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Guide

Where To Go For A Sit-Down Dessert

12 places to eat something that’s not a bad $15 lava cake.

Written by
12 Spots
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12 Spots
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People go out for drinks, people go out for dinner, and occasionally, truly dedicated people go out just for dessert. So when all you really want is a nice piece of chocolate cake that someone else will hand to you on a real plate - whether or not you’ve just had dinner at a different restaurant - head to one of these 10 spots.

People go out for drinks, people go out for dinner, and occasionally, truly dedicated people go out just for dessert. So when all you really want is a nice piece of chocolate cake that someone else will hand to you on a real plate - whether or not you’ve just had dinner at a different restaurant - head to one of these 10 spots.

The Spots

Sandy Noto

Monteverde

$$$$
$$$$ 1020 W Madison St

Monteverde is the best Italian restaurant in the city, so you might not know that it’s actually a low-key dessert utility player. It’s usually easy to get a seat at the bar (especially later at night), and that’s the best place to eat one of their fantastic desserts. Order the black forest cake, or the apple walnut sundae made with cardamom ice cream, toasted marshmallows, graham crackers, and blondies. Either of those is just as good as this place’s famous pasta. In other words, dessert is a perfectly valid reason to come here.

Gilt Bar

$$$$
$$$$ 230 W Kinzie St

Gilt Bar is right next door to Bavette’s, and is from the same owners. It also has the same kind of dimly-lit speakeasy atmosphere. And on top of that, it has some of the same dishes - like an incredibly rich chocolate cream pie that’s one of our favorite desserts in all of Chicago. Gilt Bar also has a few things you won’t find at its sister spot, though, like a sticky toffee pudding that will make you believe you’re a judge on the Great British Bake-Off (for at least a few seconds). Most importantly, while Bavette’s isn’t always a good bet for walk-ins, Gilt Bar is. So grab a seat in the downstairs library for a sit-down dessert date.

Sandy Noto

RPM Steak

$$$$
$$$$ 66 W Kinzie St

RPM Steak is sceney and expensive, and depending on your mood (and budget), a whole dinner here can feel more intense than what you’re normally up for on a Tuesday. But not if you just hit up the bar section for dessert. You can still get the best of what this place offers (like great service and giant leather booths), without the expense and time commitment of a full-blown meal. Order the delicious 14-karat gold-flaked chocolate cake that can easily feed two people, then go home and watch a documentary about bird migration.

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Sandy Noto

Gaijin

$$$$
$$$$ 950 W Lake St

You’re not at this busy Japanese spot looking for a quiet way to cap off your night in the West Loop - you come here when you’re not ready for the night to end. Have some cocktails, and order one of their massive kakigori sundaes - made with shaved iced, housemade ice cream, and condensed milk poured over the top. They have a few different kinds (like yuzu sesame, or gooey cinnamon butter cake) and each has something - like sesame brittle, puffed rice, or caramelized apples - that makes it extra interesting. While you’re at it, get one of their mochi donuts as a chaser.

The Publican

$$$$
$$$$ 837 West Fulton Market

The Publican is known for pork and beer, and it does both of those things very well. But another thing it does well is dessert. The long, always-changing menu includes things like cranberry creamsicle ice cream, malted chocolate layer cake, and “Erika’s cookie jar” - a bunch of different cookies that come in, yes, an old-school cookie jar. So come here and pretend you’re having an after-school snack (back in the day before parents started reading about the dangers of sugar).

Sandy Noto

Nico Osteria

$$$$
$$$$ 1015 N Rush St

While we like the pastas at Nico Osteria, our low-key favorite reason for coming here is the desserts. For example, matcha panna cotta with chocolate cake and almond nougatine, and tiramisu with puff pastry and chocolate gelato. Sit at the chef’s counter and order as many things as you can fit in front of you.

Sandy Noto

After you leave a boring work function, you need to go somewhere fun to make up for the two hours and 48 minutes of your life you won’t be getting back. Drinks are an obvious solution, and while you should definitely have some, get a tasty dessert to make up for the stale cake with neon icing you almost ate, too. Pacific Standard Time is a loud and busy River North restaurant with an upbeat bar section where you can sit, order a cocktail, and eat something sweet - like banoffee pie, banana halva fudge ice cream, or huckleberry cake.

Sandy Noto

Beatrix

$$$$
$$$$ 519 N Clark St

Beatrix has a pastry counter that’s full of tasty grab-and-go treats. But don’t let that distract you - sit down in the restaurant and order the caramel pie. It’s buttery and delicious, and has a shortbread crust that’s good enough to eat on its own. Plus, the casual, friendly atmosphere here will remind you of your friend’s kitchen. So it’s basically like being on Golden Girls, just with less cheesecake.

Sandy Noto

Mindy's Hot Chocolate

$$$$
$$$$ 1747 N Damen Ave

Any place that accepts “dessert only” reservations obviously takes the concept of sit-down dessert pretty seriously. The menu at this comfort food spot changes monthly, but you’ll find a wide variety of cakes, from a flourless chocolate one to a strawberry port red velvet cake - and you might as well get some hot chocolate while you’re here, too (there are seven kinds to choose from, and they’re all fantastic).

Maple & Ash

$$$$
$$$$ 8 W. Maple St.

You usually go to Maple & Ash when you want an over-the-top steakhouse experience, complete with chandeliers, velvet booths, and candelabras instead of portraits of B-list celebrities. But a lesser-known use for this spot is for dessert. The large lounge area is perfect for walk-ins, and works for couples or groups who want to eat an elaborate sundae and pretend they’re in a 1990s Meatloaf video.

Swift & Sons

$$$$
$$$$ 1000 W Fulton Market

The West Loop has a lot of trendy restaurants. But after having dinner at one of those, make Swift & Sons your final stop before you head home. Despite the fact that it’s primarily a kind-of-formal steakhouse, it’s a perfectly valid destination just for dessert. For one thing, they have a little trolley rolling around that’s full of tasty little chocolate candies and baked goods. But what you really want to focus on here are dishes like the churro sundae, coconut creme brulee, or chocolate mud pie - which tastes like something you could potentially make at home if you had a lot more energy.

Sandy Noto

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

$$$$
$$$$ 1028 N Rush St

Gibsons is where you go for lie-down dessert. That’s because a nap is generally the best course of action after getting one of their (literally) six-pound pieces of cake. The flavors rotate, but you’ll always find carrot, along with the Macadamia turtle pie - which isn’t technically cake, but is still huge, and tasty enough that we’d understand if you skipped dinner for it. Bring a friend (or three), and probably a wheelbarrow for the leftovers.

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