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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.
Have a look:
Is there anything better than a food festival?
Well, yes, there is. A food festival with live music and free admission.
Have a look:
The Taste of Chicago Food Festival, America’s biggest food festival is held in Grant Park, Chicago. Not only rocks the windy city with culinary delights, but fantastic daily music concerts and it doesn’t cost a dime to get in.
The Taste of Chicago 2021 entry time is estimated from:
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 queuing 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.
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.
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.
Yes, you read correctly: There were 82 eateries in the Taste of Chicago Food Festival 2019 edition. That means there’s something for everyone.
You’re a fan of bacon? then try Buscia’s delicious Bacon Buns. Exotic food? have a bite from Yvolina’s Tamales.
For an idea of what the 2020 eateries will look like, see the entire 82 food hubs from 2019.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Buy enough food and drink tickets the first time you go to the ticket booth. That way you’ll only have to queue once to get them.
If you prefer your crowds to be on a smaller scale then go to the festival on Wednesday or Thursday. The weekends are mega busy.
The Taste Chicago have got getting lost organised. Every street lamp in the park is marked with an individual location code. All you need to do is call in your location to friends, family or the emergency services to be easily found and reunited.
Chicago is in the state of Illinois in the USA and is America’s third most populated city.
While it’s a city of towering skyscrapers, it’s bordered by the beautiful Lake Michigan and has an incredible twenty-four beaches including one just for dogs.
It has its green zones too and Grant Park, where The Taste is held, is just one of numerous parks throughout the city.
Chicago has a rich history and will always be synonymous with the gangster culture of the early twentieth century when mobsters such as Al Capone roamed the streets. Is it windy? Not particularly. Though it is a city any resident would be happy to brag about.
While you’re in the vicinity of Grant Park, you’ll be in just the right place to visit the Museum Campus. It’s a fifty-seven acre area at the south-eastern end of Grant Park where you’ll find the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.
If you feel as if you’ve been overindulging at The Taste, you’ll be able to walk it off on the Chicago Lakefront Trail. It’s a full eighteen miles of pathway which skirts around the shoreline of Lake Michigan and has some great views of the city and lake. Jog, walk or rent a bicycle to enjoy some city fresh air and stop off at the beach for a quick swim while you’re there.
Have a fun night out, literally, at the Laugh Factory in Chicago. To get a seat you’ll need to there early as it’s first come first served at the door and the queue to get in can be lengthy. It’ll be worth the wait though as you’ll soon be holding your sides as you chuckle with mirth at the jokes and banter of Chicago’s best stand-up comedians.
Chicago is not short of a hotel or two. So where you stay will depend on your own personal holiday budget and expectations.
Yes, if you want views of Lake Michigan, you will need to pay a little more, but wherever you decide to stay, don’t leave it until the last minute to book.
A stone’s throw from Chicago’s North Beach, the Ambassador Chicago Hotel embodies the essence of Chicago in style and history. The list of famous guests who have stayed there ranges from Elizabeth Taylor to the Rolling Stones. Definitely worth spending a hundred dollars a night for as you never know who you’ll be rubbing shoulders with.
If you want a real spoil yourself stay in Chicago, there’s really only one place to book a room and that’s at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. They have everything from standard rooms to enormous presidential suites with octagonal living rooms overlooking Lake Michigan.
The Inn of Chicago has that delightful touch of decadence associated with the roaring twenties, but in a more modern style. The rooms have a pleasing understated elegance and it’s perfect for couples who like a touch of class at a moderate price. They also have a choice of rooms which sleep four, so it’s good for groups and families too. It has a great location too. Close to the Magnificent Mile shopping district, it’s just fifteen minutes from Grant Park by public transport.
Chicago certainly knows how to cook up a storm on the culinary front and not just during the five days of The Taste either.
Whether you want to eat Mexican, Mediterranean, Asian or a huge, straight off the grill steak, you’ll find a restaurant that’s serving it.
If you love your meat barbecued, try the Smoque BBQ which is quite possibly a meat-lover’s idea of heaven. Their menu is uncomplicated, but be prepared for some seriously good quality ribs, pulled pork and Texas sausage.
For something completely different then it has to be the Girl and the Goat for escargot ravioli or milk braised pork cheek. Though be aware there are some pretty unusual things on the menu and yes, that includes goat. Boka restaurant promises American cuisine with a modern flare. Their dry aged beef tartar and slow roasted beef rib really deliver on the promise.
If you prefer to be meat-free then check out Original Soul Vegetarian. Their food is one hundred percent plant-based, meat and chemical free. Try the tasty falafel platter or Seitan Sloppy Joe. Kitchen 17 is a vegan cafe who do an amazing array of dishes. Go for the Cauliflower Buffalo Wings or the Fireball pizza, you’ll love it.
Chicago is served by O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. O’Hare is seventeen miles from downtown Chicago and Midway ten.
Both have twenty-four hour L-train services running into the city. The CTA Blue Line serves O’Hare and the CTA orange line provides the service to Midway. They’re frequent, every ten minutes services. Once you know where you’ll be staying check which station is closest to your hotel so you know where to get off.
Go Airport Express provide a shared ride service from both airports which can be booked online and will drop you at your hotel. Prices vary depending on how many other passengers you share a ride with.
All trains and buses in Chicago are operated by the Chicago Transit Authority. The same tickets are valid for both types of service. There are over a hundred bus routes and one hundred and forty-four train stations.
A single journey costs $2.50. Though if you are arriving at O’Hare Airport your first journey from there has a $5 supplement applicable. If you’re planning on moving around the city the Ventra 1 Day ticket for $10 gives you unlimited use on both services for twenty-four hours. If you’re staying longer, there is also a 3 day pass for $20.
If you’re arriving from the outer-lying suburbs on the Metra rail service, you’ll disembark at Union Street Station and be able to catch a connecting bus onto Grant Park.
If you’re arriving on the Greyhound bus services, depending where you are coming from, you could arrive at any of their five hubs from where you’ll be able to connect with a CTA Chicago service.
If you’re driving to The Taste Chicago from Milwaukee, Indianapolis or Detroit it’ll take you three and five hours respectively.
Though parking isn’t easy around the festival site for safety and security reasons. Chicago has great public transport so it’ll be a lot less stressful to leave your car at home.
What happens when you combine a group of restaurant owners, a bright idea and the 4th of July?
The idea becomes an amazing food festival. Now in its thirty-eighth year, The Taste has seen some changes over the decades since its initiation.
Originally held over just one day on Michigan Avenue, The Taste has expanded in every sense of the word. As the event increased in popularity a new venue, with a large enough capacity to hold the hungry masses, was required and so The Taste moved to the spacious Grant Park.
Each year has seen it grow some more and it’s now the biggest food festival in the world.