It doesn’t happen often, but this year, the final night of Hanukkah lands on Christmas — Chrismukkah, if you will. But the first night begins at sundown on Sunday, December 18, and the menorah will be lit for eight consecutive nights. There will be latkes and other fried foods, like sweet sufganiyot — a type of jelly-filled donut. Slow-roasted meats — hello, brisket! — and smoked fish are also on the menu during the week. And who would say no to kugel? So, spin the dreidel and use this list of restaurants, bakeries and caterers to help you win the jackpot this Hanukkah.
112 W. Grand Ave., Chicago
Globe-trotting River North bar Arbella has partnered with neighboring Firecake Donuts for an “Old School Hanukkah Sufganiyot” filled with Mick Klug Farms mixed berry preserves. It will perch on top of a special cocktail made with peanut butter fat-washed vodka, served over a grape jelly ice cube. General Manager/Managing Partner Joe Doose wanted to come up with a special holiday cocktail that would “bring us all together,” and what better than a boozy riff on PB&J and a jelly-filled treat? Available December 18-26.
Bucktown: 1649 N. Damen Ave.; Gold Coast: 1127 N. State St.; River North: 901 N. Larrabee Ave.; Fulton Market, 911 W Randolph St., 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 Chicken Matzo Ball Soup, Bite-Sized Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar, Braised Short Ribs in Balsamic and Red Wine Reduction, Chicken Marbella and Classic Noodle Kugel. Seal the Deal with Hanukkah Cupcakes and Cookies, with even a make-your-own Decorating Kit available, and the traditional Sufganiyot — supplied by Do Rite Donuts. Price varies based on order. Pickup (and limited delivery) December 18-24 during normal business hours; orders due by noon on Wednesday, December 14.
2700 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
This Ukrainian Village favorite is offering a pick-up menu of Hanukkah treats, including Smoked Whitefish Salad with parsley, celery and lemon; Beet-Cured Gravlax with crème fraiche and herbs; their house-baked rye and sourdough breads; Chef Guy’s Giant Potato and Apple Latkes with crème fraiche and umami-laden black garlic-apple sauce; Slow-Roasted Brisket in House Chile Sauce; Noodle Kugel; and all manner of caviar. Order now through December 26 for pickup from December 18-26; closed Christmas Day.
1733 Central St., Evanston; 348 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville
Is it even a holiday on the North Shore without baked goods from this award-winning bakery? Hanukkah is no exception, so don’t forget to pre-order their delectable raspberry-filled sufganiyot — baked, not deep-fried, so it’s healthy … right? — and the decadent Chocolate Babka for your table this year. Pre-order by December 15 for pick up on Sunday, December 18 at either Evanston flagship or the soon-to-open Liberyville location.
7110 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie
You’ll find all of your top Hanukkah picks at this Skokie stalwart, including Matzo Ball Soup, Braised Brisket with Potato Pancakes — aka Latkes — and Green Beans, Gooey Chocolate Cake and Apple Strudel. But there’s plenty to explore on their regular menu, where even the burger is made with prime brisket. And don’t sleep on Sima’s special chicken, pounded thin and served with lemon butter and capers. It’s a classic! Hanukkah specials available December 18- December 26 for dine-in, carryout or delivery.
Pickup locations: The Shudio 1152 W 18th St.; Lululemon, 944 W North Ave.; and The Hatchery, 135 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago
Artisanal online Mexican-Jewish bakery Masa Madre picked up steam during the pandemic when Tamar Fasja Unikel and Elena Vazquez Felgueres started baking together. If you haven’t yet tried their delectable mash-up of cultures — the Cinnamon Churro Babka and Hibiscus Za’atar Challah are two of my personal favorites — you simply must. Their special Hanukkah offerings this year are sufganiyots filled with either café con leche or cajeta (goat’s milk caramel) cream, and boxes of their special rugelach. Having a crowd? The Celebration Challah weighs 7 pounds and feeds up to 40 people. That’s a whole lot of happy. Online orders open now for pickup or delivery Friday 12/16, Wednesday, 12/21, and Thursday, 12/22.
601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook
Chef/Owners Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris are cooking up a special Hanukkah feast for the holiday, starting with a Hanukkah Dinner Package for Two (Slow-Braised BBQ All-Natural Brisket with Smashed Roasted Cauliflower, Potato Latkes with Sour Cream and Sarah’s Apple Butter, Mixed Green Salad with Citrus-Marinated Beets, Feta and Tahini Dressing and Flourless Chocolate Cake) for $118, but you can order all of these dishes and more a la carte, in portions for four or to supplement your own holiday meal. You can also dine-in at the restaurant and order these holiday specials. Place to-go orders by Thursday, December 15 for pick up on Sunday, December 18.
Logan Square: 2353 N. California Ave.; and Lincoln Park: 709 W. Belden Ave., Chicago Galit: 2429 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
It’s a Hanukkah match made in frozen dessert heaven! Award-winning pastry chef Dana Cree of Pretty Cool Ice Cream has joined flavor forces with Galit’s pastry chef, Mary Eder-McClure, to create the Pretty Cool Krembo inspired by a sweet Israeli treat. Orange blossom-scented marshmallow ice cream, coriander shortbread, dark chocolate and hints of pistachio and orange combine to make a sensational dessert — available in ice-cream bar form at Pretty Cool Ice Cream and in a plated dessert at Galit. Also on the Hanukkah specials menu at Pretty Cool: the Halva Chocolate Chip Cookie, sandwiched with caramelized honey and tahini ice cream, dipped in deep dark chocolate and rolled in crumbled halva. Oy! That sounds crazy delish. Available for the month of December 2022 at Galit and at Pretty Cool Ice Cream locations.
1954 N. Halsted St., Chicago
It’s all about the latkes at this bright and sunny Lincoln Park spot with all the Southern California vibes. Opt for the Classic House-Made Latkes with apple sauce and sour cream or step it up with the Smoked Salmon and Chive Cream-topped Latkes. You can really go big with a dollop of sturgeon caviar! You’ll also find Braised Leek Latkes with Grainy mustard and red-wine shallots on the holiday menu. Hanukkah specials available December 18-December 26 for dine in, carryout or delivery.
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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.