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Forgot To Make Valentine's Day Reservations? Try These 11 Restaurants

By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 9, 2016 3:14PM

Valentine's Day is all about sharing! The Roast Chicken for 2 at River Roast.

Romance-minded guys and gals, it's getting a bit late in the week if you're still planning to wow your sweetie for Valentine's Day. I get it—things get busy, you forget to make that perfect reservation, and holidays sneak up on you. In other words, you're a lazy jerk who forgot to plan anything. I've got your back.

The good news: There are more than 400 restaurants with reservations available online for Sunday, Feb. 14. The bad news: Most of them suck, and most of the ones that don't have a single reservation for 9:30 p.m. Face it: you're not going to get a reservation at any of Chicago's most romantic restaurants when you wait until the Tuesday before Valentine's Day.

But there are a few gems hiding on that list—places that, for whatever reason, haven't quite booked up yet. I limited my choices to places where it was conceivably possible (based on my admittedly limited version of romance) to have a romantic dinner. That's why I ruled out Hooters on Wells, which, in case you care, has reservations available all night. Also why I eliminated anything with communal seating at long wooden tables, because bumping elbows with random strangers doesn't scream "romance" to me.

PS - if you can't find a place you like, here are a few tips. First, consider cooking. I myself will be making a lovely Valentine's Day roast for my sweetie, and the only reservation you have to worry about is at your own dining room table. Second, the day on the calendar is just that—a day on the calendar. Buy a nice card and, inside the card, reveal that you made reservations at your partner's dream restaurant... for Feb. 22. I'm willing to bet they won't be mad.

Here are eleven great places to try if you don't have a Valentine's Day Reservation yet.

Big Jones

What says romance more than fried chicken and grits? Seriously, though, this Andersonville spot has a lovely vibe, great cocktails and a lot of great tables for two.

River Roast

Love = Sharing. That's why this is a great option for V-Day. Grab one of the epic sharable roasts and fight over the last bite.


If you live on the South Side (or don't mind travel), grabbing a delicious plate of pasta at this Hyde Park Italian spot from Chef Matthias Merges is a great way to spend your Valentine's Day.

Ceres Table

This spot in Lakeview gets nothing but raves from diners, but often is forgotten by critics because it's been around for a while. You'll surprise your date—but in a good way.


This is one of the most unexpectedly romantic restaurants around, at least if you're like me and find the "hunting cabin in the woods" vibe very cozy. Plus, you know what they say about oysters.

Osteria La Madia

Don't forget this casual River North Italian spot, especially if you're looking for a great dinner that won't break the bank. Grab some apps and a pizza, linger over a glass of wine and then head home for the main event.


Another unexpectedly cozy spot, especially if you go early. It's dark, it's not too loud (once again, if you go early) and the cocktails are killer. And if you can't wrap your mind around the idea of biscuits and gumbo being romantic, I hope you never ask me out on a date.

Cantina 1910

It's a tiny bit loud, but especially if you can get a table in the beautiful back room, this is a great spot for a romantic night out. Pro tip: If you happen to be a gay couple, make sure your boyfriend is loyal (or you're open-minded), because the waiters here are pretty cute.

The Bristol

I was surprised to see this spot on the list of "still available" places. Maybe it's because there is a little bit of that communal dining vibe, but there are plenty of solo tables, the menu is universally beloved and nothing says romance like Edison bulbs.

Taus Authentic

Every critic in town has absolutely loved this spot, and yet somehow they have spots available for all of Sunday night. Snap them up. Just do it.

Osteria di Eataly

Yeah, you have to walk through an Italian supermarket to get to this restaurant, but if there is one romantic spot in all of Eataly, this is it. Osteria di Eataly (the old "carne") is tucked away in a glassed-in corner, and if you can get a window seat, it's the perfect date night spot.