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The Short Version: Carnivale is a trendy and upscale Chicago restaurant known for its colorful decorations and inventive cuisine. The Latin-inspired menu is full of surprises, including paella de mariscos espanol, homemade guacamole, and artisanal desserts. Thanks to its fresh food and joyful atmosphere, Carnivale has become a favorite date spot among locals and tourists, and many couples have celebrated anniversaries, birthdays, and even weddings here.
Chicago’s Carnivale has a special place in the hearts of many couples and families. Years ago, Derek H. and his wife went on their first date at Carnivale, and the restaurant became the backdrop for their love story. Now, whenever the married couple returns to Carnivale, it brings back those warm, fuzzy feelings.
“From the get-go, the atmosphere is an easy five stars,” Derek said in a Yelp review. “Colors, open spaces, not an open table to be seen.”
On their last visit, Derek and his wife treated themselves to the bar’s signature cocktails before splitting a seafood platter and topping off the night with a decadent chocolate dessert. The rich food and friendly service gave them even more memories to treasure together.
Since opening its doors in 2005, Carnivale has garnered a reputation as one of the most eclectic and colorful restaurants in Chicago’s West Loop. Its upscale yet casual atmosphere is great for all occasions, and you’ll see diners of all ages and backgrounds enjoying themselves here.
Countless couples have spent romantic date nights at Carnivale and savored a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The restaurant delights the senses with artsy decor, musical performances, and savory smells wafting from the kitchen. Its imaginative menu features Latin fusion dishes that bring the flavors of Mexico, South America, and Central America to the streets of Chicago.
Carnivale is always evolving and innovating. The team puts the customer’s needs first and foremost, striving to provide the best dining experience from start to finish.
Dining at Carnivale can make you feel as if you’re touring Latin America. The cuisine takes traditional recipes from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and other countries, and then transforms them into a new and original dish. Carnivale chefs draw inspiration from Latin culture, showcasing classic dishes made with plantains, yucca, quinoa, and chickpeas, but with a fresh twist.
Carnivale supports local farmers and artisans, and it sources 60 varieties of produce from its own rooftop garden. The Carnivale kitchen doesn’t cut corners when it comes to quality food, and the kitchen staff even makes fresh guacamole from scratch.
Couples can start off with a signature cocktail, maybe a cotton candy martini or a tropical sangria, and then spice up the evening with a shareable appetizer. The coconut shrimp is a sweet and savory dish topped with pineapple chutney.
As far as main dishes go, locals praise the slow-cooked seafood paella, the skirt steak, and the rack of lamb. The dinner menu has plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options available as well.
If you’re in the mood for seafood, Carnivale can satisfy your craving and then some. Its seafood bar has many large, tactile dishes that tempt couples to dig in and share a rich and filling meal. The Seafood Tacklebox, which serves two people, includes six different oysters, half a pound of Maine lobster, and half a pound of poached shrimp.
Make sure you save room for dessert at Carnivale because the kitchen has a few five-star options. The organic cotton candy served with house-made caramel corn offers an elegant taste of childhood, while the chocolate tres leches is a gooey, wonderful mess of hot Mexican chocolate, sweet cream, and espresso-soaked cake.
“Fortunately for us, we ordered their chocolate tres leches, and it was truly to die for,” said Jose C., who spent his anniversary at Carnivale. “It was all very chocolaty. I loved this as well and wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.”
The Carnivale calendar is always packed with things to do and see. Couples can reserve a table on Friday nights to enjoy live entertainment while they dine. During the restaurant’s weekly Vivir event, the whole restaurant becomes a stage where acrobats, musicians, dancers, and other performers use their talents to delight and surprise crowds of people. Vivir’s motto is “expect the unexpected,” and you never know what wonders Carnivale has in store.
There’s no doubt that Carnivale is a great date venue, but it also has a solid reputation as a wedding venue. Carnivale can arrange weddings for as few as 10 and as many as 300 guests in its seven private event spaces.
Carnivale boasts an impressive 4.9 star rating on The Knot, and many brides say they love the colorful photos taken of their big day.
Katherine B. said they chose Carnivale because they love its food, cocktails, and funky vibes. “Carnivale was my dream location, and it did not disappoint,” she wrote in a review. “The fun colors and setup really matched our personalities and vision for the day.”
Carnivale’s Wedding Specialists work closely with brides and grooms to make sure every detail of the wedding exceeds expectations. “I can’t express how fantastic working with the wedding planner at Carnivale was,” said Rachel W. on The Knot. “We had the wedding of our dreams.”
“We are so grateful to the staff for providing everything we needed and for making it an unforgettable night,” said a bride named Erika F. on The Knot.
You can get in touch with the Carnivale team for help planning a memorable event. Whether Carnivale is hosting a mixology class or a wedding reception, the team knows how to put on a show and make the experience one you’ll never forget.
From the upscale food to the colorful setting, there’s a lot to love about Carnivale. The restaurant is alive with unique sights, smells, and flavors, and many couples return time and time again to brighten up their days.
Vanessa A. and her husband said in a Yelp review that they have been coming to Carnivale for more than a decade. Between the raspberry mojitos and the hot empanadas, they can’t get enough. “The quality of food never disappoints and seems to just get better,” Vanessa said. “We’re always impressed, and we keep coming back for birthdays, date nights, anniversaries, and special occasions.”
Carnivale’s atmosphere is eye-catching, but its menu is the main attraction for many visitors. Reviews on TripAdvisor agree that you won’t find food like this anywhere else. The Latin cuisine is beautifully prepared and wows customers with its unique flavor combinations.
“Our food was fabulous, interesting, and absolutely delicious,” said Bonnie T.. “This is a great place — highly recommend for a special occasion.”
“If you’re looking for an experience that’s different and one you’ll remember, go to Carnivale,” advised Andrew, a Chicago resident who uses Carnivale as his go-to date spot. “The ambiance is incredible and immediately takes you out of Chicago and into Latin America.”
Over the years, many couples have reserved a table at Carnivale to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, and other major events. The waitstaff go to great lengths to make the evening special, and some couples say they’ve received complimentary glasses of champagne or free desserts to mark the occasion.
Derek H. and his wife started falling for one another over dinner at Carnivale, and they continue building on that relationship to this day. As a married couple, they can turn to Carnivale whenever they want to boost their spirits or bring a little romance to their evenings. Its festive Latin atmosphere brings back fond memories while also offering a taste of something new.
Carnivale is a fantastic date destination for adventurous and artsy couples in Chicago. The restaurant’s flavorful and indulgent dishes can turn dinner or brunch into a celebration and give people something to savor together.
If couples want a fun night out in Chicago, Carnivale is the spot. With entertainment every Friday night and other interactive events, including mixology classes and murder mystery dinners, Carnivale brings a unique and entertaining aspect to any date night.