Slideshow: Staff Picks: The Most Romantic Restaurants in Chicago

Sepia
Sepia
From the atmosphere and service, to the execution of both food and drink alike, Sepia screams romance. With a killer bar program, a superb wine list, and an ever-evolving (yet always solid) seasonal menu, it has all the ingredients for a successful and memorable dining experience. While I've had my fair share of meals there, I always look forward to the next time, especially when someone is taking me. —Huge Galdones

Lobster Chawan Mushi [Photograph: Huge Galdones]

Boka
Boka
My wife is blessed with the gift of indecisiveness, so when I started hearing her tell friends that her favorite restaurant in the city is Giuseppe Tentori's spot on Halsted, I took note. Chef de cuisine Carl Shelton's food never fails to impress, and there's nobody in the city who can play a room in a white coat better than Tentori. A round of drinks at Ben Schiller's bar is always a must, too.—Johnny Auer

[Photograph: Jeff Kauck, courtesy of Boka]

The Palmer House
The Palmer House
It's not a restaurant per se, but when it comes to jaw dropping locations in Chicago to sip champagne and slurp oysters, nothing quite does it for me like the shockingly beautiful lobby of The Palmer House. Sure, the hotel's very good high-end restaurant, Lockwood, is nearby, but then you wouldn't be able to sit in the center of one of the grandest old hotels in the country. Plus, you can pretend you're on some romantic getaway. And when it's time for dessert, just remind your date that this is the hollowed ground where the brownie was invented. —Nick Kindelsperger

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Birrieria Zaragoza
Birrieria Zaragoza
My ideal Valentine's Day dinner would be spent at Birrieria Zaragoza. Sure, it doesn't have that low-lit sensuality you'll get at your standard prix fixe V-Day spot. But what it lacks in romantic atmosphere, Zaragoza makes up in roasted goat meat. I can picture it now: an empty restaurant, my wife and I at the lone table, and the cook singing that song from Lady and the Tramp. I nudge a goat shank over to my wife's side of the plate, as the waitress puts two straws into our steaming bowl of consomm√©. It really is a bella notte. —Joe Roy

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

Ruxbin
Ruxbin
To me, a romantic restaurant is all about feeling tucked away and private, and I can think of no better place for that than Ruxbin. The inside of it feels like you're either in a fort from childhood or in a tree house. It's cozy and funky. It doesn't hurt that chef Edward Kim's food is inventive and flavorful. —Blake Royer

Salted Chocolate Pot de Creme with Bacon Cotton Candy from Ruxbin [Photograph: Kate Bernot]

Taxim
Taxim
If my man and I didn't already have plans, we'd probably end up (predictably) at Taxim. It's one of those restaurants that seems to become whatever the occasion calls for: dark and mysterious, cozy and relaxing, intimate and low-key. The dining room is romantic in a lantern-lit, Byzantine way, and the smaller dishes scream to be shared. It's affordable, too, making it low-pressure for a couple just starting out (or getting back on the right foot). Unless they have Greek ancestry, most people are a bit lost when it comes to the wine list, but luckily it's full of safe choices that let the flavorful food take center stage. If the meal goes well, there are plenty of nearby Wicker Park bars to keep the date rolling. —Kate Bernot

[Courtesy of Taxim]

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate
I can't think of a more romantic restaurant to go to on Valentine's Day other than Hot Chocolate. I tried for days to think of another place—a secret place that'd be all yours on Valentine's Day—but I really couldn't. At a place named Hot Chocolate, you'd think that the desserts are the only highlight, but really all the food is on the same platinum level. And if chocolate is your ultimate weapon, then just come for dessert. Trust me. It'll work.—Dennis Lee

Affogato from Hot Chocolate [Photograph: Kate Bernot]

Girl & The Goat
Girl & The Goat
I've got to be true to my exclusivity-loving self and admit my dream Valentine's Day dinner would take place at one of the two chef's tables overlooking the kitchen at Girl & the Goat. What could be more romantic than sharing a steaming plate of Roasted Pig Face with your Valentine while you watch a whole slew of highly talented people do what they love? Rumor has it you might even get lucky if the sous chefs feel like giving out samples, and I know everyone wants to get lucky on Valentine's Day. —Lindsey Becker