First Date? Go Here. You’re Welcome.

Geja's Cafe

Ever been on a first date that felt more like a funeral? Flowers. A black dress. Whispery conversation.

Sometimes tears.

I have — more times than I care to recall — worn my best, beat my face, and suffered heels higher than all of Amsterdam for an evening of awkward talk and tortured glances. What went wrong? First dates are tricky. Perhaps it was the lighting, the wear of the day, or even an offensively corny remark. Whatever went wrong, it did so most unrecoverably. Mourning my time wasted, I sat there remembering why I often avoid people in the first place, and why I subscribe to Netflix. It was a moment of tragedy and it can happen to you. (You should be really scared right now.)

But it doesn’t have to.

The road to love and marriage is littered with bad dates. (That’s good. I should write that down.) But superficial matters (i.e. a corny joke versus, let’s say, a face tattoo) can be overcome in the right setting.

Geja’s Café is the right setting.

Named one of the most romantic restaurants in America, Geja’s Café has broken down to a science the makings of a great first date. Here are 4 reasons why it should be your first choice for a night out with someone you’ll never see again or may wake up to for the rest of your life. No pressure.

Geja's Cafe

4 Reasons Why Geja’s Café is Possibly the Best First Date Spot in Chicago

The restaurant is dim and flooded in a soft red filter — seriously, everyone looks gorgeous in this place, that’s benefit number one. Secondly, low lights make for terrible Instagram photos which makes for less time on the phone and more time getting to know one another through meaningful back-and-forth.

No kids allowed. The ambiance fosters quiet conversation. This will come in handy when you’re trying to figure out if your date said mental prison or dental technician.

From cocktails to dessert, the experience is fun and interactive. Geja’s is all about wine and fondue. Cheese fondue, savory fondue, chocolate fondue. Each table holds its own cute little ceramic pot placed over a roaring fire. While you’re enjoying a bite of prime steak, you’re also stabbing a scallop and dipping it into your pot. Courses begin quickly, since everything is brought to the table raw.

Marriage Day is the staff’s favorite day. Once a year, Geja’s celebrates marriage day when, with proof of total years married, couples receive 1% off their food bill for every year married. If your date ends up being the one, return for your 100-year anniversary and basically rob the place.

This year, 50 couples who were engaged at the restaurant were invited by Geja’s Café to return for a party which spilled out onto the streets of Lincoln Park. It was in honor of the restaurant’s 50th anniversary and of all the couples who started a future over their famous fondue.

You should know…

  • After 50 years, the original owner, John Davis, turned the reins over to his partner Jeff Lawler. Under new ownership, the goal is to keep things the same where possible. The only difference, according to the manager we spoke with? The chocolate fondue recipe. It now has a bolder cocoa flavor.
  • A date is not a requirement here. I arrived last Wednesday with my BFF and we fit right in, no awkwardness whatsoever.
  • What was awkward, unfortunately? Through no fault of her own, a bit of hot oil from the pot flew out and hit my friend in the face — near her eye no less! She definitely was not hovering over the oil or sitting closely to it. She was bad decisions and that bit of oil was Kanye West. It was determined to find her.
    • It seems the staff has a procedure in place if this should ever happen to a guest, which we were assured is hardly ever. Immediately, our concern was noted by our waiter and the manager came to offer an iced towel if necessary.
    • I should also point out that, after her initial shock died down, my friend didn’t wake to any pain or scaring. It’s all good. Still, I recommend sitting in a booth, even if there are only two of you, and move as far away from the pot as possible.
  • A testament to how truly enjoyable diner here can be, we would still return.
  • From the menu, I recommend ordering Prince Geja’s Combination, which provides a decent rundown of the entire menu.

Upcoming Special: Guests are invited to enjoy wines from one of the most recognized wineries in the world at the M. Chapoutier Winemaker Dinner on Monday, March 7th at 6:30 p.m. Part of Geja’s Café’s popular Winemaker Dinner series, the M. Chapoutier Winemaker Dinner features a four-course dinner including Geja’s house salad, Cheese fondue, Beef Tenderloin, Chicken & Jumbo Shrimp Entree, and Flaming Chocolate fondue for dessert. Each course will be paired with the appropriate wine. Cost for each dinner is $60 per person, which includes the wines, dinner, tax, and gratuity

Geja’s Cafe

340 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 281-9101

Images: Courtesy of Geja’s Cafe

Disclosure: As is common with restaurant reviews, meals were provided by Geja’s Cafe. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, Kari Herrera, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of the restaurant.