Eater’s Magical Guide to Christkindlmarket Chicago

Christkindlmarket runs through December 24 at Daley Plaza.

The best food and drink at Daley Plaza’s annual holiday market

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Chicago: Daley Plaza has once again turned into a winter wonderland filled with German goodies thanks to Christkindlmarket. For 2018, the market has brought back a bunch of the staples (what would Christkindlmarket be without potato pancakes?) but also added a lineup of new food and drink like sandwiches smothered with gooey raclette and even a white wine-based glühwein for the non-red drinkers. Here are the most magical eats at Christkindlmarket 2018, which started on November 16 and lasts through December 24.


Elizabeth Atkinson
Glühwein is a staple at Christkindlmarket.

Red or White Glühwein in souvenir mugs

The first stop for anyone headed to Christkindlmarket should be the alcohol tent for a mug of Original Sternthaler Glühwein from Nuremberg, Germany. It’s toasty and spicy: just the right drink to warm up for some shopping. This year, the market has an apple cinnamon white-wine based glühwein too, to add a little variation to the mix. Plus, the mug is excellent this year — heart-shaped with the Chicago skyline overlooking the market.


Elizabeth Atkinson
Currywurst with a roll is a great alternative to the traditional brat or leiberkase.

Currywurst

Bratwurst is always a choice dish at Christkindlmarket, but with both Dönermen and the German Foods tents serving currywurst this year, it’s time for a change. The spice-laden cup of currywurst pairs perfectly with fries to pick up the remaining curry. Plus, this fork-friendly meal is especially simple to eat when the temperatures hit rock bottom.


Elizabeth Atkinson
Find the ultimate tagline for a loved one on these gingerbread cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies

In the Sweet Castle, there are many treats to be found, from popcorn and dainty marzipan cookies to chocolate-covered alcohol shots. But by far, the favorite was the Gingerbread Cookies, ornately displayed directly upon entering the tent, with phrases in German like “my wild tiger” and “my great love.”


Nathan Borgo
Adding sprinkles to the hot chocolate makes it just a little more cheerful.

Fancy Hot Chocolate

A step up from last year’s hot chocolate in snowmen mugs, this year some hot chocolate vendors (this one is next to the Dönermen tent) are adding a little something extra to the non-alcoholic hot drink option. Add chocolate syrup, marshmallows, a candy cane or whipped cream and sprinkles to make the hot chocolate over the top.


Elizabeth Atkinson
Stollen, brownies, and pastries make for the perfect sweet treat at Christkindlmarket.

Danishes and Stollen

Baked goods are always a favorite, but Dinkel’s Stollen is taking the cake this year, along with the cherry cheesecake strudel. Helmut’s around the corner has a variety of pastries as well, perfect for capping off the night or saving for breakfast the next morning.


Nathan Borgo
Gooey raclette sandwiches are the heartiest meals at Christkindlmarket.

Raclette

For the heartiest and most delicious option at Christkindlmarket, head to the southeast corner of Daley Plaza and follow the smell of the stinkiest cheese. Hop in line for some gooey raclette sandwiches, from a traditional raclette on crunchy French bread with spring onions, baby gherkins, and dijon mustard that’s vegetarian to boot, to the Alpine, which is just like the traditional but with a brat in the middle. Don’t be dissuaded by the smell of the cheese — it’s amazingly mild on the sandwich.

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