Romantic Restaurants in Chicago: 15 Dining Ideas for Couples

December 16, 2022

From secret speakeasies visited by Al Capone to the soaring heights of the Sears Tower, Chicago is simply overflowing with intriguing history, culture, and art.

Besides its acclaimed museums, galleries, and gangster-fueled heritage, the Windy City has long swept away its patrons with its outstanding food scene and fancy restaurants. From dimly lit eateries in Lincoln Park to sweeping Chicago River views, romantic restaurants in Chicago bring the magic. Follow along to discover 15 of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago.

Far more than deep-dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches, in recent decades the Chicago culinary culture has exploded in popularity and relevance. In fact, even foodie bibles like Bon Appetit and Conde Nast Traveler have taken notice. Feast on seafood towers piled with shrimp and lobster, or opt for turf with a dry-aged steak.

With an abundance of Michelin-starred eateries and options for outdoor dining, Chi-town is paving the way for romantic evenings all over town. Reserve a cozy table for two at any of the best anniversary restaurants in Chicago. Or save up those calories for an extravagant tasting menu.

Whether you are seeking a moody ambiance in the West Loop or cheese fondue perfection in Lincoln Park, we have the ultimate roundup of where to score nice dinners in Chicago.

Chicago Hotels

Chi-town may be considered the midwest, but this sprawling city just oozes sophistication and class. Don’t let romantic restaurants receive all the glory during your Second City stay. Let a romantic dinner in Chicago be a precursor to a weekend or week of passion.

Take advantage of the city’s many-storied attractions, Broadway-caliber productions, and more when you extend your Chicago stay. Cuddle up in a luxurious hotel room in River North, or enjoy historic boutique accommodations just minutes from the Navy Pier.

A quick staycation is a perfect way to enhance any couple's getaway, and thankfully we have a number of luxurious Chicago Hotels from which to select. Wherever you choose to relax with your beloved, make your reservations with confidence knowing you are always guaranteed our lowest rates.

Guest Room at The James Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, USATop Romantic Restaurants in Chicago

The term romance can conjure up a number of images. From a white tablecloth to a dozen red roses, everyone has different ideas of how to express amor. Nevertheless, regardless of your tastes or preferences, everyone can agree that good food equals a good mood.

Whether you are feasting on handmade pasta or embracing steak frites on french bistro-inspired menus, romantic places to eat in Chicago will never disappoint. Prime yourself for a dazzling dining experience at any of the following eateries:

Romantic Restaurants in Downtown Chicago

NoMi

Looking to seriously impress your date or planning a special occasion supper? Snag a table at the illustrious NoMi and prepare for some heartfelt ‘thank yous.’
Swan into the dining room and soak in stunning views of downtown Chicago, the historic Water Tower, and Lake Michigan all perfectly showcased by the restaurant’s trademark floor-to-ceiling windows.

Named after its unbeatable location on North Michigan Avenue, dining at NoMi is a fully immersive experience as there is no separation between diners and Chefs.

NoMI Kitchen is heralded for its fresh take on classic dishes, including outstanding lobster beignets and a perfectly festive grilled lamb chop served with herb rice pilaf, cipollini onion piperade, and roasted grapes.

Amateur sommeliers take note, the wine list here is unparalleled, housing a number of rare and unique curated wines. First, choose a special bottle. Then request to dine in their private cellar where you can share an intimate moment with your lover.

View of the dining area along the windows at NoMi Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: NoMi Chicago via Facebook

Boka

Moody and mysterious ambiance heightened by a lush living wall only add to the divine thrill of dining at Boka.

A certifiably romantic restaurant, ideal for any love-soaked occasion, for almost two decades Boka has served as a paragon of Chicago fine dining. In its time in the limelight the restaurant’s chef, Lee Wolen has garnered over six Michelin stars, in addition to numerous James Beard nominations.

With a hyper-focus on seasonal ingredients and a commitment to creativity in the kitchen, dining at Boka is an exceptional treat.
Settle in to sample Wolen’s visionary take on American cuisine and linger over such standouts as Spanish octopus served with cauliflower, Honeycrisp, and hazelnut, or divine Sweet Potato Agnolotti basted with brown butter and accompanied with black trumpets and smoked scallop.

For a completely cuddle-worthy date moment order the Whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck for two, and wrap up the night with a seriously aesthetic dessert from their award-winning pastry program.

Dining area with black leather tables and chairs and a wall covered in moss with different shaped portraits on it at Boke in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: BOKA via Facebook

GT Fish & Oyster

Amp up the amor with an aphrodisiac-fueled lunch or dinner at GT Fish & Oyster. Nothing sets the stage for romance faster than a giant seafood tower, and the raw bar here is a thing of beauty.

If the Chi-town weather gods are beaming in your favor, settle in on the sunny patio with a specialty cocktail like the ‘Black Sazerac’ an intoxicating mix of old Overholt rye whiskey, black currant, aquavit, and Peychaud's bitters, or the ‘Scattering Skies’ which features wahaka mezcal, select apertivo, pisco, blood orange, and lime.

On a chilly night, snuggle up in one of their white leather banquets and take a moment to appreciate the refined rustic and nautical tinged decor. 

GT Fish & Oyster wholeheartedly believes in a holistic eating experience, so the drinks here were created to accompany their fresh, coastal cuisine.

Kick-off your order with an array of perfectly briny East and West coast oysters, or go for broke with a full seafood tower. Debate over who gets the last nibble of fresh-baked focaccia.

served with smoked whitefish spread before moving on to hearty mains like the grilled swordfish or the impeccable Maine Lobster Roll. 

Close up photo of oysters on ice in a glass tank with drinks and a tray of oysters in front it at GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: GT Fish & Oyster via Facebook

Bistro Campagne

Say ‘oui’ to the city of love when you spend an evening with your mon Cherie at Bistro Campagne. A trip to Paris may not be in the cards for a little while, but you can recreate the butter-induced magic of a French bistro with a visit to Campagne.

A Lincoln Square staple, Bistro Campagne has been treating Chicagoans to a taste of Paris for almost twenty years. This neighborhood spot manages to strike an effortless balance of European-inspired ambiance and low-key romance with their verdant garden patio, exposed brick walls, and draping fairy lights.

Satisfy your craving for crispy Pomme Frites when you dive into their delicious menu which is heavily committed to supporting the use of organic food products and the sustainable, low-impact agricultural movement.

Pique your appetite with the lovely Tartine aux Poires. These are made with caramelized pears, brie, pickled red onion, and arugula. Or instead, order a generous cheese plate accompanied by homemade pickles, fruit preserves, and candied pecans.

Keep the French feeling flowing when you order a classic Cassoulet or Bouillabaisse stuffed full of:

  • Monkfish
  • scallops
  • mussels
  • clams
  • prawns
  • baby carrots
  • pearl onions
  • heavenly lobster saffron broth
Exterior view of Bistro Campagne with its wooden sign above the windows in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Bistro Campagne via Facebook

Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar

Fun, and funky with a cheeky nod to Chicago’s tavern history and homestyle American Chinese cooking, Chef’s Specialty Cocktail Bar offers a delicious wave of nostalgia.

An ideal haunt for a more casual night of dining, Chef’s specializes in tropical cocktails, and American-Chinese Food elevated by ultra-fresh ingredients.

The restaurant's warm atmosphere and rotating array of music and DJ entertainment make for a trendy, fun-filled eating experience.

Transport yourself to an island oasis far away when you sip on the ChiChi Colada, a yummy concoction of mezcal, singani, lime, coconut, pineapple, and orange blossom.

Order a bevy of appetizers and entrees, as the food here is meant to be shared. Begin with the perfectly crisp, yet creamy Crab Rangoon and stuffed Wontons with pork.

Take turns stealing bites of super spicy dry chili chicken and slurping their zesty Dan Dan noodles expertly seasoned with sesame paste, peanuts, and Sichuan peppercorn. Conclude your Chinese feast with the quintessential takeaway favorite - homemade crunchy almond cookies.

Close up photo of egg rolls, dumplings and different types of sauces at Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar via Facebook

Romantic Restaurants in Chicago with a View

The Rooftop at Nobu Hotel

Many sequels and spin-offs never live up to the height of the original. However, we are happy to report that the Rooftop at Nobu Hotel in Chicago was worth the hype and then some.

Spoil your significant other with a star-worthy supper when you break bread at this A-lister endorsed restaurant and hotel.
Prime your palate for hours of pleasure as you feast on the most inventive Japanese cuisine and sample striking cocktails at one of the best Chicago restaurants for an anniversary.

Appreciate the awe-inspiring city views offered by the Rooftop, or revel in the upscale luxury of the ground floor restaurant, or mezzanine Sushi Bar. Wherever you choose to imbibe, every dish or drink here is a testament to the limitless talent of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

Savor bites of their tender yellowtail sashimi, and salmon tartar with caviar before sampling their signature Black Cod Miso and Rock Shrimp Tempura.

For a real splurge indulge in the Lobster Tempura Truffle Amazu or 12oz Dry Aged Ribeye Truffle Butter, and don’t forget to pursue their extensive sake list for an ideal imported light-bodied accompaniment.

Wide shot of the lounge area on the roof top of the Nobu Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Nobu Hotel via Facebook

North Pond

Nice restaurants pepper the streets of Lincoln Park. The stand-out, North Pond has established itself as a go-to for distinguished diners with its intimate atmosphere and astonishing views. Nestled in the heart of trendy Lincoln Park at the edge of a pond, this Michelin-starred eatery serves up dramatic city skyline sights.

Originally constructed as a warming shelter for ice skaters, today the edifice has been transformed in line with the Arts and Crafts tradition. Head Chef César Murillo works tirelessly to support local farmers and producers, selecting only the freshest ingredients to use at the peak of their ripeness.

North Pond’s cozy setting means they can only accommodate a small number of diners, so be sure to secure that dinner reservation well ahead of time.

Awaken your appetite with a seasonal cocktail such as the ‘Dark Lady; featuring Brandy and Mulled wine syrup, or keep it more traditional with the Pond Manhattan.

Their seasonal menu is always changing depending on the local offerings, but you can expect to be wowed by creative plates such as Hokkaido Scallop and beet Crudo or braised pork shank served with Colcannon Croquettes, Sea Parsley Salad, Crispy Nori Potato, and Mustard Jus. Sweet lovers don’t get too full, as their inventive desserts are well worth a nibble. Opt for a Sweet Potato and Sesame Tahini “Cheesecake”, or assuage your craving for cocoa with banana, coconut, and chocolate decadence.

Aba

Panoramic rooftop views, a historic Fulton Market locale, and a bevy of eclectic Mediterranean plates? Yes, yes, and yes! Aba’s mezze-inspired eatery is helmed by Top Chef alum CJ Jacobson and offers a stunning backdrop for a romantic rendezvous.

Gaze out over the staggering industrial cityscape under a crescendo of draping greenery, or sidle up to the interior’s marble bar for an eastern-inspired spirit or cocktail under the twinkling lights of the chandelier. 

Incorporating influences and inspiration everywhere from Israel to Greece, the go-to move here is to order tapas style and share.

Standout plates include their crispy Short Rib Hummus, Muhammara, Jerusalem Bagel with Labneh, Char-Grilled Lamb Chops, and Skirt Steak Shawarma. Gluten-free lovers can get in on the fun with an entire menu dedicated to their options.

Be sure to try out a signature cocktail, as the bar program here is run by the legendary Liz Pearce and highlights a wide variety of rare Mediterranean-inspired wines and spirits. 

Our pick for a perfect post-dinner aperitif? The Ancient Oak Espresso Martini, an exquisite rye-based vodka drink containing coffee liqueur specifically engineered to evoke the experience of New Orleans chicory coffee.

A dining area with grey chairs and wooden tables with lots of greenery surround it and a bar in the background with large light fixtures and a wall of bottle at Aba Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Aba Restaurant via Facebook

Date Night Spots Chicago

Virtue

Chef and owner Erick Willimas has put a seriously sexy spin on Virtue with his charming Hyde Park eatery.

A bright and warm neighborhood ambiance that overflows with Southern hospitality and flavors, Virtue is on a journey to create a culture of kindness and honesty.

Their menu of Southern American fare imparts familiar flavors using heritage techniques in a new and thrilling way.

Throw your own (diet) virtue to the wind. Order their homemade biscuits with pimento cheese, and green tomatoes with gulf shrimp. However, save room for the main entrees of blackened catfish. The catfish is served with Carolina gold rice and barbeque carrots. Or, instead, order the dreamiest shrimp with buttery grits.

Wide shot of the bar at Virtue with a wooden top, black stops, and bottles on a shelf hanging from the ceiling in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Virtue Restaurant via Facebook

The Darling

Searching for your very own Mr. Darcy? Envelope yourself in the restrained romance of the English countryside at The Darling.
The restaurant gives off serious ‘Bridgerton’ worthy vibes. Meanwhile, the Darling’s manor-inspired decor and dimly lit ambiance deliver an injection of posh elegance.

Be wary of their reservation-only policy. Perhaps instead, you may choose to feast at the avant-garde Library. One of the most romantic bars in Chicago, at the Library you can revel in an array of pop-up performances from musicians, dancers, and puppeteers, or partake in the movie-set-worthy Ballroom.

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Linger over libations such as the ‘secret garden’. This beverage can also be ordered in pitcher form. Or order a classic prohibition-era favorite such as the Bonfire Bee's Knees. 

Feeling particularly peckish? Then order a handful of ‘delectables’ to share such as:

  • pillowy soft vegan pumpkin gnocchi
  • portobello mushroom fries served with basil aioli
  • mouth-watering short rib and brie cauliflower crust pizza
Seating area with large leather couches and chairs on the right and a bar on the left with a fireplace in the back at The Darling in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: The Darling Chicago via Facebook

Geja’s Cafe

Is there anything more romantic than long pulls of ooey-gooey cheese? We think not! Partake in a classic fondue dinner at the legendary Geja’s Cafe in Lincoln Park. Long heralded as one of Chicago's (and America’s) most romantic restaurants, this establishment has been getting couples in the mood for over 50 years.

During your evening, enjoy candlelight, live flamenco guitar music, and a variety of four-course fondue dinner combinations all factor into fueling up that passion.

Nothing beats the communal bonding experience of fondue. Therefore, order your choice of:

  • beef tenderloin
  • Australian lobster tail
  • white shrimp
  • fresh sea scallops
  • boneless chicken breast

All combinations come with swiss gruyere cheese fondue. In addition, it is served with assorted bread, vegetables, and fruits for dipping. As well as a house salad garnished with Geja's Dijon vinaigrette.

Chocoholics will not be disappointed. Your night of dipping will conclude with a warm pot of Geja's famous Belgian chocolate fondue. In addition, it is accompanied by a variety of fresh fruit, pound cake, and marshmallows for roasting.

Close up photo of a three fondue pots with lots of different things to dip in them and two bottles of wine at Geja’s Cafe in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Geja’s Cafe via Facebook

Bordel

Who says date nights need food? Stare into your lover's eyes and complete the 36 questions that lead to love quiz at Bordel. Snuggle up on their red velvet banquets and whisper sweet nothings, as you sway along to the nightly musical offerings. With entertainment that ranges from fire eating to burlesque, soul, and jazz, there’s enough variety here to tickle anyone's fancy.

You and your paramour will flip over Bordel’s speakeasy vibe which extends to its decor and candle-lit tables. Modeled after Paris’ Pigalle and Montmartre, this Wicker Park gem will enchant any true Francophile.

Pile on even more romance with a palette-cleansing cocktail such as the Godfather or White Negroni. Got a late-night hankering for a snack? Dive into their curated menu for tons of tapas-inspired plates and sweets including croquetas Ibericas and pan con chocolate.

Monteverde 

Follow the flour! Pasta-loving partners seeking their own whimsical ‘Lady in the Tramp’ moment need only to pop on into Monteverde for the best Italian food. 

Fill up on the most delicious homemade carbs here. Each day their talented team creates a variety of handmade pasta. 

Chef Sarah Grueneberg gravitates towards Italian classics reimagined and pulls from international travel-inspired influences to experiment with bold new flavors.

Split a bottle of red in the wood and herringbone-cloaked dining room before ordering some hearty pasta. 

The Chitarra alla Boscaiola is guaranteed to leave you speechless, containing prosciutto & porcini ragù, Tuscan pecorino, artichoke, crispy chicken skin, while the ragu alla Napoletana (stuffed full of sausage, soppressata meatballs, and a large braised pork shank) is nothing short of life-changing.

Wide shot of the bar and dining room with wooden counter top and tables and a large shelving area behind the bar at Monteverde in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Monteverde Restaurant via Facebook

Romantic Affordable Restaurants in Chicago

Scofflaw

Date night doesn't always need to be a big production. Sometimes the simple thrill of getting dressed up, and savoring a deliciously cocktail in a dimly lit bar is all you need to reignite those first date butterflies.

Sidel up to your sweetie for a night of sophisticated imbibing when you snag a bar stool or table at the Victorian-inspired Scofflaw. Meanwhile, you'll enjoy a gin-focused cocktail bar located in the lovely Logan Square neighborhood. Scofflaw manages to marry baroque sophistication with a laid-back attitude.

Enjoy a ‘Bitter Lousiane’ cocktail. Or, warm up with a delicious Hot Buttered Rum before figuring out what appetizers to nibble on. 

Start with the delightful crunchy Chicken Karaage with black garlic ponzu and Lemon hummus. In addition, order the shabzi baba ghanoush to share.

Also, be sure to stick around till midnight when the bar busts out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. 

Eight different alcoholic beverages lined up on a white bar counter top with a wall of bottles behind them at Scofflaw in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Scofflaw via Facebook

Duck Duck Goat

A Chinese-inspired fever dream, the rouge-soaked interior of Duck Duck Goat immediately adds a sexy pinch of ‘eyes wide shut’ magic to any dining experience.

The brainchild of celebrated Top Chef Stephanie Izard and the restaurant group who spawned both Boka and GT Fish & Oyster, Duck Duck Goat is an Asian-inspired eatery breathing new life into the West Loop.

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Of course, every corner of this exquisite restaurant hums with visual appeal. From the jade-hued waiting area to the crimson-dripped dining spaces there is romance in every corner.

Clink glasses with your stunning companion. Meanwhile, trade sips of quirky cocktails such as ‘Boots with the Fur'. Or try the ‘Peach n’ Memes’ which features a sweet blend of:

  • Flor de Cana rum
  • Peychaud's aperitivo
  • amaro
  • peach
  • cinnamon

Fight over which delectable Dim Sum to order. Afterward, settle on some Char Siu Pork Bao, or Xiao Long Bao (duck and goat soup dumplings). Then dive into the unbelievably flaky scallion pancakes, served with shiitake slaw and hoisin.

Twirl up tasty bites of Beef Slap noodles and Map Doufu. In addition, take advantage of seasonal specials like the sensational, Peking Duck (which you can pre-order).

Close up photo of a table full of food at Duck Duck Goat in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Duck Duck Goat via Facebook

From the warm glow of candlelight to intimate booths romantic Chicago restaurants know how to set the mood.

This midwestern metropolis overflows with romantic restaurants perfect for first dates or anniversaries.

Whether you are craving an experience at Nobu or an evening of champagne and oysters by River North. Chi-town’s dining brings the sizzle for a night of culinary passion.

Did We Miss Any of The Best Romantic Restaurants in Chicago?

What do you think is the most romantic restaurant in Chicago?

Give us your suggestions for Chicago most romantic restaurants in the comments below!


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Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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