The 20 Sexiest Restaurants for a Romantic Date Night in Chicago

Up your Valentine’s Day game at sexy hotel lounges, fine dining destinations, and scenic waterfront bistros.

These days, it seems like nights out on the town are more special than ever. Thankfully, Chicago has plenty of options to round out your romance itinerary, each of them monitoring the city’s COVID climate and planning accordingly—meaning all you two have to do is mask up, flash your vax card, and chow down (and, ideally, really dig each other). Simple as that.

Whether it’s a first date or a decades-long anniversary, treat your chosen company to a meal at any of these standout romantic restaurants—all surefire bets for impressive eats, solid drinks, and intimate vibes.

Information listed here may be subject to change depending on the developing situation with COVID-19's Omicron variant. Please check for the latest updates available or contact each establishment directly for more info.

Travelle

River North
$$$$

Located within the tony Langham Hotel, this downtown draw boasts undeniable elegance. Couple those vibes with the refined culinary approach employed by chef Justin Gomes, and you’re looking at a top-tier night out. Beginning February 11 (on Fridays and Saturdays only), parties up to six can book the restaurant’s wine cellar for a private five-course experience featuring items like Werp Farms Sunchoke with jasmine tea, Scallops with yuzu kosho and citrus, and New Zealand Venison with beet, pumpernickel, and cherries. If you’re looking to dine in the main space, request one of the tables along the window to enjoy captivating views of the skyline and Chicago River below.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

RPM Seafood

River North
$$$$

Meet Lettuce Entertain You’s nautical gem, a glistening seafood emporium where the neighborhood’s see-and-be-seen crowd slurps down chilled oysters laden with tart yuzu granita and other oceanic delights—not to mention choice steaks, pastas, and cocktails. Considering the epic waterfront views, it’s pretty much the top dinner-and-a-show deal in town.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

avec

Multiple locations
$$$$

This long-revered Mediterranean-influenced fixture from One Off Hospitality has held it down as one of the area’s go-to date night spots since opening its minimalist doors back in 2003, well before many of us could even define romance. And the hits just keep on coming—avec got busy during the throes of the pandemic, adding a massive and gorgeously appointed new outpost in River North to the family, coupled with an incredible rooftop patio with all the fixings (come warmer months). Regardless of location, the natural-leaning wine list is still spectacular and the Chorizo-stuffed Medjool Dates are still iconic (not to mention addictive).
How to book: Reserve via Tock (West Loop, River North).

Virtue

Hyde Park
$$$$

Chef-owner Erick Williams seriously upped Hyde Park’s restaurant game when he opened this welcoming, sophisticated outpost back in late 2018. Bring your bae to explore Williams’ thoughtful menu, following along as he traipses through Southern cuisine’s multi-faceted history while also managing to throw in a few modern touches. Case in point? Liver & Onions, a cheeky ode to the family-friendly fixture featuring chicken liver mousse topped off with sweet onions and bacon.

Available for Reservations

The Bristol

Bucktown
$$$$

Chef Larry Feldmeier helms the kitchen at this Bucktown mainstay, where he serves elevated American cuisine that he changes on the regular to reflect the season’s best. Take, for example, Endive Salad with beets and carrots or Roasted Duck with winter giardiniera (plus, a tempting medley of handmade pastas). For the full effect, opt for the eight-course tasting menu, a showcasing of the team’s dedication to pristine ingredients and thoughtful flavor combinations.

Available for Reservations

North Pond

Lincoln Park
$$$$

It’s easy to feel the romance at this long-standing outpost, situated alongside Lincoln Park’s tranquil North Pond. What once served as a former warming house for skaters has been transformed into an Arts and Crafts-style space that ushers in couples celebrating anniversaries and special occasions throughout the year (not to mention more than a few engagements). Chef César Murillo serves a four-course tasting menu that celebrates seasonality, with exemplary options like Wild Caught Busan Crab with rutabaga and grapefruit, or Halibut en Papillote with blue mussels, braised fennel, and crispy Rozette potatoes. Post-dinner, bundle up for a stroll through the park while basking in the sweeping skyline views.

Available for Reservations

Claudia

Bucktown
$$$$

Housed in a charming 1880s-era cottage, this fine dining destination beckons daters to the heart of Bucktown for a memorable prix-fixe menu from chef Trevor Teich. The team intends to tell a story throughout the 10-course journey, each one serving as its own chapter (a tale you’re tuned into from the start with dishes like Tuna Tartare with caviar and truffle dashi). Those seeking a particularly heightened experience can spring for the Chef’s Table menu, featuring upwards of 15 courses alongside front row kitchen seats, while those craving an a la carte option can find it at the bar via compositions like Lobster Pot Pie and Prime Tenderloin accompanied by more than 100 classic cocktails.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

Boka

Lincoln Park
$$$$

Dreamy artwork, a lush living wall, and moody lighting entice diners to this Lincoln Park hotspot, the first in the ever-increasing Boka Restaurant Group portfolio. And then, of course, there’s the food—chef Lee Wolen’s take on seasonal American cuisine, as evidenced by options like Kampachi Crudo, Grilled Spanish Octopus, and the date-night pinnacle: Whole Roasted Dry Aged Duck for two.

Available for Reservations

Sepia

West Loop
$$$$

Get swept away in the whimsy of this former 1890s print shop, which was renovated in an Art Nouveau style (complete with custom tiling and hand-crafted millwork). Travel back in time with a round of cocktails at the bar, classically inspired and served in vintage glassware, then make your way through chef Andrew Zimmerman’s bill, a collection of carefully composed plates with plenty of French twists. Headliners include Berkshire Pork Confit with cherry mostarda and Country Fried Truffle Chicken with chanterelles, among others.

Available for Reservations

Roka Akor

Multiple locations
$$$$

Sharing is just easier with sushi—and it only gets better when said sushi is famously delicious. Track it down at this tri-location venue, where rolls like Crispy Spicy Tuna and Dynamite Scallop entice alongside larger entrees like prime-cut steaks and Yuzu Miso Marinated Black Cod. For a splurge, opt for the multi-course omakase, and whatever you do, don’t skip out on the Ube Pot De Crème, a lush finale of smooth custard made with the strikingly purple Filipino yam that basically screams Instagram gold.

Available for Reservations

GT Fish & Oyster

River North
$$$$

Book a table here, and prepare to dive headfirst into chef Giuseppe Tentori’s enticing raw bar: East and West Coast Oysters plucked fresh from the depths, tender Tuna Poke dressed with mango, cucumber, and black sesame, Chilled Mussels and clams, plump lobsters, juicy crab legs, and more (including some decadent seafood towers). Luxe caviar spreads and hearty mains (think Seafood Cavatelli and Grilled Swordfish) are on deck to round things out.

Available for Reservations

Bistro Campagne

Lincoln Square
$$$$

Had to cancel your romantic Parisian getaway this summer? Tout baigne—head over to this Lincoln Square gem and recreate the magic with all the trimmings of a traditional French bistro. A hefty cheese plate kicked off with violet mustard, house pickles, fruit preserves, candied pecans, pink peppercorn honey, and grilled sourdough? Check. The best Pomme Frites this side of the Seine? Double check. Bon appetit, mes amis.

Available for Reservations

This Bucktown charmer pairs expertly crafted tipples with all the comforts of American-style Chinese food prepared with cheffy know-how and ultra-fresh ingredients. Expect pillowy Crab Rangoon, Wontons stuffed with pork, ginger, garlic, Thai chili, and black vinegar, Crispy Tofu doused in housemade sweet and sour sauce, Dan Dan Noodles with ground pork and zesty Szechuan peppercorn, and all the warm Almond Cookies you can handle. Throw in a few stellar sips and a dessert to split (e.g. the Chef’s Special Sundae), and you’ve got one hell of a date night.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

River North
$$$$

Sexy speakeasy vibes set the tone at this lauded chophouse, complete with classic cocktails, huge hunks of prime beef, mouthwatering traditional sides with a modern twist, and a dimly lit, uber-romantic space for all your lovin’ needs. Snag a reservation online and go Dutch on a 22-ounce Dry Aged Bone-in Ribeye accompanied by a selection (or two) from the bar’s locked and loaded Martini menu.

Available for Reservations

Piccolo Sogno

West Town
$$$$

Neighborhood folks in the know have long flocked to this River West charmer, beloved for its seasonally driven lot of fresh, hand-formed pasta dishes and rustic secondi courses (hello, String Cut Black Spaghetti with Mussels, Clams, Shrimp, and Calamari). An impressive, Italian-centric wine list, served both by the glass and the bottle, act as the ideal symphonic accompaniment to the cuisine’s intoxicatingly melodic delivery.

Available for Reservations

RL Restaurant

Streeterville
$$$$

If you thought Ralph Lauren only sold polo shirts and teddy bear sweaters, think again. This handsome Streeterville classic has been around for ages, supplying wayward shoppers with the fuel they need to keep those credit cards swiping. Much like the prep-centric brand, the dining space here is comfortably upscale with a hint of old-school class—white tablecloths, Champagne flutes brimming with White Peach Bellinis, and overstuffed Maine Lobster Rolls centered proudly on elegant dishware.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.

Aba

West Loop
$$$$

This Mediterranean-inspired eatery from Top Chef alum CJ Jacobson and Lettuce Entertain You boasts one of the most pristinely decorated and spacious rooftops in town. Share in the spoils of your couples goal success with stacked mezze plates like Crispy Short Rib Hummus, Ahi Tuna with Watermelon, Chicken Kebab, Grilled Skirt Steak, and more, all set ablaze by one of the cocktail team’s brilliant creations.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

The Duck Inn

Bridgeport
$$$$

For a chill date night out, this celebrated Bridgeport tavern is the stuff dreams are made of—especially if said dreams involve chef Kevin Hickey’s signature Duck Inn Dog, a satisfying combination of beef and duck fat smothered in Chicago-style fixings. Served on a poppy seed brioche bun, you’ll probably want to pack extra floss, just in case.

Available for Reservations

Next

West Loop
$$$$

This ever-evolving fine dining experience from the multi-Michelin-starred Alinea Group has all the makings of a special night out. Always creative and dependably mouth-watering, the ticketed prix-fixe menus highlight culinary traditions, trends, and curiosities from around the globe. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming culinary excursions.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

Prosecco

River North
$$$$

This all-too-often overlooked gem has been quietly peddling a steady stream of refined Italian comforts alongside a Bible-thick list of top-notch wine since 2007. Grab a table and ready your taste buds for an intoxicating Eat Pray Love-esque journey through the rolling hills of Tuscany, the canals of Venice, and the manicured vineyards of Piedmont by way of River North. (Passport not required.)

Available for Reservations
Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.