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Chicago Restaurants Still Have Plenty of Excellent Merch

Where to find Chicago restaurants’s hottest sauces, t-shirts, and tote bags

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The novel coronavirus pandemic has left Chicago’s restaurant and bar industry in chaos with dine-in service forbidden across Illinois. Hospitality workers are left without employment while restaurant owners face enormous economic and organizational challenges as they try to avoid permanent closures.

Ordering takeout or delivery is a clear-cut way to support restaurants from the comfort of the couch, and most venues are offering gift cards to help maintain a cashflow during the shutdown. Another method of easy advocacy is buying apparel, treats, and other merchandise from local food and drink establishments online.

Updated May 7


APPAREL

A restaurant shirt for every day of the week

Cafe Marie-Jeanne’s baseball tee
Cafe Marie-Jeanne [Official Photo]

Let’s be honest — there’s no reason to stuff oneself into a collard shirt or business casual blouse these days. Still, it’s probably a good idea to have something on top for Zoom meetings and virtual happy hours, and Chicago’s hospitality community surely has that base covered all week long.

Sunday: Sport a mustard-colored baseball tee featuring an 8-bit Chicago hot dog ($35) from French spot Cafe Marie-Jeanne and inspire envy in housemates.

Monday: Try a illustrated long-sleeved submission ($22.35) to advertise affection for popular Pilsen venue Thalia Hall, available in two colors.

Tuesday: Don the wearable equivalent of a billboard ($25) to support Logan Square pizza palace Paulie Gee’s.

Wednesday: Put on one of Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba’s “Pallela for the People” tees ($25) and help raise money for hourly employees.

Thursday: Take a “Ye Old Sad Dad” t-shirt ($20) from Young American for a socially-distanced saunter around the block.

Friday: Time has no meaning anymore, so keep the comfy tops coming! Andersonville bakery Lost Larson has a dark blue option ($20) that’s both stylish and super soft.

Saturday: Wax nostalgic about cocktails and midnight cookies at Scofflaw in Logan Square with a shirt that bears a cranky cone-of-shamed cat ($25) — all proceeds go to the group’s COVID-19 relief fund.

Bonus: Pizzeria Bebu, the Eater Chicago 38 member in Lincoln Park, has been closed during the crisis for pickup and delivery. But fans can snag a “Feed Me Pizza” T-shirt for $40 or a hat for $50.

A smooshy XO Marshmallow sweatshirt for the introverts among us

Recluses are having a moment, it seems, and now they get some specialized loungewear too thanks to Rogers Park’s unusual marshmallow cafe. A charcoal grey, fleece-lined, crew-necked sweatshirt with the phrase “Anti-Social S’more Club” printed on the back ($40), the purchase also raises money for small businesses and hospitality workers impacted by the pandemic.

ACCESSORIES

Totes on totes

Jeff and Judes “All My Friends Are Bread” tote
Jeff and Judes [Official Photo]

Tote bags — which manage to be both utilitarian and a great opportunity to shout-out a favorite business — never go out of style. Stock up now for style and substance:

Slip-on Vans from the company’s “Foot the Bill” initiative

Aimed at raising funds for small creative businesses with customizable designs, Vans has selected two Chicago hospitality establishments to feature on its famous slip-on shoes: intimate Lakeview music venue Metro and hospitality group Land & Sea Dept. are both highlighted in the collection of customizable kicks.

A multi-purpose bandana from acclaimed Mexican restaurant Mi Tocaya Antojera

Available in vivid green or yellow, fans of Logan Square’s acclaimed Mexican spot can work its colorful vibe into their wardrobe with this printed bandana ($14.99). Fashion-forward folks could even transform it into a mask for grocery runs or a jaunt around the neighborhood.

FOODSTUFFS

Smoke Daddy’s “Sweet & Smokey” sauce
Smoke Daddy [Official Photo]

APPAREL

A fire Dark Matter bomber jacket

A black jacked with a yellow jaguar stitched on the back
Dark Matter’s jaguar bomber jacket
Dark Matter Coffee [Official Photo]

Local roaster Dark Matter Coffee has a bunch of cool and eye-catching shirts, hats, and hoodies bearing the brand’s signature pop-art aesthetic. As Chicagoans are intimately familiar with the value of a good jacket, Dark Matter delivers a particularly great custom-embroidered jaguar bomber jacket featuring art from the company’s Fuego coffee in gold stitching. At $120, it’s definitely an investment, but fashionable fans both large and very small can get the same art (in printed form) on long-sleeve shirts. All are available for shipment.

A Original Rainbow Cone “dad hat” in millennial pink

Working from home has a way of increasing the gap between hair washes for many. Lauded South Side institution the Original Rainbow Cone has a quick and cheery cover-up for dirty locks that’s perfect for Zoom meetings, social distancing sanity walks, and pressing quarantine updates on Instagram Stories: the pink dad hat, equipped with an embroidered ice cream cone and adjustable strap. It goes for $25, plus $8 for shipping and handling.

Rainbow Cone also carries more ice-cream themed items, ranging from t-shirts and sweatshirt to phone cases and backpacks. The pink building on South Western Avenue is open for carryout and delivery with modified hours — check social media for the latest updates.

A tiki-themed Lost Lake commemorative anniversary t-shirt

A good t-shirt does a lot of work for the wearer: it can provide comfort, humor, or nostalgia. Lost Lake’s one-year anniversary commemorative shirt features all three, with black and white illustrations of the bar’s popular island-style drinks. It’s available for $25 with an additional $6 shipping fee.

And more...

ACCESSORIES AND OTHER ITEMS

A subtle and sweet tote bag from Elske

A blue bag with a dog printed on it.
Elske’s “employee of the month” tote
Elske [Official Photo]

Scandinavian-style West Loop restaurant Elske offers fans a both practical and adorable tote starring a canine “employee of the month” ($30) It’s not flashy or pop-culture driven — it’s just a really nice looking bag that one might imagine filling with produce at a farmer’s market or books from an indie store, in some far off future when we can all go back out in public.

A few of Marz Community Brewing’s “lil’ beer pins”

Novelty pins featuring food have only become more popular as popular jacket and hat accessories, but beer is a little late to the party — luckily, Marz has 1” beer can pins (available individually for $10 or in a four-pack for $35) to fill that gap. Options include the “Marz Beer,” “Chug Life,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Red Marz,” and they’re manufactured by Brooklyn-based Pintrill.

And more...

SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS

Piri Piri Hot Sauce from Super Fat Rice Mart

Logan Square’s Macanese mega-hit Fat Rice has transitioned to a new business model and identity: Super Fat Rice Mart is now a general store that offers $99 meal kits and an array of Portuguese and Asian speciality ingredients. These include the

Maçarico Piri-Piri Hot Sauce from Super Fat Rice Mart
Super Fat Rice Mart [Official Photo]

($9.99), made with high-quality peppers that are ground and preserved immediately after they’re picked.

Twin Anchors’s Zesty Barbecue Sauce

Open since 1932 in Lincoln Park, Twin Anchors is known for generating long waits for its famous baked ribs. Fans can savor the restaurant’s classic zingy sauce on their own meats at home without the wait and buy the bottled sauce — it’s available by the case (12 bottles) for $60.

And more...

  • Top Chef champion Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat), one of Chicago’s most well-known chefs, has a line of five sauces that draw on flavors from around the world. They’re sold individually ($7.99) or in a set ($39.95 for five).
  • The downtown outpost of Harold’s Chicken Shack has mild sauce — Chicago’s favorite sweet, red condiment seen in chicken spots across the city — for sale by the gallon ($19.99). This isn't a knockoff.
  • Parson’s Chicken and Fish has its own sauces for sale too: Parson’s Yellow is the spicer of the two, with habanero chiles, fried garlic, and stewed carrots. Parson’s Red, however, is medium-hot and highlights both guajillo and arbol chilies, plus white vinegar and slow-cooked garlic.

Smoke Daddy

1804 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 772-6656 Visit Website

Elske

1350 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-1314 Visit Website

Chicago Board Game Cafe

1965 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (872) 310-3999 Visit Website

Half Acre Beer Company

4257 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 754-8488 Visit Website

XO Marshmallow

6977 North Sheridan Road, , IL 60626 (773) 654-3142 Visit Website

Herb

5424 North Broadway, , IL 60640 (773) 944-9050 Visit Website

Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli

1141 South Jefferson Street, , IL 60607 (312) 939-2855 Visit Website

Twin Anchors

1655 N Sedgwick Street, Chicago, IL 60614 312 266 1616 Visit Website

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba

2024 N Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60614 773 935 5000

Dark Matter Coffee

738 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60612 (773) 697-8472 Visit Website

Cafe Marie-Jeanne

1001 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Paulie Gee's

2451 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Chicken Shack

1925 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 328-9360 Visit Website

Chiya Chai

66 East Wacker Drive, , IL 60601 Visit Website

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

3361 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 478-4000 Visit Website

Thalia Hall

1807 South Allport Street, , IL 60608 (312) 526-3851 Visit Website

Galit

2429 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 360-8755 Visit Website

Longman & Eagle

2657 North Kedzie Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 276-7110 Visit Website

The Hideout

1354 West Wabansia Avenue, , IL 60642 (773) 227-4433 Visit Website

Entente

700 North Sedgwick Street, , IL 60654 (312) 285-2247 Visit Website

Fat Rice

2957 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9170 Visit Website

Scofflaw

3201 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 252-9700 Visit Website

Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain

1000 North California Avenue, , IL 60622 (872) 829-2793 Visit Website

Girl & The Goat

809 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 492-6262 Visit Website

Longman & Eagle

2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 773 276 7110 Visit Website

Rainbow Cone

9233 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60643 (773) 238-7075 Visit Website

Off Color Brewing

3925 W Dickens Ave, Chicago, IL Visit Website

Hopewell Brewing Company

2760 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 698-6178 Visit Website

Lula Cafe

2537 North Kedzie Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 489-9554 Visit Website

Kimski

954-960 West 31st Street, , IL 60608 (773) 823-7336 Visit Website

Time Out Market Chicago

916 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 637-3888 Visit Website

Osito's Tap

2553 South Ridgeway Avenue, , IL 60623 (773) 277-8117 Visit Website

Parson's Chicken & Fish

2952 West Armitage Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 384-3333 Visit Website

Lost Lake

3154 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 293-6048 Visit Website

Land & Sea Dept.

3124 W Carroll Ave, Chicago, IL 60612

Mi Tocaya Antojeria

2800 W Logan blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (872) 315-3947 Visit Website

Seoul Taco

738 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 Visit Website

Marz Community Brewing

3630 S. Iron Street, Chicago, Visit Website

Pizzeria Bebu

1521 N Fremont St, Chicago, IL 60642

Lost Larson Bakery

5318 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 Visit Website

Build Coffee

6100 South Blackstone Avenue, , IL 60637 (773) 627-5058 Visit Website

Harold's Chicken Shack

1014 South Western Avenue, , IL 60612 (312) 733-1401

Young American

2545 North Kedzie Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 687-8385 Visit Website

Lost Larson

2140 West Division Street, , IL 60622 (773) 770-9015 Visit Website

Dorian’s

1939 West North Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 687-9824 Visit Website

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