A young couple in love exchange gifts for Valentine's Day in a cafe

Restaurant Review: Logan Square’s Penumbra named “Most Romantic in the Nation” by Yelp

A young couple in love exchange gifts for Valentine's Day in a cafe

It’s a short two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Your partner is the best thing you’ve got in your world. You want to wine them, dine them…maybe even propose!

With near-perfect, 4.8/5 ratings on several review sites, consider Logan Square’s Penumbra Restaurant & Wine Bar, recently voted the #1 Most Romantic Restaurant in the nation by Yelp (via Business Insider.) 

What makes this Latin-inspired steakhouse and wine bar so special? It starts with the name. Penumbra, according to its website, is inspired by owner Rita Vargas’ experience living the first  part of her life in Ecuador. Having no electricity while very young, she used candles for light, thus creating a space of partial illumination =  PENUMBRA. The restaurant honors that heritage and provides an intimate experience for guests.

For starters, begin with their Charcuterie Board, filled with shareable local and imported cured meats and cheeses, Kalamata and green olives, and served with artisan bread. Scallops are seared in butter and served over roasted serrano avocado sauce, and  ‘dolloped’ with their house remoulade. Bocaditos is a quesadilla-style tomato basil tortilla, stuffed with cheese, scallions, parsley, coriander and hot pepper, with a ‘dollop’  of  homemade avocado crema.

Move forward to steakhouse royalty with their Ribeye, a 10-ounce Ribeye steak rubbed in cracked black pepper. Pork serves up two boneless pork tenderloins, seasoned with a hickory molasses dry rub, and topped with roasted garlic cream and cranberry chipotle sauces, served with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables. Chicken is a succulent chicken breast topped, with their special herbed goat cheese cream, and sever with house salad and roasted potatoes. A Valentine/Special Occasion Surf & Turf pairs your choice of steak, combined with Lobster Tail or Shadow/Creole Jalapeno Shrimp, served with roasted potatoes and house salad. Salmon is pan-seared and smothered in the Chef’s special caper butter reduction, accompanied by roasted poblano potato puree and grilled asparagus.

As we have often said…save room for dessert. Especially if it’s their Penumbra Ice Cream, a homemade rum raisin ice cream topped with light caramel and chocolate drizzle. (I rarely see rum raisin anywhere anymore, so this is a special treat!) Or, opt for their Molten Brandy Truffle, a gooey flourless lava cake with infused chocolate Brandy truffle inside, and topped with a raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. This dish served 2-3 people, easily. 

But don’t just take my word for it! One Google reviewer wrote,

“The perfect place for a romantic date. We asked to sit at a booth table and it was the most perfect and intimate setting you could find. Everything we ordered was amazing. We ordered cold cuts and this paired with drinks was perfect. Highly recommended.”

Another wrote:  

“The best restaurant in Chicago!! Everything taste amazing!! Had the creole jalapeño shrimp beyond flavorful!! The steak and lobster are amazing! The lobster is the best I’ve ever had! Must try it’s a hidden gem & the service is phenomenal! Very romantic vibes! Will be returning again next time we are in Chicago!”

Penumbra Restaurant & Wine Bar is located at 3309 W. Fullerton. Their hours are Wednesday & Thursday, 5pm–10pm, Friday & Saturday, 5pm–11pm, and Sunday, 5pm–9pm. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Although walk-ins are welcome, reservations are highly recommended for Friday and Saturday evenings. For parties of 5 or more, please contact the restaurant for availability. For reservations, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago