Market, Lunch, Dinner
Neighborhood: The Loop
Address: Daley Plaza between Dearborn, Washington, and Clark
Price Range: Pure, Unadulterated Joy is FREE!!!
Our Rating: 4.4 out of 5
What We Tried: Bratwurst, Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Gluwhein
Our Take: Christmas Spirit is the Christkindlmarket. The Christkindlmarket is Christmas Spirit. Seriously, if I hadn’t known better, I would’ve thought that Buddy the Elf commissioned this thing. Recommended to me by a native Chicagoan friend, the Christkindlmarket has been a tradition for his family and many others since its inception in 1996. Each year, the Christmas Market is put on by the German American Chamber of Commerce and pays homage to the traditional Christkindlesmarkt held in Nuremberg, Germany. Vendors from all over the world come to bring you hand-crafted goods, traditional German food, and lots of holiday cheer.
I met my friend Molly at the market after work, and we couldn’t stop smiling. Our first stop was the gluwhein stall because gluwhein is German mulled wine so, obviously. The wine itself was delightful and surprisingly smooth, but the real winner was the decorative ceramic mug that the wine came in because GUESS WHAT?! You get to take it home!! Hot chocolate is also available for the kiddos and wine-averse in the same adorable mug.
While we were stationed by the food stalls, Molly grabbed a brat. This is when I found that Germany and Chicago have yet another thing in common, both prefer their encased meats SANS ketchup. That’s right, German mustard all the way here folks! (Traditionally, Germans also go heavy on the sauerkraut, but we’ll give you some wiggle room on that one). Other traditional food options include strudel (sweet and savory (either is dinner-acceptable)), crepes, döner, pretzels, schnitzel, potato pancakes, and much more.
While many of the craft goods, some from nations as far-reaching as Nepal, Switzerland, and Peru, are quite pricey, you really can’t put a price on authenticity. Okay, maybe you can, but in that case, just look around and admire the handiwork. The market hosts some truly incredible artists!
Finally, be sure to stop by the sweet shop and listen to the carolers sing (in German)! Don’t wait in the dastardly line to snag your candied nuts, though; there is an even bigger and much less crowded nut stall near the corner of Washington and Dearborn.
If at all possible, I’d highly suggest spicing things up and bringing out the Christmas joy on a weekday. My mom and I tried to stop in on a Saturday and were so packed in I felt like one of the encased meats mentioned above.
The Christkindlmarket only lasts for 4 weeks each year, so make sure to get there before Christmas! You will probably walk away with a hand-carved cuckoo clock, glass blown ornaments for everyone you know (and their mother), and twenty pounds of cinnamon roasted almonds, but you won’t care a smidge because you will be in an incredibly holly, jolly mood.
Frohe Weihnachten to all, and to all a good night!