5 low-key spots to toast Cupid

Like many, I’ve never been sure how to feel about Valentine’s Day. There are all the usual critiques: it’s a manufactured holiday punctuated by overpriced prix fixe dinners and red roses marked up by a factor of two. Then there’s the less critical view: it’s a day to demonstrate gratitude to the people you love most.

In the end, I fall somewhere in the middle, which is why I’m a fan of the efficient Valentine’s Day celebration–nothing over the top, nothing super fancy, just a simple cocktail date that still feels special. Here are my top picks in the northern suburbs to raise a low-key cheers to Cupid.


I love how I feel when I walk into Marcello’s: like I’m in for a treat. The space is casual, warm and friendly, and flattering low lights are always a plus. Find the perfect glass of wine from the varied list, and if hunger strikes, you know what to order: a heart-shaped pizza, of course.

1911 Cherry Lane, Northbrook

(Additional locations in Lincoln Park and Logan Square)

Flight Wine Bar

Even the phrase “a glass of wine” sounds romantic. Let the knowledgeable staff at Flight in The Glen Town Center guide you through 35 different wines by the glass (not to mention the hundreds of bottles to choose from). Flight’s interior is intimate and beautifully lit––perfect for a simple date night.

1820 Tower Road, Glenview

Bobby’s Deerfield

Make your Valentine’s Day drink a spirited cocktail whipped up by one of Bobby’s master mixologists. This restaurant knows how to do drinks, from barrel-aged classics to their own selection of signatures. Each syrup and mixer is made in Bobby’s kitchen and each ingredient is measured to order, so your drink is fresh every time. (Bobby’s, will you be my Valentine?)

695 Deerfield Road, Deerfield

Norton’s Restaurant

If you’re in the mood for an unpretentious Valentine’s Day, head to Norton’s, a no-nonsense spot that’s welcoming to all. Share a pint and a few appetizers for a cozy night out, and catch live music almost every weekend.

1905 Sheridan Road, Highland Park

Northbrook Grille

And now for the wildcard. A neighborhood market might seem like a strange pick for Valentine’s Day, but hey, is there any such thing as “normal”? Tucked away in Sunset Foods, the recently opened Northbrook Grille includes a craft beer and wine bar that’s set off from the bustle of busy grocery shoppers (who, by the way, make for excellent people-watching). Grab a fresh bite from the menu of eats, and enjoy Cupid’s evening in a casual, unexpected setting.

1127 Church Street, Northbrook

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