Dining Chicago Makes The Most of Christkindlmarket
In the thick of the holidays, it’s that time of year for shopping, gifting, family and perhaps most importantly: mulled wine. The latter is where Christkindlmarket comes in. Chicago’s iconic German market/festival is back in action for the season, serving up holiday eats through Christmas Eve in the heart of the Loop. Here’s everything you need to know about the market this year, and how to make the most of this merry tradition.
The longstanding German fete takes place in Daley Plaza through December 24 (there’s also a spin-off market in Wrigleyville and another in Naperville, but this one is the most iconic). While there’s plenty of trinkets to peruse and purchase, the heart of the festival is the food. Much of the items up for grabs come from German roots, from those hefty schnitzel sandwiches to the giant pretzels.
Upon arrival to Christkindlmarket, which is free to attend and open all day and evening, is the warming, fragrant aroma of holiday spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The scent permeates the festival, wafting through the air and igniting cravings for snacks aplenty. It’s all thanks to vendors like Pemberton Candies, which slings English toffee and gourmet chocolates, as well as Niche Gourmet’s marzipan, gingerbread, and German snacks. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on a trip to the Sweet Castle. This is where you’ll want to fill up on sweet, spice-roasted nuts, along with German cookies, popcorn, cotton candy, and stollen, the famous German holiday cake similar (but better) to American fruitcake.
Aside from all that candy, you’ll probably need to balance the sugar with some savory schnitzel. Germany’s fried pork sandwiches are best enjoyed at Schnitzelhaus, which features the savory comfort food along with chicken sandwiches, German-inspired burgers, potato pancakes, and soul-soothing goulash. Another solid savory option is DönerMen, a Chicago-based company slinging curry wurst sausages, kebabs, curry fries, and other Berlin-born flavors. And don’t forget to snag a pretzel or two from Pretzel Haus. The doughy treats come in various flavors, including some stuffed with cheeses, sauces and sweet fillings.
Other edible options include baked cheese from the Baked Cheese House, sweet and savory crepes and waffles courtesy of Crepes Paname, doughnuts and stollen from Chicago’s iconic Dinkel’s Bakery, and sauerkraut and potato pancakes at Traditional German Food, LLC.
The drinks are just as important, especially on cold December evenings. This includes hot teas at TeaGschwender and Christkindlmarket’s most famous beverage, the Glühwein (aka spice-infused mulled wine), served in collectible ceramic boots.