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Best of Valentine’s Day – Romantic Dining Around Chicago

Best of Valentine’s Day – Romantic Dining Around Chicago

Hail, Cupid. On February 14, history’s most successful matchmaker-relationship-counselor-sex concierge will be working overtime to aid couples around the world scale the mountains of intimacy or, at the very least, last a few precious minutes longer (the latter is actually Agent Provocateur’s department).

Whatever romantic activities may be on the evening’s agenda, a thoughtfully planned meal is sure to steer lovers down the road to a very happy ending. Whether you prefer a renowned chef’s five-star cuisine in a bustling setting or a cozy, corner table with an unpretentious menu and a well-edited wine list, Chicago boasts a litany of gastronomic destinations that will exceed expectations and put any questions of your adoration to rest.

Here, “24/7 City Secrets” wades through the plethora of love-muddled dining options and offers up a few of our favorites. We will leave all the amorous, post-feasting activities to you.

(Listed in alphabetical order by ethnicity. Pricing excludes tax and gratuity.)

The Aviary

What: Seven-Course Menu at The Aviary
$$$: $200 per person

Menu Highlights: It’s a surprise!

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: One of the city’s coolest, and most controversial, kitchens will offer seven awe-inspiring dishes (are those angels singing?) that are sure to delight you and your Instagram followers.

NOTE: The Aviary will host two seatings: between 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

955 West Fulton Market; 312-226-0868


What: Five-Course Menu for Two at La Madia
$$$: $35 per person

Menu Highlights: Steamed PEI Mussels with Melted Leeks, Fresh Fennel, Garlic and White Wine Brodo; Slagel Farm Wood Smoked Porkbelly Pizza with Tuscan Kale, Garlic, Carmalized Onion, and Caciocavallo Cheese; Clam and Fresno Chilies Pizza with Pecorino, Garlic and Fresh Thyme; Gnocchi with Housemade Sausage, Spinach  and Teardrop Tomatoes; Homemade Chocolate Truffles

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: Our sugar-tripping tastebuds would love to kick off this la dolce vita foodfest with dessert, but our last trip to the dentist was anything but sweet. However, La Madia’s menu features enough savory options to send us into orgasmic overdrive without the tooth decay.

59 West Grand Avenue; 312-329-0400


What: Vietnamese-inspired Valentine’s Day Menu at Pasteur
$$$: $75 per person, includes wine pairings

Menu Highlights: “Cha Gio Ca” – egg roll filled with flaked salmon and fresh dill, served with a lime fish sauce; “Goi Vu Du Tom” – shredded green papaya and fresh herb topped with poached shrimp; “Bo Luc Lac” – cubes of marinated steak wok-seared with red wine and beurre de Britain

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: If you have ever seen Jean-Jacques Annaud’s steamy film, The Lover, you will understand why we’re so mushy about Vietnam and its spicy cuisine. With that said, we’re looking forward to an evening of exotic delights. Of course, if our waiter looks anything like The Lover’s handsome Tony Leung, we might be tempted to take both home with us.

5525 North Broadway Avenue; 773-728-4800


What: 8-Course Love & Hearts Menu at Takashi
$$$: $110 per person; additional $60 per person for wine pairings

Menu Highlights: Seared Maine Scallop and Artichoke Heart Risotto; Love & Hate with Dark Chocolate Pave and White Chocolate Mousse

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: Amorous diners who propose at Takashi on Valentine’s Day (and receive a positive response, sorry!) will enjoy a complimentary meal prepared by chef Yagihasi Takashi on the couple’s one-year anniversary.

952 North Damen Avenue; 773-772-6170


Mercat a la PlanxaLATIN
What: 4-Course Chef’s Luxury Valentine’s Day Tasting at Mercat a la Planxa
$$$: $85 per person; $125 per person with wine pairings

Menu Highlights: Mar I Muntanya” – Short Rib, Diver Scallop, Beluga Lentils, Saffron Squash Puree, and Crispy Brussels; Gilled Wagyu Zabuton, Romesco, Pickled Guindilla Aioli; “Caliente y Frio Xocolata” – Milk Chocolate Croquettes, Banana Marshmallow, Rosemary Caramel, Aburquina Olive Oil

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: Passion is blazing hot at Mercat a la Planxa. Taking a cue from its Catalan roots, this South Loop hotspot will feature a series of romance-making must-haves (bring on the oysters and chocolates!) that will have you quoting love sonnets by dessert.

638 South Michigan Avenue; 312-765-0524


Cantina LaredoMEXICAN
What: 3-Course Valentine Especialdad Menu at Cantina Laredo
$$$: $35 per person; $50 per person with cocktails

Menu Highlights: Quail with Apple-Pecan Stuffing Topped with Plum Sauce; Churros with Chocolate Raspberry and Grand Marnier Cajeta Sauces

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: This modern Mexican eatery could satisfy even the most hard-to-please palette but it’s those three sophisticated sips, White Honey Sangria, Passion Fruit Margarita, and the “Heart Warmer” – Corazon Anejo Tequila, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and coffee, that’s really getting us excited.

508 North State Street; 312-955-0014

Patricio SandovalMISC.
What: Valentine’s Day 4-Course Cooking Demo with Chef Patricio Sandoval at Mercadito Chicago
$$$: $75 per person, includes cocktails

Menu Hightlights: “Langosta Y Camarones” – Lemon & Butter Poached Lobster, Tequila Flamed Guajillo Shrimp, Potato-Leek Fundido, Baby Arugula, Poblano Crema, and Guajillo Vinaigrette complemented with an “Agave Kiss” cocktail – Casa Noble Blanco, White Creme de Cacao, Framboise Liquor, and White Chocolate Flakes

Why It Makes Our Heart Skip A Beat: We may be able to make a mean Nachos Supreme but that doesn’t mean we can’t expand our borders a bit. So when we learned we could roll up our sleeves alongside Chef Patricio Sandoval, one of the nation’s leading Mexican culinaires, in his kitchen for an intimate cooking course we ditched our passport and made a reservation. What do they say in cooking school? Timing is everything.

NOTE: Mercadito will host (2) two-and-a-half-hour cooking demos; 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Seating is limited.

108 West Kinzie Street; 312-329-9555

Gosh Dom-mit!

No one likes an unhappy ending so if your Valentine’s Day plans happen to pan out less than perfectly, help is on the way! Lovers in need of a romantic “mulligan” can secure an instant passport to pleasure with Allium at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago’s “Valentine’s Day Dom Over” package.

Offered February 15 and 16, guests will enjoy a luxurious four-course dinner at Allium and a bottle Dom Pérignon. Guests will also be sent off with a very special gift – a pair of Dom Pérignon flutes and a complimentary gift certificate for a 55-minute massage at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.

AlliumThe “Valentine’s Day Dom Over” package is priced at $500.00 per couple. For more information, click HERE or call 312-799-4900 for reservations.


– Kerry Shorr, Contributing Writer

Photo Credits:
Lead Photo: Cupid by Roberto Parada
Photo 1: The Aviary
Photo 2: La Madia
Photo 3: Pasteur
Photo 4: Takashi
Photo 5: Mercat a la Planxa
Photo 6: Cantina Laredo
Photo 7: Mercadito Chef Patricio Sandoval
Photo 8: Allium at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

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