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  • Café Absinthe

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Café Absinthe

Café Absinthe Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.cafe-absinthe.com/
  • Phone: (773) 278-4488
  • Hours of Operation: Sunday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm
    Tuesday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm
    Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: French, Fusion / Eclectic
  • Executive Chef: Jose Garcia
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Chef's Table, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Wheelchair Access, Wine, Wine Bar
  • Catering: We do large parties of up to 60 people. You may buy the entire cafe out for an event Sunday-Thursdays. Please enquire with James Romeo for details.
  • Private Party Facilities: Cafe Absinthe can accommodate parties up to 65.
  • Private Party Contact: James Romeo (773) 278-4488
  • Special Events & Promotions: Cafe Absinthe is offering a Great Prefix 3 course dinner on Sundays and and Tuesdays for $35.00 a person. For starters (seared blackwing ostriche or crab cake) Soup du jour or Salad, Filet Mignon, Fish dujour or Risotto. Wednesday is 1/2 price on wine.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Damen
  • Public Transit: Damen stop - Blue Line

    North Ave Bus\Damen Bus

    Taxis Available
  • Parking: Valet
  • Parking Details: Valet Parking is $11.00 for patrons. Pull car to the entrance located in alley just north of North Ave. There is also street parking available.
A word from Café Absinthe
Since its opening in 1994, Cafe Absinthe has garnered critical acclaim for it's innovative French/ American cuisine, use of the finest ingredients , attention to detail, an extensive wine list, and attentive and knowlegeble staff make Cafe Absinthe a Bucktown/ Wicker Park treasure.
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerFrench
  • Diners' Choice WinnerRomantic
Diner Reviews
  • "We enjoyed the food very much. For a Saturday night at 9PM, the restaurant was rather empty!"
    Dined on 4/19/2014
  • "We had a wonderful meal at Cafe Absinthe. We remember eating here over 10 years ago, it was a pleasure to go back and find it still such a great place. Our server was excellent--offered a taste of two wines before we selected our glass (always appreciate it when a server offers that!), and paid careful attention to us because we told him we were heading to the theatre. Lamb, salmon were excellent. Delicious beet salad--one of the best I've had. We will be back and it won't take us another 10 years!"
    Dined on 4/18/2014
  • "Nice place, good food, fast service. Recommended ! "
    Dined on 4/15/2014
  • "The restaurant is nicely set up with tables spaced to allow conversation without being squeezed together with other tables. However the lighting is a bit too low (high ceilings and small candles). Service is friendly and attentive, but hampered by the wait time from the kitchen. We had fish and lamb, each slightly overcooked. If not perfect, it was OK. The entrance is a bit difficult to locate because it is not actually on North Ave. We will try this restaurant again perhaps on a different day or time."
    Dined on 4/13/2014
  • "Wonderful food and service, moderate prices. Friendly staff, nice French atmosphere."
    Dined on 3/30/2014
  • "Upon walking in, we were greeted with a warm candlelit ambiance and friendly staff. We were promptly seated and brought water, bread and butter. (The bread with the sunflower seeds on it was delicious)! Our server, Chris, was really helpful, didn't cringe when we mentioned we had a Groupon and gave superb service. The duck wasn't as flavorful as I was hoping but it was good all the same. My boyfriend had the salmon and he loved it. Overall my experience at Cafe Absinthe was great and I would certainly come back again."
    Dined on 3/30/2014
  • "Café Absinthe in Wicker Park opened in the mid-90s, and is a piece of modern Chicago history. The country paté was very rich and the beet salad was generous: lots of beets and enough to split, although perhaps predictable in terms of the flavors. The sea scallops with mashed potatoes stood out as the best entrée; the duck--again a generous portion--was overcooked. The dessert menu was a throwaway (too bad). The wine list, however, was refined and affordable. While the ambience here is cozy and romantic, it was very dated (sponge painting and shabby chic). If Absinthe wants to keep up with the trends they started 20 years ago, they need to refresh their menu for a contemporary palate and consider a few updates to their amazing space."
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "Food was carefully crafted and fantastic. Service was attentive and warm, but not overbearing. Prices were less than I have paid before for equal or lesser quality elsewhere. Great atmosphere, Will absolutely be back."
    Dined on 3/20/2014
  • "Food and ambiance is great. Service was poor (aside from the busboy and bartender, which was outstanding!) Wine selection was limited and grossly overpriced. Would think twice about going again for the price"
    Dined on 3/20/2014
  • "We can no longer watch Absinthes decline. Mussels were tiny and shells empty. Duck was overcooked. Drinks were missing. We left as soon as we could, as did other tables when drinks were never received. Servers were frazzled though trying. Bartender couldn't care less and served bar seated customers only. She was also training the hostess who was absent most of the time. Once we looked up and saw NO employees. Absinthe needs more staff, management and chefs who can do more than just cooking motions. Sad, but I don't want to come back to this again."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "It still has the cool alley entrance, but the food isn't quite as good as it once was"
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "very impressive. great food, great atmosphere. will definitely be back. best cheese plate in the city, outstanding risotto. great drinks. what else is there?"
    Dined on 3/8/2014
    Dined on 3/6/2014
  • "Cafe Absinthe is a long-time favorite restaurant. Never had anything here I didn't like. The wine list is adequate an affordable. Food is exceptional. Healthy portion sizes. And not overpriced. On a recent visit with a groupon, our service did not change from its usual. From the hostess, to bartender, to server and busters... Always great service, a friendly smile and the highest quality. I always have a great time and a great meal."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "A wonderful place to have a nice dinner with my date. I loved the scallops and the wine selection was fun to read through. I enjoyed a nice glass from Bordeaux. The dinner was not rushed."
    Dined on 2/26/2014
  • "nice small portions so I didn't feel stuffed when I left and it didn't seem unhealthy. great change of pace for bucktown"
    Dined on 2/26/2014
  • "This is a neighborhood place with excellent service. The food was delicious as was the wine (if the choices seem limited by the glass, it did not matter because they were delectable)... Service was far beyond expectations: very warm, friendly, and accommodating... and the music choices topped it off. Had a great experience."
    Dined on 2/20/2014
  • "If you want a wonderfully delicious dining experience where the staff and ambiance will not disappoint for a nice romantic outing, then look no further… Cafe Absinthe offers everything you could want in a nice romantic setting. Sunday nights are great as the parking in the area is free that day. Do yourself and your significant other a favor and book a reservation! Just make sure you don't sit to close to the kitchen if you're looking to maintain the romantic ambiance as the kitchen lighting will destroy any aspect of the otherwise cozy romantic experience."
    Dined on 2/16/2014
  • "Great food and atmosphere. Kitchen definitely knows what its doing. Room is energetic and tables close - like in larger European cities. Very fun, just be ready to meet your table neighbors! Wines are limited but select-able."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "Excellent ambience but food was average at best. Foie Gras was disappointing, caesar salad was solid and I had crab stuffed shrimp for an entree which was simply average."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "I read that Cafe Absinthe was Chicago's most romantic restaurant. I immediately made a reservation for Valentine's Day. When we walked in, we thought the restaurant was wonderful; such a great vibe and definitely romantic. However, the romance was significantly diminished by squashing the tables together so that you had to turn sideways to move (I am a size 2 and it was challenging for me). Unbeknownst to me, there was a prixe fix menu that evening. I am gluten sensitive and this created a severe problem. The waiter came back with about 3 things I could eat. I have to say that the food, even my husband's dinner was mediocre, at best. There was just nothing special about this dinner. How can blackberry sorbet have no taste?"
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Had a very memorable dinner on a busy Saturday night after Valentine's Day. Food was excellent and moderately priced. Crab cake appetizer had excellent flavor, would definitely order again. Lobster salad was ok. The scallop entree was phenomenal and the Chilean sea bass was very good too. Both were cooked perfectly. The chocolate lava cake was also excellent. Wine list was not impressive. We brought our own wine and paid the corkage fee. For the quality food they served they provided, the prices were lower than expected. Will go back again."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "Food and wine (and very generous pours) were excellent. Everything else, such as service staff were so sub-par I had a hard time leaving a 4-star review. But the food deserved a 5. And what's up with the entrance in the alley? Really? We are not in France, most people visiting this place have never been to France. We live a block away for five years now and never walked in til just now because this alley thing did not seem inviting enough. I am sure the owners lose a ton of business trying to be different. Silly."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "I went on valentines day with my girlfriend. Food was really good (especially the duck), ambience was nice and romantic, but the service was just terrible. We sat for about 20 minutes before anyone noticed we were there, then waited several awkward intervals for out waiter to come by and ask us about the wrong courses, etc. didn't see him again until he came by to give a check (that I had I flag him down to get). Like I said, great food, but you'd get far better service at a Denny's. Or at least the night I was there."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "We were really pleased that we found this wonderful place! Since the reviews specified the trouble finding the entrance, we checked it out before on the map and had no problem finding it. Valet parking was $15, which we felt was high, given that we could have used the metered parking for less. Food was wonderful (scallops and chowder for the mister and crispy duck breast and artisanal cheeses pour moi) and served by a very attentive server. We will be back for more!"
    Dined on 2/8/2014
  • "make this your stop. The deor is trily rich in character, so classic Chicago. The qualiy of the food for the cost is outstanding.A salad for two for the cost of saald for one at most restaurants. We enjoyed the spinach salad - oh the dressing! We could smell the brad baking. My husband orderd scallops. I am tninking, ok,, I will have to share my rack of lamb with him becasue he will still be hungry.Not so, .A generous portion of potaoes, veggies and large scallops.My plate was so large, i took a to go bag! But what made this a memorable experience was our server . A genuine smile, attentive and anticipating our needs.We never had tow ait for a water refill or more of the delicious bread."
    Dined on 2/9/2014
  • "We all loved our food and our waiter was very helpful and friendly. We ate mussels, and crab cake as appetizers, beet salad, and then scallops, salmon, and risotto entrees. All delicious. Desserts looked good but we were to full to have it. Recommend it."
    Dined on 2/1/2014
  • "Cafe Absinthe is a great restaurant for a date night. We enjoyed the food the ambience, and the service. The setting is very romantic, and we will return."
    Dined on 1/25/2014
  • "This is a great date night place. The food is always fantastic, the space is intimate and music is always just right. It is also a good place to catch with a small group of friends. We have been going here for a years. They never disappoint."
    Dined on 1/25/2014
  • "The food was very good, and the setting was great for my large family group. Service was excellent, noise level permitted us all to hear each other and we were able to linger without feeling rushed."
    Dined on 12/20/2013
  • "I was our first time here and my daughter's birthday. There were five of us and we were all delightfully surprised by the quality of food and the non-hurried pace of service. Some might consider the wine list restricted, one Chardonnay, but a least it was good, and the overall experience was fantastic from the mussels, through the salads and entrée all the way to the delectable dessert prepared for the birthday girl. Will definitely go again, this time I will drop quests off at the front door which is entered from an alley off Damen. A bit strange, however once inside it was a great venue. DH"
    Dined on 1/18/2014
  • "I first went to CA in the mid-nineties back when Bucktown was edgy and just starting to become a destination. Last week we were back in town and decided to take a walk down memory lane and go back to Cafe Absithe again. Unlike the rest of the neighborhood, the place is amazingly unchanged. The beautiful exposed brick with the Pernod logo on it is still there and I swear the decor is the same...although now it feels pleasantly broken in and almost antique. Like the place, the service there is relaxed and comfortable, almost like you were at a family members house for dinner who wants you have a good time. Maggie the bartender is a hoot and the Australian lamb rack with the au gratin potatoes and garlic spinach is superb and underpriced."
    Dined on 1/17/2014
  • "I love the restaurant atmosphere. I actually thought I really was in French but unfortunately I was still in freezing good Chicago."
    Dined on 1/4/2014
  • "We went for a NYE meal. Prix Fixe menu so can't comment on the menu but food was excellent. Good service on a busy night and the ambiance was spot on. Very cute restaurant. Would definitely recommend for a romantic night or dining with friends. Will visit again."
    Dined on 12/31/2013
  • "Cafe Absinthe is a bit hidden since the entrance is either through a tavern on the corner or in the alley off Damen. We visited on a very quiet night. There was only one or two other tables occupied while we were there. The food and service was wonderful and we enjoyed the romantic and cozy atmosphere on a cold night. I had the seared scallops and they were very tasty."
    Dined on 12/27/2013
  • "I've been to Cafe Absinthe twice and haven't been disappointed. The menu is limited (8-10 items), but between me and my guests, we've ordered 6 different items. All of the entrees have been outstanding with great taste, attentive preparation and creative presentation. The service is very good, but not over the top. The meal is well paced from the drink order, to the food order, to appetizer delivery, the entree and the dessert/coffee. The price is a great value relative overall meal experience. I would recommend Cafe Absinthe as a great change of pace from the typical restaurants in the Loop, River North/West and Near North options. Street parking is readily available and inexpensive."
    Dined on 10/19/2013
  • "If you're looking for great food with no where to be afterwards, this is you place. It took them 20 minutes to take our drink order after leaving the wine list, which was a recurring theme throughout dinner. The food was fantastic, from the cheese plate, heirloom tomato salad to the rack of lamb entree. I thoroughly enjoyed it but being in Chicago has its requirements and good service is one of them. If they don't step it up a notch, they won't stick around."
    Dined on 10/19/2013
  • "Cafe Absinthe has a really unique and interesting decor. Coming from the suburbs I was thrilled to head into a restaurant so unlike anything where I currently live. The food was very good - especially the Beet Salad. I would go back just for that salad but everything was very good. I had a French Martini that was wonderful and the wine with dinner was also nice. I liked our waiter - he was attentive and friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. I would definitely recommend Cafe Absinthe!"
    Dined on 10/12/2013
  • "There was just something slightly strange about the experience here. The food was good, it's a nice place inside, but the atmosphere was just a little overall strange. It being linked up to a very different vibe bar next door and the restaurant being pretty empty. It was almost like we came to a closed restaurant that decided to open up when we walked in the door (for our reservation...). I can't complain, it was just a bit of a strange vibe for a 6 corner, upscale restaurant. Maybe it's too much of a classic menu and set up for this kind of neighborhood. I'd go back, maybe, but wouldn't be anxious about it."
    Dined on 7/12/2013