Whether you’ll be among the roughly 14 million who are expected to propose on Valentine’s Day or you’re in that beginning flushing, gushing stage of amour, a plan for the night shows your love interest that you care. Since Valentine’s Day, 2017 falls on a Tuesday, many restaurants will offer special options over a long weekend, so snagging a spot may not be that dicey.
350 North State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
You know all about the tortoise – he started off slowly but eventually won the race – which has some relevance in the game of love and choosing a romantic restaurant. If you love supper clubs, you needn’t trek to Wisconsin, just north on State Street for the Chicago-focused Tortoise Club. Dark wood accents, dim lighting and blazing fireplaces will mean you won’t have to use Instagram filters for the two of you to look like a million while dining on classic but elevated shareable supper club items: plump oysters, bracing shrimp cocktail, and a relish tray that puts Wisconsin clubs to shame with marinated olives, Sopressata, Mozzarella, pimento cheese and pretzel toast, bread and butter pickles, pickled golden beets, house-made mixed nuts. Expect Valentine’s Day specials perfect for sharing, too. There’s live jazz played upon the 1919 Steinway Grand piano and book early for a table in the sexy Red Room filled with books acquired from Chicago’s Newberry Library.
4767 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
Champagne, oysters, chocolate – um, yeah, okay. But, a restaurant that is based upon a real love story and whisks you to Buenos Aires via food and tango dancing? Si, gracias! Sip a 1920s-era cocktail and consider the story of Argentinian artist, Sebastian Casanova, who took tango dancing lessons and fell head over heels for his teacher, Maria Alferov. They married and opened the venue in Lincoln Square that sparkles with passionate food, music and movement. The Valentine’s Prix Fixe menu features empanadas, delicate but flavorful seafood, meats grilled only like Argentinians can, a vegetarian option and luscious desserts lke chocolate mousse cake and cardamom infused flan for a reasonable $55 per person (excluding drinks). Expect live tango music, dancing Feb 10-11 and a free tango lesson with dinner on Feb. 14.
2824 W. Armitage
Chicago, IL 60647
If Cupid has a heart on this year, you cannot go wrong with the Piedmont-focused eatery in Logan Square. Of course, there are oodles of other noodles around town, however, this intimate spot offers the rich food and sumptuous wines from the Piedmont region of Italy (dubbed the country’s most culinarily progressive region by Food & Wine magazine), and Chef Cameron Grant turns it all out in the most perfect way. Winning bets include Plin (hand pinched ravioli with Parmesan, thyme and butter; Tajarin – silky house made noodles, meat ragù and Grana Padano; duck breast enlivened with red currant brandy cream; and feel free to add Pidemont’s famous white truffles at $15 per gram – hey, it’s Valentine’s day. Desserts, like the signature Panna Cotta, are equally memorable and coffee and espresso are crafted especially for the restauraant by Sparrow Coffee.
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805 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605
For the truly broke, college students and those who pooh-pooh the notion of a greeting-card-created holiday (but still don’t want to come off as completely schlumpy), some of our town’s finest pizzerias get their pizziolos to stretch that crust into the shape of a heart on and around Valentine’s Day. Lou Malnati’s (the best Chicago style pie by far); Giordano’s stuffed deep dish; Pizano’s (Oprah’s fave thin crust); Phil’s Pizza in Bridgeport; Pequod’s; My Pi in Bucktown; and others typically offer the romantic and very affordable alternative to upcharges-gone-wild at other eateries. Lou Malnati’s will even ship a heart-shaped pizza, along with a heart shaped giant cookie, for you to bake at home and the Chicago company then donates a pizza to a local Chicago-area food pantry with every purchase of a Spreading Hearts package.
840 N. Wabash
Chicago, IL 60611
The tab at a great French restaurant any day of the year can be painful but on Valentine’s Day it could add up to the GDP of a mid-size developing nation. Not so at Chicago’s Bistronomic, which has the essence of “economic” right there in its name. You get award-winning French bistro fare (Chicago Magazine loves the profiteroles and the near north side eatery won the annual “Hamburger Hop” at Chicago Gourmet 2016) constructed with seasonal, local ingredients. Chef Martial Noguier presents an ambitious Valentine’s Day menu that incorporates aphrodisiac ingredients (such as oysters, passion fruit and chocolate) for just $72 per person for a three-course prix fixe menu. Options include lobster soup; handmade smoked salmon tortellini; artichoke salad; Diver sea scallops; thyme roasted rack of lamb; and much more.