We know. We're Not Going Either.
Chicagoist can think of about umpteen million things they would rather do than go to the Taste of Chicago. At the top of this list is having someone take an Epilady and run it over every one of our hair folicles, dip us in a vat of nail polish remover, set us on fire, then douse our flaming, acetone-soaked, hairless bodies with gasoline.
We're really that anti-Taste here at the Chicagoist offices. We wish could let go of our cynicism over the whole affair but it's hard find the positive in a congested, greasy, expensive event held during the hottest of temperatures that has in the past enduced in us the sort of cramps that can only be relieved by a Vicodin with a Wild Turkey chaser.
Clearly we're in the minority: thousands upon thousands of people flock to Grant Park over the course of this 11-day gastronomic bacchanalia and have for nearly all of its 25-year history. If you count yourself among them, here's what Chicagoist suggests you eat and see.
Should we change our minds at some point, you'll find us eating at these places and attempting to entertain ourselves as we watch Moby disintegrate from both the fumes and smell of burning flesh coming from the nearest rib vendor:
The Chicagoist Food Team steadfastly refuses to eat anything that we could just as easily have delivered to our houses with a phone call or picked up on the way home from work. This means pizza, hot dogs and Italian Beef are no-go's.
Sorry people. We know it's Taste of Chicago but you taste that stuff all of the time, do not lie to us.
That said, this is a great chance to sample some food from places you've either wanted to visit or never heard of before. Some of the options are pretty creative, though Chicagoist just can't get behind oxtails. Nope.
Worth Your Time From The Gourmet Pavilion:
Sunday, June 26: Cyrano's Bistrot
Smoked Salmon Cake with Cucumber-Cabbage Slaw, Fricassee Chicken with Dijon Mustard and Dinner Roll, Paris Pommes Fries with Garlic Butter, Kumquats Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Monday, June 27: Ina's
Smoked Brisket Sandwich, Barbequed Pulled Pork Sandwich
Friday, July 1: Riva
Blackened Shrimp Skewer with Honey Mustard Sauce, Fish Salad with Garlic, Chocolate Cake with Berry
Sunday, July 3: La Strada Ristorante
Tuscan Fried Crab Cake, Blackened Chicken Breast Strips over Penne Pasta with Alfredo Cream Sauce, Wild Atlantic Salmon baked in Puff Pastry with Spinach
Monday, July 4: Café 28
Watermelon Gazpacho, Chino Latino Stir-fried Rice,Tacos - Carne Asada A La, Arroz con Leche
Worth Your Time Everywhere Else:
1 Grizzly's Lodge , 3830 N. Lincoln Ave. -- Cajun alligator; Wild boar sausage; Fried catfish nuggets; Garlic mushrooms
31 Harold's Chicken #13 , 7310 S. Halsted St. -- Chicken wings with with bread; Chicken nuggets; Fried okra; French fries
39 Lindy's Chili/Gertie's Ice Cream , 7600 S. Pulaski Rd. -- Caramel apple sundae; Turtle sundae; Chili cheese dog; Chili cheese nachos
6 Maxine's Jamaican Cuisine , 1225 E. 87th St. -- Jerk chicken with rice and peas; Oxtails with rice and peas; Fried plantain; Curry goat with rice and peas
40 Orginal Rainbow Cone, 9233 S. Western Ave. -- Rainbow cone (chocolate, strawberry, palmer, pistachio, orange sherbet); Rainbow ice cream in a waffle cone; Cookie dough and butter pecan ice cream cone; Cookie dough and butter pecan waffle cone
56 Sabor Latino, 3810 W. North Ave. -- Steak and onions with Spanish rice; Puerto Rican steak sandwich; Alcapurria (pork-filled banana dumpling); Plantain chips with garlic sauce
58 Zam Zam Restaurant (Zabiha-Halal), 2500 W. Devon Ave. -- Frontier chicken with pita (cooked with onions, tomatoes and mild spices); Mutton biryani (goat with basmati rice, spices and saffron); Vegetable pakoras (onion, potato and vegetable fritters); Jalebi (chickpea flour dessert deep-fried in spirals)
There’s really no reason to go see a band at Taste of Chicago. Don’t get us wrong: it’s perfectly fine to saunter over and listen to any one of the assembled acts with rib sauce dribbling down your hand and Italian ice melting all over your shorts. But to go to the Taste with the express purpose of enjoying the experience of seeing a band you enjoy? That’s a fool’s errand.
First, while the acoustics of the Petrillo are fine for symphonies, they’re lousy for rockers (or rappers or wranglers). And unless you’re arriving an hour or two ahead of time Santana is going to end up looking like your Uncle Jaime. Finally, you’re surrounded by people with no live show etiquette. (Snobbery? Thy name is Chicagoist).
As for our mainstage picks: WGCI? We love you. You’re bringing LL Cool J, The Gap Band AND Morris Day to the stage. We’re also thinking that Dr. John might bring out the R&B in Steve Winwood. And if there’s a better band to drink cold beer to than Santana, we haven’t met them yet. We have yet to be disappointed with John Hiatt, but we’re imagining poor little Moby is going to sweat into a little puddle on the stage.
So try to relax and have a good time. If you’re going to the Taste, the music should be part of the experience for you but don’t make it the apex around which you build your expectations. Have a pickle on a stick, listen to some decent free music and consider yourself lucky to live in a city that can pull in acts better than whatever touring version of Kansas is making the rounds these days.
So you don't want to deal with the whole ticketing system the city employs for Taste of Chicago, the mass of humanity, the overflowing garbage cans, or jsut don't want to walk around in the muggy weather? Then head to SpareRoom on Saturday where the Dill Pickle Food Co-op Initiative is hosting its inaugural fundraiser. From 4-6 p.m. the "Dill Pickle Dance" will feature live bluegrass music, food from Flying Saucer restaurant, pickles from That Pickle Guy, and games for the kids. Proceeds from the "Dill Pickle Dance" will go toward the organization of a storefront food co-op for the West Town area.
Dill Pickle Co-op is also hosting a logo contest at the dance with the winner receiving a surprise food box stocked with healthy noshes. More information can be found at the groups' bulletin board.
Thanks, Scott and Chuck!
Taste of Chicago, June 24 - July 4, Grant Park
Food tickets: $7 for a strip of 11 at the event. Ticket sales end nightly at 8:30 p.m.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., July 3 and 4 only: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Ticket sales end at 9 p.m.