The GRUB GUIDE To Crisp Fall Nights

The Pump Room's toned-down, contemporary vibe attracts a young, stylish crowd. (Photo: The Pump Room)

Crisp fall nights mean that it’s time to cozy up inside with a significant other. You did it all summer alfresco style on the city’s most romantic rooftops, but that’s pretty much over—unless we’re talking covered with heat lamps.

And since that’s not much of an option around town, you’re better off investigating the new, exciting restaurants opening this fall for your dining and drinking pleasure. For example, if you’re looking to do something casual right after work, invite your sig other to Patron's Hacienda for authentic Mexican cuisine and cocktails.

The colorful River North restaurant is ideal for the couple that’s been together for awhile and looking to spice it up. You can choose from a number of family recipes ranging from traditional street food (think corn on the cob split in two, and topped with mayo, queso cotija and chili powder) to a variety of steak cuts marinated in a secret sauce. You’ll also find 15 signature cocktails, more than 56 tequila selections and 36 domestic and imported craft beers.

Additional new spots to consider:

For a good, filling brunch, head to Lincoln Park’s 2Sparrows, which is certain to make your belly and your baby happy. We’re particularly intrigued with their first menu, which puts a contemporary twist on classic breakfast items. Lamb sausage gravy is the key ingredient in the “Bisquits & Gravy” dish, while their version of “Pop Tarts” is filled with warm, oozing foie gras and cherry compote or peach with lemon thyme icing.

For the more adventurous couple, Ukrainian Village’s Bleeding Heart Café is open 57 straight hours on weekends: 7am Friday-4pm Sunday. That’s ideal for the bar-crawling types who need to fuel up before going home. Highly recommended: crunchy cinnamon swirly French toast; venison chili pot pie and a savory, herbed waffled with braised pork belly. What’s sure to be a runaway hit is the signature deep-fried doughnut breakfast sandwich, which starts with a freshly made vanilla bean doughnut that’s tempura battered and deep fried. It’s then topped with a fried egg and your choice of meat (bacon, country ham or sausage patty) or cheese (white Cheddar or Swiss).

The colorful Patron's Hacienda is ideal for the couple that’s been together for awhile and looking to spice up their relationship. (Photo: Patron's Hacienda)

Set to debut in early November is BLT American Brasserie, in River North. The French-focused resto is surprisingly inexpensive, but it is not short on romance. Guests may dine at intimate tables or leather banquettes that are both inviting and seductive. And the menu pretty much offers everything, from nine different maki rolls to steaks, pizzas and seafood. We suspect the lounge area, with seating for about 80, will be quite popular for couples as it sets the mood for what’s to come later—if you know what we mean. BLT’s doing 30 wines by the glass, and the cocktail menu is impressive, offering a cranberry-mint martini, Red Apple & Bourbon Fizz and Negroni featuring Square One Botanical, Aperol and Bianco Vermouth.

Speaking of cocktails, one of the highlights of Farmhouse is that local spirits guru Adam Seger created an artisanal, Midwestern-focused menu. It totally complements chef Eric Mansavage’s seasonal fare that pays homage to local farmers and producers. And much of the furnishings in the two-story, 99-seat venue have been salvaged from other Chicago restaurants, which demonstrates how dedicated the owners are to recycling and sustainability. It could be that chilled-out eatery you’ve been looking for to spend a low-key night out with the one you love.

There’s no doubt that The Pump Room is the most glamorous opening this fall, but will it hold up to the glory days when it was a hangout for the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, JFK and Elizabeth Taylor? The more contemporary version has toned down the décor and menu and is sensitive to these more economically challenged times. But the allure for those coupled up is still the same: solid, classic dishes with contemporary accents, coveted seats near the fireplace and a sexy, fashionable crowd.