Socially distant foodie gifts in Chicago
November 16, 2020 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I want to get a Christmas gift for friends in Chicago. Usually I'd get a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, but obviously that's less than ideal this year. What are some other options?

I have friends in Chicago for whom I'd like to get a Christmas present. They are a couple who enjoys eating out and cooking, and in the past I've gotten them gift cards to nice restaurants. That's not going to work this year.

Is there something else I can do that is 1) socially distant and 2) something that I can buy online?

They have all the cooking gear they'll ever need and I prefer something more like an experience or that is consumable than stuff.

Price range is around $75.
posted by synecdoche to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Alinea is doing takeout and cook at home meals for $35 pp. The problem is that it's short term notice - you need to book a specific time slot in the next couple of days.
posted by Superilla at 1:36 PM on November 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Zingerman's mail order might be a good bet, particularly if your friends Deeply Care About Food the way Zingerman's Deeply Cares About Food. In particular, Zingerman's offers a variety of "X-of-the-month" clubs, though most of them are above $75.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:29 PM on November 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Love these people:

I've bought from them roughly ten times for various gifts. They sell you a crate and you can pick and choose items to go in it--I've seen them unwrapped and it's great cheese and great products. You can play around and go lower or higher end depending on what you ask them to pack in it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2020

Why not do a gift certificate for buying interesting ingredients? Penzey's would be a great way for them to up their spice and seasoning game, if they aren't already customers. Or I'm sure some citydwellers can identify the luxurious ethnic or gourmet markets, the sort of places your friends might not shop regularly but would enjoy indulging themselves at.
posted by DrGail at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Alinea, and many other great Chicago restaurants who are doing carryout or meal kits, are on Tock; if you don't want to reserve something specific, they do have gift cards that work for any restaurant on the site. Some restaurants are also doing gift baskets, provisions, etc., so they would have some flexibility in choosing.
posted by carrienation at 2:33 PM on November 16, 2020

Came here to recommend a Tock gift card, like carrienation above! I've ordered loads of lovely meals for pick-up through their site. My boyfriend and I had the Kai Zan dinner platter for two recently and it was a dazzler. Le Bouchon also has some really nice meal kit options. And Vajra has tempting prix fix options for brunch or dinner at $35/person.
posted by merriment at 2:58 PM on November 16, 2020

The holiday One of a Kind art show at the Merch Mart went virtual this year. There are food vendors listed too on the site - use the Gourmet filter.

It's not all Chicago based artisans, but if you're into supporting local businesses, you can filter further on city.

For a specific recommendation on the list: it's Madison based and a little offbeat from the norm of food gifts, but I can highly recommend Nutkrack!
posted by paradeofblimps at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2020

I'm not familiar with how Tock works and whether they take some percentage (I'm assuming they do?) but you can also buy gift cards directly from many restaurants in Chicago and your friends can use them to order take-out. Maybe it's obvious, but it's what I've been doing for two reasons: one - I know the full gift card purchase goes directly to the business (minus any small transaction fee from some of the sites they're using) and two - most people have been cooking a lot lately and takeout feels like the now dine-out for most of my friends and family.

One word of caution on gift cards - make sure you're buying directly from the business' website or a trusted third part. There is a huge issue of scam sites right now that claim to sell gift cards for dozens of restaurants but all they do is reimburse someone when they eat at the place (e.g., you send your friend this "gift card," it's not really a gift card, instead they are told to send their receipts to this company and get reimbursed).
posted by unid41 at 12:46 AM on November 17, 2020

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