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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as rosy-cheeked and wind-blown Midwesterners celebrate the season with gingerbread, cocoa, and carols with loved ones, neighbors, and friends. Whether you’re home for the holidays or travelling through the snow, these restaurants, bars, and hotels invite the naughty and the nice to eat, drink, and be merry together this Christmas season:  


Fireside Storytelling: Naughty & Nice Holiday Tales Chicago Athletic Association hotel (12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago)

  • This holiday season, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel offers a twist on its regular Storytelling Series with seasonal stories told through music and conversation by singer-songwriter Angela James.
  • Children’s Holiday Storytelling takes place in the Drawing Room on the second floor lobby from 10-11 a.m. every Sunday, from November 27 to December 18. Milk and cookies are available for purchase during each Children’s Hotel Storytelling gathering.
  • Storytelling sessions include Naughty and Nice, 12 Days of Christmas, Saints & Spells, and Good Kings & Bad Birds: free registration for each session is available at  

Holiday (Read: Boozy) Hot Chocolates in Chicago’s Snow Globe Cindy’s (12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago)

  • Cindy’s Spirit Guide Nandini Khaund and Executive Pastry Chef Jove Hubbard present Cindy’s second annual Holiday Hot Chocolates, three gourmet decadent chocolate concoctions each paired with a spirit to transform into a boozy “potion.”
  • Flavors include Classic Belgian Dark Hot Chocolate ($9), White Velvet Speculoos ($9), and Ecuadorian Single Origin Hot Chocolate ($11).
  • Cindy’s Holiday Hot Chocolates are available throughout the winter season.

Chicago’s Holiday Headquarters Headquarters Beercade (213 W. Institute Pl., Chicago)

  • The River North nostalgia-tinged arcade bar features exciting Christmas offerings from December 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017 including:
    • Leftover Turkey Sandwich made with hand-cut roasted turkey breast, stuffing, cranberries, and mashed potato; served on a piece of open-face, gravy-covered Texas toast ($12)
    • Eggnog Cookie- Sugar cookie filled with eggnog ice cream, dipped in chocolate with sprinkles ($4)
    • Coffee and Doughnuts- Cafe latte panna cotta served in a cup with a side of fresh ricotta doughnuts ($8)
    • Charlie Brown Christmas- made with mezcal, fig, lemon juice, and garnished with pine ($12)
    • Bad Santa- made with bourbon, cereal milk, candy cane syrup, and egg white ($12)

Gifts that Keep on Giving  Bottleneck Management (various locations)

  • The Chicago-based restaurant group celebrates the holiday season and offers a gift that keeps on giving with the “No Peeking” initiative, available in December.
  • Beginning Monday, December 12 at various locations, Bottleneck is giving away confidential envelopes with every check. Guests are instructed not to open the envelopes until they return to the restaurant in January or February. Each envelope contains a surprise offer, such as a complimentary appetizer or dessert, or a gift card with $25 or $50.
  • Participating locations include Old Town Pour House (1419 N. Wells St.), Howells & Hood (435 N. Michigan Ave.), and The Boundary (1932 W. Division St.)

A Blu Christmas: Brunching with Santa & Turquoise Tom Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago (221 N. Columbus Dr., Chicago)

  • This year, the Christmas blues come in the form of a special guest appearance by Santa’s skinnier (and Blu-er) brother, Turquoise Tom, who entertains families and children at Radisson Blu Aqua. Before meeting “The Big Guy” and Turquoise Tom, families are invited to enjoy Christmas Carolers, partake in the Horse & Carriage Rides, and don their finest for the Obnoxious Holiday Sweater Contest.
  • Holiday cheer abounds in the Kid’s Korner at Brunch with Santa, offering a holiday bounce house, cookie decorating, hot cocoa station, a snowball toss, and more. Radisson Blu Aqua’s Brunch with Santa features a full breakfast buffet for parents, and a Kid’s Knee High Buffet adorned with kids’ favorites (no matter the season): mac-n-cheese, chicken finges, pancakes, and of course, a sweets table.
  • The event will take place on Sunday, December 18 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. ($15 for children, $30 for adults). For more information and to make reservations, please call 312.477.0234.

Vosges Wine & Truffle Pairings and Holiday Happy Hour at The Gwen The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago (521 N. Rush St., Chicago)

  • Circa lounge at The Gwen unveils its exclusive Vosges Haut-Chocolat® wine and truffle pairing this holiday season, accompanied by a holiday happy hour menu, to tantalize sophisticated palates and ring in the season .
  • Holiday Cheer Pairings with Vosges Haut-Chocolat®: For $25, three decadent Holiday Cheer Truffles, inspired by foraging and forest foods, have been expertly paired with three 2 oz. tastings of red wine to enhance flavor profiles and provide an elevated way to savor the season. Available November 23, 2016 through January 1, 2017.
  • Holiday Happy Hour Lounge Menu: Available daily from 4-6 p.m., Circa lounge offers a holiday happy hour to toast to the festive season. These special cocktails (Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned, Hot Butter Rum, 1660 Mulled Wine, Smoky Nog, Apple Spice Fizz), are $9 during happy hour, as are a selection of light bites.

An Urban Christmas Tree Farm & Holiday Artisan Market The Iron Horse Hotel (500 Florida St., Milwaukee, WI)

  • The Iron Horse Hotel is making it easy for you and your family to find that perfect tree for the holidays by bringing Wisconsin’s premier Christmas Tree Farm, Ottman Family Christmas Trees, to the city.  Locals and guests are invited to visit The Yard, The Iron Horse’s outdoor patio and dining area, for some urban tree hunting, warm holiday drinks, and family fun. Open every Saturday-Sunday 9a.m.-9p.m., Monday-Friday 3-9p.m., through December 18. Limited free parking will be available. 
  • For one day only, also popping-up at The Iron Horse Hotel is a pseudo-holiday bazaar on Saturday, December 10 from 10a.m.-4p.m. The hotel lobby will welcome guests and locals to peruse a wide array of gifts, treats, and locally-made products from a variety of vendors, including The Underground Collaborative Art Gallery, to Indigo Blu Mercantile Jewelry and Cream City Caramels & Confections.
  • Branded’s special holiday cocktails, including Washington’s Eggnog, Katie’s Mulled Wine, and Hot Buttered Rum, will be served up from a dedicated bar to shoppers and vendors.

Blues, Bikes, & Bloodys: Brunching with Santa The Iron Horse Hotel (500 Florida St., Milwaukee, WI)

  • Situated just one block from Milwaukee’s iconic Harley Davidson Museum, Aparium Hotel Group’s Iron Horse Hotel is rich with motorcycling momentous, experiences, traditions, and attitude.  This year, bikers from around the block – and around town – are invited to kick off the holiday season with Blues, Bikes & Bloodys: Brunching with Santa.
  • The Iron Horse Hotel will offer a medley of drink specials accompanied by Milwaukee’s own American Blues band and a chance to take a selfie with the big man himself, Santa Claus, donning his finest riding leather.
  • The festive drink specials include the “Sangre Verde”, our Green Bloody Maria composed with El Jimador with green chili, cucumber, and tomatillo.  A take on an Irish Coffee, the “Irish Fuel” offers a sweeter alternative of Bulleit bourbon, muscovado, topped with Colectivo coffee and house vanilla cream.
  • The brunch takes place Sunday, December 11 from 11a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 414.831.4615.

Holiday Bash:  Let the Iron Horse Host You Branded at The Iron Horse Hotel (500 Florida St., Milwaukee, WI)

  • Bring out the crowds and celebrate your season of playing host or hostess coming to an end – time to be the hosted!  The Iron Horse Hotel invites you to bring your family and friends for an evening of Milwaukee-style holiday fun.  Enjoy seasonal favorites, from our special bacon-wrapped water chestnuts to Branded’s list of festive and spirited cocktails & nogs.  Teasers of what they’re mixing up include:
    • Washington’s Eggnog - Copper & Kings Brandy, Rittenhouse Rye, Jamaican rum, sherry wine and Branded’s house-made creamy, eggnog blend
    • Katie’s Mulled Wine - Iron Horse Hotel’s very own Katie Stewart’s medley of Copper & Kings Brandy and red wine spiced with cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, orange peel, raisins, and sliced almonds
    • Hot Buttered Rum - House-made and delicious as it sounds, Branded mixes up their own hot buttered rum batter and infuses this holiday treat with cinnamon, ground clove, nutmeg, brown sugar, topped off with decadent vanilla ice cream
  • The Iron Horse hosts the event on Wednesday, December 28, 7-11p.m. in Branded, located on the main floor of the hotel.  

A Night at the Nutcracker JW Marriott Chicago (151 W Adams St, Chicago)

  • JW Marriott Chicago and The Joffrey Ballet welcome guests to experience the beloved holiday classic at the landmark, luxury hotel through the “A Night at the Nutcracker” package. The world-premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Nutcracker production comes to life through the hotel package, which includes 1893 World’s Fair-inspired bites and treats, two VIP tickets to the Joffrey’s Nutcracker performance at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, overnight luxurious accommodations, a Nutcracker swag bag, and in-room breakfast for two.
  • For the first time, the hotel will host Nutcracker-inspired afternoon tea service, at an additional cost. Locals and guests alike are invited to cozy up by the fire and enjoy the limited-time tea service before a night at the ballet.  
  • Afternoon tea service is available every day from 2-4 p.m. beginning December 6 at $45 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 312-660-8200.
  • “A Night at the Nutcracker” package rate starts at $447 and is available from December 10-30. Reservations can be made by calling 312 660 8200 or online; 72-hour cancellation is required.

Thompson Chicago One-Stop Holiday Shop Thompson Chicago (21 E. Bellevue Pl., Chicago)

  • Thompson Chicago celebrates the holiday season with the launch of the property’s first-ever Holiday Catalogue. Curated exclusively for guests, the Holiday Catalogue allows travelers the opportunity to add any number of experiences and luxury gifts to their hotel stays taking place through December 31.
  • Upon check-in, the Thompson Chicago hotel team can arrange any of the following:

Eggnog and Gingerbread and Candy Cane [Milkshakes], Oh My! DMK Burger Bar (2954 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago)

  • Throughout the month of December, DMK Burger Bar offers three festive milkshakes to get you in the holiday spirit: Eggnog, Gingerbread, and Candy Cane. Each made with Petersen’s Old Fashioned ice cream, and available as-is, or spiked with a shot for some extra holiday kick.
  • The Candy Cane shake will run from December 7 – 13 as a part of DMK Restaurants’ 365 Days of Giving program, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Deborah's Place.

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too with German Chocolate Cake from Moody Tongue Moody Tongue (2136 S. Peoria St., Chicago)

  • This holiday season, leave the baking and cooking to the pros and wow your guests with a 12-layer German Chocolate Cake prepared by Moody Tongue Tasting Room Pastry Chef Shannon Morrison. The decadent cake boasts multiple layers, including espresso cream cheese, toasted pecan and coconut caramel filling, chocolate buttercream, and a chocolate cereal crust, all topped with a chocolate mirror glaze. Those looking to purchase the cake can place an order for two different sizes: A 10-inch diameter cake which serves between 20-30 people for $120, or a half sheet cake which serves 30-50 people for $120. To place an order for the Moody Tongue German Chocolate Cake, guests can call 312.600.5111, and the brewery recommends ordering at least one week in advance.
  • The Tasting Room is open Thursday through Monday. For more information on the Tasting Room’s hours, please visit or call 312.600.5111.

An American Chinese-inspired Christmas Takeover Honey Butter Fried Chicken (3361 N. Elston Ave. Chicago)

  • For an alternative to the traditional holiday festivities, Honey Butter Fried Chicken offers American Chinese-inspired specials throughout the month of December. Guests can enjoy specials, such as the Orange Chicken Sandwich ($9) with orange fried chicken strips, ginger aioli, and scallion slaw, Sichuan Wings ($8), Sesame Lo Mein Noodles ($5), General Jason’s Spicy Pickles ($3), and a Five Spice Cherry Dump Cake with Wonton Crumble ($5).
  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken is open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Monday. Follow the fun on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information on restaurant hours or to place an order, visit online at or call 773. 478.4000.

Walking in a Covington Christmas Winter Wonderland Hotel Covington (638 Madison Ave., Covington, KY)

  • Embodying the spirit of the greatest department store in Kentucky, Hotel Covington embraces its roots as Coppin’s Department Store by creating a spectacular holiday display worthy of founder J.R. Coppin himself. The hotel decks the halls with 12 live Christmas trees decorated by local businesses in the Courtyard, a perfect setting for hot chocolate and cookies offered by the outdoor fireplace every weekend through December. A full-sized sleigh and reindeer in the Lobby make for a great photo opportunity for family and friends, as well as the annual portrait with Santa available Saturdays in December from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
  • Christmas feasts come in many forms this year, with Christmas-themed Sunday Suppers and a lavish Christmas Day Buffet from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. featuring Executive Chef Brendan Haren’s unique culinary perspective, blending the technique and traditions of Northern neighbors with the bounty of the Southern table. For reservations please call 859.905.6800 or on OpenTable.


Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas The Godfrey Hotel Chicago (127 W. Huron Ave., Chicago)

  • I|O Godfrey, the city’s largest all-season indoor | outdoor  rooftop terrace, hosts a Christmas Eve filled with live jazz renditions of classic Christmas carols by The Joe Freer Band. I|O Godfrey encourages celebrants to unwind with one of Chef Nate Cayer’s craft cocktails, and for those feeling especially jolly, to sing along to the holiday tunes.
  • While serenaded by seasonal songs, guests can enjoy the wintery, yet cozy ambience of the décor that radiates holiday spirit – inviting fireplaces and clear-domed igloos that provide a clear view of the night’s sky while protected from Chicago’s winter weather elements.

A Regal Christmas at Roka Akor Chicago Roka Akor Chicago (456 N. Clark St., Chicago)

  • Celebrate Christmas Eve at Roka Akor Chicago and enjoy dinner prepared with the season’s best ingredients and a Japanese twist. Roka Akor will offer an indulgent, four-course tasting menu that is designed to be shared alongside the full dinner menu. Led by Executive Chef Ce Bian, highlighted courses on the tasting menu include Yellow Sashimi with shallots, poached garlic ponzu and serrano; Flame Seared Salmon Maki with crispy shrimp, honey miso, and micro heart on fire; and Robata Grilled Braised Short Ribs with heirloom carrots and wild mushrooms. The holiday feast concludes with a classic Pumpkin Cheesecake with coffee gelee.
  • Roka Akor’s special holiday menu will be available from 5pm-12am on Saturday, December 24 and is priced at $85 per person with an optional wine pairing for $55 per person; tax and gratuity are not included. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 312.477.7652 or visiting the website

End Holiday Shopping on a High Note at Roka Akor Old Orchard Roka Akor Old Orchard (4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, IL)

  • Celebrate Christmas Eve at Roka Akor Old Orchard and enjoy dinner prepared with the season’s best ingredients and a Japanese twist. Roka Akor will offer an indulgent, four-course tasting menu that is designed to be shared alongside the full dinner menu. Led by Executive Chef Boyd Cheong, highlighted courses on the tasting menu include Grilled Scallops with duroc pork belly and housemade kimchi; Hamachi Serrano Chili Roll; and entrée choices such as a NY Strip with truffle aioli or Glazed Pork Ribs with cashews and spring onions. The holiday feast concludes with Housemade Tempura Mochi with roasted sesame vanilla ice cream.
  • Roka Akor Old Orchard will be serving lunch and dinner from 10:30am - 9pm. The special tasting menu with optional wine pairing is available on Saturday, December 24 and is priced at $65 per person with an optional wine pairing for an addition $25 per person; tax and gratuity are not included. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 847.440.3383 or visiting the website


A Merry and Bright Christmas Brunch Travelle Kitchen + Bar (Located in The Langham, Chicago; 330 N. Wabash Ave.)

  • Travelle Kitchen + Bar’s Christmas buffet ($145, including a complimentary mimosa) serves up a medley of traditional favorites and holiday-inspired selections, such as Poached Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon and Eggnog Brioche French Toast. Featuring an omelet station, smoke house station, carving station, and more, this decadent brunch offers something for everyone. Unlimited mimosas can be added to the brunch for an additional $20.
  • The Christmas buffet is offered from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Christmas day, Sunday, December 25. Dinner Service (a la carte menu featuring Christmas specials) is also available that day from 6:30 – 10 p.m. Reservations can be made online at or by calling 312.923.7705.

Gourmet Christmas Day Brunch Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel (500 Florida St., Milwaukee, WI)

  • The Iron Horse Hotel’s culinary team at Smyth is teaming up with ole Saint Nick for a special Christmas Day Brunch for guests and Milwaukee locals alike. 
  • At $55.95 per person, Smyth’s holiday brunch buffet will be serving up seasonal favorites such as Herb Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts alongside the Salt Crusted Prime Rib and Porchetta Carving Stations, Made-To-Order Omelet and Waffle Bars, and Seafood and Charcuterie Displays.  Classic breakfast options like eggs benedict, pork sausage, fruit and a selection of mini doughnuts and pastries will also be available.
  • The gourmet brunch will be served on Sunday, December 25 from 10a.m. to 4p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 414.831.4615.

A Catalan Christmas Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago)

  • This Christmas, the South Loop restaurant celebrates pork by offering 12 days of special dishes starting on December 12 that highlight a different cut of the pig each day, culminating in their roast suckling pig on Christmas Eve and a huge Spanish feast on Christmas Day for $75 per person. The Christmas feast is served in four courses and spotlights traditional Spanish tapas like the Truita de Patata, tortilla made with eggs and potatoes, elevated with a topping of smoked trout roe, as well as the Ravioli D’Anyell with lamb, ricotta, red kuri squash, and Idiazabal cheese.  
  • Mercat a la Planxa offers its Christmas menu starting at 5 p.m. on December 25. Guests can make reservations by calling 312.765.0524.


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