Best-of Guides Chicago

Most Romantic Restaurants In Chicago

5 Restaurants
Upmarket and budget-friendly Mexican, warming house-made pastas, and brewery fine dining await for date night in Chicago.
Updated on 01 February 2023
445 N. Clark St., 60654 Chicago
$$$$ · Mexican

This jewel in Rick Bayless' crown welcomes a rush of diners for original Mexican food with an upscale twist. While you have to walk through cacophonous Frontera Grill to get here, the serenity that greets you is well worth it. The regional menu, boasting a panoply of flavors and textures, spins with the seasons all the while highlighting local cuisines and holidays. Though each dish is rooted in tradition, there's no shortage of flair, as in kampachi sashimi decked with the flavors of street corn. There's also a canon of sauces treated with appropriate reverence. To wit, Oaxacan mole chichilo is a symphony of dried chiles, nuts and spices, and makes a sublime counterpoint to lamb loin.

Gilt Bar
230 W. Kinzie St., 60654 Chicago
$$ · Gastropub

Doughnuts, dry-aged steaks, and house-made pastas—this restaurant excels at big plates and bold flavors. We're hooked on the fried chicken that arrives with a golden-brown crust and rich mashed potatoes and the beef cheek pot pie with bone marrow gravy? You won’t have room for dessert, but order it anyway. A towering slice of carrot cake with spiced cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut counts as a vegetable anyway, right? The bar up front mixes cocktails to a metronomic rhythm, while the back feels more intimate with studded leather banquettes and nostalgic lighting.

Maple & Ash
8 W. Maple St., 60610 Chicago
$$$$ · Steakhouse

Deep-set leather couches, clubby music and even a photo booth lend this multilevel marvel an irresistible party vibe. The restaurant is set to the soft glow emanating from the semi-open kitchen, where a wood-fired hearth lights up dry-aged steakhouse classics, cut to generous proportions. Seafood lovers will find plenty to mull over too, like a tangle of octopus and squid, prepared in the wood-fueled oven and served with dill yogurt, arugula and roasted potatoes. Then, a fire-roasted seafood tower is brought tableside, featuring lobster tail, scallops, Manila clams and king crab, all bathed in garlic butter, chili oil and served with house-made pasta.

Moody Tongue
2515 S. Wabash Ave., 60616 Chicago
$$$$ · Contemporary

Chef Jared Wentworth and brewmaster Jared Rouben have envisioned a unique showcase, whereby a hyper-seasonal and creative menu is brilliantly matched with a virtuosic array of house-crafted brews. Discreetly perched atop the working brewery, this is a contemporary if at times austere dining room. Beverages are an equal partner to the food and even woven into the fabric of the elevated cuisine. Indulge in such innovative creations as gently poached Maine lobster in spiced tomato water, followed by seared Hudson Valley foie gras with burnt peach dashi. A dark chocolate cake with toasted rye ice cream will lift your spirits and have you returning for more—perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

Chilam Balam
3023 N. Broadway, 60657 Chicago
$$ · Mexican

This cozy subterranean space feels like an undiscovered hideaway, but the secret is officially out. Familiar favorites and seasonal specials make for a festive spread of adventurous yet universally pleasing dishes, like roasted plantains set over a layer of cottage cheese and topped with salsa macha (made from sesame seeds and peppery dressed watercress). Achiote-marinated beef empanadas with a habanero-spiced pineapple tatemada salsa show an in-depth understanding of flavors; while peanut butter empanadas—primed for dipping in Oaxacan chocolate sauce and dulce de leche—take a childhood delight to new heights.