Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that sneaks up on you, and if you don’t plan ahead it can be nearly impossible to secure a reservation at a restaurant. Lucky for you, I have created a list of restaurants that are perfect places to celebrate with your significant other.
Brunch Recommendations: Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year, which means that you could have brunch at a restaurant and have a quiet dinner at home. I made a point to pick only restaurants that do accept reservations for brunch.
Nellcote – The space is big and bright and the menu is Italian/European. The menu has pizza, steak and eggs, and other man friendly brunch offerings. Nellcote is very accommodating to large groups, so this would be a fun place to celebrate “Galentine’s Day” with girlfriends.
Order: The sunny side up egg pizza, which can be a fun brunch appetizer
Neighborhood: West Loop, 833 West Randolph Street
Old Town Social – The restaurant describes itself as a sophisticated parlour, and is comprised of several spaces including a cozy room with a fireplace and antique furniture which would be a great setting for a Valentine’s Day meal.
Order: The Croque Madame because anything with mornay sauce and a sunny side up egg is the best.
Neighborhood: Old Town, 455 West North Avenue
Siena Tavern – Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani has created one of Chicago best brunch menus. It is a true mix of sweet and savory, and breakfast and lunch. Some of the more popular items from the dinner menu are available too, such as Fabio’s famous gnocchi with truffle cream, fried sage, and crispy pancetta.
Order: The Monkey Bread (pictured above)
Neighborhood: River North, 51 West Kinzie Street
Summer House Santa Monica – Want to escape the Chicago cold? The airy atmosphere at Summer House makes it feel like summer even during February. The menu is American with a California influence
Order: A Hot Mess of Fries, which is fries with queso fresco, al pastor, and pico de gallo
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park, 1954 North Halsted Street
Gemini Bistro – This is one of the most under-rated restaurants in Chicago. It has been a Michelin Bib Gourmand winner for three years straight, but reservations aren’t hard to get. Gemini Bistro has the atmosphere of a neighborhood restaurant in France, it’s beautiful, and the menu features well executed classics. If you haven’t been yet, promise me that you will go.
Order: The Short Rib Ravioli
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park, 2075 North Lincoln Avenue
Balena – Often I am asked to name my favorite restaurant in Chicago, and I answer “Balena and Bavette’s”. Balena has a huge vaulted ceiling, and somehow all of that big open space makes the place seem rustic, welcoming, and romantic. The menu is modern Italian, and after many trips to Balena, I have never had a bite of something that I didn’t love.
Order: The Cacio e Pepe is a personal favorite (pictured above)
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park, 1633 North Halsted Street
Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf – Getting a reservation is a major challenge, but you could always arrive early, right when they open, and grab a seat at the bar and dine there. There are two bars, one upstairs and one in the lounge downstairs and they serve full dinner at both. The space is formal without being fancy, and the food is a triumph.
Order: The Chocolate Pie and the Shortrib Stroganoff
Neighborhood: River North, 218 West Kinzie Street
The Pump Room – This might just be the most romantic restaurant in Chicago. I just love the globe lights in the dinning room (pictured at the top of this post). The menu is eclectic, in the best way possible, meaning that there is something for everyone. After dinner, walk across the lobby to The Library Bar which would be a quiet, charming, and cozy place to end the night.
Order: The Meyer Lemon and Parmesan Tagliatelle (pictured above)
Neighborhood: Gold Coast, 1301 North State Parkway
Cocello – A sister restaurant to Bavette’s, Cocello serves Italian fare but stays away from red sauce. The space gives patrons the feeling that they stumbled upon a secret, it’s dark, and seems to be full of corners. The pastas are fresh, and the menu covers the classics while still being creative.
Order: Roman Style Artichokes (pictured above)
Neighborhood: River North, 354 West Hubbard Street
Have you tried any of these restaurants? Are there any romantic restaurants that I missed?