Think of it as one of the largest outdoor parties you’ll ever attend. All your favorite foods are there, along with dozens of new things to try. There’s music, food, laughter, more food, and a great sense of community. Oh, and more food.
In fact, one of the great things about Taste of Chicago is the ability to choose between full-sized portions and tasting sizes—usually just a bite or two, but available for half the number of coupons as a full size portion. By getting the tasting size, it’s simple math—you can try more things.
Our favorite item this year was the Irish Egg Roll offered by the Abbey Pub, where you can also get the ever-popular roast corn on a stick. The Egg Roll, though, was truly imaginative, with layers of quality corned beef, cabbage, and mozzarella cheese wrapped in a standard egg roll paper and served with a side of some sort of spicy mustard. A little scary to think about, perhaps, but truly excellent flavor.
Of course, while in Chicago you must do as the Chicagoans do and have a Chicago-style hot dog from Gold Coast Dogs. For those who don’t know, that means a poppy seed bun, a beef hot dog, a little yellow mustard, pickle relish, onion (chopped into large squares), tomato wedges, a kosher dill (uncut—just lay the spear right on top), a couple of sport peppers, and a sprinkling of celery salt. Remember, this is your chance to just try a bite or two and see how the flavor combination goes down, without committing yourself to a big one!
This is also where you can get a sesame chicken wing, a tequila lime marinated chicken taco, or a pierogi all within a few steps of each other. You can try Mustard-Fried Catfish at BJ’s Market, pick up a free sample of Martin’s potato rolls, or get some Piña Colada gelato at Caffe Gelato. You could even spend your whole wad on a grilled slipper toe lobster with garlic potatoes at the Oak Street Beach Café!
It’s the best of carnival and food court under an open sky, with skyscrapers looming and the air filled with the tantalizing smoke from Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs.
Take it all in, but we recommend you save room for the frozen banana from The Fudge Pot, where you can get your choice of milk or dark chocolate-dipped fruit. If that doesn’t appeal, the churros place is nearby, or any number of other food stands to satisfy your taste buds. Bottom line is no one goes home without a taste of some of the best Chicago has to offer.
Taste of Chicago is going on this week in Grant Park (through July 13, 2014) at Jackson & Columbus in Chicago, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday and opening earlier, at 10 a.m., on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free, and food tickets are $8.50 for a string of 12 at a time. If you come for a meal, we recommend you buy two sets and eat your way through!