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7 Things To Eat At Lollapalooza's Chow Town

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Aug 1, 2013 6:00PM

Photo Credit: Louis Lampart

While Lollapalooza's musical lineup isn't blowing critics over, the festival's Chow Town has become a jewel in the festival's crown under the direction of chef and Masterchef judge Graham Elliot. Elliot has leveraged his connections to Chicago's culinary community to assemble a vendor lineup of consistent regulars with newcomers sprinkled in every year since he was named Lollapalooza's culinary director in 2010.

[See our music picks for Friday and Saturday.]

An avid music fan, Elliot has also cooked meals during the festival for the likes of The Kings of Leon, Soundgarden, Eminem, Foo Fighters, Jack White, and The Black Keys. His lobster corn dogs are a regular favorite of the Chow Town promenade.

Chow Town is a perfect showcase for what's happening in Chicago's restaurant and food scenes, but it may be overwhelming for many festival-goers attending from out of town with the long lines and range of options. To help you navigate your choices, we've selected seven vendors you must eat from during the festival.


Bar Toma
Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuano is bringing a wood-fired mobile pizza oven to Grant Park and will be serving up piping hot margherita pizzas and "smoke and cure" pizzas (made with pepperoni and smoked garlic). The oven reaches temps of up to 800 degrees and the pizzas take around 90 seconds to bake, so you won't miss much music while gaining some much-needed sustenance. —Chuck Sudo

River Valley ranch and Kitchens
A constant presence at most of Chicago's best farmer's markets. Not everyone knows that they also serve food, much of it made with ingredients off of their farm. They have the most vegetarian-friendly of all Chow Town booths, with a vegan, gluten-free burger made by hand, a garlic-mushroom stew with onions and celery and nachos topped with vegan chili. Healthy food never tasted so good. —Anthony Todd

Apple Oat.

Glazed and Infused
In the midst of a long, hot day, sometimes you need a quick sugar fix. The best way we know to get that fix is by eating a huge, decadent doughnut. If that doughnut happens to have some bacon on it, so much the better—protein! The lines at are sure to be long, but there's not much prep to speak of, so we suspect they'll move pretty quickly. Grab a few extras for your friends and you'll be the most popular person at Lolla. —Anthony Todd

Big Fork
Is anything better than bacon? Maybe bacon mixed with pork and spices and turned into a sausage. This local sausage-maker will be serving up their signature bacon sausages (made with all-natural applewood smoked meats) on a stick. If you want to kick it up a notch, try it on a bun with Templeton Rye BBQ sauce. And, if you have a vegetarian with you (and they refuse to be converted by the sweet smell of bacon), not to worry: They're also offering a grain salad. —Anthony Todd

A double burger and fries from Edzo's Burger Shop. (Photo credit: Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist)

Edzo's Burger Shop
Eddie Lakin's burger joints in Lincoln Park and Evanston made Chicagoist's list of best burgers in Chicago and out-of-town Lolla attendees will find out why this weekend. Lakin and his crew grind the beef for their burgers and cut the potatoes for their fries by hand, then cook them perfectly. You'll only have the option of Edzo's four-ounce grilled patties this weekend but that's okay—the smaller serving is a better example of what Edzo's is producing. —Chuck Sudo

Puffs of Doom
The "cutest name award" goes to this artisanal cream puff maker that is likely to become the dessert favorite of the festival. They've got over 250 flavors of puffs (not all of which, of course, will be at Chow Town) and they donate 15 percent of their profits to charity. At the festival, try sweet flavors like banana split, peanut butter cup and dreamsicle or savory ones like sausage n'gravy and jalapeƱo popper chicken. —Anthony Todd

The Original Rainbow Cone. Photo Credit: fotomattic

Original Rainbow Cone
This, readers, is a treasure from Chicago's South Side dating back to 1926. The "rainbow cone" includes scoops of chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, orange sherbet, and a flavor they call "Palmer House" (cherry ice cream with chunks of cherry and walnuts), all fit into a wedge on top of the cone. If you thought Chicagoans take our hot dogs and pizza seriously, this is proof we view ice cream with the same prideful eye. —Chuck Sudo

Gluten-Free Options
Last year, I just about had a panic attack trying to figure out how to feed myself at Lollapalooza. After walking the row of Chow Town a few times, elbowing through the crowds, I spotted "gluten-free pizza" on the Connie's menu. It was good, but it was the only thing I ate there for three days. I took a look at the lineup for my fellow gluten-free music lovers to point out which spots to grab a decent meal. Connie's offers 10-inch gluten-free margherita pizza, and Brunkow Cheese has a GF pizza, too. I tried Puffs Of Doom's gluten-free option at Pitchfork, jalapeno popper chicken, and I was impressed. River Valley Ranch is pretty much the place to be: They are offering a gluten-free veggie burger on a GF bun, a portabella tamale, gluten-free chili, garlic mushroom stew and nachos. Rock 'n Roll Noodle Company promises all of their Asian-inspired items are gluten-free. Both Edzo's and Hummingbird Kitchen assure their fries and waffle fries are gluten-free. Want dessert? You can get "The Dipper," frozen cheesecake on a stick dipped in chocolate, at Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe. Plus, Original Rainbow Cone will be offering a Rainbow Bowl — Samantha Abernethy