Ugly sweater parties, peppermint mochas and those slightly addicting holiday tunes creeping on the radio are all pretty good indicators that it's about time you started cracking on your holiday gift list. Regardless of where you're shopping this holiday season, one thing that is for sure is that you're going to work an appetite doing it. Friends don't let friends shop with low bloody sugar, so make time to stop and recharge at these bars and restaurants in five of the city's most popular shopping districts.
State Street is the anchor of the Loop's shopping scene with a nice mix of high-end and affordable options to fit any budget. Your best bets for one-stop shops are Macy's (111 N. State St. 312-781-1000) and neighboring mall Block 37 (108 N. State St. 312-261-4737) featuring shops such as Godiva Chocolatier, the Disney Store, soap shop Sabon and Chicago-centric jewelry boutique Local Charm.
44 S. Wabash Ave. 312-384-1960
At this upscale cafeteria-style eatery, choose from pastas such as granchi de fiume ($11.95) with crayfish in a creamy lobster sauce or bolognese ($10.95). Pastas, along with pizzas and salads, are swiftly prepared in front of you while you wait. The spicy orange fennel salad ($10.95) with shrimp and vanilla bean panna cotta ($2.50) can round out your meal before you head back to shopping.
5 S. Wabash Ave. 3rd floor 312-465-5280
This Southern picnic-themed cafeteria hidden inside the Jewelers Center is just right to kick off a morning shopping session with hearty breakfast options such as crunchy French toast ($5.75) or gluten- free buckwheat pancakes ($4.50). Opt for a more traditional southern breakfast such as biscuits and gravy ($4.50) or creamy shrimp and grits ($9.25). If you're around for lunch, warm up with jambalaya ($7.25) or seafood chowder ($4.75).
Toni Patisserie & Cafe
65 E. Washington St. 312-726-2020
At this Parisian-style cafe, baguette sandwich options ($7.50-$9.95) include Le Vegetarien with white bean hummus and Le Boeuf made with roast beef and horseradish mayo. A half baguette sandwich and cup of soup combo ($8.75) is the perfect way to refuel after wrestling away that scarf you clearly had dibs on.
24 S. Michigan Ave. 312-372-4243
Stop in this cozy gastropub for warm and filling options such as fries with curry gravy ($7), fried pickles with a smoked serrano aioli ($8) and a beer-braised short rib sandwich ($16). Treat yourself to an apple cider doughnut topped with maple ice cream and spiced pecans ($9).
The sheer number of stores along Michigan Avenue make it worth braving the touristy crowds. The 900 North Michigan Shops (900 N. Michigan Ave. 312-915-3916) building is home to a six-level Bloomingdale's and gift jackpots such as Williams-Sonoma, Galt Toys and custom handbag shop 1154 Lill Studio. Across the street, there's the eight-level Water Tower Place (835 N. Michigan Ave. 312-440-3166) and further south, The Shops at North Bridge (520 N. Michigan Ave. 312-327-2300) anchored by Nordstorm. Not to be missed stand-alone stores include Zara (700 N. Michigan Ave. 312-255-8123) and Topshop (830 N. Michigan Ave. 312-280-6834).
110 E. Pearson St. 312-266-3110
Decompress with a refreshing cocktail such as the Sardinian 27 ($12) made with vodka, prosecco, mint and raspberries, or the or sangria bianco ($30 for a pitcher, $10 for a glass). Twenty different varieties of pizza baked in a wood-burning oven range from a basic margherita ($14) to the clam and bacon casino ($17) or mortadella pizza with black truffles ($18).
The Purple Pig
500 N. Michigan Ave. 312-464-1744
The promise of wine and cheese should be enough to convince your friends to make a pitstop here. Share small plates such as chorizo-stuffed olives and eggplant parmesan balls or choose from a long list of cured meats, cheeses and smears.
535 N. Michigan Ave. 312-644-3524
Along with beers on draft and wines that range from affordable to splurge-worthy, this restaurant has your drinking needs covered with classic cocktails such as a manhattan ($13) or signature margarita ($11). The Emerald Kale Salad with roasted chicken ($15) or the Macho Salad topped with dates, almonds and goat cheese ($17) are large enough to satisfy but aren't food coma-inducing.
505 N. Michigan Ave. 312-321-8738
Break up your day with a cheese flights ($12) at this wine bar tucked inside the Intercontinental Chicago hotel. Each flight boasts a cute name based on the style (such as Cheddar is Better and Blues Brothers) or origin (such as Midwest Culture). Or for a sugar boost, try chocolate flights ($11) including the Some Like it Hot flight with raspberry-chipotle, curry-saffron and three pepper chocolates. Pair one with a dessert wine such as the Churchill Vintage Character port ($15) and you're ready to get back out there.
Shopping for the label lover on your list couldn't be more efficient in the Gold Coast, with stores such as Barneys New York (15 E. Oak St. 312-587-1700), The Denim Lounge (43 E. Oak St. 312-642-6403), Kate Spade (56 E. Oak St. 312-654-8853) and Marc Jacobs (11 E. Walton St. 312-649-7260) all clustered within walking distance.
Doc B's Fresh Kitchen
100 E. Walton St. 312-626-1300
For lunch, this Gold Coast newcomer features soups that rotate daily, plus more than a half dozen burgers, sandwiches and pizzas to choose from. Fuel up with a Wisconsin cheddar grilled cheese sandwich ($7) or pizzas such as the El Verde ($13) with avocado, pickled jalapeno and cotija cheese. Drink options range from classic cocktails such as old fashioneds ($11) and martinis ($12) to signature recipes such as The Natural ($11), a mix of rum, strawberry, mint and cracked pepper.
50 E. Walton St. 312-573-1600
Power through your last shop stops with a sugar rush at this cupcake shop. Holiday-inspired flavors include dark chocolate cupcakes topped with a blue Star of David, chocolate-peppermint, vanilla-peppermint and eggnog spice, which features spice cake topped with a eggnog-cream cheese icing ($3.50 each). If you find yourself there after hours, the cupcake vending machine out front dispenses your fix 24 hours a day.
12 E. Cedar St. 312-929-2423
Fake out winter weather at this lobster roll shack and pretend your relishing a roll in sunny coastal Maine. Options range from a traditional roll filled with lightly dressed lobster ($12.95) to the extra-rich Gold Coast ($28), which tops off the lobster with blue crab, shrimp and truffle mayo. Da Lobsta is also BYOB, so it's easy to justify picking up a bottle of bubbly at a nearby wine shop such as Just Grapes (1149 N. State St. 312-255-9463).
Little Market Brasserie
10 E. Delaware Place 312-640-8141
Kick back with your shopping buddies at this spacious restaurant inside the Talbott Hotel and share dishes such as ceviche ($13.50), seared scallops ($22.50) and beets with goat cheese and pistachios ($12.50). Raise a glass to a successful day of deal-scoring with cocktails such as a white grape-basil gin and tonic ($10) or a ginger smash with bourbon and mint ($11).
Tucked between fashion-forward women's clothing shops on Bucktown's jam-packed shopping strip, look for gems such as home and gift boutique Virtu (2034 N. Damen Ave. 773-235-3790), edgy jewelry store Alexis Bittar (1710 N. Damen Ave. 773-486-5627) and Stitch (1723 N. Damen Ave. 773-782-1570), which closes its doors for good at the end of the year.
Glazed and Infused
1576 N. Milwaukee Ave. 312-226-5556
Start your spree with something sweet from this walk-up doughnut window located adjacent to Francesca's Forno. Holiday flavors include pumpkin-chocolate chip and apple caramel ($3 each).
Buzz Killer Espresso
1644 N. Damen Ave. 773-366-8377
This coffeehouse has your caffeine fix at the ready. For to-go drinks, choose from a cappuccino ($3.25), Americano ($2.74) or a number of featured coffees by the cup (starting at $3.50). If you have some time to unwind, take a seat with an espresso ($2.75) or macchiato ($3).
1721 N. Damen Ave. 773-342-6000
Work up enough of an appetite for a full meal? Get your fill of the namesake grass-fed beef in dishes such as a grilled sirloin salad ($16) or burger with shallot-cherry jam ($15). Any post-shopping stress can be soothed with cocktail such as Light and Stormy ($12) made with ginger beer, lemon juice and rum, or the Last Phrase ($12) made with gin, chamomile tea syrup and green chartreuse.
2009 N. Damen Ave. 773-772-8744
Swing by during lunch hours (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) to take advantage of killer sushi specials; choose two maki for $9.95 (or three for $13.95) from options such as spicy salmon, asparagus-avocado, sweet potato tempura, spicy scallop and California roll. For a grab-and-go option, try one of the sandwiches such as the chicken satay ($7), peanut tofu ($7) or teriyaki steak ($8).
Plot a shopping path along Armitage Avenue between Racine Avenue and Halsted Street and you'll find everything from fun and funky housewares at Art Effect (934 W. Armitage Ave. 773-929-3600), indulgent bath goodies at Lush (859 W. Armitage Ave. 773-281-5874) and an abundance of shoes plus scarves and jewelry at Lori's Shoes (824 W. Armitage Ave. 773-281-5655).
1969 N. Halsted St. 312-951-2457
Peel off your scarves, gloves and other various layers to welcome a much-needed margarita in flavors such as chili-mango ($9) or tropical ($9.50). The street food-inspired menu is ideal for a quick snack; choose from options such as flautitas ($6) or tacos filled with cochinita (Yucatan pulled pork, $3) or beer-battered tilapia with creamy cabbage slaw ($3).
Butcher & The Burger
1021 W. Armitage Ave. 773-697-3735
At this old-fashioned butcher meets burger shop, you can design your burger by starting with a patties such as grass-fed bison ($14.50), lentil-brown rice burger ($7.75) or a local blend beef ($8.95). Next, pick a spice blend--such as Chicago steakhouse, Cajun or curry-coconut-honey—to mix in. Then choose your type of bun and what's going on top; toppings range from wasabi mayo to goat cheese to black truffle aioli (add $1).
Ja Grill Restaurant & Lounge
1008 W. Armitage Ave. 773-929-5375
In addition to traditional Jamaican dishes that will help thaw you from the cold--fried plantains ($4), curried goat ($18) or oxtail stew ($18), to name a few—this restaurant also serves caffeine-infused martinis in flavors such as apple or mango ($12) to keep you plugging away on your shopping list.
2825 N. Sheffield Ave. 773-697-9228
Don't have much time to take away from your shopping mission? Spare a few minutes at this counter-service eatery, which serves traditional Turkish and Mediterranean foods are quickly prepared in an open kitchen. Try the lamb doner kebab on a pita ($7.50), veggie moussaka ($11.95) or falafel ($4.95).