By Jacqueline Runice

Natives knew Chicago was the best restaurant city long before the 2017 Bon Appetit and Conde Nast Traveler seals of approval, and don’t get us started on the matchless architecture, stunning lakefront, cutting edge theater, gorgeous hotels, interesting neighborhoods and winning sports teams (okay, five out of six ain’t bad). For those ex pats, visitors who vow to return and general fans of all things Chi, here’s a handful of local gifts as hip and hearty as a Wicker Parker on a craft beer run.

Taste For The Grapes

Born in south suburban Orland Park in 2005, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant now counts 30 restaurants, an award-winning winery and a great idea for gifting lovers of the grape. Kids have advent calendars with a chocolate behind each door and now the 12 Nights collection from Cooper’s Hawk Winery secrets a new wine varietal to be revealed each night.  The advent-inspired gift box contains 12 demi bottles (350-ml) of fine wines from the winery including Cab, Char, Pinot Noir, sparkling and port style. The gift retails for $99 and can be shipped throughout the US or purchased at any of the Cooper’s Hawk 30 restaurants.

Nice Grill

The SNL Bill Swerski’s Superfans” skits of the early ’90s were an homage to Bears coach Mike Ditka and the city’s meat-loving populace. For the grillman in your family, consider a copy of “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.” Longtime wine critic at the Chicago Tribune, Chicagoan and founder of the world’s most popular website for barbecue, Meathead Goldwyn’s tome will guide the griller on techniques like brining and smoking, sauces, myths (you needn’t soak the wood, dude), and tools to make the best ‘cue in the land.

Step In This

Easily one of the best theaters in the nation, Steppenwolf Theatre Company makes it simple for you to impress with the gift of theatre. Consider a Night Out Gift Card that includes two flexible ticket credits to any Steppenwolf performance and $25 Front Bar gift card. Purchase through Audience Services at 1650 N. Halsted St.; by calling (312) 335-1650 or online through Jan. 6, 2018.

Cool Bean

It’s the cool, shiny thingy inspired by the look of liquid mercury that every single tourist wants to touch and immortalize via selfie: Cloud Gate Sculpture by English artist Anish Kapoor, 110-tons of stainless steel nicknamed “The Bean.”  If a memento of Chicago’s impressive, public objet d’ art gift to the world speaks to someone on your holiday list, consider a Cloud Gate Christmas ornament; a photographic print; or a jigsaw puzzle of the sculpture.

Game Night

Grab a bag of locally roasted coffee or a growler or two at Chicago’s own Forbidden Root or Dovetail Brewery and present the sports fanatic in your life with “You Gotta Know Chicago Sports Trivia Game.” Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park and all of its incarnations, Soldier Field, Bears, Cubs, Sox, Black Hawks, Bulls, trades, draft picks – it’s 500 questions that will finally settle the question about who’s the most learned Chicago sports fan in the fam.

Spa

Exhale’s award-winning spa, gym and fitness flagship is located in the heart of Chicago’s historic Gold Coast, so you can gift her (or him) with fitness classes, wellness experiences or spa treatments great for city dwellers or those just in the city for the day. The oasis of well being is offering a bunch of swoon-worthy packages such as The Wellness Worshipper (pack of five classes and a 60-minute fusion massage) and the Spa Superstar which includes a 60-minute fusion massage and a 60-minute true facial, among others, or snag a gift certificate good for yoga and fitness classes, acu-healing, spa therapies, mani/pedi and wellness product.

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