Chicago is known for so many amazing things from the architecture of the city to the beautiful beaches to the Magnificent Mile of shopping to the arts to our sports teams and of course, to the food and restaurant scene. For five days in July, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events welcomes everyone to the Taste of Chicago Food Festival held in Grant Park on Chicago’s glorious lakefront.
Since 1980, visitors have been offered a wide range of food options, musical acts and cooking demonstrations among other reasons to attend the fest. This year, there were more than 60 restaurants, pop-ups and food trucks including 19 new restaurants serving their specialties.
The range of food items is extensive as you can imagine. Any one who attends the festival will find something to appeal to them. Seriously. You can go from more exotic (alligator) to traditional (corn on the cob) to international (Korean chili chicken) to Chicago tradition (pizza) to comfort (Grilled cheese) to desserts (cheesecake) to heart healthy (avocado toast) and the list goes on.
Here is a brief list of restaurants and their offerings:
Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant: Sauteed Goat and plantains
Chicago’s Dog House: Smoked Alligator Sausage; Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage
Bruges Brothers: Braised Oxtail Poutine; Duck fat frites
BJ’s Market and Bakery: Mustard fried Catfish
Yum Dum Food Truck: Kimcheesy Rice Balls
Miller’s Pub: Pulled Pork Slider
Beat Kitchen: Veggie Burger
Billy Goat Tavern: Cheeseburger
Bobak Sausage Co.: Polish Sausage
Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill: Fire Grilled Steak Taco; Tequila Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken Taco
Dia De Los Tamales: Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Tamale
Farmer’s Fridge: Avocado Toast; Watermelon Gazpacho
Iyanze: Jerk Chicken with Red Rice and Beans & Plantains
Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp: Coconut Shrimp
Lou Malnati’s: Pizza
The Fat Shallot: Grilled Cheese with Muenster Cheese, Carmelized Onions and Sauteed Spinach
Star of Siam: Grilled Chicken Satay; Pad Thai Noodles
Tuscany: Toasted Ravioli
Mariano’s: Corn on the cob
Eli’s Cheesecake: Turtle Cheesecake
The Fudge Pot: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Chicago Cupcake: Crème Brulee Cupcake; Salted Caramel Cupcake
Caffe Gelato: Peach Cobbler Gelato; Blood Orange Sorbet
Humana even provided a long list of restaurants that offered healthier choices. This could be focused on calories, sodium and fat or whether the dishes were vegetarian. So, as you can see, there is literally an option or two or three for everyone.
Admission to the Taste of Chicago is free. Ticket prices for this year’s show were 12 tickets for $8.50. The restaurants do offer either full or “Taste” portion sizes. To give you an idea, for an average Taste portion size, you will be paying 5 tickets where full size may be as much as 15 tickets. Just depends how hungry you are!
Here are a few tips for you based on my experience. Seating is extremely limited. Extremely. That means if you have a collapsible chair or blanket to sit on, you might want to bring it with. As you would expect, it can get warm in Chicago in July. Dress appropriately. Sun screen is a good idea too. If you bring a large bag to the entrance gates, be prepared for security to look through it. No alcohol can be brought into the Taste. Water bottles, yes. And there will be long lines at many of the restaurants. Time of day doesn’t seem to affect these lines either. Finally, just enjoy the whole experience. Beautiful weather, new and old favorite restaurants and hanging out in Grant Park. All good things.
Should you want to learn more about the Taste of Chicago, please visit tasteofchicago.us. To plan your travels to this lovely city, stop by choosechicago.com.
Do you have a Taste of “your city” in your hometown? If you have been to the Taste of Chicago, what are your favorite restaurants? Any suggestions of restaurants you would like to see participate in the Taste?
Thanks for stopping by!