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Neighborhoody, romantic little place needed

Well be in Chicago for a romantic weekend in June, and are looking for a romantic little neighborhood place for dinner. The kind of place we'd find ourselves if we were walking around, and would peek in and get a good feeling and decide to stay. The kind of place where the host is joking with the bussers, and the servers know what's good, and the owners and chefs just want to make honest, lovely food for people who enjoy eating it. Where a $14 entree is made with love.

We'll be staying (of course) on the Mag Mile, but we're walkers and are perfectly happy to cab it or take the el. So where's your neighborhood gem that's never going to get written up, but that you really like and go to again and again?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I immediately thought of Bistro Campagne which doesn't quite meet your criteria on a variety of points. It's not cheap (although you can get a sandwich for your price point). It's not unknown. But it is a neighborhood place that's long on charm, especially when their outdoor space is open. Take a peek, it might turn you off, but I like it a lot.

    http://www.bistrocampagne.com/menus/

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    Bistro Campagne
    4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

    2 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      If Bistro Campagne strikes your fancy, try LM across the way. It is wonderful.

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      Bistro Campagne
      4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

      1. re: igorm

        I like LM, but it has slightly higher prices than Bistro Campagne for entrees and no sandwiches. Except for a risotto at $19, every entree is at last $20. OP's $14 entree price point is a problem most places that meet the other criteria. http://www.lmrestaurant.com/entrees.html

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        Bistro Campagne
        4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

    2. I immediately thought of two French bistros with the same charming vibe, so they're along the same lines as ferret's recommendation. Kiki's Bistro ( www.kikisbistro.com ) is walking distance from the Mag Mile, and Bistro Bordeaux ( www.lebistrobordeaux.com ) is in Evanston, a few blocks from the Davis Street stops on the CTA Purple Line and on Metra. In a similar vein is Campagnola, a neighborhood Italian bistro in Evanston near the Main Street stops on the same train lines.

      Wherever you decide to go, I recommend making reservations in advance, particularly for weekend dinners. Many of our nicer places - even neighborhoody places like these - accept them at no charge on Opentable.com

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      Kiki's Bistro
      900 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610

      Bistro Bordeaux
      618 Church Street, Evanston, IL 60201

      1 Reply
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Kiki's is great (not to mention convenient to where you'll be) but the outdoor space at Campagne is what differentiates it from the others.

      2. Two Italian neighborhood places that fit your criteria are Buono Terra on California Ave in Logan Square and Terragusto in Roscoe Village. Both are a cab ride and you can check out public trans on hopstop.com. Both are good, but my favorite would be Terragusto which is BYO and serves farm-to-table ingredients. Sometimes you can even buy farm fresh eggs.

        And I second Bistro Campane in Lincoln Square, as well as nearby Chalkboard.

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        Terragusto
        1851 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613

        Bistro Campagne
        4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

        Buona Terra
        2535 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

        Chalk Board
        4343 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

        3 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          I apologize, if you're looking for a @ $14 entree, Bistro Campagne and Chalkboard may be a little out of your range. But both are romantic restaurants with great food.

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          Bistro Campagne
          4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

          1. re: chicgail

            $14 entrees may be too much to hope for. But the places we're discussing have entrees mostly in the high teens to mid twenties, and some have specials that make them even more affordable. Close enough.

            Another place worth considering is La Sardine ( www.lasardine.com ), the French bistro in the West Loop (where I've been and liked a lot), and Le Bouchon ( www.lebouchonofchicago.com ), its sister restaurant in Bucktown (where I haven't been). They are cozy places with excellent food and a comforting vibe. Both are moderate in price all the time, and both offer three courses, anything on the menu, for $25 every Tuesday. Bistro Bordeaux has a similar offer for $28.95 on Wednesdays.

            (chicgail, I think you're the one whose recommendation turned me on to La Sardine!)

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            La Sardine
            111 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

            Le Bouchon
            1958 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

            Bistro Bordeaux
            618 Church Street, Evanston, IL 60201

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I think I did turn you onto La Sardine, nsxtasy. Glad you liked it.

              I like La Sardine, but for romance, I'd be more inclined to go to the smaller, even more French bistro-feeling Le Bouchon on Damen in Bucktown. I realize it's a wee bit longer of a taxi drive, but not as far as Bistro Campagne or Chalkboard.

              Semiramis is even father from the central city and, while it is very good middle-eastern food and within the price range, I'm not sure I would call it "romantic."

              That being said, please allow me to wax a little philosophical. If romance is what you want, it is something that you bring to the restaurant and if you're not bringing the romance with you, you sure ain't gonna find it at any restaurant.

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              La Sardine
              111 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

              Le Bouchon
              1958 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

              Bistro Campagne
              4518 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

        2. Sounds like Sweets & Savories would be a good option, especially since their $29 prix fixe is still in effect (easily approachable on the red line/Fullerton, and about a half-mile west)

          http://www.sweetsandsavoriesrestauran...

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          Sweets & Savories
          1534 W Fullerton, Chicago, IL 60614

          1 Reply
          1. re: jbw

            It's more like 3/4 mile from the Red Line. If it's raining or you just don't feel like walking, you can transfer to the #74 CTA bus up Fullerton. (It's actually only about 1/2 mile up Ashland from the Clybourn stop on the commuter rail lines, but Metra isn't convenient to the Mag Mile.)

          2. A little bit out of the way, but perfectly lovely is Semiramis. It's dimly lit, not intimidating and the servers and chef/owner is awesome! It's a BYOB Lebanese place in Albany Park. One of my fave restaurants. You'll find families, people on dates, larger groups of friends, all ages, all types of people. It's spot on with your budget. The food is tasty and made with love and care. There's not a whole lot in the neighborhood to explore in the evenings, but you could head back towards the loop and get off at Western to have an after dinner drink some where in Lincoln Square at one of the cute bars or find a place in the loop.

            Take the Brown line towards Kimball and get off at Kedzie, it's right across the street from the El stop.

            1. Rosangeli's in Lincoln Park would also be a great pick - atmosphere and price-point-wise.