Wedding Day +365
October 4, 2009 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Help us find a great first anniversary restaurant in Chicago!

Next Sunday is our first anniversary. We'd really like to do a super nice (but not terribly formal) dinner on Saturday night for about $100 total.

Here are some things I could use some help with:

1. I will eat nearly anything (except shrimp and hot oatmeal and a few other things) but my husband will not. He is a meat-cheese-bread-and-potatoes sort of dude and that is not exactly negotiable (and certainly not on our first anniversary). We love trying new restaurants, but I feel terrible if there's nothing for him to eat. So, the ideal place should have something adventurous for me and something safe for him.

2. We don't really drink so I don't particularly care if a restaurant has an awesome wine selection or a super sommalier or ten thousand champagnes. Plus, alcohol would eat up a bit too much of our budget, I think.

3. We're not really planning on dressing up, so the place doesn't need to be fancy. Intimate, yes, but fancy no. The perfect example of this was the Crusting Pipe in Covent Garden on our honeymoon. We found it randomly the night we got into London, and loved it. It was small and intimate but not fussy.

4. He's suggested we look for something on a rooftop for the view, but that obviously depends on October weather.
posted by santojulieta to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and the dessert tray we ordered from The Witchery in Edinburgh was so freaking awesome! I would love a place with some really awesome dessert options.
posted by santojulieta at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2009

Best answer: I've not been there yet, but friends of mine have had anniversary dinners Hot Chocolate. They were second place in the Chicago magazine's ranking of best burgers a month or two ago, so that might be good for your husband.
posted by sugarfish at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2009

I've heard good things about Hot Chocolate. Looking at the latest Great Neighborhood Restaurants listing from lthforum, Myron and Phil's might fit the bill. Asking this question on lthforum would probably be a good idea too.

*sigh* I miss Chicago dining.
posted by kmz at 7:51 PM on October 4, 2009

I recommend RoseAngelis. Italian cuisine. My girlfriend and I have been there a few times. It's an intimate--but not overly formal--setting (i.e. kind of dark; tables are smaller, so you're sitting closer to your mate; candles; good wine list). Their desserts are exceptional. The two of us usually get out of there for $60-$70 after tip.

If you're willing to trek downtown, Grand Lux Cafe (at the intersection of Michigan and Ohio) has a huge selection of freshly made desserts. The warm ones are made to order. The restaurant is actually on the building's second story, and you can eat in a large-windowed room that overlooks Michigan avenue. It's a pretty view. The restaurant isn't very formal either. In terms of food, the selection is quite large. And it's pretty affordable.

Whatever you choose, Happy Anniversary!
posted by capitalist.pig at 7:59 PM on October 4, 2009

I've also heard good things about Hot Chocolate. Also, consider Blackbird. Or maybe one of these...
posted by kickingtheground at 8:06 PM on October 4, 2009

Ms. Wulf and I just recently discovered the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. in Lincoln Park (near Armitage). It's a bit busy (no reservations taken) but the atmosphere and seating is intimate, and the food is unique - the pizza pot pie is amazing! It also seems like it'd satisfy your husband's meat-cheese-bread needs. Not terribly expensive either.
posted by Wulfhere at 8:20 PM on October 4, 2009

I had a great Valentine's dinner awhile ago at HB in Lakeview. The menu is online and they might have something for your husband -- I'm thinking the beef stew or maybe the lamb burger. The food I had was pretty adventurous (it was a prix fixe menu and was $50 per couple and included a red snapper with the head still attached!) but it was really well prepared. And the dessert was fabulous -- really interesting cupcakes (one had lavender frosting and another was a chocolate chile cupcake). The prices are reasonable, it was very cozy (and not too loud), and it was a really memorable experience.
posted by k8lin at 8:55 PM on October 4, 2009

Blackbird is above the $100 total budget, since entrees run $35/person. I think you'd be pushing it at Hot Chocolate, too.

A Tavola on Chicago is very intimate and really good food, entrees are closer to $25/person, which leaves room in the budget for drinks and dessert.

The view from the Tasting Room can't be beat, I think. It's a wine bar, but the kitchen is excellent, too and they have great desserts.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:09 PM on October 4, 2009

You should check out La Gondola, a tiny Italian restaurant that's (IMHO) a real hidden gem in the city. It has around six or eight tables. Astoundingly good Italian food -- try the house specialty, the pasta buscaiola (sic?). It's at 2914 N. Ashland, in a strip mall by the Jewel. Don't get scared by the weird location! Oh, and make a reservation.

Hot Chocolate is also awesome. Save room for dessert. :-)
posted by adrian_h at 9:10 PM on October 4, 2009

Some thoughts on the previous suggestions: NO to myron and phil's. not on your anniversary. good food, good value, great half way place for city folk to meet up with suburban folk, but not for your anniversary. Same thing to Grand Lux Cafe (anything BUT intimate) or Chicago pizza and ovengrinder (true neighborhood gem but very casual and loud, do it some other time or for lunch). Hot Chocolate is very good, one of my favorites, but check menu first to see if hubby will be happy with selections. The owner is a well known pastry chef so the desserts are awesome. A Tavola is VERY intimate and wonderful, in an old house on Chicago Avenue west of Damen, which is considered Ukranian Village, but again, check menu first, it may not be for him. ZED 451 (On N. Clark between Chicago Ave. and Superior St.) is similar to the concept of the Brazilian steakhouses , but a bit more upscale, updated, and elegant........with all you can eat "harvest tables" of gourmet buffet salads, soups, cheeses, etc........ then multiple chefs coming up to your table offeriing unlimited samples of everything from lambchops, steaks, venison, orange glazed mahi mahi, chicken dishes, salmon, etc. etc. $44 per person unlimited food. the place is beautifu, very elegant, with fabulous and friendly service, and it has an amazing roof deck, but come on, it is OCTOBER in CHICAGO! but it is very special, very chi-chi, and lots of fun.
posted by Lylo at 12:14 AM on October 5, 2009

PS Graham Elliot is also a gourmet favorite. very fun. Unusually flavored popcorn (different flavor each night) replaces the old bread basket. Again, check out menu first. I vote for ZED 451, though, there is such a variety of really good food and the opportunity to taste everything, and such a lovely setting. You may also want to look on YELP.Com (for Chicago) to see what others have to say about some of these spots. Happy Anniverserary! Have a great time.
posted by Lylo at 12:40 AM on October 5, 2009

My husband sounds a lot like yours. Here's what people suggested for his birthday dinner downtown.
posted by desjardins at 11:30 AM on October 5, 2009

Magnolia Cafe (uptown) seemed to have the right atomsphere but the entrees range from $18-32 or so so may be overbudget. They did have a great cookie desert tray when I was there, and it's nice but not fancy. Bonus if you like jazz and go to Green Mill afterwards.

Tango del Sur (southport) is another option if you both like steak & don't mind having an early dinner so you don't have to wait (it gets really busy in the early evening so may have to show up around 5pm).
posted by ejaned8 at 12:56 PM on October 5, 2009

Also, consider Erwin Cafe. Comfortable, cozy.

I LOVE La Gondola, but I would never go there for a special occasion. The food is amazing, but the atmosphere is not. It has all the charm of a dry cleaner. In fact, we always get La Gondola to go.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:53 PM on October 5, 2009

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