Glazed and Infused doughnuts (Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune )
Ugly sweater parties, peppermint mochas and those slightly addicting holiday tunes creeping on the radio are all pretty good indicators that it's about time you started cracking on your holiday gift list. Regardless of where you're shopping this holiday season, one thing that is for sure is that you're going to work an appetite doing it. Friends don't let friends shop with low bloody sugar, so make time to stop and recharge at these bars and restaurants in five of the city's most popular shopping districts.
State Street is the anchor of the Loop's shopping scene with a nice mix of high-end and affordable options to fit any budget. Your best bets for one-stop shops are Macy's (111 N. State St. 312-781-1000) and neighboring mall Block 37 (108 N. State St. 312-261-4737) featuring shops such as Godiva Chocolatier, the Disney Store, soap shop Sabon and Chicago-centric jewelry boutique Local Charm.
44 S. Wabash Ave. 312-384-1960
At this upscale cafeteria-style eatery, choose from pastas such as granchi de fiume ($11.95) with crayfish in a creamy lobster sauce or bolognese ($10.95). Pastas, along with pizzas and salads, are swiftly prepared in front of you while you wait. The spicy orange fennel salad ($10.95) with shrimp and vanilla bean panna cotta ($2.50) can round out your meal before you head back to shopping.
5 S. Wabash Ave. 3rd floor 312-465-5280
This Southern picnic-themed cafeteria hidden inside the Jewelers Center is just right to kick off a morning shopping session with hearty breakfast options such as crunchy French toast ($5.75) or gluten- free buckwheat pancakes ($4.50). Opt for a more traditional southern breakfast such as biscuits and gravy ($4.50) or creamy shrimp and grits ($9.25). If you're around for lunch, warm up with jambalaya ($7.25) or seafood chowder ($4.75).
Toni Patisserie & Cafe
65 E. Washington St. 312-726-2020
At this Parisian-style cafe, baguette sandwich options ($7.50-$9.95) include Le Vegetarien with white bean hummus and Le Boeuf made with roast beef and horseradish mayo. A half baguette sandwich and cup of soup combo ($8.75) is the perfect way to refuel after wrestling away that scarf you clearly had dibs on.
24 S. Michigan Ave. 312-372-4243
Stop in this cozy gastropub for warm and filling options such as fries with curry gravy ($7), fried pickles with a smoked serrano aioli ($8) and a beer-braised short rib sandwich ($16). Treat yourself to an apple cider doughnut topped with maple ice cream and spiced pecans ($9).
The sheer number of stores along Michigan Avenue make it worth braving the touristy crowds. The 900 North Michigan Shops (900 N. Michigan Ave. 312-915-3916) building is home to a six-level Bloomingdale's and gift jackpots such as Williams-Sonoma, Galt Toys and custom handbag shop 1154 Lill Studio. Across the street, there's the eight-level Water Tower Place (835 N. Michigan Ave. 312-440-3166) and further south, The Shops at North Bridge (520 N. Michigan Ave. 312-327-2300) anchored by Nordstorm. Not to be missed stand-alone stores include Zara (700 N. Michigan Ave. 312-255-8123) and Topshop (830 N. Michigan Ave. 312-280-6834).
110 E. Pearson St. 312-266-3110
Decompress with a refreshing cocktail such as the Sardinian 27 ($12) made with vodka, prosecco, mint and raspberries, or the or sangria bianco ($30 for a pitcher, $10 for a glass). Twenty different varieties of pizza baked in a wood-burning oven range from a basic margherita ($14) to the clam and bacon casino ($17) or mortadella pizza with black truffles ($18).
The Purple Pig
500 N. Michigan Ave. 312-464-1744
The promise of wine and cheese should be enough to convince your friends to make a pitstop here. Share small plates such as chorizo-stuffed olives and eggplant parmesan balls or choose from a long list of cured meats, cheeses and smears.
535 N. Michigan Ave. 312-644-3524
Along with beers on draft and wines that range from affordable to splurge-worthy, this restaurant has your drinking needs covered with classic cocktails such as a manhattan ($13) or signature margarita ($11). The Emerald Kale Salad with roasted chicken ($15) or the Macho Salad topped with dates, almonds and goat cheese ($17) are large enough to satisfy but aren't food coma-inducing.
505 N. Michigan Ave. 312-321-8738
Break up your day with a cheese flights ($12) at this wine bar tucked inside the Intercontinental Chicago hotel. Each flight boasts a cute name based on the style (such as Cheddar is Better and Blues Brothers) or origin (such as Midwest Culture). Or for a sugar boost, try chocolate flights ($11) including the Some Like it Hot flight with raspberry-chipotle, curry-saffron and three pepper chocolates. Pair one with a dessert wine such as the Churchill Vintage Character port ($15) and you're ready to get back out there.