Celebratory Chicago Dinner Recs
September 26, 2017 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Planning a birthday dinner for a special someone and am looking for a restaurant that fits some specific criteria. I'm overwhelmed attempting to research this using the usual vectors (Time Out Chicago, Yelp, Chowhound, Eater Chicago...argh, so many!) so hoping for personal recommendations.

Looking for a restaurant that fits the following criteria:

1) Cozy/sexy/romantic vibe
2) Affordable-ish. Looking for $10-15 appetizers, $20-25 entrees, reasonable booze prices (e.g. $12 cocktails, not $16 cocktails). Pretty much in the $$ zone, not the $$$ zone.
3) A la carte menu--he doesn't dig prix fix/tasting menus

Otherwise, the sky's the limit! Any cuisine is fair game, shared plates are fine. We actually eat out quite a bit, so there are some places we've been before that fit the bill, like Charlatan, Lula, and Watershed. But I'm hoping for somewhere new to provide a bit of an adventure!
posted by merriment to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Bristol , or Hot Chocolate in Bucktown maybe? Not super adventurous, but cozy and good food in the $$ range. Taxim in Wicker Park is also very good.
posted by Fig at 8:52 AM on September 26, 2017

Have you tried Longman and Eagle? That'd be my pick, if you're carnivores at all. Their bone marrow is god-tier, their cocktails are good (and all around $12), and they have an enormous selection of whiskeys if the idea of a tasting appeals to you.
posted by halation at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: La Sardine in the West Loop. And if it's a celebration, the chocolate souffle is in order. Actually, you should always get the souffle there. It's amazing.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:54 AM on September 26, 2017

mfk, Giant, Purple Pig, Fat Rice, and Sirena Clandestina seem to fit the bill
posted by AceRock at 9:34 AM on September 26, 2017

Girl and the Goat!
posted by astapasta24 at 9:47 AM on September 26, 2017

Homestead On The Roof on West Chicago Avenue is perfect for this.
posted by repoman at 10:28 AM on September 26, 2017

  • The Bristol (as Fig said) is great, and was the favorite of our adventures this last restaurant week.
  • Ada St. is small and very cool, and where I took my now-wife for her birthday one year. It's all small-to-medium plates, so not prix fixe, but able to sample a bunch of things that are all delicious. It's in an atypical location (in an industrial area by The Hideout, across from a Home Depot on North Ave) that can also add some delightful walking up confusion to your companion, if they don't already know of the restaurant.
  • Avec is a bit pricier with wine (and you should definitely get wine there), and a little less cozy, but we've been once and it immediately went on our return-for-fancy-times list.
  • Scofflaw is a bar that fits your guidelines. It's got tasty food, a cozy mismatched victorian feel with lots of seating, and delicious drinks (with an emphasis on gin cocktails). It's definitely less dinner-y (mostly coffee-table height tables), but I'd recommend it for drinks. Also, if you happen to still be there at midnight, they bring around a free chocolate chip cookie, warm from the oven.
As others have said, Girl and the Goat, Longman & Eagle, and The Purple Pig are all fantastic, too. Have fun!
posted by BevosAngryGhost at 12:48 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe this is too kitschy/old-fashioned, but I am a sucker for good old Italian Village. Especially if you can get one of their tiny rooms that are set off from the main dining room.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:51 PM on September 26, 2017

Owen & Engine has a cozy and romantic atmosphere, though I wouldn't call it sexy. It does have amazing "upscale" British pub food (including the best cheeseboard and burger in the city), and great cocktails.

Pastoral might be another good bet, especially if you like cheese.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 4:43 PM on September 26, 2017

Best answer: Seconding Taxim, Hot Chocolate (though it can run a bit busy/loud), Scofflaw.

Also consider Big Jones (in Andersonville), Shokran (Irving Park; ask to sit at one of the low tables in back), and Bohemian House (which may be pushing it a little on price, but does the cozy/sexy/romantic vibes really well)
posted by staraling at 4:57 AM on September 27, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the fabulous, thoughtful, and on-point answers! I've marked best answers for the folks who provided my top three options (Taxim, La Sardine, and Bohemian House) but these were all brilliant suggestions.
posted by merriment at 10:55 AM on September 28, 2017

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