Thanksgiving is almost here and your grocery list is getting as big as the Mayflower. Prepare for the big feast at specialty markets across town, and take your kids along for the ride. From a West Loop butcher to a North Shore prepared foodstuffs oasis, here are our favorite places that offer everything for the table and even throw in family entertainment in on the side.
This is a one-stop shop with heart. For Thanksgiving, you can pre-order fully prepared fresh turkey or ham dinners (they come with fixings like green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and creamed spinach) or pull together your own feast from the aisles of canned and fresh ingredients. There’s usually something going on to entertain kids. Miss Jamie from the Farm — Chicago’s newest kindie music sensation that’s pictured above — does live in-store gigs at several Mariano’s locations and her songs introduce fun, healthy-eating themes; check her website for her performance schedule. Mariano’s also hosts kids’ scavenger hunts and craft activities.
Main Chicago location at:
40 S. Halsted St.
West suburban location at:
678 N. York St.
For other locations, go online to marianos.com
Publican Quality Meats
Head to this West Loop powerhouse to order a turkey from Slagel Family Farm, get homemade stock for soup, and peruse the cheese and charcuterie for your pre-Thanksgiving football game. Your kids won’t mind if you dawdle; they can sip hot chocolate or cider and snack on meat sticks and cheese curds. If the shop isn’t too busy employees are happy to take little ones on a tour of the downstairs butcher shop (okay, you can come too) to view the giant meat locker.
825 W. Fulton Market
If you savor from-scratch cooking, Plum Market is a great place to shop for everything, from fruits to vegetables to niche ingredients like duck fat. The cheese counter (shown above) has local and international selections and is not to be missed. Meanwhile, your little co-pilot’s eyes will light up when she sees the stuffed animals, mini chocolate turkeys and autumn-inspired sugar cookies made by Mirabelle Patisserie. Plum also sells kid-safe cooking tools from OXO so your helper can pitch in at home. Too overwhelmed to shop? There’s an in-store concierge that can pull together a fully prepared Thanksgiving meal for you. All you have to do is come pick it up.
1233 N. Wells St.
The Goddess and Grocer
This local specialty purveyor is known for its awesome selection of prepared foods, starting with its always-popular Thanksgiving spread. À la carte items, like cinnamon roasted butternut squash and Australian beef tenderloin, can top off a feast. If you’re starting from zero, you can buy a whole prepared Thanksgiving dinner that feeds 12 people. Holiday-themed cupcakes and Rice Krispie treats are sure to get scooped up by tiny hands. Look to the full kids’ menu if your peanut pipes in with, “Mommy, I’m hungry” while you are shopping.
1646 N. Damen Ave.
For additional locations (Gold Coast, River North, Lincoln Park), go online to goddessandgrocer.com
Chicago French Market
There are 32 vendors within this Euro-style oasis and each is a new adventure. Stop at Delightful Pastries for a pie in traditional flavors like apple or pumpkin, or more unique selections like cranberry fudge or bourbon pecan. Cheese and wine haven Pastoral is a must for that perfect holiday pour. And for a limited time, Beavers Donuts is offering giant caramel apples topped with a mini donut. Throughout November there is live music during the Saturday lunch hour, which should delight any squirmy worms in your group.
131 N. Clinton St.
This North Shore mini empire stocks artisanal food for every occasion. It goes all-out for Turkey Day with a special menu of pastries (sour cream cinnamon coffee cake apple pie), classic sides (roasted sweet potatoes, sweet onion tart) and entrees (herb-roasted turkey breast, honey spiral sliced ham). Kids love the selection of decorated sweets and are bound to steer you to the snack aisles for old and new favorites.
2106 Central St.
For addition locations (Glenview, Glenview, Lake Forest), go online to foodstuffs.com
Where will you shop for your Thanksgiving feast? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Samantha Lande
Photos: Courtesy of Miss Jamie From the Farm, Plum Market, Chicago French Market; cover photo courtesy of Plum Market