The Chicago Foodie Sisters 2019 Holiday Foodie Gift Guide

Got someone on your list that is hard to buy for? You can’t go wrong with food. Everyone’s gotta eat, right? And sometimes some gourmet goodies, some familiar favorites or something out-of-the-box that’s edible or food-related makes the perfect gift. Here’s a few ideas:


What's more Chicago than a Chicago-style hot dog? Send a taste of Chicago to friends and relatives out of the area or order one for your favorite hot dog fan. Vienna Beef has a number of gift packages for the holiday season. They include:

Holiday Party Pack Hot Dog Kit - Vienna Beef premium Natural Casing beef franks and all the toppings to make 30 Chicago Style hot dogs. Includes poppy seed buns, bright green relish, sport peppers, yellow mustard, and celery salt.  $89.95

Holiday Swag Bag - The best swag gift for Chicago style hot dog lovers includes a throw-back Vienna Beef T-Shirt, Vienna Beef ball cap, Vienna Beef Grill Glove, and a Vienna Beef apron.  $49.95

Holiday EXTREME Vienna Beef Lover’s Feast - While supplies last, Vienna Beef is offering its authentic “Vendor Style” hot/cold bag filled to the top with 36 delicious pounds of Vienna Beef meat products.  Includes 10 pounds of hot dogs, 10 pounds of polish sausages, 6 pounds of soft salami, and 10 pounds of Montreal Style Smoked Pastrami Brisket. $599.95 Includes shipping!

Chicago Style Condiment Kit - Everything you need to top a dog. Great for picnics, tailgating and grill-outs. Includes Vienna® Bright Green Relish, Vienna® Sport Peppers, Vienna® Yellow Mustard, Vienna® Celery Salt. $19.95

There's a temporary 20% code of YSAUVR that you can use at checkout. 

If you've ever been to Indianapolis, you probably know that St. Elmo's Steakhouse is THE place for steak in the city. St. Elmo Steak House has been a landmark in downtown Indianapolis since 1902 and is the oldest Indianapolis steakhouse in its original location. It's earned a great reputation nationally for its swanky old-school atmosphere, high-quality cuts, chops and seafood and excellent customer service.

Besides the steaks, seafood and classic cocktails, St. Elmo's is also known for its shrimp cocktail. A friend who lives there has said it was one of the things that helped Indy land the Super Bowl in 2012. It's one of those things I just have to have when I'm visiting Indianapolis and something I crave when I'm not there. I was excited to see that their signature sauce is now available in retail locations and online. They also have other products you can purchase, including their seasoning, horseradish, horseradish sauce and whiskey at locations throughout Chicagoland.

This is like the gift that keeps on giving (in a much better way than Clark Griswold's jelly of the month membership). If you have someone on your list who enjoys wine, this membership gives access to new winemaker's varieties each month, exclusive discounts and special members-only dinners and events, birthday rewards and depending on the membership level you choose, can include free monthly wine tastings, as well. You can choose a red, white, sweet or variety membership and when you go in to pick up your selection, you can opt for something else if you prefer. Memberships can also be mailed and billed quarterly. Gift memberships are available for 3, 6 or 12-month periods. 

I've sampled a number of baskets from and you'll find something on there for everyone on your list.

There are breakfast baskets of muffins and coffee and other goodies, snack baskets with nuts, popcorn, cookies, chocolate and more, tower gift sets with candies, chocolate-covered pretzels, gourmet flavored popcorn and more. You'll find Italian-themed baskets, healthy baskets of organic snacks and fruit, beer baskets, wine crates and baskets specific to men, grandparents, kids, graduates and for more than two dozen specific occasions and holidays.

There's a big selection of holiday packages that start at $24.99 - from Christmas cheesecake pops to an "Around the World" beer bucket to gourmet popcorn tins to a champagne and truffles gift basket - and more than 80 other holiday options.

Based in Bloomington, Indiana, this distillery produces a number of unique liqueurs along with gins, whiskeys, vodkas and other spirits. The Flora liqueur is made with fresh organic raspberries, elderflower, jasmine and hibiscus and sweetened with agave nectar. It's delicious in mixed cocktails or added into a cup of hot tea.

Their website doesn't offer shipping and takes only pick-up orders, but there are some online sites where you can order it for delivery, including And if you do happen to find yourself in Bloomington or passing through, make a visit for some of their starters, seasonal specialities or brunch items.


If you're looking for a gift for a chocoholic, see this list of some of my favorites in the Chicago area, most of which will ship items. I also love Roots Chocolates  out of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, DeBrand's Fine Chocolates in Fort Wayne, Indiana,  and Abbott's Candies in Hagerstown, Indiana. Any chocolate lover would be thrilled with treats from any of these places.

Truffles from DeBrand Fine Chocolates in Fort Wayne

I’m also a big believer in gifting experiences rather than things. If I was to make it list for Santa of what I really want, it may include fruity or flowery scented candles, warm fuzzy slippers, gourmet chocolates, a Kate Spade bag and some new Tieks, but it would also include a weekend getaway with the family to a water park or a secluded cabin, a night out to see a movie, a visit to see a cool museum exhibit, tickets to a live musical or dinner out at an upscale restaurant I’ve had my eye on for a while. Here’s a few experience ideas for that someone special - and each has a foodie (or beverage) twist to them.

On a recent visit for lunch at the Hoppy Gnome Restaurant and Taproom in Fort Wayne, I learned that their brewery, which is located next door offers a program where you can brew your own beer and it's just one of a few spots in the Midwest where you can do so. You get a hands-on opportunity to work with a brewmaster and you can choose to have your beer bottled with a custom label or stored in a keg.  You can even bring in a special ingredient to add to your brew to really make it your own. If you go, stay for a bite in the restaurant - the pozole and scallops are off the charts!

Purchase a tour time at this family-owned brewery located on the fringes of the Historic Pullman area of Chicago, which is now designated as the Pullman National Monument and part of the National Parks System. The south side brewery is housed in the historic Schlitz stable distribution center where horses were kept that were used to deliver beer to the community. Tours take place most Saturdays.

Located in Chicago's River North area, next to the LaSalle Street bridge is the World of Whirlpool. While they don't sell Whirlpool products here, you can learn about them and use them in this fun experiential space where workshops, classes and private events are held - everything from pasta making classes to creating grazing boards to making seasonal soups to yoga and cocktail sessions and much more. Many are $25, some as low as $15 and none more than $40. Gift cards for these workshops can be purchased in denominations of $25 and up. I recently was there for a cake decorating class and had a blast. I'm planning on a pasta making class next month and cannot wait!

If you have never been to this amazing foodie festival, it is the ultimate event for Chicago foodies. Held each September at Millennium Park, there are opportunities to sample some of the best bites in the city and meet food celebs in this amazing outdoor setting. The Black Friday Holiday presale is a great opportunity to snag a ticket for this foodie experience unlike any other.

This combines two of my very favorite things - food and history. Learn about different areas of the city and how they've evolved and sample from some of the city's hottest eateries. There are walking tours and even a bicycle tour option. Reserve a tour and plan an overnight to also try out some more of the impressive food scene there and I guarantee the foodie in your life will be super appreciative.


Years ago while traveling hubby saw one of these big contraptions - a bar on wheels powered by the pedals of the passengers. And you get to sip on your favorite drinks as you sightsee. There's nothing like this in the Windy City, but you'll find them in other big cities. Book a tour and plan a little getaway around it. Some of the spots you'll find them are Milwaukee (Pedal Tavern), Indianapolis (The Handlebar Indy) and Nashville (Nashville Pedal Tavern). We did the Pedal Tavern in Nashville last year and had such a good time making our way through and doing a couple bar stops along the way.

This is one of my favorite foodie events of the year and I love that it supports a worthy cause - the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The event has become so popular that is is now split into three different sessions over a weekend at the UIC Forum. Taste dozens of creative food concoctions all incorporating the use of bacon. Tickets go on sale December 2 at 9 a.m. It is a bacon lover's dream come true and what meat-loving foodie wouldn't love tickets in their stocking?

Thornton Distilling and the tasting room known as The Well in south suburban Thornton has a very cool history with a natural spring that spans from Native Americans to early European settlers to gangsters and you can hear all about it on a tour, which includes a visit down below to see the well. The original owner settled there and began brewing beer on the site over 150 years ago. Schedule a tour and plan to stay for some signature cocktails and some of their homemade flatbread pizza or other small bites. 

I have a special fondness for this place as I've watched the building change hands over the years (my niece worked there back when it was a bar called Widow McCleary's - and has a ghost story or two to share about it) and saw it sit vacant for a time. I've been there many times over the past three decades and seen the transformation. I couldn't be happier at the makeover its gotten and am so excited to see the gem is has been restored to.

I recently met a couple at a media event who run Little Diners Crew and I couldn't love the concept more. It introduces kids to foodie adventures each month, immersing them into a culture through its food. This fun membership group takes kids to a different country each month as they dine at some of the best upscale spots in the city. Some have included Italian cuisine at Prosecco, Mexican food and Taco De Cero, Ethiopian specialties at Demera, a Greek introduction at Avil Taverna, New Orleans-style grub at Ina Mae Tavern, a sampling of Korean BBQ at San Soo and many others. Upcoming dates include a wild game dinner and a Japanese experience at Sushi Dokku. Members also get exclusive discounts and tasting opportunities. 

If a craft beer fan aficionado is on your to-buy-for list, get them tickets to this fun winter event featuring more than 100 craft beers, live music and food trucks. They're probably missing all those fun outdoor fest of the summer and fall and this is a good opportunity to stay warm while trying out winter brews of some of the many craft breweries in and around the city. 

Seasons Greetings to you! We wish you a yummy holiday!