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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!