Looking for Chicago suburban romantic restaurants? Here’s all you need to know to find the perfect spot for you and your date.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, now is the time that many are starting to think about where to enjoy a romantic night out. For those of us living in the suburbs, though it would be great to visit one of our Chicago favorites, timing (and babysitters) don’t always allow that to happen. Instead, we have to find the Chicago suburban romantic restaurants to enjoy.
Personally, I’m often a fan of not dining out on the actual holiday of Valentine’s Day, especially when it falls on a Friday or Saturday. If you don’t choose your restaurant carefully, you’ll end up somewhere that may have great food but is overwhelmed by the crowds and the service – and your experience – suffers. The good news is that there are plenty of romantic restaurants in the Chicago suburbs to choose from, and some don’t even require reservations. Whether you’re celebrating on Valentine’s Day or anther occasion altogether, choosing any of these Chicago suburban romantic restaurants will definitely leave you with a happy tummy. And, more importantly, a happy date.
Top Ten Chicago Suburban Romantic Restaurants
Wildfire Wildfire is hands down one of my favorite restaurants, whether I’m on a date or eating with a group (six or more of you and you can enjoy their Supper Club, an all you can eat meal where you choose two appetizers, salads, sides, entrees, and desserts for the table at a fixed price). The mood is great, and I used to spend New Year’s Eve here because they are able to handle crowds so well. It’s one of the great Chicago suburban romantic restaurants, too, however. The food is amazing, and they offer everything from the best chopped salad anywhere to wonderful fish and hearty steaks. The booths are great for creating a private ambiance, and their drink menu sets you up for the perfect mood. There are locations in Chicago, Oak Brook, Lincolnshire, Schaumburg, and Glenview (as well as Eden Prairie, MN), so there are plenty of locations to choose from.
Sushi Ai Last year, my husband made reservations for us at Sushi Ai, a restaurant in Palatine that I’d never been to. I absolutely loved that they included roses on the tables for those who had made reservations that were gifts to the women to take home, as a thank you from the restaurant. Though it’s small inside, it never felt crowded, and the sushi was amazingly fresh. I could have eaten all night long. One of the other fun and cool features is that regular diners have their own chopsticks that are stored onsite near the entrance in their own boxes and are brought out when you eat there. My goal is to earn a box of my own one day.
Tokio Pub I love interactive food. There’s something slightly sensual about it, and Tokio Pub in Schaumburg is one of my favorite locations for this. Though tables are a little closer together than I might like, which can lead to a louder atmosphere that admittedly takes away from the romantic ambiance just a bit, the food makes up for it. The offer not just the sushi you’d expect, but their Japanese hot rocks are why I go there. That isn’t to say the sushi or ramen isn’t good, but hot rocks are just plain fun. You are served your raw meat(s) and heated Japanese river rocks that you use to cook your meal at your table. If your rock gets too cold, they replace it. They claim it’s an appetizer, but it makes for a great meal to enjoy your food cooking while you chat.
Bistro Bordeaux When you think of date night, French cuisine often comes to mind. Bistro Bordeaux is a perfect fit for your choice of Chicago suburban romantic restaurants. Located in Evanston, it is a classic French restaurant with food that isn’t overly heavy – or pricey. Their farm-raised Amish chicken for two screams romance as you share your meal, and the knowledgeable waitstaff can guide you through their extensive wine list. Pro tip: try to be seated near the back of the restaurant, which is less noisy, as it can be loud during peak times.
L’Eiffel Bistrot On the opposite side of the French cuisine is L’Eiffel Bistrot in South Barrington. Here the focus is on crepes, both savory and sweet. In the summer, there are little bistro tables to sit outside, but the romance doesn’t stop once you’re inside. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is live music to accompany your romantic dinner. The crepes are amazing and come with such a variety of fillings that you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. I adore La Popeye, which is a rich crepe with cream of spinach, artichoke, ricotta, and Parmesan. On the other end is La Bourguignone, which is braised beef in red wine, carrots, and mushrooms. For those who are looking for something a little more familiar, there are also French cheese plates, as well as steaks, seafood, and more. One of the best parts of L’Eiffel Bistrot is that they offer vegan and gluten free options, which can help make your romantic evening easier when food restrictions come into play.
Mago Also in South Barrington, Mago is another personal favorite. Anytime you make me fresh guacamole at my table, I’m happy. This is a modern Mexican restaurant that is vibrant in decor and ambiance. They have more versions of mole than I knew existed, and their Mexican street food is to die for. The service is discreet, and you’ll never be rushed from your table. The food isn’t overly heavy, but it’s absolutely filled with flavor. They are also very gluten free aware with plenty of menu items to choose from and chefs who get it. There are also Mago locations in Bolingbrook and Arlington Heights, giving you even more options to enjoy one of my favorite restaurants, whether I’m on a date or not.
Cooper’s Hawk Before we leave the South Barrington area (ok there are also locations in Arlington Heights, Burr Ridge, Naperville, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Springfield, and Wheeling, as well as out of state locations), I can’t forget about Cooper’s Hawk. A steakhouse in the most traditional sense, Cooper’s Hawk is also an amazing winery, and the wine list is larger than the menu. The restaurant is never loud once you get past the hostess stand, though it can be tricky there. While you’re waiting for a table, splurge on the wine tasting. They have fantastic wines and the staff are extremely knowledgeable about them. And if you find something you like, join the wine club where you can get your wine each month at a discount. The staff is discreet, and they don’t hover, making for a pleasant evening, whether you’re enjoying seafood or one of their steaks. This is another gluten free-friendly location, as well. Oh, and that waitstaff? Ask for wine recommendations before you choose your own. If you can’t decide, you can taste one… or a few to determine what best fits your mood.
Tuscany You didn’t think I was going to put together a top ten list of Chicago suburban romantic restaurants and not include an Italian option, did you? Tuscany, located in Wheeling, Oak Brook, and Chicago, is another of my all time favorites. The feel inside the restaurant is light and open, like you’re in the Tuscan countryside. The wine list is exactly what you would expect it to be, and the pasta is outstanding. I absolutely adore the gnocchi gorgonzola, but the salmone con carciofi always gives it a run for its money when I’m trying to decide what to eat there. The fresh bread brought to your table is the perfect way to start your meal, especially with the roasted garlic they provide in addition to the olive oil and Parmesan. Just maybe don’t go too heavy on the roasted garlic during your date unless you both do.
e+o Ironically, the first time I visited e+o (earth and ocean) in Mount Prospect in the renovated Randhurst Mall, I wasn’t there on a date. I enjoyed dinner with three friends, all the while marveling at the food and ambiance and thinking how I couldn’t wait to come back on a date night. The restaurant is sleek and stark inside, but it doesn’t feel cold in any way. The staff warms you up the second you arrive, and the food continues to delightful atmosphere. The hand-crafted cocktails are amazing, a testament to the dedication to getting everything right at e+o. The dishes are creative, from a linguini with sweet corn cream (soooo good) to the veggie won tons served in a veggie pho broth. Whatever you do, don’t forget to get the chicken and deviled egg (it’s just $2) which has crispy chicken skin and hot sauce over a yummy deviled egg. Served on a spoon, it’s delicious and fun. The service is sometimes slow, but go when you aren’t rushing somewhere else and are planning to enjoy the time you spend with your date. We rush through too many meals.
Fondue Stube Ok, so technically Fondue Stube is in the city of Chicago. But it’s on the far north side in the 2700 block of West Peterson, so it almost counts as suburban. I can’t talk about Chicago suburban romantic restaurants and leave out fondue, but the Melting Pot just doesn’t quite make it onto my list. Fondue Stube, on the other hand, is worth the drive. The restaurant is fairly small and a little dated in its decor, but the fondue is amazing and fresh. This is one location where you absolutely must make a reservation in advance if you want to enjoy a romantic holiday meal. How good is it? When the owners announced they were going to take an early retirement and close, the outcry from their fans changed their minds. Now picture yourself in a cozy, dimly lit restaurant, cooking your own food as you stare into your date’s eyes. Fondue Stube knows you’re looking for date night material, and the Romeo and Juliet is my favorite option. You receive four meats for your entree and of course your choice of chocolate fondue for dessert.