Garrett's Popcorn

You came, you saw, you ate your way through Chicago. Now, take home a few culinary souvenirs to help you reminisce about your trip. You can also bring something back for friends and family—sharing the tastes of Chicago is a much better gift than another t-shirt.

The Spice House (1512 N Wells St., Chicago & 1941 Central St. Evanston)

A mecca for home cooks, the Spice House sells every spice you can think of and then some. The small, aromatic store also offers Chicago Neighborhoods Spice Blend gift boxes. They include jars of blended spices such as adobo-heavy Pilsen Latino Seasoning, Thai-inspired Argyle Street Asian Blend, and my favorite, the oregano and lemon-laced Greektown "Billygoat" Seasoning. 

Metropolis Coffee (1039 West Granville Ave.)

Chicago is a coffee town, and odds are you’ll consume at least one cup of Metropolis while visiting. Take home a bag of beans, like the Red Line Espresso or a bag of single-origin beans, available at the brick and mortar coffee shop and cafes around the city.

Truffle Truffle

Sweets don’t get more Chicago-centric than Truffle Truffle’s I [Heart] Chicago line. The box of three features truffles made with Chicago products: the Southport Grocery cupcake truffle has a cupcake center and was inspired by the excellent cupcakes at the Lakeview restaurant, the Jo Snow’s Sass! root beer float truffle uses Jo Snow’s root beer syrup, and Koval’s chrysanthemum honey truffle uses Koval's chrysanthemum honey liqueur. Find the truffles at Pastoral, Goddess & The Grocer, Urban Orchard, and other spots.

Rare Bird Preserves

Reminisce about your trip over toast slathered with Rare Bird Preserves. The Oak Park-based company makes small batch jams and curds from locally and sustainably sourced fruits. The lineup changes seasonally, but spring brings Strawberry Rhubarb, Ginger Rhubarb, and Strawberry Rose flavors. They’re available at Goddess & The Grocer, Provenance Food and Wine, and other spots.

Salted Caramel

Salty and sweet mingle in Salted Caramel Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn, made with organic popcorn, thick-cut bacon and bourbon caramel. The confectioners also make salted bourbon caramels, marshmallows, and pretzel grahams. You can find it at Urban Orchard, Pastoral Artisan, farmers markets, and other places around Chicago.

Garrett Popcorn (10 locations, including two locations at O’Hare)

Upon learning that I had lived in Chicago a year and still hadn’t tried Garrett’s Chicago Mix, a blend of cheddar cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn, my friends insisted that I drop everything immediately and go get some. It’s an addicting sweet and savory snack.

Co-Op Hot Sauce

Co-Op donates half of its profits to Co-op Image, a free arts and entrepreneurship organization that works with kids. They make salsas, jam, pasta sauce, and other products, but the hot sauce is legendary. Grapefruit Ghost will kick you in the mouth with fermented ghost peppers, Rum Barrel is made from barrel-aged, wild apple cider fermented vinegar, and there are a half dozen other varieties. Find it at Gene’s Sausage Shop, Urban Orchard, and other places.

Letherbee Distillers

Chicago is teeming with small breweries, and distilleries are also starting to crop up. One of the newest is Letherbee, which makes a gin from 11 botanicals. They made a warming Autumnal Gin last fall with pie spices, and Vernal, a spring gin with cornflower, rosehip, and chamomile, will be released soon. You can find it in liquor stores all over Chicago, as well as on the menu at lots of bars and restaurants. And for a full guide to Chicago breweries, click here.

Here’s where to find these and other Chicago-made treats:

Pastoral Artisan (2945 N. Broadway St., 53 E. Lake St., and 131 N. Clinton St.)

Urban Orchard (5212 N. Clark St.)

Gene’s Sausage Shop (4750 North Lincoln Ave.)

Provenance Food and Wine (2528 N California Ave. and 2312 W Leland Ave.)

Goddess & the Grocer (1646 North Damen Ave., 25 East Delaware Place, 2222 N Elston Ave., and 901 North Larrabee)

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