June 26, 2008

Taste of Chicago 2008: Taste’s Better Every Year

It's that time of year again. The Taste of Chicago is an annual food festival, where dozens of restaurants from across the city gather along Columbus Drive. Millions of locals and tourists sample hundreds of dishes from every cuisine imaginable, from hot dogs to ravioli to veggie gyros to pad thai to empanadas to omelets' Everything and anything edible can be found at the Taste, along with cooking demonstrations, live music, a wine garden, and kids' activities. New additions this year include a sports pavilion and an international entertainment pavilion.

taste of chicagoAdmission is free, but the food and drinks aren't. Tickets come in strips of 11 for $7. Entrees can cost anywhere from 5-10 tickets, depending on the size of the portion. Every booth also offers a 'taste portion,' a smaller serving of one of the menu items, which only requires 2-3 tickets. Personally, I try to get more of these smaller options, so my handful of tickets lasts a little longer, and then I get larger portions of my favorite foods.

While the Taste is well-known for its fried foods and people stuffing themselves with irresistible delicious dishes, the city wanted to provide visitors with plenty of healthy options also. So, new to this year, every restaurant that applied had to list at least one healthy item on their planned menu. The result? Plan on seeing items like whole wheat spinach and basil pizza from Father & Son (Booth 37), organic barbecue tofu skewers from A Natural Harvest (Booth 60), and vegan sweet potato pie from Soul Vegetarian East (Booth 2). Mind you, the judgments here were a bit lax and were taken 'in context'. Hence the potato chips at Billy Goat Inn (Booth 6) are 'healthy' (potatoes are a vegetable, right?) when compared with the rest of their menu: steak sandwiches and cheeseburgers. Bakeries like Eli's Cheesecake and JR Dessert Bakery had a bit of a difficulty also, but they included sugar-free desserts or items with fresh fruit.

taste of chicagoThis year's Taste will be healthy for the planet as well. The cooking oil used during the ten-day festival will be recycled into bio-diesel fuel. This is especially good news as gas prices continue to rise.

Finally, like every year, there are big names lined up for musical performances: Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Plain White T's, Joss Stone, Fantasia, and Bonnie Raitt, just to name a few.

Grant Park, free concerts, and more food than you could imagine: there's no better way to celebrate summer in Chicago.

Photo credit: Peter Fuchs (c/o Flickr), City of Chicago

The Taste of Chicago: 200 S Columbus Dr; 312-744-3315
June 27 - July 6: 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (Ticket sales end one half-hour before closing time.)
*July 3-4: closes at 9:30 p.m., July 6: closes at 6:00 p.m.
Pay lots available in the area
Public trans: Bus # 1, 2, 3, 4, X4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 26, X28, 29, 36, 62, 126, 127, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151
Orange/Purple/Pink/Green/Brown Line train (Adams)
Red/Blue Line train (Monroe, Jackson)
Metra Electric Line (Van Buren)
(Coolers, dogs, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed.)


5 comments to Taste of Chicago 2008: Taste’s Better Every Year

  1. Peter Fuchs
    June 26th, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Matt,
    thanks for the photocredit. I stayed at the Taste of Chicago last summer. It was a festival I enjoyed very much. Tasty food and a lot of friendly people.
    As a German I have to add the beer was a mess and the policy of selling beer was too.
    But hey I am German we are not afraid of people tasting beer in the sun ;-)
    Wish I could be there at the Tatste of Chicago Festival again.

  2. Matt B
    June 28th, 2008 at 12:50 am

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy the festival while you were here!

  3. Surfing Chicago Online
    June 29th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    [...] Taste of Chicago is great for pedestrians, not so great for traffic. Thankfully, according to the CTA Tattler, there [...]

  4. Chicago Celebrates Independence Eve
    July 3rd, 2008 at 6:01 am

    [...] Eve Fireworks, accompanied by music from 101.9 WTMX-FM. Although technically a part of the Taste of Chicago, these fireworks can be seen for miles around. Get to Grant Park and/or Lake Michigan early to [...]

  5. Weekend Stuff (Sept 26-28, ‘08)
    September 25th, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    [...] We're all familiar with the Taste of Chicago, an all-out food fest featuring dozens of Chicago restaurants. Foodies will want to check out the [...]

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