Time is meaningless in 2020, so it should surprise no one that locals are champing at the bit to get winter holiday festivities started. Chicago bars and restaurants love to go all-out for Christmas, and occasionally Hanukkah, with over-the-top decor, big boozy delights, and sweet and savory seasonal treats. The city’s ban on indoor dining and spiking COVID-19 numbers mean these celebrations, like most other things, are a bit different this year: establishments are making tweaks like requiring reservations, putting time limits on visits, and offering carryout and delivery. Below, find Christmas and Hanukkah pop-ups aiming to bring some joy to Chicagoans.
As of October 30, Chicago restaurants can no longer serve customers indoors. Still, a number of Chicago restaurants have outdoor seating. The state now requires reservations for patio dining. This should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.
Around Town: The team behind the bustling annual Christkindlmarket known for commemorative mugs and German Christmas treats in Wrigleyville and Daley Plaza have taken festivities online in 2020. The virtual event features Christkindmarket boxes for sale ornaments, scented candles and more. Food isn’t as big a focus this year without the usual vendors, but fans can scratch the itch with a Prost! package ($50) includes a box of Kathi German Pretzel Baking Mix, a jar of German mustard, Black Kassel Salami Whips, and Nic Nac peanuts. Christkindlmarket, available online, Open through December 31.
Andersonville: Neighborhood wine bar and restaurant Uvae is hosting a winter retail market on weekends through Christmas. Customers can prep for whatever they’re celebrating and pick up wines, infused liquors, cheeses, and other accompaniments. Support several businesses simultaneously with premade or build-your-own gift baskets featuring wares from area establishments like virtual restaurant Tasting India (spices and ghee jars), Rewired Pizza Cafe & Bar (coffee syrups) and Andersonville Fine Foods (spiced and candied nuts). Uvae Kitchen + Wine Bar Holiday Pop-Up Market, 5553 N. Clark Street, noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Avondale: Ownership at craft beer bar Dmen Tap will dock its Donerman food truck on Black Friday in front of the restaurant at 2849 W. Belmont Avenue for a Christmas Market Pop Up designed bring some seasonal cheer during the pandemic. No one will be permitted inside to eat or drink, but customers can plan to buy hot cocoa, cider, schnitzel sandwiches, pretzels, sausages, and even gooey raclette cheese from the truck. Customers will also be able to purchase hot mulled wines to-go at the bar. The event is not officially affiliated with Christkindlmarket, but organizers lent Dmen their blessing to hold the event and have wrangled a selection of vintage Christkindlmarket mugs on site. In light of the surge in COVID19 cases in Chicago, staff will encourage social distancing in line and strongly urge customers to take food to go. Pre-orders are available via Tock. Dmen Tap’s Christmas Market Pop-Up, 2849 W. Belmont Avenue in front of Dmen Tap, Open noon to 9 p.m. daily Friday through December 23.
Lakeview: Sports bar and restaurant the Piggery is holding an open-air Christmas pop-up on its rooftop space. Customers can expect lots and lots of twinkly lights and holiday decor, plus hot cocoa, cider, and barbecued meats. The Piggery, 1625 W. Irving Park Road, Open 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Lincoln Park: Neighborhood fixture Gemini is popping up with a hot cocoa stand for the winter holiday season, according to a rep. Staff are proffering a hot Belgian drinking chocolate blend plus hot apple cider, coffee, espresso drinks and large-batch cocktails to go for groups up to four. Top it off with cookies in seasonal flavors like oatmeal butterscotch, peppermint sprinkle, and ginger snap. Gemini Hot Cocoa Stand, 2075 N. Lincoln Avenue, Open 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Lincoln Park/West Loop: The pop-up bar experts at Replay Lincoln Park have two drive-in movie events bringing seasonal cheer to Chicago this season. Tucked safely in their cars, patrons at the Holly Jolly Drive-In in Lincoln Park and Miracle on West Madison in West Loop watch classic holiday films Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and are greeted by elves, the Grinch, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Reservations are required and tickets (one per car) are $75 on the events’ respective websites. Each will run through Christmas Day. Holly Jolly Drive-In, 2833 N. Sheffield Avenue, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Miracle on West Madison, 645 W. Madison Street, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
The Loop: Downtown hotel LondonHouse Chicago this month launched Christmas pop-up Rudolph’s Rooftop, according to a news release. Patrons can take in gorgeous views from the 22nd-floor terrace, LH Rooftop, which is outfitted with enormous nutcrackers, multicolored lights, and red and white poinsettias. Special menu items include truffled chicken pot pie (alba truffle, puff pastry), beet-cured salmon gravlax (pumpernickel, creme fraiche), lobster mac and cheese (andouille sausage), and more. There are also plenty of seasonal cocktails such as the Ugly Sweater (Don Julio Blanco, mango, habanero, orange) and the Bad Santa (Zacapa 23 Rum, creme de banane, Carpano Antica, toasted coconut, absinthe). Each seating is limited to 50 with a maximum of six per table, per Chicago pandemic guidelines. Customers must wear masks when they’re not seated. Reservations via Tock are strongly encouraged, and igloo seating is available by reservation only (with a $500 minimum) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rudolph’s Rooftop, 85 E. Upper Wacker Drive, Open 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily through January 3
River West: The Dawson is hosting a robust weekly winter market to fulfill nearly every holiday need, from baked goods to meats, prepared to-go meals, and wine packs to trees and wreaths. Offerings include whole pies (apple, pumpkin, or pecan) and the restaurant’s bacon flight (maple bacon, black forest bacon, apple cider bacon). Patrons can also sip toasty cocktails and eat gooey raclette while they shop inside a heated open-air tent. The Dawson Winter Market, 730 W. Grand Avenue, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday.
West Loop: Subterranean wine bar the Press Room has opened its Miracle on Washington Street pop-up for the season, according to its website. Patrons can expect spaces outfitted in twinkling lights and big red bows where they can peruse a market featuring local vendors, as well as popular food items like schnitzel sandwiches, sourdough pretzels, raclette grilled cheeses, and Nutella waffles. Hot mulled wine, spiked cider, Irish coffee, and other winter-friendly cocktails will also be available. Tickets ($25) are available via Tock and allot each holder 90 minutes inside the market. Social distancing and mask wearing will be required. Miracle on Washington Street, 1134 W. Washington Boulevard (lower level), Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; Saturday, November 28 through December 23.
Wicker Park: Chef Edward Kim’s creative Asian American restaurant Mott St popped up on Friday for a weekend-long event with “glamping” event company the Fields of Michigan, according to a rep. The outdoor collaboration includes a Mott Market featuring bottled sauces and cocktails from the restaurant, s’mores-inspired cocktails to sip near a firepit, s’mores kits, hot apple cider doughnuts, photo-friendly wintery decor, and more. Those who celebrate Christmas can get a jump on decor with a wreath-making station and an on-site Christmas tree lot. The Fields Holiday Takeover at Mott Street will abide by city restrictions on capacity, masking, and social distancing, and attendance is on a first-come-first serve basis. Patrons can, however, reserve time for fireside s’mores via Tock for $9. More details are available on social media. The Fields Holiday Takeover at Mott Street, 1401 N. Ashland Avenue, Open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Black Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 pm. Saturday and Sunday.
Wrigleyville: Over-the-top Christmas extravaganza Santa Baby, an annual holiday pop-up at sports bar Deuces, is moving forward this year, according to the event website. Historically, the celebration (along the lines of notorious Christmas bar crawl TBOX) is known for drawing large, drunken crowds. Organizers have instituted some pandemic-era changes, adding even more eye-popping yuletide decor than usual in the hope that it’ll help keep partiers’ butts in seats instead of wandering around the space for photo ops as they have in years past. Other changes include exclusively outdoor seating (though a heated tent and rooftop igloos are available), and an hour and 45 minute limit on how long groups (of six or less) can stay. Menu items include large-batch cocktails for groups like Jingle Juice (Bacardi spiced rum, sparkling wine, citrus juice, rosemary) and Red Nose Rudolph (Grey Goose vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, Sprite, Red Bull Red Cranberry Energy). Soak up some of that alcohol with burgers, nachos, and more. Reservations are required, and are available online. Santa Baby, 3505 N. Clark Street, Open 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Wrigleyville: Neighborhood sports bar Graystone Tavern has brought back its popular Hanukkah pop-up, 8 Crazy Nights, for a second year in a row, according to a news release. Special menu items include traditional Hanukkah fare like latkes with apple sauce and/or sour cream, sweet noodle kugel, and a brisket platter. The bar puts a boozy twist on the holiday with sufganiyot (fried doughnuts) filled with vodka-infused jelly, plus cocktails like the Gelt Martini Gelt Martini (Mozart Milk Chocolate Liqueur, Wheatley Vodka, Creme de Cacao, powdered sugar rim, Hanukkah gelt) and four rotating draft beers such as Shebrew (Double IPA). Festivities are held in the bar’s covered patio space (decorated with blue and white lights and other Hanukkah-themed items) due to the pandemic, and at-home revelers can order menu items for pickup and delivery. Call to place an order or book online via third-party companies including DoorDash and Postmates. 8 Crazy Nights, (773) 666-5450, 3441 N. Sheffield Avenue, Open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. through January 3.
Wrigleyville: Country bar Houndstooth Saloon has launched its first holiday market to help support local artists, bakers, and vendors selling ornaments, stickers, jewelry, and more — and it’s open every day until Christmas. Customers supplement the experience with a hot spiced drink. The market is socially distanced and operators are staggering entry. Houndstooth Holiday Market, 3369 N. Clark Street, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.