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Chicago is a world-class food city, and as such, it’s certainly earned a top-notch gift guide that highlights its breadth, depth, and resilience. From a box of prime steaks selected by a legendary, family-owned restaurant to Indian condiments developed by one of the most popular virtual kitchens in town, there’s a special and thoughtful item for every kind of ravenous Chicagoan at a range of prices. One could spend all day evaluating the many delicious and attractive creations of local chefs, chocolatiers, artists, and writers, but this guide is streamlined to reflect a tight 10 holiday gift ideas for someone who loves food as much as they love Chicago. For additional inspiration, explore our 2021 gift guide.
The G&G Original steak box from Gene & Georgetti
Family-owned Chicago steakhouse and local icon Gene & Georgetti marked 81 years of business in 2022 — a significant birthday by any measure, and one that’s made all the sweeter after enduring the pandemic. Fans near and far can impress their loved ones with a taste of the legendary restaurant thanks to its collection of steak boxes, including the G&G Original, which features its most popular cuts: two 8-ounce center-cut filets, two 14-ounce prime New York strip steaks, and two 20-ounce prime bone-in rib-eyes.
The Way of the Cocktail by Julia Momose and Emma Janzen
Bartending supernova Julia Momose, the creative engine behind Chicago’s acclaimed Japanese drinking bar Kumiko, and writer Emma Janzen earned a coveted James Beard Award this year for The Way of the Cocktail, a beautifully designed book that offers a window into the philosophy and techniques of Japanese cocktail culture. Sip your way through recipes drawn from Japan’s 24 micro-seasons, as well as renditions of classics like the Manhattan and Negroni, riffs on Japanese hits like the whisky highball, and alcohol-free submissions with flavor profiles like yuzu and matcha.
Mac Dog Mix popcorn from the Hot Dog Box
As the name makes plain, the Hot Dog Box in Portage Park is best known for, well, hot dogs. But tucked among its menu offerings, patrons will find a fun and festive smattering of seasoned Mac Dog Mix popcorn. Available in Sweet Heat BBQ, Red Salt, and the Real Dill, the offerings make for a creative gift that could have friends and family (playfully) fighting over the popcorn bowl.
Chocolate boxes from Good Ambler
Beautiful and delicious is a tough combination to beat in the field of gift-giving. Executive pastry chef Kevin McCormick of Good Ambler in Fulton Market is prepared to aid those in search of holiday present glory with his 5-piece, 9-piece, and 16-piece boxes of handmade chocolates. McCormick selects each immaculate bite from a range of flavors such as cognac ganache with honey, pineapple caramel, and chipotle with ancho chile-infused ganache.
S’more Besties Plush from XO Marshmallow
For some, the measure of a good gift is something the recipient wouldn’t think to buy for themselves. It’s probably safe to say that an adorably squishy s’more stuffed toy — with a face — falls squarely into that category. There are plenty of cold winter nights ahead for Chicago, so a smiling s’more could make for a cheery companion.
Wine Club membership from Easy Does It
The world of wine can be an overwhelming one, frequently fraught with perplexing jargon and prices all over the board. Those who’d rather avoid wandering helplessly among rows of bottles can place their drinking fate in the hands of experts at Logan Square wine bar Easy Does It by choosing one of three wine packages, the Milwaukee ($45 per month, two bottles), the Medill ($75 per month, two bottles), or the Monument ($115 per month, four bottles). At checkout, purchasers can select between two reds, one red and one white, or two whites.
Chili crisp from Vargo Brother Ferments
The chile crisp market is an increasingly competitive one, which makes sense for those who are familiar with the magic it brings to savory and sweet dishes alike (mega-fans love to hype it as a topping for vanilla ice cream). This version from chefs and fiancees Sebastian Vargo and Taylor Hanna, however, stands apart with ingredients sourced from local community gardens, as well as their backyard. Rich and fragrant, it’s made with smoked shiitakes and four types of chiles.
What to Eat Enamel Spinning Pin from Ponnopozz
Chicagoans are, undoubtedly, spoiled for choice when it comes to making dining plans. But with the city’s wide variety of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world, all those options can get overwhelming. Ravenswood retailer and art studio Ponnopozz is here to help with a handy spinning pin (it’s also available as a magnet) to provide a little inspiration for mealtime. Attach it to a jacket or bag in case just in case.
The Full Experience from Tasting India
Since 2020, Chicago chef Jasmine Sheth has nurtured Tasting India, her virtual restaurant that features a rotating menu of regional Indian cuisine, from a fledgling operation to a noteworthy contender in the city’s restaurant scene. Ever the entrepreneur, Sheth has expanded her purview into spices, condiments, and other kitchen products. Choose among the plethora of options like nutty, fruity, spicy Bombay Chili Crunch; aromatic and versatile Goda Masala; and allium-rich Vadouvan Masala. Or, go all in with the Full Experience, a complete set of Sheth’s retail offerings, for a winter season filled with flavor.
Justice of the Pies by Maya-Camille Broussard
Baking whiz and food entrepreneur Maya-Camille Broussard became a nationally known name with an appearance on the Netflix show Bake Squad. Chicagoans, however, have long known of her pastry prowess thanks to Justice of the Pies, her pie business with a social mission to partner with local organizations to support people in need. Broussard, a finalist for the 2022 James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker, recently released her first cookbook with 85 recipes for sweet and savory pies, as well as tarts and more. Home bakers can try their hand at her popular salted caramel peach pie and sumptuous fig and pig quiche. Readers will also find stories about Broussard’s late father and inspiration, criminal defense attorney Stephen J. Broussard, as well as details about the social justice luminaries that fuel her passion for bettering the world.