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What Is Worth Eating At Taste Of Chicago?

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 13, 2012 4:00PM

2012-6-12_TasteofChicago-005.jpeg It's that time again - Taste of Chicago is here. And while it may not be as big or as fabulous as it once was, there are still some things worth eating if you find yourself in Grant Park. We asked the food and drink staff to give you their recommendations (good and bad) for Taste of Chicago. Some of them aren't too fond of it, but they all know how to find good eats. Here's the whole restaurant list, and if you're looking for a second opinion, Serious Eats Chicago posted their guide to the Taste yesterday.

Minna An - Brain Freeze
Maybe it's the summer heat creeping its way back in, but it doesn't seem like you can officially call it the Taste of Chicago without a Rainbow Cone. My other pick is another frozen sweet: Iyanze's Bissup Sorbet made with hibiscus is the perfect flowery, chilling treat!

Molly Durham - Second That!
The one thing, without fail, that I look forward to eating at the Taste is Original Rainbow Cone. Chocolate, Strawberry, Palmer House, Pistachio, and Orange Sherbert in a waffle cone?! It's like all of my ice cream dreams were stuffed into one food, and I will gladly dodge 100 tourists and have cheese sauce from everyone's fried food spilled all over me just to go get it. Since I don't live anywhere near their brick-and-mortar location, this is a once-a-year treat for me.

Roger Kamholz - Chili Sweats
When I scan the Taste menu, it's the "Never Forget Chicken" at the Lao Sze Chuan booth that excites me most. Word on the street is you don't forget it because it's so hauntingly spicy. I figure if you're gonna sweat, might as well go big.

Kyle Thacker - Stick to the Basics
Taste of Chicago has not aged well. Like a once great sitcom, it has seemingly jumped the shark, or the food truck, or whatever it is a food festival will jump to signify its departure from relevancy. Since most Chicagoans avoid the Taste like e. coli in the lake, this bit is for the out-of-town-ers who are coming in for the Taste. Try some rib tips from Robinson's #1 Ribs. Since there aren't many life changing or even eye catching options to try this year, go with something basic, and something that actually gives a flavor of Chicago.

Melissa Wiley - Head for the Pop-ups
This year, I'm heading for the pop-up restaurants. They're a chance to get something new and different from the Taste. I'm excited for the watermelon gazpacho from LM (on Friday) and the Vegetarian BBQ Seitan Slider w/ Fries from Karyn's (Sunday).

John DiGilio - Vegetarians Out of Luck
Ah Taste! How I once adored thee. Lately, you've become a hot, expensive hassle. Might as well call it "Taste of Meat" since there is little else available. It's a total paucity of palate pleasing possibilities for us vegetarians. I spent more time crafting that bit of alliteration than the planners did on a menu appealing to non-meat eaters! The options are even worse for vegans. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Ed note: Check out the pop up restaurants for a few (just a few) vegetarian options.

Anthony Todd - Trashy Fair Food
I feel like the only way to enjoy the Taste is to jump right in and take it for what it is - a chance to eat a lot of trashy, fried, high-calorie street food. Darn the food poisoning, full speed ahead. That's why i'm getting a Polish from Bobak's, another Polish from Kasia's and some "gourmet" french fries with sea salt from Timmy O'Toole's.

Caitlin Klein - Why Bother?
I am so out of the loop on the Taste. Do people actually go to it anymore? My pick is the Asian Carp slider, because I bet it will be disgusting and taste like the Chicago River, which I imagine is akin to battery acid and dirty diapers.