than 400 wines from around the world, then select a cheese or two from Webster’s impressive list of gourmet cheeses. After sharing wine & cheese across a dimly-lit table, check out Webster’s ever-evolving dinner menu which offers soups, salads, appetizers, small entrées (Stuffed Quail, Island Mussels) and gourmet pizzas.
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday; 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday; 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Sunday
1314 W. Wrightwood, Lincoln Park
Don’t feel confused if you mistake this Lincoln Park spot for your own dining room-it feels like home because the interior of Rose Angelis mimics one. Each room offers a warm and comfortable feel à la your living or dining room. Cozy tables for two are comfortably spaced and the staff is attentive and cheerful. Feel free to dress up or down-this place caters to all.
Handmade pastas include spinach pesto stuffed with ricotta & pesto, linguini in a tomato seafood sauce with mussels, shrimp, calamari & scallops, and linguini & ravioli. The best time to go is during the week. Weekends can be a bit tricky due to the first come first served policy.
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
340 W. Armitage, Lincoln Park
The ultimate in romantic dining, Geja’s Café is fondue style eating at its best. Stepping down into this cozy and intimate dining room is like descending into your own little wine cellar. With wrought iron trimmings, low ceilings, and candle-lit curtained booths, this space is the perfect place to set the tone for the night. If romance is what you’re looking for, look no further. Geja’s is it.
Combination platters are presented in an array of colors for you to cook in your personal fondue pot while listening to one of Geja’s veteran guitarists. When all of the bread dipping (in cheese) is done, couples join forces to cook up one of many platters filled with lobster tail, shrimp, Atlantic sea scallops & aged beef tenderloin.
Hours: 5-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 4:30-10 p.m. Sunday
2116 W. Roscoe, Roscoe Village
This off-the-beaten path piazza goes a step further to bring you closer together. Live harp plays in the background as you nosh on fettuccini or rigatoni in this charming little wood-outfitted dining space. Couples and double daters will find the atmosphere comfortable and relaxing and the food consistently fresh and flavorful.
The menu offers a large selection of pasta dishes, as well as chicken, seafood, and meat entrees. The fusilli pasta with eggplant, mozzarella, tomato and dry ricotta cheese seems to be a favorite. A “carefully selected” wine list is also available.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. lunch Monday-Friday; 4:30-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday
1958 W. North Ave., Wicker Park
The hidden entrance adds to the mystique of Café Absinthe. This popular dining spot is chic, but still o’ so romantic. Exaggerated drapery, exposed brick walls and candle lit tables create an elegant and sophisticated ambiance. Sandwiched between two of the areas hottest nightspots, Café Absinthe still manages to grab your attention and keep it, making it a great place to take a hot date!
Contemporary American is the flavor here and the menu is as creative as they come. Dishes like Grilled Ostrich with avocado, Chimicurri, or Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage jus are consistently good as well as the service. Desserts are sweet, but not too heavy. Weekends can get a little crowded, so try your luck during the week. If you must go on the weekend, don’t worry; it’s well worth the wait.
Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. seven days a week
738 W. Cornelia, Lakeview/Boystown
Located right off North Halsted Street in the heart of Lakeview, Cornelia’s is easy to miss. Tucked away behind a mini-forest of lush trees and flowers, (and a few birdhouses for added effect), this absolutely beautiful little restaurant features an outdoor dining area that many consider one of Chicago’s best. Its prime location on a side street makes Cornelia’s private, cozy and serene.
The interior boasts wood paneling, an antler chandelier, and small white table-clothed tables. The atmosphere is just right for first dates-not too little, not too much. The Italian-American cuisine is flavorful and varied. With a variety of pasta dishes, chicken (an obvious specialty) and pork dishes, Cornelia’s covers all bases. There’s a full service bar and an Indonesian flavor is added to the menu during the summer months.
Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
1160 N. Dearborn, Near North
Come here for the sushi bar but the stay for the Sake Lounge at this tres chic Japanese spot. Don’t be put off by the flash and pizazz of the first level at Tsunami. You have another option: head upstairs to the second-level, where tables for two and red velvet couches replace the fit-for-large-parties tables below. Relax while you sip sake (or another selection from the restaurant’s full bar) and swallow sushi by candlelight.
If you’re dying for sushi and your date doesn’t share your enthusiasm, don’t panic. The menu offers up beef and chicken dishes as well. But with exceptionally good Dragon rolls, you’re sure to be pleased!
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sunday; 5-10:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 5-11:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
2119 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
Hand-made pastas and an all-Italian wine list set this Contemporary Italian restaurant apart from most. Located on a quiet stretch of Clark Street in the heart of Lincoln Park, Via Emilia’s elegant and inviting interior boasts high ceilings, tall windows, and white accents throughout. The environment is sophisticated without being stuffy, so you can let your guard down a bit and focus on the cuisine and conversation.
Expect a top-notch staff and excellent food. The menu offers a variety of pasta dishes made with rich sauces and perfectly seasoned meats. Sautéed or grilled fish entrees are also offered, as well as Sunday brunch.
Hours: 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (brunch) and 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
934 W. Webster, Lincoln Park
This De Paul area Italian eatery offers an intimate two room wine bar perfect for couples. With more than 30 wines on tap and more than 100 by the bottle, patrons can select the perfect wine to accompany one of Enoteca Piattini’s many tapas-sized offerings.
The menu includes a variety of pastas, steak and lamb. Though the portions are tapas-sized, they are very filling, so pace yourself. With tiramisu and rich, delicious cheesecake, you might want to leave room for dessert.
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
2100 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park
Experience a bit of amour by dining over authentic French cuisine in a laid-back, country-style environment. This homey classic’s atmosphere is always perfect for couples, whether it’s twilight or late night. The colorful exterior’s playful nature encases an entirely “French Bistro” interior.
Couples can relax and enjoy menu items ranging from roast duck to vegetarian risotto. Be sure to check out the no-fail daily specials as well, at a spot that many consider to be among Chicago’s best bistros.
Hours: 5-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday
71 W. Monroe, Loop
You’ll feel like you’re in a real Italian village in this complex comprised of three Italian restaurants (including Vivere, La Cantina, and The Village). Head straight to the topmost of the three, where couples can feel free to hold hands and exchange Eskimo kisses. The space, set up like a “quaint old European” town, features dim lighting accented with twinkling Christmas lights. Feel free to request a seat in the one of the cozy little nooks inside the village buildings.
The traditional Italian cuisine ranges from Chicken Vesuvio (highly recommended) to a variety of pasta dishes. The best time to go is later in the evening when the tourists are long gone and the bustling downtown area is quiet and relaxed. In the event of a wait, the bar is a great place to have a drink while your table is being prepared.
Hours: 11-1 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 11-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 12 p.m.-12 a.m. Sunday