Repeat after me: CALORIES DON’T COUNT DURING THE HOLIDAYS.
I mean, sure, they count, but what are you supposed to do, not eat all of the delicious food on offer this time of year? Indulging is unavoidable and, let’s face it, well warranted. It’s been a long year full of quarterly reports, school drop-offs, home projects, school pick-ups, family gatherings and parent-teacher conferences. You deserve to celebrate making it to the finish line with some noms that would make even Santa forego the milk and cookies.
If you’re making a list of the must-have holiday food and drink in The Land, start with these local faves. No need to check twice, just follow this advice and leave the resolutions for the new year.
Now pierogi is a year-long food for most of us, but at Rudy’s Strudel, Lidia Trempe and her team of professional pinchers will make thousands of these little pillowy dough pockets through the holiday season. There’s even a special “Mr. Jingeling” pierogi filled with the iconic Higbee’s Silver Grille chicken pot pie recipe and “A Christmas Story” meatloaf version.
Eastern European Pastries
Eastern European roots run deep at Farkas Pastry Shoppe in Ohio City. Owner Mike Harrison says that customers drive several hours to pick up traditional Hungarian specialties like light-as-air Napoleons, Austrian Linzer tortes or Sós Stangli, a butter and cheese stick. For the main event, consider an Esterhazy Torte—it’s actually named for a Hungarian prince.
For the classic sweet known as sufganiyot, a filled jelly donut enjoyed at Hanukkah time, those in the know head to Goldie’s Donut and Bakery. Brewnuts in Gordon Square is known for their version of the pillowy, sugar-coated sweet too.
If bubbie isn’t cooking them you can find this Hanukkah staple at Larder. Jeremy Umanksy’s crispy latkes are served with fresh apple salad, smoked fish and even caviar. Try them as a dessert, topped with ice cream for a trendy twist on a fast food favorite (We know you dipped your French fries in a Frosty at least once.)
Peanut Stew & Jollof Rice
Customs around Kwanzaa are widely varied, but an abundance of traditional food is the cornerstone. Every day at Yum Village is a vibrant and delicious celebration of African cuisine and culture and Carasai Ihentuge’s stews, soups and curries are perfect for the Kwanzaa table.
Let’s face it. Your iced cookies will never look (or taste) as good as the ones at Luna Bakery & Café. Save yourself the embarrassment and the clean-up and just order them for everyone on your nice list and a dozen for yourself. They’ve thought of everything. You’ll find Christmas trees, dreidels, menorahs, snowflakes, mugs of cocoa and even cozy textured sweaters.
Eggnog Ice Cream
When Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream starts scooping this seasonal flavor, you know the countdown to Christmas is ON. Cold creamy custard mixed with warm seasonal spices? Make ours a double, please!
Seasonal Beer (with some really fun names)
Great Lakes Brewing Company may have started the seasonal brew trend with their famous Christmas Ale, by many more Immigrant Son Brewery’s Mikulás Holiday Ale (Ukranian for Nicholas…as in St. Nick), Collision Bend Brewing Co.’s 8 Crazy Nights, Platform Beer Co.’s Kringle Jingle, or Railroad Brewing’s Santa Sighting.
Southern tradition dictates a serving of black-eyed peas on January 1 to ensure wealth and prosperity. Head to Angie’s Soul Café and get yours with collard greens and a side of cornbread to put your best foot forward for a fresh start!
Christmas Ale Bacon
Head to the West Side Market to get DW Whitaker Meats seasonal Christmas Ale Bacon. It’s marinated in beer and topped with a homemade sugar blend. Eggs and toast—optional.