The holidays are a time for gift-giving and gingerbread and family. It's also a time for mulled wine in boots and more stollen than you've ever seen in your life. This is where Christkindlmarket comes in, serving up festive holiday eats through December 24.
The longstanding German Christmas market is back in action all month long, taking place in Daley Plaza in the heart of the Loop shopping district. That means there is plenty of time to stock up on various knickknacks, ornaments, and gifts, but it also (and just as importantly) means there's ample opportunity to get your fill of hearty, soulful holiday fare.
Much of the items up for eating and drinking at Christkindlmarket come with a German accent, from the burly schnitzel sandwiches to the buttery pretzels, but there's something for everyone and every craving at this magical metropolitan wonderland.
Here's a rundown of what to eat and drink this year at Christkindlmarket:
The first thing you'll notice upon entry to Christkindlmarket — which is FREE and open to all by the way — is the heady, toasty aroma of sweet holiday spice. The scent radiates throughout the festival, enriching the air and whetting the appetite for the onslaught of indulgence. Much of this aroma can be chocked up to vendors like Pemberton Candies, which slings English toffee and gourmet chocolates, as well as the Niche Gourmet marzipan, gingerbread, and German treats.
The end all-be all of sweet holiday spice, however, is Sweet Castle. This is the spot to fill up on miscellaneous roasted nuts in dizzying varieties, along with German cookies, popcorn, cotton candy, and stollen, that ubiquitous German holiday cake on par with American fruitcake.
Despite what kinds might hope, one can't subsist on candy alone. So you'll need to balance all that sugar with some schnitzel. Germany's famed fried pork sandwiches are best experienced at the aptly named Schnitzelhaus, which specializes in the savory comfort food,a long with chicken sandwiches, German-style burgers, potato pancakes, and goulash. Another solid savory option is DönerMen, a Chicago-based company slinging curry wurst sausages, kebabs, curry fries, and other staples of Berlin. And don't forget the pretzels from Pretzel Haus. The doughy treats come in various flavors, some of which are stuffed.
Other edible options include gooey baked cheese from the Baked Cheese House, sweet and savory crepes and waffles courtesy of Crepes Paname, doughnuts and stollen from Dinkel's Bakery, and sauerkraut and potato pancakes at Traditional German Food, LLC.
The drinks are just as pivotal, and especially on chilly December days, the hot teas at TeaGschwender are especially apropos. As is Christkindlmarket's most famous beverage, the Glühwein, aka German hot spiced wine, served in collectible ceramic boots.
Additional photos via Christkindlmarket and Timmy Samuels