Romantic Must-Do's for a Chicago First Timer-Honeymoon
I am getting married at the end of December and my husband to be and I are visiting Chicago for our honeymoon.
We are staying downown but I suspect that, as in Toronto where we live, it is easy to get stuck in the over-priced tourist trap kind of places.
We are looking forward to splurging on some fabulous food and wine. We want to go for a few really nice dinners and some more mid-range priced spots.
We would also like a few suggestions for great breakfasts or lunches!
Romantic dinner spots would be fantastic!!
I find that there are actually quite a good number of great restaurants in the downtown area although there are definitely a plethora of the tourist trap kind as well. The mention of NoMi is great (that's in the Park Hyatt). A couple of my brunch favorites that I would call romantic are Pierrot Gourmet (attached to the Penninsula) and Hot Chocolate (in a neighborhood, Bucktown). Some romantic dinner recommendations are Spiaggia (expensive, great view), North Pond (focus on local food, cool arts and crafts atmosphere), and Blackbird (awesome food, modern but cozy atmosphere). And what would a romantic trip to Chicago be without a drink on the top of the Hancock building! Congrats!!
I have two recommendations, the two restaurants I consider the most romantic in the city, with outstanding food, and worthy of a special occasion.
For the most romantic restaurant, price no object, I really like Everest, one of the very best restaurants in Chicago. Like all of the very finest restaurants, the food (contemporary French-Alsatian cuisine from Chef Jean Joho) is fabulous. The service is impeccable; in fact, it's the finest service I've ever observed in any restaurant. What makes it even more romantic is the setting, at the top (40th Floor) of the Midwest Stock Exchange building, with the entire city spread out below. It's dressy (jackets required for gentlemen) and expensive (figure $150-225 per person including moderate alcohol and tax/tip, unless you go for the pre-theater special, 3 courses for $50 at 5:00/5:30 every day they're open except Fridays). www.everestrestaurant.com
For a somewhat more casual experience (e.g. business casual attire), North Pond is spectacular. The food (contemporary American cuisine from James Beard award nominee Chef Bruce Sherman) is again excellent, and the service fine. What distinguishes North Pond is its setting and history. It's located in the middle of Lincoln Park (the park itself, not just the neighborhood of the same name), facing its namesake pond with the city skyline looming over the opposite shore. The renovated building at one time was the warming shelter for ice skaters on the pond. (Skating is no longer permitted.) The small front room has floor-to-ceiling windows with that gorgeous view. Even the rear room is romantic, with an open kitchen along the rear side of the room. However, I should mention that winter may not be the best time of year to have to walk through the park, and the window seating that offers the best view may be less than comfortably warm. Figure $90-120/person inclusive. www.northpondrestaurant.com
Both of these are very special places, perfect for that special occasion. Both accept reservations on opentable.com which you can check and make a last-minute reservation. (And on the off chance that opentable.com doesn't show openings, it won't hurt to try phoning the restaurant to ask.)
I see NoMI is recommended above. It's an excellent recommendation too, like Everest one of our very best restaurants, with a nice view of Michigan Avenue and the Water Tower. I have heard they may be closing for renovations, so check with the restaurant or make sure you have a reservation. www.nomirestaurant.com
For breakfasts, there are three basic categories: restaurants that specialize in breakfast all week long, upscale restaurants in luxury hotels, and restaurants that do a special brunch on Sundays. You'll find some detailed reviews in the discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403 It might also help if you let us know which hotel you will be staying at; places close to your hotel (especially within a few blocks) will provide a big convenience factor. Keep in mind that the downtown Chicago neighborhoods with lots of restaurants actually cover quite a large distance (as much as three miles depending on how you measure "downtown"); while you might be willing to take a cab to travel to one of those very special romantic places for dinner, you might be more inclined to have breakfast nearby.
As for lunch, most of the downtown restaurants that serve dinner also serve lunch. However, there are literally hundreds of excellent, recommendation-worthy restaurants in the downtown area. If you'd like to be more specific, either with type of food or, again, a location where you'll be (your hotel, or the Art Institute, or whatever you'll be touring), we can provide appropriate recommendations.
Congratulations, and enjoy your visit!