If you are looking for a sensory experience eating in the dark, Chicago has several options for you. If you aren’t sure if dining in complete darkness is something you’ll enjoy, however, the Windy City has some very dark restaurants that offer a memorable sensory experience of their own. All of these experiences cut out visual “noise” to allow you to focus on enjoying your other senses. This article highlights the three types of experiences available and a total of five venue options.
Dining in complete darkness
Both pitch-black options for eating in the dark in Chicago offer a great culinary experience, albeit with limited flexibility on what you can order. This is by design, to ensure that you’ll enjoy the flavors without knowing what you are eating prior to putting it in your mouth. These events include drinks and are for ages 21+. Event chefs generally accommodate allergies and dietary restrictions. Both of these experiences last 90 minutes.
Pitch black with no blind fold
Masq at Hubbard Inn in River North offers a dark dining experience with a secret three-course tasting menu paired with wine. You are prohibited from cell phones, cameras, smart watches, or photos during the dark portion. You can take photos before and after. Full COVID measures are in place, and you can check for the latest on that when you make reservations. For your meal, you choose from vegan, seafood, or meat. The meal is designed to contain a variety of flavors and textures for delightful sensory enjoyment. Ingredients are seasonal. Since this event is in complete darkness, servers where night-vision goggles.
One of the unique aspects of this particular event is that it is put on by “The Secret Society”. This is cool because it shrouds the event in mystery. When you see the staff, they are masked. No, not just for COVID; full face masks. You also cannot find much about this dinner online. So, you really don’t know the details until you experience them. Those who have spoken about this event say that the details make the event… that the staff was professional, and their experience was very entertaining. This goes for the food, the entertainment, and more. The most you’ll find out is in their FAQs.
Dress in cocktail attire. Tickets are available for Wednesday through Saturday 6 or 8:30pm, at $89 each. Weeknights sell out a month in advance, and weekends about two months in advance, as of May 2021. The address is 110 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60654.
In the dark blind-folded
For an alternative Chicago dining experience in complete darkness, diners enter a warmly lit room before being seated and blind-folded. Then the lights dim. Here too, you have the option of three secret menus, but the meal is two courses. One drink is included, and you can choose to pre-order your drinks.
What is unique about this event is that it is held at a secret location. The location says Chicago, but with a Schaumburg/Elk Grove Village zip, so be ready for a possible suburban event. The location is announced to ticket holders the day of the show. There is a live host with games and challenges.
The website, Hidden, claims a five-star rating, but as of May 2021, no reviews are online. The Hidden website doesn’t explain how the ratings on their website work.
Part of the mystery of this event is when it will be available. The last run ended May 27, 2021. Hidden is the only place you can find tickets for this event. This experience has limited dates available, but are generally available for booking within a week of the event. Times are 6 and 8:30pm, at $85 per person.
Extremely dimly lit dining
Chicago has a myriad of extremely dimly lit restaurants. A few are known for being romantic, and each has their own unique characteristics. We’ve chosen our three favorites to feature here.
Geja’s is a romantic experience great for special occasions. It leaves a memory that only Geja’s can. The fondue is delicious. It must be; Geja’s has been around since 1965. But the atmosphere is its biggest asset. It has been called Chicago’s darkest restaurant (that is not the pitch black experience). From the façade, to their romantic guitarists, to the special occasion flowers, Geja’s is a night to remember.
340 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
“Flickering candles and a handful of chandeliers”
…is how Tango Sur describes their lighting. You may be familiar with this Argentinian steakhouse as a romantic must-try. Tango Sur is an intimate option for eating in the dark in Chicago. Small and cozy inside, and BYOB, it too is ripe to make memories. This one holds a special place in my heart; my husband proposed on their patio.
3763 North Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60613
Cherry Circle Room
Like Geja’s and Tango Sur, Cherry Circle in Chicago’s Loop is a fine dining experience. An upscale dark atmosphere with dark decor, this establishment feels like a parlor at the turn of the century (the 1900s one, kids). I personally love the more secluded tables at this one. Cherry Circle Room has received the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant Design award (2016). It is presently closed for COVID, but watch their website for an open date soon.
12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603
No matter which of these experiences you try eating in the dark in Chicago, or if you try them all, each will be a unique, memorable time that delights your senses.