Eating & Drinking, Chicago
With lines out the door and down the street one cannnot help but wonder what is so good about Garrett's popcorn? I mean after all, popcorn is popcorn, right? Er, well, NO! Garrett's popcorn is the best I have ever had!
For over half a century Garrett Popcorn Shops have been in business. They pride themselves on making fresh, delicious popcorn. They limit their popcorn selections to Plain Popcorn, Buttered Popcorn, CaramelCrisp, which may be blended with cashews, macadamias or pecans and CheeseCorn. Combining the cheese with the caramel, Garretts originally called it The Downtown Mix, but it has since become the Chicago Mix. Oprah Winfrey selected the Chicago Mix as one of her Favorite Things.
What to buy: Don't leave without one or two bags full of the "Chicago Mix" or maybe try some of the Caramel Macadamia nut mix.
What to pay: If you can buy it there in Chicago then the prices are reasonable, but when you order it to be shipped it becomes a bit expensive. A tin of carmel and cheese cost $46.00 for 2 gallons but the shipping was $19.00 for 2 day delivery (this is to ensure the popcorn will arrive fresh).
If you walk SE on North Milwaukee Avenue toward downtown, a wonderful surprise will be in store for you as you approach within blocks of the Loop. Besides the dazzling sight of the skyscrapers in front of your eyes, you will increasingly notice the wonderful smell of freshly made chocolate wafting through the air.
What to buy: I'd recommend buying small sample bags, as shown in the photo. They ranged between about $3 - $9.
The store is open these hours:
Mon - Fri: 9 to 5
Sat: 9 to 1
This wonderful store sells hand mixed seasonings from two locations:
1512 Wells St., Chicago
1941 Central St., Evanston
I received a gift pack from one of my Chicago VT friends. It consisted of 4 delightful spices:
Bronzeville Rib Rub
Old Taylor St. Cheese Sprinkle
Lake Shore Drive Seasoning
Old World Central Street
I started using them as soon as I got home!
Owned & operated by Tom & Patty Erd, this is THE place to go if you're looking for GREAT spices in Chicagoland!
What to buy: They offer a number of gift boxes, perfect for every occasion.
Although not manufactured in Chicago anymore, there are two chocolates that are associated with Chicago:
Frango Mints are sold at Macy's (formerly Marshall Field's) exclusively and online at their website. The chocolate mints in the dark green box are the original flavor, now they also make them in many other flavors including some that are seasonal.
Fannie May disappeared briefly closing all their retail stores but the new owner reopened many of the former locations in the fall of 2004. Although the candies are no longer produced locally, they are still using the same recipes and Blommer's chocolate which is based in Chicago. Pixies are my favorites!
Other places chocoholics might want to check out:
Leonidas -59 E. Chicago Avenue and also in the suburb of Wilmette-yummy Belgian chocolates but expensive at about $1 per piece.
Vosges Haut Chocolate -520 N. Michigan Avenue or 951 W. Armitage in Lincoln Park, even more expensive that Leonidas, exotic flavored chocolates using ingredients such as curry and peppers. I tried a couple and wasn't wild about them.
Margie's-1960 N. Western at Armitage, family run ice cream and candy store known for their turtles, chocolate covered pecans and caramel
See's -the California chocolate company is taking on Chicago, 128 Ogden Avenue in Downer's Grove
Ethel's Chocolate Lounge, I believe these are all closed now
This place is a must for Chocolate lovers....
Their chocolates are made from excotic ingredients. They are just to beautiful to be eaten, but when you do, you are in heaven. If you have a chance, go to their website to see what I am trying to describe to you. Enjoy!!!!
What to buy: Well, it is hard to say, but I would go with their special of the month.
What to pay: Well, it is pretty expensive, but you will not regret it. I believe it is almost $2.00 for one little piece of Chocolate.
Huge wine and liquor warehouse. A great place to find a gift! Shop for wines, beer, and spirits of all types here! There is also a gourmet section of over 250 cheeses, fine olive oils and meats. There are frequent tastings here, too!
What to buy: The staff here is very helpful and informed, so ask questions to find what you're looking for.
Here was a tasting of the "Jonesy" port from Australia. It had a great taste and was a fabulous deal. I bought some and had it signed by Jonesy himself!
What to pay: $5 - $10 - $20 -- ???
you'll think you are in Poland. Walk in here, and you'll hear little other than Polish. The first thing you will see is rows and rows of sausages and the backs of lots of people. When you listen, you'll hear nothing but Polish spoken here.
What to buy: I usually by the fresh sausages of course. They also have other goodies, as well as a lunch counter. Look aroudn and explore a few things, you might like them. Once you have some of their sausage, you'll never pick up a package in the grocery store, or eat in one of those lame, expensive downtown haunts again. For .99 pound, you can get a lot of quality stuff, and because its Polish, its all very clean.
What to pay: Prices here are about half or less what you would pay on the North side and about a quarter or less of what you would pay downtown, if you can even find comparable products downtown.
One of my favorite things to do when I arrive in a foreign city is check out their grocery stores, whether it be to stock up on cheap water and soda, grab an inexpensive lunch or check out the candy aisle. Here are a few of the options for grocery shopping in Chicago, I've listed the locations closest to downtown:
Jewel-550 N. State, 1210 N. Clark, many other locations-this is the major grocery store chain in Chicagoland, go here for the widest selection at the cheapest price. Apply for a Preferred Card to save a bundle (or say you forgot yours and usually they will give you discount)
Dominick's-see website for locations-used to be the 2nd largest chain in Chicago, most of them closed but a few still exist, same as Jewel, they have a Fresh Value card similar to the Preferred Card at Jewel
Whole Foods-30 W. Huron plus other locations-focuses on natural and organic foods, higher prices than Jewel or Dominick's
Fox and Obel-401 E. Illinois (Near Navy Pier)gourmet food with lots of prepared foods, fun to look around but very expensive and very small selection
Trader Joe's-44 E. Ontario plus several other stores, an eclectic mix of unique items, many under their own private label, lots of imported foods
Treasure Island, in the neighborhoods, billed as a European supermarket
This is a small butcher and sausage shop with a local, loyal clientele. It is NOT a restaurant. The owner is Hungarian though I'd been going there for years thinking he was Austrian. (this is an old German neighborhood) and I think some of his employees are Hungarian because ... 1. I can't identify their language, but its not Slavic, and 2. See they carry Hungarian spices and products.
What to buy: All the sausages I have tried are melt in your mouth good and they aren't shy about telling you how to cook them. My favorites are the veal bratwurst and The salamis are fabulous and meaty, full of flavor, try the paprika ones. its homemade and they have their own smoker too. Smoked pork loin and chops.
What to pay: Cheaper than most supermarkets for sausage and meats. Whole salamis (you know with the strings attached etc.) should be about $7.
This is a medium sized groceria that also serves up good sandwiches. They have the usual assortment of Italian cold cuts and cheeses as well as about five rows of imported food and other things, mostly Italian with a minor in Greek. Olive oils, biscotti, coffees etc.
What to buy: Italian Sausage, seafood salad, fresh bread, scamorza, hot capicola, gardiniera, sub sandwiches
What to pay: About the same as a grocery store, though some of the imported foods are a little more.
If you have a taste for gourmet wine, liquors, and food, this is the place for you. I have traveled a lot. Sometimes, at home, I want some of the exotic flavors I have had abroad. I can find many of these things at Binny’s in Lakeview.
What to buy: I like the Pisco (from Peru) with sugar and lime juice. The Ravenswood wines, from Sonoma California, are wonderful. The French wines, like Chateauneuf du Pape, are always good. Also, they have some tasty cheese and olives.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9:00-9:00
What to pay: You can spend a little or a lot here. I can find a good wine here starting at $10.
Binny's Beverage Depot is a good place to check out for the widest selection of beer, wine and liquor. Binny's competitor, Sam's Wine & Liquor, was bought out by Binny's several years ago. There are currently 25 locations in the city and suburbs, the closest to downtown are on Grand or in the South Loop on Roosevelt. There are also locations in Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Hyde Park.
There are events such as wine or champagne tastings at different locations, you can check the events page on the website listed below.
The lines out the door, even in the dead of winter, tell the story,
What to buy: POPCORN, especially the carmel. Buy it by the canister to take home with you!
What to pay: The patented "Carmel Crisp" is $5.00 as is the "mix" -- a combination of the carmel & cheese flavors. for a one pound bag.
We stopped by Bobak's after eating at Szalas Restaurant across the street. Bobak's is located in a Polish neighborhood in Chicago near Midway Airport.
There is also a buffet restaurant next door, next time we are in the area we will try it.
What to buy: Bobak's has been making and selling their sausages in Chicago since 1967, there is a huge selection of prepackaged and fresh sausages for sale.
In addition to the sausages, Bobak's sells a wide variety of Polish goods-candies, liquor, canned goods-has a delightful bakery and also is a regular grocery store.
We picked up a couple of packages of sausage to try later and a package of Kremowka, a delicious flaky pastry filled with custard.
What to pay: The prices were very reasonable
If you are wondering what to buy as a souvenir from Chicago to put a smile on the dial of your colleagues then look no further then a bag of Garretts popcorn. The flavours are Caramel corn, Cheese corn, percan crisp, buttery or a mix of any flavours. A small bag is really big and as long as you have space in your luggage do bring some back even if you have to bring a separate bag purely for this purpose!
The popcorn stays really fresh and they double bagged for me to ensure nothing leaked out. Once you start eating this delight you'll find it hard to stop.
There are stores all over downtown 2 W. Jackson Blvd, State & Madison.
Open 11am - 8pm