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Traveling to Chicago this weekend...need recs for romantic dinner spot

  • j
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My husband and I are traveling to Chicago this weekend, and need recommendations for a romantic dinner spot. Quality of food would matter more than atmosphere overall. Any input from fellow foodies is appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. You don't say where you are staying so I will assume it is somewhere in the central city area where most tourists stay around MIchigan Avenue.

    The first and most obvious choice for a romantic dinner with great food would be North Pond. It's a pretty short cab ride away. Located on the north end of a pond (lagoon?) in Lincoln Park -- the actual park along the lake, not the neighborhood -- in a 1912 Arts and Crafts structure that overlooks Chicago's skyline. Chef Bruce Sherman has won or been nominated for a plethora of awards and it shows. The food is consistently creative and well-prepared.

    Other places to consider that are all in the same general area unless noted)
    Naha for Contemporary American
    Cafe Spiaggia for Italian
    Coco Pazzo for Italian
    Le Sardine for French Bistro (West Loop)
    MK for Contemporary American (River North)

    If you are staying in another part of the city, we might have other recommendations.

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    North Pond
    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

    Cafe Spiaggia
    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

    Coco Pazzo Cafe
    636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

    Naha
    500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

    1 Reply
    1. re: chicgail

      I agree with the recommendation of North Pond. The food is excellent and the location in the park make it a unique and romantic experience. I consider it one of the two most romantic restaurants in Chicago (more on that in a moment). However, the problem you are going to run into is availability for this weekend at this late date. I just checked Opentable.com and it shows no openings on Saturday and only 5:30 on Friday. Fortunately, there are plenty of openings for brunch this Sunday, so that may be your best option for a visit to North Pond.

      The other restaurant I consider the most romantic in Chicago is a bit more formal (jackets required for gentlemen) and a bit more expensive (figure somewhere around $125-175/pp including moderate alcohol and tax/tip, unless you get the 5:00/5:30 pre-theater special menu, 3 courses for $50). I'm referring to Everest, which is in the Loop. The cuisine is a very contemporary version of French-Alsatian and exceedingly delicious. The service is the very best I have experienced at any restaurant, anywhere. The view out the windows from the 40th floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building looking out at the city is magnificent. The wine list has over 1700 choices and includes the best selection of Alsatian wines in the country. And Opentable.com shows dinner openings at almost any time for this Friday and Saturday. www.everestrestaurant.com

      If you're interested in something not quite so dressy and/or pricy, chicgail's other recommendations are excellent (as usual). Here is their availability for dinner this weekend according to Opentable. Naha is wide open on Friday, has only a 9:00 on Saturday. Cafe Spiaggia is wide open on Friday, has 6:00 or 7:45 on Saturday but nothing in between. Coco Pazzo is mostly wide open on Friday but has nothing on Saturday. MK has only 6:30 on Friday, only 6:00 or 8:30 on Saturday. La Sardine is not on Opentable; you can check for reservations on their website or by phoning them.

    2. You'll have to call but Les Nomades, IMHO, is often over-looked as a very good, romantic spot. Sort of old school American French. Jackets are required and it maybe that my rec is too late for a good reservation.

      Naha and North Pond are solid recs, too.

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      North Pond
      2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

      Les Nomades
      222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

      Naha
      500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

      5 Replies
      1. re: HoosierFoodie

        I've been to Les Nomades. I thought it was okay, not great, and not overly romantic. Everest trumps it in every way.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          I agree. I was very disappointed with Les Nomades. For the price it was completely unremarkable.

          Everest is an excellent option, but pricier than most of the others mentioned.

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          Les Nomades
          222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

          1. re: chicgail

            Different strokes, I guess. I'd go to Les Nomades before Everest and been to both at least 6 times. In the area of service Everest won't trump many high end places in Chicago, from my experience.

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            Les Nomades
            222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: HoosierFoodie

              In the past we've considered Les Nomades a good location for a special occasion. But I've always made sure to specify that it's a special occasion, and on those occasions we've been seated next to the fireplace upstairs. Very nice if you're ok with a formal French experience.

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              Les Nomades
              222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                >> In the area of service Everest won't trump many high end places in Chicago, from my experience.

                My experience has been quite the opposite. Everest has the very best service I've ever experienced, anywhere, even better than the places in that list of "best restaurants in the world". It's not just a matter of being friendly and efficient (which they were), but rather, a matter of subtlety and nuances. I still remember two different examples during dinner. Seated at the table next to ours was a couple with their five-year-old daughter. A waiter noticed that the sun was in her eyes, and politely addressed *her*, rather than her parents, to ask if she would like for him to lower the blinds. Also, when my iced tea was served with a slice of lemon, I gave the slice of lemon to one of my dining companions for her glass of water. I made no request, but for the rest of the meal, the waitstaff served me iced tea without lemon, and my companion's water was replenished with a slice of lemon each time. I've never seen any other place pick up on subtletlies in that way.

                Oh, and the food was one of the very best meals I have ever eaten in the Chicago area too!

        2. We have always been amazed by the food and especially the service at Everest. On the other hand Trotter's left us with no great desire to return.. We've only been once but Spiaggia was as good as anything we've ever had including TFL, Daniel etc.

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          Spiaggia
          980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611