Seems like Thanksgiving is only just in the rearview mirror, and it’s already time for Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Light! Starting at sundown on Thursday, December 10 and ending Friday, December 18, we will light the menorah for eight consecutive nights, trade gifts, and eat fried potato latkes and sufganiyot (a type of jelly-filled donut). (Pro Tip: If you don’t have the inclination to make your own latkes, but are still craving them, I swear by Trader Joe’s frozen potato latkes!). Even the pandemic can’t dampen the spirit when there’s so much love — and so many latkes — to go around. Happily, Chicago has a plethora of restaurants and caterers only too willing to help you celebrate, whether on your own or with your pod. Use this list and you can order in each and every night of the festival. I’ve thrown in a few ideas for some fun treats to gift as well. Happy Hanukkah!
Fulton Market: 834 W. Fulton Market; Streeterville: 671 N. St. Clair St., Chicago
Both the Fulton Market and Streeterville locations of this health-oriented mini chain are offering a Hanukkah feast this year, with a delectable menu including fresh Challah, matzo Ball Soup, Slow-Braised Short Rib, Potato Pancakes, Raspberry Macaroons and a loaf of the house-made Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake. $79.95 for two people. Pickup December 10-18 from 4 pm – 7:30 pm; order by noon day of pickup.
1729 N. Halsted St., Chicago
Oy! What a meal with Boka’s Hanukkah at Home, available for pickup at the mother ship in Lincoln Park or at dropoff points in Northbrook and Deerfield. Choose either Roasted King Salmon or Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket for your main, and surround it with Matzo Ball Soup, Potato Latkes with Sour Cream and Applesauce, Smoked Whitefish Spread with Pumperickel, Crushed Cucumber and Dill Salad, Braised Carrots with Za’atar and Harissa, and Challah. And because you’ve been so good this year, they’ll throw in Roasted Apple and Honey Cake AND Handmade Chocolate Gelt! You can even add on a half-dozen house-made bagels and cream cheese for the next morning. $120 for two people. Pickup is December 10-18; order by noon day of pickup.
534 N. Clark St., Chicago
If you want to really bring the special to Hanukkah this year, check out Brindille’s special holiday offerings. My personal favorite is the Design-Your-Own Ice Cream Flavor with James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef, Craig Harzewski ($75 for six pints, custom ice cream orders require 72-hour notice for pick up on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays), but his gorgeous golden boxes filled with house-made mignardises — fruit geleés, marshmallows, chocolate truffles, mignons of chocolate with dried fruit and nuts, and glamorous enrobed chocolates — are another delectable indulgence ($15 for box of 8). They are also doing spectacular custom Epicurean Gift Baskets ($150 – $1,500, 48-hour notice required) with all manner of goodies, from hand-batched cocktails, cheeses and charcuterie to decorative Michael Aram metal works. This is one-stop holiday shopping!
74 W. Illinois St., Chicago
Chef CJ Jacobson played professional volleyball in Israel and knows a thing or two about Jewish food. His River North Mediterranean/Israeli restaurant is featuring a holiday menu with twists on traditional favorites, including Smoky Garlic Hummus, Village Salad, that soul-nurturing Matzo Ball Soup, Potato/Parmesan/Brussels Sprouts Latkes, Roasted Brisket with Pine Nut Gremolata, Thyme-Roasted Carrots with Labneh, and Rugelach for a sweet ending. $48.95 per person, available for groups of 2, 4, or 6. Pickup and delivery, December 10-18, 2 – 4 pm; order by day prior.
Bucktown: 1649 N. Damen Ave.; Gold Coast: 1127 N. State St.; River North: 901 N. Larrabee Ave., Chicago
Australian chef and caterer to the stars Debbie Sharpe is always on her game, but especially so for the Jewish holidays. Her à la carte menu reads like a “best of Hanukkah” listing, with starring roles played by Chopped Chicken Liver, Bite-Sized Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar, Braised Brisket in Balsamic and Red Wine Reduction, Chicken Marbella, and Classic Noodle Kugel. Seal the Deal with Blue Velvet Cake, Hanukkah Cookies and Cupcakes (even a make-your-own Decorating Kit available!), and the traditional Sufganiyot. Price varies based on order. Pickup (and limited delivery) December 10- 18 during normal business hours; orders due by noon day prior to pickup.
1167 Wilmette Ave, Wilmette
There’s nothing fishy about this tasty Hanukkah menu from Wilmette’s favorite seafood spot. The meal includes with Arugula and Fennel Salad, Matzo Ball Soup, Beef Brisket (okay, you CAN sub in salmon for an additional $18), Jerusalem Noodle Kugel, Potato Latkes with Chunky Applesauce, Spice- and Honey-Roasted Carrots, Sufganiyot, and Hanukkah Gelt and Dreidels. $165 feeds 4-6 people. Order by 12/9 for pick up on 12/10, 12/11 or 12/12.
4905 Dempster St., Skokie
Owner Bette Dworkin and her crack staff of deli aficionados have put together a special Hanukkah dinner package to make life easy for you! It includes Lean Corned Beef and Turkey Pastrami, Seeded Rye Bread, Potato Latkes, Spicky Mustard, Whole Pickles, Coleslaw and Brownies, with a dairy option available (sub in Tuna and Egg Salads for the meat). While you’re at it, pick up a Star-of-David-shaped Hanukkah Cake and some Menorah Chocolate Pops for the kids. Word to the wise: Do not leave without a quart of Matzo Ball Soup and some Whitefish Salad for appetizers! $60 for three people, $90 for five people. Pickup December 10-18; order day prior to pickup.
620 N. State St., Chicago
This Italian stalwart from Lettuce Entertain You might not be the first place you turn for a traditional Jewish meal, but don’t sleep on this option! This family-style dinner includes Potato Latkes with Apple Sauce and Sour Cream, Matzo Ball Soup, Arugula Salad with Medjool Dates, a choice of Faroe Island Salmon or Slagel Farm Slow-Braised Short Rib, Challah, and a Butternut Squash and Ricotta Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce. $48.95 per person, available to order for 1-10 guests. Pickup and Delivery, December 10-18; orders must be placed 48 hours in advance of desired pickup.
825W. Fulton Market, Chicago
Since his father owned a Jewish deli in Chicago, it’s no surprise that James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Kahan’s Hanukkah menu nods to family. Grandma Minnie’s Noodle Kugel and Potato Latkes have pride of place on a menu including a choice of Sweet-and-Sour Braised Brisket or Slow Roasted Salmon with Fennel and Citrus, Endive and Gem Lettuce Salad, Roasted Honeynut Squash and Flourless Chocolate Torte. $45 per person. Fulton Market Pickup December 10-18; Northbrook pickup Saturday, December 18 only.
How to Help:
The need for food donations is greater than ever this year. Please consider donating to a local nonprofit that will provide warm meals, and basic pantry items, to those in need. Find our 2020 Guide to Giving here.
More from Better:
- 31 of the Best Things to Do This December Around Chicago and the Suburbs
- 2020 Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Everyone on Your List
- Warming Hearts and Hands: Donate to Make It Better Foundation’s 2020 Holiday Coat Drive
Julie Chernoff, Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless, and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and counts Northlight Theatre and Les Dames d’Escoffier International as two of her favorite nonprofits. She currently serves on the national board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, an advocacy group addressing hunger issues in the U.S. and Israel for the nearly 46 million people — veterans, children, seniors, tribal nations, and more — who go to bed hungry every night.