Whether you’re meeting up for the first time and want to keep things casual, or you need a romantic spot to take your long-term love interest, both DePaul’s Loop and Lincoln Park campuses have an array of options, no matter what kind of vibe you’re going for.
Study and Sip
Café dates are low-stress, entry-level dates for those of you just getting out of the talking phase. These places are great spots for a first date — not too fancy, not too pricey, but offer a cute atmosphere to hopefully stimulate some conversation between you and your person of interest.
Fancy Plants Kitchen (1443 W Fullerton Ave)
Whether or not your person of interest is a plant-based babe, Fancy Plants Kitchen in Lincoln Park is a great place to bring a date. This vegan café and restaurant on Fullerton has a menu of both standard and adventurous coffee drinks, as well as pastries, baked goods and a weekend brunch. The proximity to campus cuts out any possibility of sitting in awkward silence on the ‘L’ and the casual, cozy interior sets a romantic yet low-key tone. If you and your date happen to spend hours talking at a table after class, you can even grab their dinner menu.
Verzenay Patisserie (2507 N Lincoln Ave)
Want to take your date to Paris this Valentine’s Day? Well, that might not be possible, but you can take them to Verzenay Patisserie in Lincoln Park. This sweet cafe is hard to miss – just look for the minty green storefront on Lincoln Avenue and Altgeld Street The baked goods are artisanally crafted by Chef Arshiya Farheen, who studied and worked in France until 2014. If you do go, make sure to get some hot chocolates, which are made from sustainable cocoa.
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Hanabusa Café (29 E Madison St)
Hanabusa (meaning floral house or a bunch of flowers) serves up fluffy Japanese pancakes, coffee drinks, tea, small bites and savory dishes at their location in the Loop. The soufleé pancakes, which come in seven different variations and range from $12 to $14, are certainly the main attraction here, but the café itself is adorably decorated and minimalistic. If you and your date do decide to go, try to get there early in the morning or choose a weekday, as lines tend to form on the sidewalk during the weekend.
Café Deko (800 W Diversey Pkwy)
If you want to impress your valentine with a one-of-a-kind café, take them to Café Deko off Diversey Avenue. This coffee shop holds up to its namesake with beautiful Art Deco decor and furniture, which makes you feel like you’re grabbing a coffee in the Roaring Twenties. Located at the intersection of Diversey Avenue and Halsted Street, this spot has a standard café menu and a small assortment of baked goods. Seating goes fast here, so try getting there before noon on a weekday.
The Goddess and the Baker (33 S Wabash Ave)
This dreamy spot has espresso drinks, smoothies, baked goods, all-day breakfast and lunch ranging from $11 to$30 on the menu. The whimsical nature of the food, drinks and decor transport you out of the bustling Loop and into a fairytale. If you’re feeling fancy, buy your date a Glitter Gold latte (yes, it has edible glitter in it) to compliment their sparkle, or split a stacked slice of rainbow cake.
If you’re looking to make a romantic gesture with a Valentine’s Day date, here are some sweet spots to take that special someone. These locations are for dinner dates or a night out on the town, perfect for when things are a bit more serious.
Armitage Alehouse (1000 W Armitage)
This new restaurant on the corner of Armitage Avenue and Sheffield Avenue is the latest culinary venture from the owner’s of Chicago’s famous Au Cheval. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time, as the bistro has been modeled after the pubs of 1920s London. The menu offers a blend of Indian cuisine and British pub fare, as well as enticing cocktails, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Reservations do fill up, but bar seating is first come, first served. This is one of the more expensive options, but the lavish food and drinks are definitely worth it. Once you sit down, you really don’t want to leave.
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Music Box Theatre (3733 N Southport Ave)
Dinner and a movie might be a cliché, but it’s always a wonderful plan for a date. Instead of going to a theater built in the 2000s, why not opt for a theater built almost 100 years ago? Music Box, located off of the Southport Brown Line stop, is a romantic theater that plays movies in a range of formats, often playing movies on 35mm film. If you’re looking for a movie night on Valentine’s day, the Music Box is playing Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride at 7 p.m.
Trattoria Gianni (1711 N Halsted St)
The Chicago Tribune once called this restaurant “as close to Italy as one can get in Chicago.” While this restaurant brings you closer to Italy, it’s also close to campus. This classic Italian restaurant, which has dinner entrees ranging from $17.95 to $32.95, is just a few blocks from the Lincoln Park campus, as well as the Steppenwolf Theatre, if you’re planning on catching a show afterwards. The family-run bistro, which has remained a Lincoln Park staple since 1988, is understated and simple yet romantic and warm, perfect to bring your valentine on a cold February evening.
Ryo Sushi (62 E Madison St)
This is one of the closest sushi restaurants to the Loop campus. The menu offers Japanese dishes ranging from classic cuts of sashimi to hearty bowls of udon and ramen. The interior is modern and sleek, the sushi is locally sourced and reasonably priced, the staff is friendly and accommodating, and its location makes it a perfect place to sit down for dinner together after class in the Loop or a trip to the Art Institute.
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The Green Mill (4802 N Broadway)
This option is for those aged 21 and up. No funny business with fake IDs – these bouncers are not afraid to snatch your card at the door. If you and your valentine are of legal drinking age, however, this historic jazz bar is a charming place to get cozy with a classic cocktail and enjoy some live music. The Green Mill, which first opened in 1907, is illuminated on the inside by the light of its iconic neon sign, and has both intimate booth seating and cocktail tables right in front of the stage. It is a bit far from the Lincoln Park campus, but easily accessed by the Red Line. Also, come with cash! It’s a cash only bar, paying homage to a time well before credit cards. The Green Mill often charges a cover for entry, but the price varies depending on who is performing that night. Check their schedule for more information.
Header Image by Aylene Lopez