Enjoy holiday dining and festive treats close to home
November 30, 2017

Chicago Curry House and Nepal Restaurant feature the exotic tastes of India, Nepal, and Tibet, with natural, low fat, and authentic recipes.

By Dolly Duplantier

Local restaurants, bakeries, bars, and food stores offer a great selection in holiday dining and gifts. Take a break from the busy holiday season and enjoy a bite to eat or a glass of holiday cheer, or purchase a gift of food right here in the community.

BAKED GOODS

Bake for Me!, 4305 S. Halsted St., (773) 624-9900; 321 N. Clark St., (312) 644-7750; and 303 E. Wacker, (312) 228-9676, www.bakeforme.com.

Bake for Me! is one of downtown Chicago’s and south Halsted Street’s best bakeries for cakes, as well as your source for convenient catering for breakfast, lunch, receptions, and holiday parties. The family-owned bakery has three locations, plus the affiliated Racine Bakery at 6216 S. Archer Ave.

Whatever the occasion, the bakery’s custom cakes offer many different options, including your choice of layers, fillings, frosting, icing, and sizes. In addition, Bake for Me! can personalize signature cakes and cookies with messages and photo images. Bake for Me! is proud to offer monthly featured cakes, providing new cake ideas on a regular basis. The bakery’s pastries, cookies, and cupcakes are hand-made, using only the finest ingredients. All Bake for Me! products can be viewed and ordered online. Hours: Halsted St. location — Mon. through Fri. 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sat. 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Clark St. and East Wacker Dr. locations — Mon. through Fri. 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ferrara Bakery, 2210 W. Taylor St., (312) 666-2200, Facebook, www.ferrarabakery.com.

Since 1908, family-owned Ferrara Bakery has used only the freshest and purest ingredients in making its delicious cakes, pastries, cookies, and specialty cannoli. The bakery is known for its signature fresh strawberry, custard, and cannoli filled cakes. Ferrara also offers a variety of other cakes, in addition to authentic Italian cookies including both butter and traditional varieties.

Biscotti, miniature pastry, and cookie trays also are available. Place your orders for holiday cookie trays now. Ferrara has an extensive selection of hot and cold luncheon items for dining in or takeout Monday through Friday. Let Ferrara cater your holiday event with deli sandwiches, chili, soups, pan pizza, and focaccia. Half and full pan sizes of entrees, pasta, and fresh salads are available. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sun. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

BARS AND LOUNGES

Vintage Lounge, 1449 W. Taylor St., (312) 526-3647, info@vintageontaylor.com, www.vintageontaylor.com, Facebook, Twitter.

Looking for a great neighborhood place to hang out with friends or catch a Bulls, Bears or Blackhawks game? Then check out Vintage Lounge. With its extensive food and drink menu, there’s something for everyone. Starters include lollipop wings, loaded waffle fries, chicken nachos, sampler platters and sliders.

If that does not fill you up, choose from salads, pizza, burgers, and a variety of sandwiches, including pulled pork, grilled chicken, and grilled cheese. Vintage Lounge has an extensive beer list with over 50 craft, import, and domestic selections. Wines are offered by the glass and the bottle. Enjoy cocktails named for Chicago neighborhoods or choose from a variety of martinis, mojitos, and signature and frozen specialties. Check the website for daily food and drink specials.

Planning a holiday event or party? Let Vintage Lounge Event Planners help you create an occasion that meets and exceeds your expectations. From platters to buffet style, the catering menu includes an extensive number of options. See the full menu on the website. Private parties can also be held at the lounge. The bar/dining room holds 85, the VIP Room 32, and the patio 99.

Hours: Mon. through Fri. 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sat. 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

CAFES, COFFEE, AND TEA

The Jackalope Coffee & Tea House, 755 W. 32nd Street, (312) 888-3468, www.jackalopecoffee.com, Facebook www.facebook.com/JackalopeCoffeeTeaHouse.

The cafe offers coffee selections from its partners at Counter Culture Coffee and loose leaf tea from Rishi Tea. There is plenty of seating in its two rooms and free Wi-Fi is available for customers. Locally fresh baked goods are delivered weekdays from Bridgeport Bakery, and on Saturday from West Town Bakery.

Jackalope Coffee & Tea House also offers a complete menu of soups, breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, and salads. Working with the community, the cafe hosts and supports numerous community events throughout the year. The owners also support local artists by offering its wall space on the café’s walls and giving the artists 100% of all sale proceeds. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sun. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Red Line Café, an eatery new to the area at 33rd Street and Wells, offers a variety of coffee drinks, smoothies, desserts, and sandwiches.

PLACES TO EAT

Antique Taco Bridgeport, 1000 W. 35th St., (773) 823-9410 christine@antiquetaco.com, www.antiquetaco.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Bridgeport native Chef Rick Ortiz blends the freshest available foods from the Midwest with his Mexican heritage. His menu reflects his experience from previous kitchens, his Kendall College education and his travels abroad. Antique Taco is a combination of everything Ortiz and his wife, Ashley, love: flavorful food, antique style, and the comfort of home.

Their menu offers a variety of delicious tacos, including their famous crispy fish taco, as well as market mushroom, potato and poblano, pork carnitas, garlic shrimp, and grilled steak. Sides and appetizers include guacamole, creamed elote, chorizo chili, crab and shrimp flautas, and taco salad. Save room for their delicious Horchata milkshake and Abuelita poptart. Antique Taco also has a selection of beers, cocktails, and Margaritas.

Want to do something unique for your next holiday party or private event? Let Antique Taco cater it with a taco bar. Their catering menu is based on a minimum of 20 guests and offered in increments of ten. In addition to two, three, and four taco options, the menu also includes side dishes, drinks, and treats. See their website for the catering menu. A 24-hours notice is requested for all orders.

Hours: Tues. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Mon.

Chicago Curry House, 899 S. Plymouth Ct., (312) 362-9999, www.curryhouseonline.com, Facebook, Twitter.

This holiday season, celebrate with the exotic tastes of India, Nepal, and Tibet. Connected by the Himalayas, each region has its own culture, climate, and soil producing a unique cuisine. The Zagat-rated Chicago Curry House is honored to bring you the generous sampling of Nepali cuisine augmented by dishes from, or influenced by their neighbors. 

The menu features an extensive selection of natural, low fat, and authentic recipes prepared from the freshest chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetables. The restaurant offers North and South Indian dishes such as Madras curry, royal curries, 11 appetizers and 14 naan (bread) selections. Mouthwatering tandoori dishes come highly recommended, including the award-winning chicken wings marinated overnight in the Nepalese holy trinity—ginger, garlic, and cumin.

Not sure what to eat? Take advantage of the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat buffet with more than 22 delicious items. There is a full bar with a large selection of wines to highlight the season.

Chicago Curry House is one of Chicago’s leading caterers. Let their experienced staff cater your next party with the exquisite dishes of Nepal and India. Chicago Curry House offers catering for office, home, and special events. Home delivery available throughout the day. Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Buffet 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Connie’s pizza, 2373 S. Archer Ave., (312) CONNIES, www.conniespizza.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Synonymous with quality pizza and Italian specialties, Connie’s Pizza has been serving Chicago since 1963, offering a wide selection of pizzas, entrees, salads, and sandwiches. Connie’s also offers various catering packages for events of any size. You can create your own menu or let Connie’s catering managers create one for you. The restaurant features private dining, full bars, seating for over 300 guests, and more. Pickup, delivery, online ordering, and dine-in accommodations are available seven days a week.

Now through Sun., Dec. 31, receive a $10 coupon with a $50 Connie’s gift card purchase. Call 312-CONNIES for details. Hours: Tues. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sun. and Mon. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Damenzo’s Banquets, 741 S. Western Ave., (312) 421-5065, www.damenzosbanquet.com, Facebook.

Looking for a great place to celebrate the holidays with family, friends, or co-workers? For more than 25 years, Damenzo’s Banquets has been known for its Southern Italian specialties. An ideal destination for personal and corporate events, the beautifully decorated restaurant accommodates up to 175 people for lunch, dinner, and receptions.

Damenzo’s customizes your menu with an affordable budget. Its family-style menu offers table service or buffet. Banquet offerings comprise a choice of nine different appetizers, including fried ravioli and antipasto, three different soups, and four salads. Damenzo’s offers nine types of pasta, ranging from mostaccioli to lasagna. Nine main courses include specialties such as chicken parmesan, Italian beef, and veal marsala. Choose one of five desserts, including tiramisu. Specialty, individually plated main courses such as filet mignon and surf and turf also are available.

Packages include fresh bread, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, soft drinks, coffee, and hot tea. Cocktails are available from a bar with beers, wines, and well drinks, or a premium-brands and bottle-beer bar package. Passed hors d’oeuvres are also available.

Damenzo’s Pizza & Restaurant, three locations: 2324 W. Taylor St., (312) 421-1142; 11226 S. Halsted St., (773) 660-8851; 7300 W. Roosevelt Rd, Forest Park, (708) 771-5705, www.damenzospizza.com, Facebook.

Since 1985, Damiano Mannino has been living his dream — running his family owned pizzeria and restaurant. Damenzo’s fresh, made to order regular, pan, and stuffed pizzas include only the best ingredients and toppings on its signature crusts. The restaurant is known for its huge slices of pizza, pizza puffs (calzones), and Italian beef sandwiches. The menu also includes sandwiches made with a choice of panini, focaccia, and ciabatta breads, as well as an assortment of salads and made to order fresh pasta dishes.

The family takes pride in offering the freshest and best tasting foods at reasonable prices. The restaurant’s extensive lunch and dinner menu not only features delicious Southern Italian cuisine, but an equally impressive variety of Mexican dishes including breakfast items, appetizers, flautas, gorditas, burritos, tacos, and dinner entrees.

Look for holiday festivities at Damenzo’s patio, a space with a retractable roof. Hours: Sun. through Thurs. 10 a.m. to midnight, and Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Open Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Eppel’s Restaurant, 554 W. Roosevelt Rd., (312) 922-2206 or (312) 922-6118, fax (312) 596-1202, www.eppelsrestaurant.com, Facebook.

Originally located in the old Maxwell Street Market, Eppel’s Restaurant remains for many of its breakfast and lunch patrons a wonderful recollection of the old Maxwell Street Market days. Currently, Eppel’s is located between Canal and Desplaines Streets in the Roosevelt Road shopping district and has been completely remodeled.

The restaurant is highly recommended for its banana and apple foster pancake as well as its bacon stuffed waffle. These items were featured on the WGN-TV Channel 9 Chicago’s Best television show featuring Brittney Payton, making it even more popular for breakfast. Eppel’s extensive menu offers new items, as well as comforting favorites such as ham off the bone, catfish, seafood, steaks, and chops. All entrees at Eppel’s are accompanied by a bowl of the restaurant’s signature soup or mixed salad. Carryout orders are available. Hours: Mon. through Sun. 4:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open all holidays, except Christmas Day.

Fontano’s Subs, 1058 W. Polk St., (312) 421-4474, fax (312) 421-1224, www.fontanossubs.com.

Fontano’s Subs has been a fixture in the Taylor Street-Little Italy area since 1932. Home of what Fontano’s staff like to call “Chicago’s number one sub sandwich,” the store features a wide variety of Italian and American sandwiches, including turkey breast, homemade meatballs, and the Blockbuster — a delicious combination of ham, salami, capicola, Swiss, and provolone cheese. Italian sausage is made on site.

The deli/store seats about 20 people in a cozy and friendly atmosphere. On Fridays and Saturdays, Fontano’s offers live music. Fontano’s also has a guitar on site for anyone to pick up and play. Delivery service is offered throughout the day. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Franco’s Ristorante is known for its homemade gnocchi and thick-cut pork chop vesuvio. The restaurant was recently renovated.

Franco’s Ristorante, 300 W. 31st St., (312) 225-9566, www.francoschicago.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Celebrate the holidays with family and friends at the recently renovated Franco’s Ristorante. A Bridgeport favorite since 1989, this neighborhood restaurant is known for its homemade gnocchi and thick-cut pork chop vesuvio. The new bar area is a great place to watch a game or catch up with friends.

Franco’s proudly offers an extensive wine list with affordable selections from around the world. Bring home some of Franco’s famous dishes this holiday season with catering, private events, and great gift card offers.

Hours: Mon. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sat. 4 to 10 p.m., Sun. 3 to 9 p.m. Christmas Eve 4 to 7 p.m. New Year’s Eve 4 to 11 p.m. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

La Fontanella Ristorante, 2414 S. Oakley Ave., (773) 927-5249, info@lafontanellarestaurant.com, http://lafontanellarestaurant.com, Facebook, Google+.

At La Fontanella Chef Gianfranco Gamberale believes every guest deserves the best. Since 1971, it has been his mission to provide Chicago area residents with a fine dining experience. Born in the Veneto region and trained in Chicago’s finest restaurants, Chef Gamberale emphasizes fresh ingredients and authentic Italian cooking methods. He and his wife and fellow chef, Maria, prepare everything from scratch, serving up a truly delicious vero Italiano culinary experience every time.

Enjoy specialties such as osso buco, cioppino, gnocchi alla grappa, veal chop Valdostana, lobster fra diavolo and so much more. Do not miss their lasagna, recently named Best Baked Lasagna by Brittney Payton of Chicago’s Best.

La Fontanella’s elegant interior provides a warm atmosphere in a traditional setting. Celebrate the holidays with four seasonal specials: aragosta fra diavolo, osso buco con gremolata, and four cheese tortellacci. La Fontanella is open Christmas Eve 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. serving seafood specialties. New Year’s Eve hours are 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. with limited seating. The bar and lounge will stay open until midnight. Call to reserve your table.

Delivery is available through Uber Eats. Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Sun. 3 to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 3 to 10 p.m. Closed on Wed. Call for reservations.

Nepal House (Nepali Restaurant), 1301 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 922-0601, www.nepalhouseonline.com, Facebook, Twitter.

Nepal House was founded with the primary intent of providing a fine dining establishment with the highest quality traditional Nepali and Indian cuisine. This holiday season let Nepal House serve as an exotic vacation escape and a home away from home for the Himalayan diaspora in Chicago.

Nepal House provides a unique cultural experience from its Himalayan neighboring countries. The basis of all Nepalese cuisine is comprised of ginger, garlic, and cumin. The extensive 172-item menu is divided into two sections, with the first offering Nepalese appetizers and entrees followed by an Indian menu which boasts North and South Indian regional cuisines.

Nepal House offers the highest quality dishes, including momo (dumplings with sauce), traditional Nepali thalis (meal combinations), dal-bhaat (rice and lentils), and gundruk (slightly fermented and dried vegetables). Featuring an array of classic Nepali and Indian cuisine, the restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and the most healthful cooking techniques.

Sample more than 15 different menu items during the all-you-can-eat buffet, Tues. through Sun., 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nepal House offers take-out and delivery and can also cater your holiday parties, private parties, fundraising, and corporate dinners. Experience the joy of the season with multinational dining at Nepal House. Hours: Tues. through Sun., 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Reservations are accepted. Nepal House now has a second location at 2601 W. Devon Ave.

Pompei on Taylor, 1531 W. Taylor St., (312) 421-5179, www.pompeiusa.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Founded by Luigi Davino in 1909, and expanded by Ralph Davino in the 1980s, Pompei on Taylor Street now is a third-generation family business offering a comprehensive selection of hot, gourmet-quality Italian dishes made from three generations of Napolitano family recipes. Only the freshest ingredients are used to prepare Pompei’s made-to order salads, soups, hand-rolled pizza, classic hand-cut Italian pastas, and desserts.

Pompei’s signature pizza strudels come in 11 different varieties, including heart healthy, Pompei Italiano, and chicken parmesan. Homemade desserts include tiramisu, cannoli, and gelato, as well as time-honored holiday treats.

Pompei offers dine-in, delivery, and catering for delivery or pickup. The 225-seat eatery accommodates private groups of up to 90 people in its La Stanza di Pompei party room, 60 in the Jut’s party area, and 40 in the cafe. Hours: Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Gift cards are available for purchase year round. During the holidays, Pompei offers a $20 reward card for every $100 worth of gift cards purchased.

Red Line Café, 218 W. 33rd St., (312) 265-0219, www.redline33.com, Facebook, Instagram.

Take the chill out of Chicago’s winter with a stop at Bridgeport’s newest establishment, the Red Line Café. Warm up with a hot chocolate or choose from a great selection of coffees and espresso from Sparrow Coffee Roasters or teas from Adagio. Open since October, the Red Line Café offers coffee drinks, smoothies, homemade pastries, and sandwiches.  Enjoy house-baked pastries including muffins, cookies, quiches, and tarts. The menu also offers breakfast/lunch items like avocado toast, bacon and egg on brioche, turkey provolone on house bread, and ham and Swiss on house bread.

Want to start your day on a healthy note? Try one of Red Line’s delicious smoothies, some named after CTA train lines. These include the healthy green smoothie, the classic mixed berry smoothie, and the sweet peanut butter Nutella banana smoothie! Just a short walk from the Red Line stop, Guaranteed Rate Field, and the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Red Line Café is a great addition to the neighborhood and the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee, sandwich, or pastry and enjoy the day. Hours: Mon. through Sat. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sun. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stix ‘n Brix Wood Fired Pizza, 220 W. 33rd St., (312) 265-0219, www.stixnbrix33.com, Facebook, Instagram.

Stix ‘n Brix is an exciting and welcome new addition to the Bridgeport neighborhood. The casual dinner restaurant serves wood-fired pizzas and other light, Italian fare. Just steps from the Red Line stop, it’s a great place for a relaxing dinner on the way home. Appetizers vary from week to week and include such as like four-way bruschetta and Caesar salad. The burrata crostini and apple salad are staples on the menu. All pizzas come in a ten-inch personal size. Choose from margherita, marinara, sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto and arugula, potato and ricotta, sopressata, and fig and pig.

Save room for dessert. Tiramisu, banana cream pie, and the turtle brownie are just a few of the delectable items on the menu. Bring your favorite wine or beer as the restaurant is BYOB for now. Winter hours: Tues. through Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Sun. and Mon.

Sweet Maple Café, 1339 W. Taylor St., (312) 243-8908, www.sweetmaplecafe.com, Facebook.

With a 1940s-era ambience, the Michelin Guide-recommended Sweet Maple Café serves breakfast during hours the restaurant is open. Patrons know their dining experience is more than breakfast–it’s an authentic “taste of home.” All selections are made the old-fashioned way—from scratch with fresh ingredients.

Try Sweet Maple’s must have “Not-So-Plain” buttermilk pancakes with succulent slices of ham off the bone. Don’t miss fan favorites on Sweet Maple’s holiday menu—cinnamon roll pancakes and egg nog lattes. Look for a range of egg specialties including the Taylor Street omelet with Italian sausage, or country scrambles such as the 18th Street with spicy chorizo sausage and queso fresco. Sweet Maple’s expanded lunch menu offers popular items such as the smoked turkey club, as well as its selection of signature grilled cheese sandwiches.

The café offers take-out and catering for any daytime event. Check out Sweet Maple’s new catering menu on its website. Gift cards are available. Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., open daily except for major holidays. 

Hyde Park’s Produce Market features a vast selection of organic products and an extensive range of imports from around the world.

SPECIALTY ITEMS

Hyde Park Produce Market, 1226 East 53rd Street, (773) 324-7100, fax (773) 324-7929, www.HydeParkProduce.com, Facebook.

Hyde Park’s favorite family owned and operated produce and grocery store began in 1996. Three generations of the Damico family pride themselves on bringing their customers the very finest the world has to offer, including their “neighborhood famous” produce, their vast selection of organic products, and their extensive range of imports from around the world. The market has a complete line of specialty items, gluten free items, local products, imported cheeses, and Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses, as well as a full line of dairy products including Sassy Cow Milk from Wisconsin.

The market also offers delicious hot soup and fresh made sandwiches in the deli. Planning a holiday party or event? Check out their assortment of party trays from deli meats, cheeses, and sandwiches to fruits and vegetables. You can view the complete menu of party trays on their website.

Looking for some great gift ideas? Hyde Park Produce has made to order gift baskets and gift cards. The market offers local delivery, same price as in-store, and free pickup! Shop online for same day delivery. Get $10 off your first order. Use code: HydePark10. Hours: Mon. through Sat. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

NUTS AND CANDY

Superior Nut & Candy Co., Inc., 1111 W. 40th St., (773) 254-7900 ext. 815, www.superiornutandcandy.com, rmastrangelo@sncnut.com, Facebook, Twitter.

Superior Nut & Candy is a leading provider of private brands manufacturing, contract manufacturing, and co-packing services. Superior is a premier manufacturer, processor, and distributor in the nut, confection, and snack food industry. Superior features a wide variety of nuts, seeds, trail mixes, dried fruits, chocolate and yogurt coated products, wrapped, and unwrapped candy. Stop by the company’s convenient location to complete your holiday shopping. Call for store hours.