Gift cards can seem like a cop-out for the holidays. That is, unless you've thoughtfully selected one to a restaurant you know the recipient will love, one that shows off the best of Chicago's dining scene at the moment. Here are eight that make great presents—and, best of all, you can order them all online, because why talk to someone if you don't have to?


​We named it Chicago's best steakhouse. Send this to someone you want to impress.


​This is what you give that friend who keeps close tabs on the restaurant scene—the gorgeous new spot from chef Jimmy Papadopoulos is barely a week old.

Booth One

Another newborn restaurant, this time the Lettuce Entertain You update to the iconic Pump Room. (Plus, Lettuce is offering a $25 bonus for every $100 of gift cards you buy through December 30, which means you can get a little something for yourself while you shop.)


One of the country's most lauded new restaurants offers mailed certificates starting at $50. The gift of cozying up to their outdoor fireplace after dinner, though, is priceless.


Perfect for that couple that desperately needs a date night—Thai Dang's soulful Vietnamese cooking is completely charming, and the wine list is filled with affordable surprises. 

Lula Cafe

It may well be Chicago's most likeable restaurant, which makes a gift card pretty much foolproof for anyone from your new-in-town cousin to your food-snob sister.

Mi Tocaya Antojería

Chicago critic Jeff Ruby says the unfussy Mexican spot's "affordable menu contains no filler," from the lamb meatballs to the milanesa-style sweetbreads.


​How else are people supposed to survive January without the gift of pasta? Sarah Grueneberg's Italian temple lets you schedule the delivery of your present, which means you can time it to arrive when your family normally does its unwrapping.