Top 5 restaurants for a first date in Chicago

September 16, 2010


You like Lula's roasted beets too? Cool! (photo: Joseph Storch)

Talk about pressure. If you have to choose the restaurant for a first date, you probably want to, a) go somewhere on a weeknight, so you don't waste an entire Saturday, and b) choose somewhere casual, so you don't go broke in the process. My criteria is even simpler: just focus on the food, and the atmosphere will usually take care of itself. After all, you'll know pretty quickly if the date is going well.

1. Lula Logan Square is for lovers, right? It's hip, it's laid-back and the food is sourced from nearby farms and prepared with great skill. The soundtrack is always just right, and with Kate Neumann in the pastry kitchen, shared desserts are a must.
2. Sticky Rice This is actually a "tester" restaurant, to see how adventurous your potential future mate is. Will they try the spicy/sour sai ua (sausage) or just stick with safe chicken satays?
3. Triple Crown Asian food tends to be less expensive - always a good call on a first date - and here, you can do some strolling up and down Wentworth Avenue or in the nearby Chinatown Square Mall after dinner.‚  Choosing your own fish from one of the large tanks will show your dining companion you're not afraid to take charge.
4. Adobo Grill Jumping right into conversation is lubricated somewhat with the excellent margaritas and the requisite tableside bowl of homemade guacamole.‚  The moles at both the Old Town and Wicker Park locations are made from scratch, while‚ lively music‚ lends the‚ atmosphere a festive, upbeat mood.
5. Longman & Eagle This Logan Square newcomer has a bold menu - sometimes a little too heavy on the salt-pork-fat trifecta - ‚ but overall, it's an extremely casual gastropub where, incidentally,‚ you can get plastered pretty easily if you're into obscure bourbons.‚  If things go really well, see if the upstairs bedrooms are finished yet, and stay the night.

 

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