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Café Absinthe

531 reviews
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$30 and under
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Top Tags:
  • Romantic
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Fit for Foodies

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Café Absinthe serves American and French fare in a candlelit bistro in Chicago. Diners can come in and experience dinner and wine in an intimate setting that seems away from it all. Start the night off with an artisanal cheese plate, Pernod mussels, lump crab cake or Hudson Valley foie gras to prepare the taste buds for the adventurous entrées.

Café Absinthe main courses include Atlantic salmon, sea scallops, crispy duck breast, Australian lamb rack and much more. Those looking for something lighter can enjoy a roasted beet salad or the lobster Boston salad. Café Absinthe also offers an extensive desserts menu, where guests can enjoy a chocolate brownie, rustic apple tart, vanilla Trinity cream and many others to finish the meal.

Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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French, Fusion / Eclectic
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Hours of operation
Sunday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 11:00pm
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Phone number
(773) 278-4488
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
Jose Garcia
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Private party facilities
Cafe Absinthe can accommodate parties up to 65.
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Private party contact
James Romeo: (773) 278-4488
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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.
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Cross street
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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.
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Public transit
Damen stop - Blue Line

North Ave Bus\Damen Bus

Taxis Available
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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.
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Chef's Table, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 531 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.0  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
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vipOpenTable Diner (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on February 14, 2016

My wife and I went here on valentines day. The Prix Fixe menu was very good and fairly priced for the special occasion. The food was all well-prepared. The atmosphere is great for date night.

vipAMG41 (Chicago)
3.0  Dined on February 12, 2016

Nice romantic place. Food didn't wow me.

vipWindyCityLo (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on February 9, 2016

What a lovely occasion - a fine meal with good friends on a cold winter's night - very few folks but it WAS d**ned cold out ... TRICKY to find the entrance but now that we're "in the know", all future visits will be easy! A smallish but upscale menu, beautifully prepared and presented. Started with the mussels which were tremendous. had an amazing chilean sea bass for entree which chef happily swapped out some food-issue sides for something i could have. portions were generous and, i hear, the bread was amazing! of course, the absinthe soothed the wild beasts who were then braced to return to the chicago wintry wind.

OpenTable Diner (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on February 5, 2016

Great service & food, too loud for my age group. No view, little ambiance. Great staff!

OpenTable Diner (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on January 30, 2016

Good food--especially the sea bass; fun vibrant neighborhood; parking a challenge so valet service a big plus

OfteninPhilly (Las Vegas)
4.0  Dined on January 22, 2016

My husband I had a very nice dinner here. He loved the mussels in Pernod sauce and said his rack of lamb was fantastics. I had the duck and it was very good.

NewGem (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on January 16, 2016

Every dish was excellent and the tastes were perfectly balanced.

Janie (Chicago)
2.0  Dined on January 10, 2016

My wife's Australian Rack of Lamb was excellent, as always. My Duck Breast was awful. Tough and Grisly. Very disappointing. This was our fourth visit and possibly the last.

vipRobin (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on December 31, 2015

My husband and I enjoyed a last minute NYE dinner The service was excellent as was the bar service. The food was good but not exceptional.

SB18 (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on December 22, 2015

Given Cafe Absinthe's location, you'd imagine it to be packed 100 percent of the time, but instead, it is a cozy little nook that has no TVs, and plenty of room for diners to enjoy a quiet, lovely meal together.

Unfortunately, they do not rotate the menu selections often enough, so the food options are super limited, but they do change the drinks and desserts, and that is enough to visit and revisit them.

vipOpenTable Diner (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on December 20, 2015

Great experience. Loved the food and ambiance. Cheese plate was on point. Definitely will be back.

vipfoodieover40 (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on December 5, 2015

We've been here several times and it has always been hopping but this time it was rather quiet. They have changed the menu and, although the food was excellent, the menu is limited. Not a good selection of appetizers and need a few more selections for entrees. The wine list is limited, as well. Most of the tables filled up by 8 but they did not turn over. We were the last table to leave and had 7:30 res.
Therefore, I would say I was disappointed this time. New owners, perhaps???

vipChicagoman (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on December 5, 2015

It was a great dinner in a romantic setting. However Wicker Park is booming and street parking is a nightmare. There is no valet parking. Get a ride there or take public transport. A good side of that choice is also the ability to have another if their excellent cocktails.

vipFultnmarktlocal (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on November 29, 2015

The food is absolutely amazing. I love the ambiance in the restaurant.

Decent (Chicago)
3.0  Dined on November 28, 2015

As a server myself, I think the service could have been a little better. The waiter wasn't super attentive and didn't make an effort to please us after we were dissatisfied with something. The food was delicious and the setting was nice.

lovediningout (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on November 8, 2015

The atmosphere in
Cafe Absinthe is quite pleasant...entering through the alley gives it a feel of an old time speakeasy, as does the long bar at the front of the restaurant. The restaurant is quite dark, which sets a kind of sultry mood but also makes it a challenge to read the menu!
The menu is limited but the entrees were quite good. The salmon was excellent, the beef tenderloin very tasty, and the lamb quite good as well. The duck was flavorful but tough. The chef needs to work on this, as others have also made this comment.

Our server was friendly but not terribly competent. We ordered a bottle of wine and a glass was brought to the table...he didn't stop by after our entrees were served to ask how everything was, nor did he ask if we wanted more bread when the tray got empty.
Our water glasses were refilled regularly, however, and the meal was well timed. Our salads were very tasty, both the beet salad and the spinach salad.
We didn't try dessert, but overall we found the meal quite enjoyable and would consider returning. Service was not great but at least it wasn't borderline hostile as some people have found.

Csal (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on November 7, 2015

Inviting, relaxing atmosphere. Delicious food! The mussels appetizer plate is a definite for the seafood lover. Our party ordered three different entrees and all were excellent-the sea bass, scallops and duck. Another review indicated the temperature in the restaurant was a bit chilly-we also found that to be true. Dress accordingly. Chololate lava cake-Yum! The only negative of our visit was that valet parking was supposed to be available. We waited 10 minutes for the valet, gave up waiting, had to park about 8 blocks away. The valet service is shared, so commuters may want add some extra time if they need this service or take public transportation.

Delicious (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on November 6, 2015

I've been wanting to come here and I was so glad I did. Everything was great!

vipOpenTable Diner (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on October 30, 2015

Beautiful presentation, high quality ingredients and delicious. My third time here and it is consistently great. Service is perfect. Portions are large too, you can share the apps and dessert. Love cafe absinthe, I will be a regular.

velasq19 (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on October 28, 2015

Great lobster risotto. Only one observation: the cheese platter only had 2 types of cheese (I expected more variety) and a ton of olives, which is ok I guess if you like olives but I don't. Awesome service and ambiance, I will definitely go back!

vipAudreyChicago (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on October 23, 2015

Our waitress was very nice and recommended a wine for us that was great and reasonably priced. The food was outstanding. Dessert and cheese plate were great as well.

vipNick (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on September 30, 2015

Food was outstanding!! Son's birthday was a big hit. We are return customers and always recommend to friends!

vipOpenTable Diner (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on September 18, 2015

Every single item on the menu looked delicious. I had the scallops, and they were amazing!

OpenTable Diner (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on September 16, 2015

Above average on all levels. Probably will not return in the near future as I do not live in the area. Great for those who enjoy a darker lit restaurant and a somewhat limited yet varied and solid entree selection (i.e. lobster risotto)

MOII (Chicago)
2.0  Dined on September 15, 2015

It was dark, there is a whole menu for absinthe drinks, no other interesting drinks
the menu was small and unimaginative. bartender ate her dinner at the bar, open kitchen streetside because the bus stop is right in front. Cute back entrance.

viptvr8 (Chicago)
3.0  Dined on September 13, 2015

I have rated this restaurant before and it scored higher marks. Overall, the food was excellent. We typically like to go on a Sunday, as we assume a weekend would be quite noisy given the high ceilings. Different from other times we have visited, the service was extremely slow. Not sure what the reason was as there were not that many tables. It seemed like the kitchen was slow in getting things out. We'll likely be back, but it was a disappointment this time.

N1C0L3 (Chicago)
4.0  Dined on September 11, 2015

My girlfriend and I had reservations to celebrate our two year anniversary at a rooftop restaurant in the city but it was too cold to sit outside. Luckily we found this place and they took our reservation last minute! The ambience when you first walk in is dark and romantic. Candles are lit at every table and the tables are spread out enough that you don't feel like you're eating with the strangers next to you. The specialty cocktails all sounded great - and the one I had was perfect. A bit pricey over $10 but it was a strong drink so I did not feel like I was getting cheated by the bar. The food was delicious - the sauce on my beef tenderloin wasn't out of this world but the meat was cooked perfectly. The service was amazing. Our waiter was friendly, had great recommendations, and did not hover. Our water glasses were never empty! We wrote in our opentable reservation request that we were celebrating our two year and wished for a private table. Not only did we get the private table but in honor of our celebration our wine was on the house. It was so nice and really made us feel special. I would definitely come back here on dates and even special occasions.

vipTcoat (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on September 11, 2015

Located right at North and Damon, you enter through an alley and are immediately taken into another world. Food was amazing, service even better.

Mitchell (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on September 3, 2015

Cafe Absinthe was a great suggestion from my date who had never been there either. We arrived around 7 pm and we were the only ones in the restaurant. The drinks were great and the food was phenomenal. She had the risotto and I had the sea bass; we shared our food with each other because we both like to try a little bit of everything. I recommend an earlier time for dinner if you are on a date because it does get a little bit loud and the brick wall creates and echo on the right side of the restaurant. Other than that, I think Cafe Absinthe has a pretty great thing going for them. Our server was super sweet and picked up on us being on a date the minute we got there. Our server timed everything perfectly and we did not feel rushed at all.

OpenTable Diner (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on August 12, 2015

Hard to find (The entrance is off the alley in the back.) but worth it. Romantic setting with great service. Our waiter was extremely helpful with recommendations. Drink specials were really good. Dinner was excellent. We both had fish (she had salmon, I had sea bass) and both were cooked to perfection. The presentation of our dinner suggestions was unique. The infused chocolate cake was delicious and was enough for both of us.

We will definitely be going back. A great place to spend a special occasion.