While the Loop is considered the business district of the city of Chicago, it’s also the heart and soul of its entertainment center. When you and your loved one are looking for a romantic place to cozy up for dinner before going to the theater, opera, or symphony, or just want dinner in the heart of Chicago, these spots offer not only great food, but an atmosphere to match your romantic mood.
1 Washington Street
Located on a busy corner of State and Washington, once you step inside this romantic getaway, all your cares will fade away. Located in the Burnham Hotel (a wonderful architectural restoration of one of famed Architect Daniel Burham’s most splendid buildings), the Atwood Café is a breath of fresh air. Its ambiance is engaging, much like dining on the set of a play. With comfortable stuffed chairs and small sofas, it’s an environment that invites you to sit back and relax with a great glass of wine and prepare yourself for some real comfort food taken up a notch. While the decorating whimsy of the restaurant is sure to appeal to women, the men will be on board once the food comes out of the kitchen.
From port wine braised short ribs to roasted chicken to vegetarian entrees like grilled squash, the entrees are exciting, flavorful, and filling. Starters include soups and salads, as well as “small plates” with samplings of fresh fish dishes or cheese samplers. Desserts (if you have any room) focus on homey bread puddings, cobblers, and pot de crème or soufflés. If you can’t make dinner, this restaurant makes the perfect setting for a romantic lunch, too.
150 North Dearborn Street
Conveniently located next to the Goodman Theater, Petterino’s has an old style glamour that’s hard to replicate. It feels like being in a Hollywood restaurant during the 1940s, with well dressed patrons, crisp linens, and efficient staff all serving up delicious food. Petterino’s has a lovely bar area, so if you are meeting your loved one after work, this is a great place to wait, cocktail in hand. Named for the famous maitre d’ of Chicago’s Pump Room, Arturo Petterino was the man who catered to the stars when they descended on Chicago.
Today’s restaurant’s fare is strong on traditional dishes. Appetizers feature offerings like artichoke heart fritters and shrimp de jonghe, while main courses include steaks, Italian dishes, fish, and chicken. Many of the dishes are named after famous Chicagoans from the past, like the “Irv Kupcinet chopped salad.” (Kupcinet was once the most famous interviewer in the Windy City, predating Oprah.) Part of what makes dining at Petterino’s so enjoyable are the well executed side dishes. They put care and attention in every detail here. If your romantic date requires a little budgeting, try Petterino’s “7 After 7,” where diners eating after 7 pm can choose a three-course menu for $19.95 (a choice from seven offerings in each category), as well as a selection of seven wines for an additional $7 per glass. With Master Sommelier (and famous Chicago TV personality) Alpana Singh doing the choosing, you are bound to enjoy the options.
54 East Adams Street
Crain’s Business Chicago has called this restaurant “a charming downtown oasis,” and most would agree. Its intimate setting makes it not only romantic, but also the perfect location (adjacent to the Chicago Symphony Hall) for enjoying a concert before or after your delicious meal. It’s also just across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago, so it’s perfect for a romantic lunch as well. With huge windows overlooking a lush patio area, you will no longer feel you are in a working town once you enter its doors. Alfresco dining in the warmer weather makes a very romantic option.
The food at Rhapsody focuses on American cuisine, with Mediterranean injections of spirit. Starters include offerings like baked goat cheese or grilled baby octopus, in addition to traditional soups and salads. Entrees center around great fish dishes and steaks, with innovative (and delicious) vegetarian options. The desserts are simpler, but well made. What is truly outstanding for after-dinner enjoyment is their extensive list of dessert wines and after-dinner cocktails (like their Tiramisu or Espressotini).
No matter what’s on your romantic dining agenda, one of these restaurants is sure to please your loved one. Best of all, they are all located in the heart of Chicago, perfect for visitors or native Chicagoans just leaving work or planning an evening concert or play. Each has a perfect atmosphere and great food that will spoil any romantic couple.
Atwood Café, www.atwoodcafe.com