By Dan Morgridge
While there are plenty of jokers who think that Wicker Park is the sole place to take out a new beau or madam, the cool kids know to head south. Ukrainian Village has plenty of fine options for food, drinks, and spectacles. Here’s a handy guide to some of the neighborhood’s finest locales; each will help you can begin a whirlwind romance, torrid affair, sunny courtship, or any number of other romantic situations with weather-related adjectives.
It might look like a house, but that’s just because it used to be a house. A hidden gem of fine dining, this is definitely the place to go if you’ve got the scratch for such. But then again, if you live around here and have the average young adult income…
These two affordable, tasty, BYOB Middle-Eastern restaurants are right next to each other. How on earth are you going to choose? The owner’s mom is the chef at Chickpea, and she whips up some delightful traditional dishes – not quite as cheap and plentiful as your typical Sultan’s fare, but slightly nicer. (Also, pinball.) The slightly younger Barbari offers a small menu of soups and flatbreads that keep it simple – the mushroom and sausage (from the Bari deli!) flatbread is a no-brainer. Both have plenty of cute lil’ tables for your cute lil’ date.
Just barely almost not-quite in Ukie, but who’s counting. Sneakily hiding a block south of Chicago Ave. DeVille is basically the nook-iest, cranny-filled set of booths, couches, and dark corners two couples holding manhattans could ever hope to shed their nervousness in. They also have a photo booth, which has probably never been used on a first date – break the mold! Worst that could happen is that you get to make awkwardfirstdatephotoboothing.tumblr.com
There is a good chance that your date will go home with one of the murderer’s row of oddball talkative regulars instead of you. On the plus side, there’s a good chance you’ll go home with one of them too. Things to notice: Red Dog, real dogs, a well-loved pool table, and the strange sensation that everyone else in the bar knows each other already (they do).
Lockdown Bar and Grill
What Kuma’s would look like if sent back and forth in Google Translate a few too many times. The burgers are still delicious, but do you really want Slayer music videos playing through your first date? Perhaps you do.
A fine place to catch a show, whether it’s Monday’s free shows, Friday’s free honky-tonk shows, or any of the marquee rising tunesters you’ll find there any other night of the week. Or try and catch the Windy City Soul Club on a weekend – for a bunch of young white guys, they’re not too shabby at spreading the groove.
If you check out the Bottle and everything goes well (and if you follow this guide, of course it will!) You and the new squeeze can go back for your wallet in the morning, and grab brunch while you’re at it! Plenty of tasty breakfast options, and yes – the Bottle’s bar next door will enable your Bloody Mary habit.