Best Of The Best: Date Edition 2017
BY TAYLOR WADE
Chicago has way too many amazing date spots from which to choose. The dating experts at Ambiance Matchmaking have narrowed down the list by checking out each place, ensuring it's suited for the perfect date night. Enjoy!
Best Date Spot For: Brunch
LOKal has two locations, one in Wicker Park and the other in Lincoln Park. We have only been to the Wicker Park location, which is a modern, European-inspired restaurant featuring open windows and white spaces. We ordered the Mushroom Spinach Benedict and large pitcher of mimosa, and couldn't have been happier.
The Publican has a creative seafood and pork-focused menu plus global brews. Choose from the communal table situated in the middle of the large open room, or snag your own table. Our favorite brunch cocktail was the Brunch Box: montenegro amaro, beer, and grapefruit juice for only $5.
Best Date Spot For: Mexican Cuisine
This Mexican inspired restaurant features a beautiful interior, with open-air garage doors among rustic reclaimed wood and cozy fireplaces. Choose from the abundance in margarita varieties, categorized by "Sweet," "Spicy," and "Smoky." Our personal favorite is the spicy Margarita El Fuego topped with jalapeno foam.
XOCO is one of chef Rick Bayless's more casual restaurants, with counter service, featuring Mexican street food plus beers on tap.
Best Date Spot For: Tacos
Buzz Bait Taqueria
Buzz Bait feels like an upscale beach shack, replete with barnwood, fishing lure, and earth tones. Take your pick of fish or chicken tacos and don't forget to try their delicious margaritas. Grab a hightop in front of a fully-retracting garage door or enjoy full patio seating right on Wells Street.
The Taco Joint
Taco Joint has two locations, one in Lincoln Park and the other in River North. We love the Lincoln Park location, with its full-service bar overlooking Halsted Street, and it's more intimate seating in the back. Each and every one of their tacos is amazing, and you will have to try the Michelada.
Best Date Spot For: Romantic Atmosphere
Tango Sur's charm is all in its lighting, intimate seating, and amazing staff. The whole restaurant appears to be lit by candlelight, and the staff makes you feel like you're the only one of the room. Meat lovers will especially like this BYOB joint, as you'll find large cuts of Argentinian beef topped with chimichurri, deep-fried empanadas stuffed with beef, chicken, ham and cheese, matambre (rolled veal cooked with vegetables); and milanesa a caballo (fried breaded beef topped with two eggs).
You will be greeted by heavy, red velvet curtains in the entrance, followed by a narrow hallway leading you to a chic candlelit dining room with back patio. The New American-Mediterranean meals are prepared in small plates, perfect for sharing with your date. And, the cocktails are heaven. Our favorite was the Raising Hands, Raising Hell: Lunazul tequila, grapefruit, and turmeric.
Note: Reservations are not allowed except for the 5:30-6:30pm time slot, although you can call one hour before arrival to put your name on the waiting list. Be prepared to wait – it's usually packed. However you can grab a drink at the bar while waiting.
The Duck Inn
It’s housed in a pre-prohibition era tavern that has continuously operated for almost a century and showcases Michelin Rated Chef Kevin Hickey’s signature New American cuisine. There is the front lounge featuring a snack and drink menu, and the back dining room with first and main courses, a tasting menu and more. This setup is ideal for first dates who want to see if a drink has the potential to turn into dinner. Added bonus: the backyard garden is now open for dining al fresco.
Best Date Spot For: Lively Atmosphere (Warning: May Be Loud!)
Green Street Meats
Green Street Meats is definitely a more quirky choice. The interior is filled with tin, concrete, and faded picnic tables that wrap around the centerpiece bar, while the exterior patio settles in underneath warm, dangling Italian lights. This counter-service joint can have a painfully long cue on weekend nights, but it's totally worth the wait. Order from the chalkboard menu of meats and seafood that are served fresh off the 12,000 pound smoker. The bar has 16 beers on tap plus a dozen more in cans.
Homeslice has excellent atmosphere, food, and drinks. The rustic decor makes you feel like you're in a log cabin nestled in a ski resort, and the outdoor back patio has bright Italian lights, heat lamps, cozy patio seating, and a gutted silver bullet trailer available for seating. This place gets packed every night of the week, but you can grab a drink at the bar while you wait.
Best Date Spot For: Spanish Cuisine
This seafood-focused eatery features dishes in a cozy, seaside-inspired space with a bar. We ordered lots of small plates to split and tried each of their cocktails. We loved them all!
The Spanish Square is a market and tapas bar hybrid. They have a fantastic tapas menu and excellent wine and cocktails. Afterward, browse the small market and take something yummy home!
Cafe Babareeba has Spanish tapas, paella, and comfort food. Order a pitcher of sangria and enjoy the lively scene at this classic Chicago restaurant.
Best Date Spot For: Oysters
This East Coast-inspired seafood restaurant gets an A+. Grab a hightop next to the fully-retractable garage door where you can feel the breeze and people watch along Halstead Street. We ordered the rosè Cava and loved how the effervescence perfectly complimented the oysters, crab bites and shrimp cocktail. Afterward, grab a nightcap in their downstairs space, the Low Tide Lounge.
GT Fish & Oyster
GT Fish & Oyster serves modern seafood dishes in a bright and open interior featuring nautical decor such as sailing anchors and rope. Sit at the full bar that is the centerpiece of the restaurant where your bartender will explain the elaborate wine and champagne menu and variety of oysters. We recommend ordering two oysters from each region along with bubbly to complement the fishiness. For the main course try the scallops and the branzino.
Best Date Spot For: Burgers
There is always a huge line at this burger joint, and for good reason. The open kitchen at this upscale "diner" works with ingredients ranging from bologna to foie gras. An experience not to miss.
Butcher & The Burger
We loved this little Lincoln Park burger place. They serve customizable burgers in a retro counter-service BYOB with a butcher shop.
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