Not sure what to do for Valentine’s Day? Take heart…we’ve got the recipe for romance. Here’s our roundup of the area’s ultimate date-night restaurants, from candlelit tables for two to rooms with a view. Now that’s amore. Just make sure to make your reservation soon, before your table’s taken!
For 50 years, the dimly lit wine-cellar atmosphere and live classical guitar have earned this Lincoln Park restaurant a reputation for romance. In fact, an entire page on its website is devoted to couples who’ve gotten engaged here. Seems plenty of folks want to say “I do” over fondue. Bread dipped in melted cheese and fruit covered in flaming chocolate…it’s a little rich for some people’s taste, but if you’re fond of fondue, this cozy restaurant will melt your heart. Ask for a private booth when making your reservation. 340 W. Armitage St., Chicago, 773-281-9101
No food has developed more of a reputation for romance than the oyster. Although there’s no hard evidence about its aphrodisiac effects, does it really matter? If you believe it can arouse, then it likely can—so head over to an oyster bar and give it a try. Dive into the champagne and oyster pairing at River North’s Joe Fish, a classy restaurant and raw bar featuring 10 different east and west coast oysters. 445 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, 312-832-7700
Grab your sweetie pie and make the trek through snow-covered Lincoln Park to this culinary oasis. Chef Bruce Sherman’s food is every bit as gorgeous and seductive as the restaurant…and delicious to boot! Don’t even think of passing on dessert—Greg Mosko’s innovative desserts won him the honor of being named one of the country’s five best new pastry chefs by Food & Wine magazine in 2014. When making your reservation, ask for a table near the fireplace. 2610 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, 773-477-5845
Seeking sublime seafood? Evanston’s eclectic seafood restaurant with its award-winning wine list is always a favorite for Valentine’s Day. Our readers rated it the best fine dining restaurant in our Best of 2014. Make It Better Dining Editor Julie Chernoff says, “The intimate dining room charms, the lighting is soft and flattering—perfect for a special occasion or a romantic tête à tête.” 505 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-3435
Satisfy your chocolate craving on this decadent date night. The hotel’s elegant lobby, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, hosts “Chocolate at the Pen”—an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet every Friday and Saturday night. Combine a hot chocolate bar with every imaginable chocolate creation and your sweetheart’s sweet tooth will be more than satisfied. Live jazz allows you to hit the dance floor and burn off at least a few of the calories. 108 E. Superior St., Chicago, 312-337-2888
Winnetka’s elegant French restaurant is the perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous. Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, Michael Lachowicz, crafts classic French dishes that are simply magnifique. The wine list is très bien as well. If you reserve early enough, you might be able to snag secluded booth #6. If that’s not available, ask for a table near the fireplace. Your cherie will be saying je t’aime for planning such a perfect evening. 64 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, 847-441-3100
This classic Chicago steak restaurant is a cut above the rest. Yes, its signature rib eye is to die for, but so is the service and breathtaking views of downtown Chicago. Ask for a table overlooking the Chicago River at the lower level Wollensky’s Grill. Make sure to share a slice of the decadent chocolate cake for a sweet finish to your evening. It’s an enormous slice…big enough for three people! 318 N. State St., Chicago, 312-670-9900