With laid-back awesomeness, spectacular architecture, scrumptious food, and a cultural scene like no other, Chicago is one of a kind city for the absolute variety of what it has to offer. But don’t think for a second that the Windy City’s claim to foodie fame is all about deep-dish pizza.
Not only is Chicago’s thin-crust pizza equally awe-inspiring, but the city’s got a ton of other flagship foods worthy of renown. These include Chicago’s signature loaded hot dogs, to-die-for popcorn, Instagram-famous Italian beef sandwiches, decadent chocolate treats, scrumptious cookies, and much more.
With this sheer amount of food options in the Windy City, it’s easy to understand why there are plenty of people who consider themselves Chicago foodies. And they come in all shapes, tastes, and sizes.
Are you looking for the perfect Chicago foodie gifts? Our Chicago foodie gift guide is packed with amazing and delicious options for every type of food lover on your shopping list this year, whether that be the chocoholic, the gourmand, the health nut, the sweet tooth, the meathead, the culinary kid, or the cheese lover.
What is a foodie?
A foodie is essentially a food lover, a gourmet, and a culinary enthusiast all rolled into one. To be quite frank, many different people have different definitions of the term “foodie”, however, they all seem to agree that it involves a refined, ardent, or otherwise above-average keen interest in food and cooking.
A foodie isn’t just someone who loves to eat (there’s a pejorative term for that); it’s someone who does so both out of hunger and as a hobby. You’ve probably heard fancy foodie-related terms like gourmet, gourmand, or gastronome being thrown around. They all refer to, more or less, the same thing – an avid leisure eater, an individual who enjoys food, loves knowing about cooking or enjoys cooking for pleasure.
In a general sense, a foodie has the following qualities:
- Can tell you which menu or food items are made fresh and with what ingredients
- Can recommend local dishes and/or restaurants, plus give several menu options or tell you how to best order and enjoy the dishes
- Knows various cooking techniques and style; not necessarily at the chef’s level
- Can recommend various drinks, wine, and identify the flavor profile of a dish
- Has a ‘best list’ that’s more than five picks long
Being a foodie is a fun, exciting, and easy hobby, but those deserving of the title “Chicago foodie” take it much more seriously. They’re keen to try new things and eager to share their recommendations and opinions. That’s why you need to put a little more effort and thought into any gift you give a Chicago foodie.
What Gifts Would a Chicago Foodie Like?
Foodies of course love all things food, especially new, exotic, and exciting dishes, treats, wines, and much more. Well, if you’re looking for something sure to bring a smile to every foodie, you can’t go wrong with the classics:
- Personalized foodie gift box: every gourmand secretly wants a big customized box of food items from the city’s beloved food artisans. Talk about Instagram-ready chocolates, granola, roasted coffee, hot sauce kit, and plenty of other savory and sweet treats.
- Prime steak: Grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and free-range steaks make for irresistible Chicago foodie gifts for any discerning meat lover on your list. Make sure the gift includes meathead’s favorite prime cuts like ribeyes, New York strip steaks, Wagyu steak, or steakhouse burgers.
- Snacks and pastries: You probably have a couple of foodies with a sweet tooth on your list. They’ll flip over Chicago’s best donuts, pecan-filled treats, pies, cookies, and other delicious treats.
- Eco-friendly foodstuff: A beautifully wrapped gift box full of items made from natural, organic, sustainable, and artisan-made ingredients will appeal to eco-warrior foodies on your list.
- Recipe and cookbooks: All of the culinary kids and Chicago foodies you know will love you more for a well-put-together cookbook or recipe book, preferably one from their favorite chefs. Themed cookbooks, for one, are great Chicago foodie gifts because they encourage food lovers to explore cuisines, cultures, and eats from around the world.
- An assortment of cheeses: Any cheesehead on your list will surely love to receive a gift box full of cheeses from the dairy country and beyond. Make sure to pair these cheeses with wine, crackers, spices, and other classic pairings.
- Nut blends: Know a gourmet snack lover? If you want to please any snack foodie in Chicago, you gotta hunt for the best gourmet nut mixes. Take it up a notch with artful presentation and add unique flavors like rosemary cashews, truffle nuts, and much more.
Aside from foodstuff, you can also think outside of the box. Some of the best Chicago foodie gifts aren’t food. They’ll also cherish cooking supplies, need-to-have cooking gizmos, kitchen essentials, and other gift ideas sure to knock their boots off. The most trendy and awesome non-food gift ideas for foodies to consider include:
Kitchen aprons – A foodie can never have too many aprons given how often they try new recipes, deal with splashes, and experiment in the kitchen. You can pick an apron in their favorite color, or personalize it with their favorite attraction in Chicago, go-to food, custom message, etc. Thankfully, you get to pick from a variety of materials, from light linen to sturdy leather, and different styles, from smock to cross-back.
Local food t-shirts – Tees are a timeless gift idea for anyone, and foodies are no exception. With foodie Ts, you can go for many different styles, colors, sizes, and personalization. For a little zing, consider foodie puns, local themes, and favorite quotes.
Precision cookers – sous vide cooking is all the rage right now among Chicago foodies. That’s why you will impress most of them with a top-notch precision cooker fitted with fancy bells and whistles.
Wireless meat thermometers – The ability to check the internal temp of your meat on your smartphone screen takes grilling, smoking, and barbecuing to a whole new level for any foodie. The trick is to gun for a dual-probe system.
An air fryer – There’s a joke going around that an air fryer is every foodie’s calling card. It’s what tells wannabes from the real deal. These might gadgets can do pretty much anything in the kitchen – they can reheat, bake, roast, fry, and grill foods. What more could a foodie want?
Whiskey – If you want to earn some serious cookie points, give a food a good bottle of whiskey. Rye whiskey is hot and trendy at the moment because it’s smooth and slick yet spicy. And with earthy and nutty notes, it’s just perfect for both cooking and warming the throat.
Cold-brew coffee makers – If your foodie loved one also loves their cup of joe icy cold, a compact cold brew coffee maker would do the trick. Most of these gizmos brew in a snap and are small enough to fit most refrigerator doors. If the person has a more selective taste in coffee, you can opt for a barista-grade espresso maker.
MasterClass membership – Even the best chefs and foodies could use an additional cooking class or two. And what could be a better learning platform to advance your culinary skills than MasterClass? The platform brings you video classes from world’s renowned chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Gabriela Cámara, and Thomas Keller.
Cast iron skillets – No foodie’s kitchen is ever complete without a top-of-the-line cast iron skillet. It’s a lifetime investment that will definitely elevate their cooking experience.
A good, versatile grill – Need we say more? Make sure the grill is stainless steel, easy to clean, and stuffed with exciting features under the hood.
Cook’s knife – Here’s another kitchen accessory that will score you big cookie points. Hunt for a stainless steel, high-carbon chef’s knife. They’re known for being razor-sharp, so they’re supreme for mincing, deboning, dicing, chopping, and much more.
Wine cooler – Wine connoisseurs and avid foodies know that a regular fridge isn’t good enough for their prized collection of wines. So, if you’re looking to splurge on your next gift for them, a freestanding wine cooler should top your list.
The world of Chicago foodie gifts is enormous, so there’s something for everyone. You should also consider cocktail books, carbonators, pizza stones, Dutch ovens, mandolin slicers, electric smokers, and even fancy coasters.
Can I send foodie gifts through the mail?
It depends. Frozen and perishable food items may not be ideal for sending through the mail. However, certain food items will fare better, such as room-temperature treats, cured meats, and well-packed beverages.
Can I customize Chicago foodie gifts?
Yes, you can customize some Chicago foodie gifts. Depending on the source, some may have options for packaging or design modifications on the actual food. For instance, you can personalize a cake, cookie, or other treats using frosting and icing.
Will my friend enjoy their gift?
Sure, the foodie gift is an opportunity for you to give your friend a genuine, heartfelt gift from a place you know they love. It’s also a chance for them to try something new and expand their foodie horizon.