Romantic dining in Chicago: cocktails, candles and exceptional cuisine

For decades, Chicagoans' go-to restaurants for romance involved stunning views (think Signature Room on the 95th Floor of John Hancock Center, Spiaggia and newcomer, Gibsons Italia. Or the old reliable Geja's Cafe for spinning melted Swiss or chocolate around a bread cube or a strawberry. All nice ideas, but they're everyone's ideas so book your table months in advance if you thinking of a Valentine's Day experience. 

Our list recognizes that for every couple that goes for a dark, hushed room another gets the fuse lit by an airy elegant space; and while oysters and chocolate are the de rigueur choices for friskiness, some have a shared affinity for anything but the expected. 

Ella Elli, topping "hot" lists from Zagat to Chicago Magazine, is a 75-seat restaurant dotted with sofas, two-person bar stools and alcoves seating for a sexy getaway from the bustling Southport Corridor. If you want to witness the physical incarnation of "connection," get to Artango in Lincoln Square and feel the endorphins. Let's not forget about the animal magnetism of a nicely charred steak, either, whether a cowboy cut or a slab of cauliflower. Chicago has it all. 



RM Champagne is an intimate and well-hidden nook of nookie with a decidedly French menu of victuals and an impressive Champagne selection. RM does not refer to a local restaurateur like Rich Melman or old timey casanovas ala Ricardo Montalban....  Read More

Signature Room at the 95th

It's way up there (on the 95th floor of John Hancock Center), it's famous and the views are genuinely breathtaking. But how's the food? Jamaican-born Executive Chef Cardel Reid helms the kitchen these days offering refined takes on classic...  Read More

It's not the whirlpool suite at the airport motel that was named the "Ultimate Romantic Dipping Place in North America" (by Food Network) - it's Geja's Café, the fondue sharing cavern that finds its way on many "romantic" lists from OpenTable...  Read More

Osteria Langhe
Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Osteria Langhe

The casually romantic eatery serves truly authentic Italian food in the cozy dining area lined with white lights and candlelit tables. Best known for fresh pasta (which Chef Cameron Grant learned how to make in Langhe, Italy (near the border...  Read More

Artango Steakhouse and Bar exudes romance from the dimly lit, stunning atmosphere to its Argentinian chef-driven menu by Saul Roman. Located in historic Lincoln Square, the restaurant aims for a passionate, sensory experience through...  Read More

Gold Coast

A sultry space, Maple & Ash showcases Art Deco-inspired flourishes and ornate decor insuring there's enough to look at around the room as well as across the table. The 12-foot open hearth means wood-fed flames impart rustic scents and full...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Anthony Tahlier)

Open in late 2017, Bellemore is a chic new concept that may define romantic dining at this edge of the 21st century. Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos presents painterly American dishes that have already become Instagram famous i.e. Oyster Pie, savory...  Read More

GT Prime
Photo courtesy of Boka Restaurant Group

GT Prime feels like a film set with details like a crystal chandelier and soft faux fur upholstered chairs. You wouldn't be surprised if Allie and Noah from The Notebook were seated next to you. Even the chef's name, Giuseppe Tentori, evokes...  Read More

Lake View
Ella Elli
Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography

After years of food trucks, fast-casual food halls, take-out and stand-up noshing, date night is back as evidenced by the raves elicited by the new Lakeview sizzler, Ella Elli. Amid a chic 1920's inspired interior, couples choose among private...  Read More

Gold Coast

Even when the temps outside hover in the single digits, it's tropical Southeast Asia in the 1920s inside the doors of Le Colonial, a French-Vietnamese gem on the Gold Coast. Ensconced in a lovely vintage rowhouse, the space is dressed in...  Read More


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky