Taste of Chicago Food Festival
Is there anything better than a food festival?
Well, yes, there is. A food festival with live music and free admission.
The Taste of Chicago, America’s biggest food festival will be in Grant Park, Chicago from the 10th to the 14th of July, 2019.
Not only rocks the windy city with culinary delights, but fantastic daily music concerts and it doesn’t cost a dime to get in.
See the ‘event extras‘ for all the cool trip info
Taste of Chicago Food Festival
Chicago is as renowned for its gastronomy as for it’s gangsters. There’s no prohibition at The Taste of Chicago food festival though and the aromas rising from Grant Park will have you queueing at the park gates to be first in when they open.
No need to rush as the event is on from 11am to 9pm Wednesday to Friday and from 10am until 9pm on Saturday and Sunday. There’s always plenty of food to go round, which is good, as expected attendance can reach astronomical figures.
Think one and a half million and you won’t be far wrong. That’s a lot of cooking by anyone’s standards.
Photo by Nicole Yeary
Around Chicago in June? Then see the Lollapalooza music festival
Food Stalls Galore
The food stalls are where all the good stuff is at. You won’t know where to start as there are around seventy vendors, not counting the food trucks, all showcasing different culinary delights.
They line the middle of the broad avenues running through the park and so you’ll have to follow your nose until you sniff out something which tickles your taste buds. Many are manned and run by the city’s restaurant owners. So when you find something you really like, you’ll know exactly where to go to get another helping when the festival is over.
You’re going to be tempted by everything from the all-American hot dog to authentic Italian pizza and Mesoamerican tamales as well as some amazing Japanese-style tapas.
You’ll be hard put to resist sampling shrimp fried with coconut or pulled pork which has been smoked then smothered in barbecue sauce. If you’re vegetarian, or even if you’re not, tuck into some patacon0es.
The twice-fried green plantains are a super tasty alternative to normal fries and go great with all sorts of dips including spicy guacamole. They’re pretty taste-addictive so you might even want to try making them after the festival. Not sure how? Find out here.
How To Chow Down
You’ll need to pre-purchase tickets at the special ticket booths which you then swap for food at the stalls.
They do take credit cards at the ticket booth, but you’ll find paying cash is a lot faster. The tickets come in strips of fourteen for around $10. Expect to be seriously spoilt for choice once you hit the food stalls as just about every ethnic cuisine is represented at The Taste Chicago.
If you want to try as many new taste experiences as you possibly can, ask for a taster portion. They’re much smaller than meal-size portions, won’t fill you up quickly and you’ll get more variety of food for your tickets. You’ll be looking at handing over one to six tickets for a taster and anywhere up to twenty for a meal.
Photo by Arnold Gatilao. A Chicago hotdog
Celebrity Chef de Jour
If eating out of a paper cone while wandering around isn’t your favorite way of dining, you’ll want to check out the Celebrity Chef de Jour.
Every evening of The Taste Chicago a different, well-known chef from the city takes up residence in a special restaurant marquee to oversee three course meals prepared by students from the Washburne Culinary Institute.
They may still be studying, but they really know how to put food on a plate. The ticket price of $45 gets you some real food festival fine dining and you’ll get to sit at a table to eat it.
Kefir Cooking Demonstrations
Lifeways sponsor a daily live cooking demonstration by professional chefs showcasing the fermented milk drink, Kefir.
They put it in smoothies, use it in salad dressings, soups and even make Raita dip to go with curries. Don’t leave early, when the show is over, it’s time for tasting.
Music, Music, Music
There’s almost as much music at The Taste Chicago as there is food. In fact it’s almost non-stop live music from start to finish.
Popular local bands take to the Bud Light Stage from midday all the way through to dusk very day. The groups blast out every imaginable genre of music and all the concerts are free. Late afternoon is when the big act of the day puts on their show in the Petrillo Music Shell.
It’s a ticket event, unless you sit on the grass and then it’s free. Ticket prices vary depending on the day and who is performing. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 and book in advance as they sell out fast.
You may also be interested in checking Ultra Music Festival Miami 2019
Street Art in Graffiti Alley
This is no dark alleyway art, but more Graffiti al fresco. The Graffiti artists, shaded from the sun under copious awnings, work on their latest masterpiece on huge canvases rather than bricks or cement.
You can watch as their latest designs take form before your eyes. They really do have incredible talent. You might well be tempted to purchase one of the finished items, but if you are and you’re travelling home on the subway, you just might find it a bit of a tight fit going through the doors.
So Why The Taste of Chicago Food Festival?
While you might not get to try all the different types of food from all the stalls and trucks at The Taste, there’s one thing you really shouldn’t miss. Chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick. Yes, it really does exist and is just another good reason to visit The Taste of Chicago food festival this July. Enjoy!
A Tasty Recipe For You
Super Quick Supper Dish of Patacones with Guacamole
Patacones, twice-fried plantain, are super simple to make. All you’ll need is a couple of green plantain. Green are best as the ripe ones are just too soft. Peel them and cut them into discs about ½ cm thick. Shallow fry the slices in olive oil until they’re just starting to turn golden. Take them out of the oil and drain them on kitchen paper.
The secret to making good patacones is what you do next. Lay each half-cooked disc between two layers of kitchen paper and squash them with the ball of your hand. When you’ve flattened them all, it’s time to finish frying them. Pop them back in the oil until they’re crispy and golden, drain them, add a sprinkle of sea salt and they’re ready to enjoy.
Patacones with Guacamole. Photo by David Berkowitz
Want some super quick guacamole dip to go with them?
Just scoop the soft flesh of two ripe avocados into a blender, add a squeeze of lime juice, half a red chile or less if you’re not into anything too spicy, half a red onion roughly chopped long with a diced tomato. You can add some fresh coriander too if you’ve got some to hand. Give it all a good whizz up and then spoon it into a dish.
Enjoy both together while remembering what a great time you had at Taste of Chicago food festival.