clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A person wearing an ugly Jeppson’s Malört sweater
The best/worst holiday sweater is a limited edition
Jeppson’s Malört [Official Photo]

Filed under:

More Local Goodies From the 2020 Eater Chicago Holiday Gift Guide

Cap this unusual year with this updated list of gifts guaranteed to delight

If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that even the best-laid plans can veer wildly off course. As the end of a tumultuous year draws closer, many have found themselves finding joy and comfort in the small things: a bite of expertly-made chocolate, an animated discussion about cheese, a sip of a perfectly-stirred cocktail. These treasures become all the more special when they come from fellow Chicagoan — a chef, food entrepreneur, designer, or craftsperson, all struggling to stay solvent during the pandemic.

Eater Chicago has below compiled an assortment of excellent food-related gifts at a range of price points, from a $5 documentary about an iconic Chicago nightclub to a $295 curated assortment of gourmet ingredients. Those who are still stumped as to the perfect present for a loved one can check out a merch roundup from the spring or this comprehensive list from Eater.

A box filled with different charcuterie items
A special winter charcuterie box
AltEcon [Official Photo]

Winter charcuterie kit from [AltEcon]

Acclaimed chef Jennifer Kim (Snaggletooth, Passerotto) spent two months putting together this unusual and enticing winter charcuterie box as a part of her latest endeavor, AltEcon. It features treats including Slagel Farms pork loin lonzino, Maple Leaf Farms duck breast prosciutto, a hunk of parmesan Sarvecchio, umeboshi-and-honeycomb butter, and more, plus an ingredient list and assembly guide. Kim suggests adding a soft cheese and loaf of good bread or crackers for maximum enjoyment.

Buy: Lula x Alt Holiday Bazaar ($55)

A person wearing a very ugly Malort-themed Christmas sweater.
Best bad idea ever!
Jeppson’s Malört [Official Photo]

“Ugly, boozy, holiday sweater” from Jeppson’s Malört

“It’s tacky. It’s festive. It’s ho-ho horrible.” Thus begins a captivating and singularly Chicago-style pitch for a sweater that’s sure to garner strong reactions from friends and strangers — one that celebrates the Windy City’s infamous bitter liquor. This treasure is a limited edition, so interested parties should act fast.

Buy: Jeppson’s Malört Holiday Sweater ($65)

A row of four rocks glasses illustrated with bananas wearing bikinis
Bottoms up
Lost Lake [Official Photo]

Bikini bananas glass from Lost Lake

Hang onto dreams of warmer days to come with the help of tiki bar Lost Lake’s playful double rocks glasses screen printed with bikini-clad bananas. Illustrator Kristina Micotti whipped up the design exclusively for the Logan Square bar.

Buy: Lost Lake ($20 each)

Three small bottles of gin in a black box
A gift especially for gin lovers
Koval Distillery [Official Photo]

Gin 3-Pack from Koval Distillery

For those of us who plan to hail the end of this bonkers year with a drink (or several), family-owned distillery Koval in Ravenswood has a neatly packaged trio of gins. Fans can keep their options open with dry, barrelled, and cranberry versions that lend themselves well to both seasonal and year-round cocktails.

Buy: Koval Distillery ($38)

Four squares of chocolate
Mindy Segal’s memorable munchies
Cresco Labs [Official Photo]

THC-spiked chocolates from Mindy’s Edibles

Chef, pastry wiz, and edibles expert Mindy Segal (Mindy’s Bakery) is featuring a new line of stoner-friendly chocolates for a smoke-free lift. Flavors include dark chocolate almond toffee, dark chocolate peppermint bark, marshmallow graham, and milk chocolate peanut brittle — and all are dosed with 100 mg of THC. Segal also features a slew of fruit-flavored gummies, plus chewy and hard candy edibles.

Buy: Mindy’s Chef Led Artisanal Edibles ($30–$35)

A person wearing a black embroidered beanie that reads “Lao Peng You” in English and Chinese.
The restaurant’s name translates to “old friend.”
Lao Peng You [Official Photo]

Embroidered wool beanie from Lao Peng You

Chicago restaurant veterans and brothers Daniel and Eric Wat put out some of the city’s most unusual and sought-after Chinese dumplings, earning legions of fans that trek to West Town for bowl after bowl. Now fans can broadcast their adoration with a cozy wool beanie that’ll help keep ears and heads toasty despite howling winter winds.

Buy: Lao Peng You ($20)

A hand holds a small cookbook
Learn how Parachute makes its wildly popular bing bread
Wherewithall [Official Photo]

The Parachute Bing Bread Cookbook

James Beard award-winning chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark (Parachute, Wherewithall) are sharing the recipe for their bing bread — a chewy, crunchy, bacon-and-cheesy delight that’s been a mainstay on the Parachute menu since it opened in 2014. Learn the secrets of this obsession-worthy creation that marries Korean and Midwestern sensibilities with the couple’s adorable and in-depth cookbooklet.

Buy: Wherewithall ($12)

A black tote bag that reads “hope is a virtue.”
Welcome the new year on a hopeful note.
Virtue [Official Photo]

Hope tote bag from Virtue

Everything that chef Erick Williams does is executed with intention — including the name of his decorated restaurant Virtue in Hyde Park. Willams embraces and promotes the virtues of hope, helping, aiding, and caring for others, and highlights those values on the restaurant’s line of merchandise. The sleek tote provides an unexpected and appealing reminder that hope is a discipline to practice during every season.

Buy: Virtue ($22)

A white pouch of cold brew coffee.
Every 1.5 liter pouch of Kyoto Black contains over twelve servings.
Kyoto Black [Official Photo]

Japanese-style cold brew subscription from Kyoto Black

2020 has felled many giants, not the least of which is humankind’s internal clock. Days drag on, yet weeks and months become compressed, ultimately creating the experience of lurching through the calendar. No matter the hour, locals can put a serious spring in their step with a dose of Justin Doggett’s impossibly smooth small-batch Kyoto-style cold brew coffee, sold in pouches with a built-in spigot. Caffeine freaks can expect a real charge out of this super-strong brew, which can be tempered with milk or ice. Doggett operates a flagship location in Edgewater and offers delivery.

Buy: Kyoto Black ($39.95, $29.96 for subscribers)

Two people in colorful tie-dye aprons. The one on the left reads “forever” with an arrow pointing right. The right reds “friends” with an arrow pointing left.
Jim and Reuben [Official Photo]

Forever Friends ice tie-dyed apron pair from Jim and Reuben

Tired: friendship bracelets. Wired: Friendship aprons. Fortunately, Chicago clothing producers Jim Dye and Reuben Kincaid are on top of this cutting-edge trend with extra-groovy ice tie-dyed submissions. There’s also sweatpants, jumpsuits, overalls, and more — often modeled by Ed Marszewski of Marz Community Brewing in Bridgeport. The aprons come with a handy chest pocket for pens, forks, whatever you want.

Buy: Jim and Reuben ($65)

A chef’s knife.
These special chef’s knives are made in suburban Evanston.
Sam Goldbroch Sharp Co. [Official Photo]

Hand-made chef’s knife from Sam Goldbroch Sharp Co.

Chef, teacher, and knife maker Sam Goldbroch hammers out high carbon steel knives with eye-catching handles in everything from Tasmanian blackwood to ironwood burl in suburban Evanston. At once artistic and utilitarian, these are pricey but special tools for those who are serious about kitchen knives. Treat them right and they’ll last a lifetime.

Buy: Sam Goldbroch Sharp Co. ($350-$425)

A cardboard box filled with small food items.
All Together Now has boxs of fun indulgences.
Joseph Frank/All Together Now

All Together Now At Home gift boxes

Lauded Ukrainian Village restaurant, market, and bottle shop All Together Now has put together a box of delectable treats for sharing or hoarding. Available in two sizes, the boxes feature several hard cheeses, Saucisson Sec Salami from Wisconsin-based Underground Meats, a jar of raw honey (also from Wisconsin), house-made Seedy Oat Crackers, Crunch Party mix (candied almonds, pecans, cashews, quicos, crispy favas, rosemary, Aleppo pepper), and malted chocolate Oreo cookies.

Buy: All Together Now ($65-$95)

Two hands hold gold hoop earrings that read “Cutie Pie.”
Have your cutie pie and eat it too.
Justice of the Pies [Official Photo]

‘Cutie Pie’ door knocker earrings from Justice of the Pies

Local pie maven Maya-Camille Broussard is best known for her dreamy oven-made creations, but it turns out the popular baker is stylish, too. The gold bamboo door knocker earrings read “Cutie Pie” — a sentiment that never goes out of fashion. Broussard named the business to honor her late father, a criminal defense attorney who loved baking (and eating) any pies, cobblers, and any treat with a crust. She continues to partner with and raise funds for legal assistance non-profit Cabrini Green Legal Aid.

Buy: Justice of the Pies ($45)

A cheese plate
We could all learn a thing or two about cheese.
Beautiful Rind [Official Photo]

Curd Nerd Club membership at Beautiful Rind

Randall Felts, the owner of Logan Square speciality cheese shop and restaurant Beautiful Rind, designed his business to spread the gospel of “cheese joy,” educating novices and thrilling aficionados across the city. Cheese can even be a hobby, thanks to Felts’ Curd Nerd Club: customers can pick a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly plan (with our without wine) with monger-curated cheese selections and accompaniments, member-only videos, class discounts, information sheets on selections, and more.

Buy: Beautiful Rind ($40-$150 per week, two weeks, or month)

Neo lives on in this documentary film.
2350 Last Call [Official Photo]

2350 Last Call: The Neo Story DVD

Legendary Lincoln Park nightclub Neo — a beloved gathering place for Chicago goths, punks, New Wavers, and more — may have closed in 2015 after 36 years, but fans and aficionados can relive late-night revelries past with 2350 Last Call: The Neo Story. The documentary details the history of the famed “sanctuary for misfits, weirdos, and outcasts and ground zero for an explosion of fashion and music trends” that supposedly inspired the Wachowski’s protagonist in their Matrix trilogy.

Buy: 2350 Last Call ($5)

Rows of bottles and different ingredients that are included in the collection.
Rare Tea Cellar’s team put together a special collection for the season.
Rare Tea Cellar [Official Photo]

Limited Edition Gourmet Collection from Rare Tea Cellar

Fine tea and gourmet ingredient vendor Rare Tea Cellar in Ravenswood has earned a reputation for sourcing a treasure trove of culinary delights that are featured in restaurants across the city. The team has compiled a special (and spendy) assortment of some of its most popular and sought-after offerings in a limited edition gourmet collection, including sardines with lobster oil by Groix & Nature, Acquerello seven-year rice, Belazu preserved lemons, and much more.

Buy: Rare Tea Cellar ($295)

A navy blue t-shirt that reads “Vito & Nick’s Style, 100th Anniversary”
Vito & Nick’s has been slinging pies for a century.
Vito & Nick’s [Official Photo]

Vito & Nick’s 100th Anniversary T-shirt

Perhaps 2020 is the year where people outside of Chicago finally come to grips that the city has more than deep-dish pizza. Vito & Nick’s — one of the city’s best sellers of tavern-style pizzerias — just celebrated its 100th birthday. The shirts take that Old Style logo and make its their own.

Buy: Pick them up in person at Vito & Nick’s, 8433 S. Pulaski Road.

Rows of specialty chocolates in boxes.
Chocolatier Uzma Sharif features South Asian flavors.
Chocolat Uzma [Official Photo]

12-Piece Signature Collection Chocolat Uzma chocolate box

Chicago chocolatier Uzma Sharif has earned a reputation for making some of the city’s most sought-after and unusual chocolates, infused with South Asian flavors like Kashmiri Chai (black tea cardamom), Zeera (honey cumin), and Kala Namak (black salt caramel).The world’s largest Starbucks Reserve Roastery that opened downtown last year has even tapped Sharif as its official chocolatier.

Buy: Chocolat Uzma ($32)

A blue t-shirt with white writing that reads “I support drinking beer @chicagobars”
A straightforward approach
@chicagobars Undisclosed Location Store [Official Photo]

@chicagobars Chicago Drinking shirt

Prolific and anonymous local Twitter personality @chicagobars, a passionate, at times snarky advocate for the city’s watering holes and music venues, is raising funds for drinking establishments that are struggling to stay solvent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most proceeds from sales of a navy-and-white t-shirt that reads “I support drinking beer @chicagobars” will go toward local businesses. “Actual font is a little bit prettier than the picture,” the website promises. A new design is more dynamic with “over 60 of your favorite tavern licensed Chicago spots tastefully word clouded into a classic Chicago six-pointed star.”

Buy: @chicagobars Undisclosed Location Store ($25)

A jar sits on a wooden bench
Tomato thokku from Thommy’s Toddy Shop
Thommy’s Toddy Shop [Official Photo]

Tomato thokku and zucchini achaar from Thommy’s Toddy Shop

Thommy’s Toddy Shop aims to bring modern South Asian flavors into Chicago kitchens with jars of pickled and preserved local seasonal produce. Professional chefs and amateur cooks tout the brand’s tomato thokku, an heirloom tomato pickle with garlic, ginger, jalapeno, kari leaves, mustard seeds, and Kashmiri chili. Fans also adore the zucchini achaar, which marries a more traditional style of pickles to an ingredient that’s not common in India.

Buy: Superkhana International ($12)

A clear cocktail in a short glass.
Kumiko’s cocktail classes offer a peek inside the minds of drink experts.
Sammy Faze/Kumiko

Shaken//Stirred virtual cocktail class at Kumiko

At-home imbibers can take cues from the experts at Kumiko, the West Loop drinking den that’s also one of Chicago’s (and, arguably, the world’s) best bars. Attendees will get a thorough evaluation of the ever-present question — shaken or stirred? — through the lens of a classic cocktail. Classes range from 30-45 minutes and come with a recipe card, as well as ingredients and garnish for two cocktails (one shaken, one stirred).

Buy: Kumiko ($60)

A black face mask with a Harold’s Chicken Shack logo embroidered on the bottom right corner.
A Chicago icon suits up for 2020.
Harolds’s Chicken Shack [Official Photo]

Harold’s Chicken Shack face mask

Fans of the wildly popular South Side fried chicken chain can boost the brand — beloved by celebrities like Chance the Rapper, Hannibal Buress, Kendrick Lamar, and many others — with 2020’s favorite accessory: the face mask. Though it doesn’t bear Harold’s name, those in the know will instantly recognize the embroidered logo of a hungry, hatchet-wielding man chasing a chicken. Wearers are sure to impress their friends and be the envy of their rivals.

Buy: Harold’s Chicken Shack ($15)

A hand holds three packages of spices in small bags.
Epic Spices has the goods in West Town.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

Epic Spices gift card

This West Town spices store is where many restaurant get their seasonings. The store is where to go when that sad supermarket chili powder won’t do it. Call ahead for spices to be ready for a quick pickup. This is the place to go for home cooks who want a well-stocked pantry.

Buy: Epic Spices gift card, available in-store, 1725 W. Chicago Avenue.

Four measuring cups are laid in a row.
Chicago-based Welcome Industries taps into intuitive design.
Welcome Industries [Official Photo]

Visual Measuring Cups from Welcome Industries

The seemingly never-ending rollercoaster of this year has done a number on the brains of many, especially those who are juggling work, children, and cooking at home. For those who’d rather not rummage around measuring tools or peer at minute labels, Chicago-based design brand Welcome Industries created Visual Measuring Cups — intuitive kitchen tools shaped to resemble the amount they contain: a one-half cup looks like a cup sliced in half, rather than a smaller version of a cup measure, for example. Simple and smart.

Buy: Welcome Industries ($24)

Three jars sit in a wooden box beside a green bag.
Bumbu Roux features a box of Indo-Cajun goodies.
Bumbu Roux [Official Photo]

Indo Gift Box from Bumbu Roux

Bumbu Roux, currently operating out of a ghost kitchen in Goose Island, is among Chicago’s most unusual restaurants — a vehicle for chef Chris Reed to explore the culinary legacies of his Louisianan father and Indonesian mother. It’s also the city’s sole remaining Indonesian restaurant, but with the help of Reed’s Indo Gift Box, fans can bring the joys of acar kuning (yellow pickled vegetables), sambal bajak (Indonesian chili sauce), bumbu kacang (peanut sauce), and serundeng (toasted spiced coconut flakes) into their own kitchens.

Buy: Bumbu Roux ($50)

A green baseball-style hat with a tan Hideout logo stitched on the front.
The Hideout has a hat to cover whatever’s going on up top.
The Hideout [Official Photo]

Green dad hat from the Hideout

Inimitable performance space and dive bar the Hideout has an ideal lid to mask pandemic outgrowth, awkward amateur dye jobs, and at-home haircuts: a no-fuss forest green dad hat with a logo embroidered in tan stitching, and adjustable strap. There’s plenty of other hip Hideout swag too, from bandanas and baby onesies to stickers and totes.

Buy: The Hideout ($18)

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.


3500 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website

Mindy's HotChocolate Bakery

125 South Clark Street, , IL 60603 (773) 770-6241 Visit Website

Koval Distillery

5121 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 (312) 878-7988 Visit Website

Lost Lake

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

Marz Community Brewing

3630 S. Iron Street, Chicago, Visit Website


630 West Lake Street, , IL 60661 (312) 285-2912 Visit Website

Epic Spices

1725 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (312) 733-6445 Visit Website

Superkhana International

3059 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9028 Visit Website

Lao Peng You

2020 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (872) 206-8624 Visit Website

The Hideout

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


1462 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, IL

Beautiful Rind

2211 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (312) 300-4535 Visit Website

All Together Now

2119 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 661-1599 Visit Website
Holiday Gift Guides | From

Gifts for the Person Who’d Always Rather Be Eating

Holiday Gift Guides | From

Gifts for the Person Who Already Knows How to Use a Sous Vide

Holiday Gift Guides | From

The Best Host Gifts to Give This Holiday Season

View all stories in Holiday Gift Guides