According to a recent article, the Chicago ‘L’ is the nation’s most romantic transit system. I must get stuck on the wrong train cars. Despite my cynicism, if by some miracle you do manage to meet your future husband or wife on the CTA, I’m here for you. Seeing as how you can’t spend the entirety of your relationship on the train, I’ve compiled a list of the best date spots near each of the five top mobile love shacks in Chicago. This list ain’t fancy. These spots are nice, comfortable and fun places where there won’t be too much pressure to impress your soon-to-be mate. Ultimately though, there’s only one thing I’m willing to guarantee about each of my suggestions: they will definitely, without a doubt, smell better than the train car you and your future husband/wife/whatever met on.
Belmont (Red, Purple and Brown Line)
930 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, Il 60657
Known for a long time as an edgy place traversed by punks, goths, skins, and anyone else with a dark and seedy sense of style thanks to stores like the Alley, Belmont and Clark has become a proving ground for many teens. And like these pre-pubescent, hormone crazed monsters, you can have your first date at one of the neighborhoods staples: Clarke’s. Not the fanciest place, Clarke’s is always a savior when you’re hungry in the middle of the night. A simple diner, it offers decent meals that aren’t too expensive. It’s not the place you’d go to celebrate your five year anniversary, but it makes for a great first date.
Addison (Red Line)
1060 W. Addison Street
Chicago, Il 60613
This one’s easy! Go see a Cubs game. Pick a day when the cubs play a team nobody cares about, like the Braves or the Rockies, and you’re liable to pay ten bucks or less for some seats in the nose bleeds section of Wrigley Field. Cheap dates are good dates! Sure, Kerry Wood will be nothing but a speck, but you’ll be too busy getting to know your future love to pay attention to baseball anyways. Wrigley, one of the oldest stadiums, is fun to be in whether you can see the players or not, especially on a warm summer day. If you do feel the need to get half-way decent seats, you might want to take a look at this article from the “Best Of” section.
Linden (Purple Line)
626 Church Street
I’m going to be honest, if you met at Linden you should lie and say you met at Davis. Located in downtown Evanston, Davis has a lot to offer in the way of dates, from comfortable bars to homey cafes, there’s plenty of great places to choose from off the Davis stop (sorry, Linden). I suggest the Celtic Knot, an Irish Pub and amazing restaurant that you’ll know is the moment you hear the Irish accents from some of the staff that are too good to be fake. The restaurant itself is cozy with dim lighting, a place where you can have a few too many, but also take your parents out for a nice dinner. It’s date night though, so no parents allowed. Also, their food, a mix of traditional and modern Irish / European dishes, offers something for everyone. Great for picky eaters and adventurous foodies alike, their selection of meats and fish is extremely tasty. This probably isn’t the best place to take a vegetarian though, unless they don’t mind filling up on the superb draft selection. I am legally bound to say that beer is not a meal. Drink responsibly!
California-Cermak (Pink Line)
2200 S. California Ave.
Chicago, Il 60608
I have never had a date at a Mexican restaurant that has gone bad. To put it simply, burritos make everyone happy. With Cocula, everything stands out. From the great service and bright, clean conditions, to the large mix of Mexican dishes. They don’t skimp on the guacamole, giving you a giant dish (as opposed to a miniscule bowl) when ordered, plus it always tastes fresh. Make your new train-pal try the chilaquiles around breakfast or brunch and they’ll be yours forever.
Fullerton (Brown, Red and Purple Line)
I thought that, at some point as an adult, I’d get tired of eating sweets for dinner. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on my own and this has yet to happen. This is why Cookie Bar is my pick for the Fullerton stop. Cookie Bar offers a gigantic selection of cookies that change from day to day, so make sure to check out the cookie calendar on their website. The best part, for the true gluttons, is that they’re perfectly happy to take your favorite cookies and to make an ice cream sandwich out of them. Cookie Bar has also branched off into the donut business, selling donuts at select times under the moniker “Dirty Betty’s.” They seem to be willing to put anything, absolutely anything, on top of a donut. You have to respect that kind of bravery. Read more about Dirty Betty’s in this New Restaurant Roundup.
Sure, half of America gets divorced, but you can’t fail with these great picks for your first date. And down the line, when you’ve paid too much to get married, or had illegitimate children because you’ve refused to get married (I’m open to all paths to love), just do me one favor: name your first born after me.