Judging by the palpable aroma of gingerbread in the air, the holidays are here, and with them comes a slate of comfort foods and merry dishes and drinks. Here's where to eat and drink your way through the holidays in Chicago.
Paris Club Bistro & Bar (59 W. Hubbard St.)
Bûche de Noël is to Christmas desserts as pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving. Get your fill at Paris Club Bistro & Bar, which is offering the dessert as a Christmas Eve special, along with numerous other Christmas dinner specials. Their version is a traditional dark chocolate cake with hazelnut.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery (1220 W. Webster Ave.)
One of the best bakeries and cafes in Chicago is also another prime destination for seasonally inspired desserts like Bûche de Noël. The Lincoln Park mainstay has different versions of the French confection, in flavors like chocolate-hazelnut-coffee and passion fruit-coconut-kumquat, along with other Christmas-y goodies like gingerbread baked with pears and lemon-brandy syrup, stollen, olive oil cake with slow-poached cranberries and meringue, and spicy gingerbread cookies in merry shapes.
Cantina 1910 (5025 N. Clark St.)
Don't fill up too much on sugarplums and eggnog this season, because you're going to want to save room for the menu specials at Andersonville's Mexican stunner, Cantina 1910. The restaurant is offering a couple cocktail and dessert specials for the month of December, each one festive in its own way. Aside from the fact that the Southside cocktail looks like snow falling on a Christmas tree, it tastes the part too, made with Mint Gin, apple-based malic acid, and sparkling wine. Pair it with the dessert du jour, a lemon tart with cranberry and mint crema, and you've got the perfect holiday combo on your plate.
Travelle at The Langham, Chicago (330 N. Wabash Ave.)
Add eggnog brioche French toast to the top of your "must eat" list this holiday season, and book a reservation at The Langham, Chicago to make it happen. The hotel is open for Christmas Day dining this year, serving the decadent dish as part of a holiday buffet. The dish is outfitted with brandy apple compote and Vermont maple syrup, offered alongside other buffet fixings like an omelette station, a Bloody Mary bar, a carving station, a sushi spread, and a dessert arrangement brimming with eclairs, petit fours, cakes, macarons, cookies, and candies. For kids, the hotel will feature a magician, a balloon animal artist, and a Dear Santa letter-writing table. The cost for the event is $135 per person.
Miller's Pub (134 S. Wabash Ave.)
For a taste of old-school Chicago, head to the decades-old Miller's Pub in the Loop. The longstanding institution feels like a throwback slice of Americana, making it an apt locale for filling up on their famous Tom & Jerrys. The holiday drink is the best way to enjoy eggnog, served warm and infused with the likes of brandy and rum.
Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan Ave.)
Christmas adopts a Spanish accent at Mercat a la Planxa, one of the city's preeminent tapas destinations. This year, the restaurant is rolling out a festive holiday feast of tapas and plates on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The order of the day is a three-course prix fixe, featuring Serrano ham and fig salad, smoked rib-eye with chanterelle mushrooms and Tempranillo jus, and Spanish-style Mato cheese with lemon, walnut, and honey. The cost for the menu is $75 per person.
Firecakes (68 W. Hubbard St.)
Flavors like peppermint, sugar cookie, and eggnog round out the sweet specials this month at Firecakes. The downtown donut destination is currently serving December flavors like its yeast-raised eggnog donut filled with whipped eggnog mousse and glazed with an eggnog frosting and a pinch of nutmeg. The sugar cookie donut is a yeast donut with sugar cookie frosting and a sprinkling of red and green sugar. Chocoholics will swoon for the chocolate peppermint bark donut, a Valrhona cake donut with white chocolate, dark chocolate ganache, and housemade peppermint bark pieces. Then there's the sufganiyot, a traditional Hanukkah donut filled with housemade raspberry and blood orange jelly.
The Duck Inn (2701 S. Eleanor St.)
Inspired by National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Duck Inn is serving a festive drink for the season called "You Serious Clark?" The fun and hearty quaff is the handiwork of head bartender Brandon Phillips, who mixes together Denizen Merchant's Reserve 8 Year Rum, Schwartzhog Krauter, Tempus Fugit Creme de Menthe Glaciale, saline solution, and a whole egg. It's even served in a Marty the Moose mug and misted with Clear Creek's Douglas Fir Eau de Vie for added Christmas essence.
Photos: Floriole Cafe & Bakery, Cantina 1910, Miller's Pub, Firecakes